Palani Temple

Palani is about 68km from Dindigul or 35km kodaikanal, the hilltop temple (140m) at Palani dedicated to Lord Muruga, also called Dhandayuthapani, is second only to the Balaji Temple of Tirupati.  The idol is made of Medicinal herbs and hence the ablated water of this idol is believed to cure all diseases.  It is a major pilgrimage site also revered by the Muslis as Palani Baba.  The devotees perform tonsure and carrying of 'kavadi' as vows.  Legend has it that the sage Agastya worshipped Muruga at this spot and carrying of Kavadi relates to the myth, which surrounds the origin of the shrine.  Kavadi are shoulder-poles with elaborate bamboo with hanging baskets at two ends filled with offerings like milk, rose water, flowers, and sandal paste etc.  At full moon in January-February, many walk with Kavadi for up to 80km around to the shrine.  An electrically operated rope car is also available to go up the temple Phone: 04545-242293.

Sri Dandyaudhapani Swamy temple

Palani, the abode of Lord Muruga, is mentioned in ancient sangam literature, and a thousand years before it, in Tolkappiyam.  According to Sangam literature, it is the third Padai Veedu of Sri Subramanya Swamy. Sri Dandyaudhapani Swami is the presiding deity of this temple, which is located at an elevation of about 450m (1,500 feet).  The Western Ghats are visible from the hilltop, and, on a clear, mist-free day, one can see the Kurinci Andavar Temple on Kodaikanal Hills.

According to the Sthala puraa, Shiva and Parvati gave darshan to sage Agastya on two hills called Sivagiri and Saktigiri.  Agastya then commissioned his disciple, Idumban, to carry the hills to his retreat in Pothigai Hills, further south.  Idumban did so, carrying them like a kavadi (a pole slung on the shoulders, with weights on either side).  He briefly rested at Palani.  As he did so, Lord Subramanya, came there, upset with His parents, Shiva and Parvati.

Muruga arrived there, staff in hand, clad only in loin cloth and sulking in defeat, after being outwitted by His brother, Ganapati, in the competition for the divine fruit.  Idumban tried to resume his journey with the kavadi, but could not.  He then noticed Lord Subramanya standing on the hills and asked Him to get off.  In the ensuing fight, Indumban was killed.  His wife, Idumbi, and sage Agastya urged the Lord to pardon Idumban and restore his life.  He accepted their plea, and granted the slain man a fresh lease of life.  He also accepted Idumban's request that He bless His devotees who come there with Kavadis.  Since Lord Shiva had told the angry Sri Subramanya (Who had been denied the divine fruit)  that He (Subramanya) was Himself the fruit (Pazham Nee, in Tamil), the place came to be known as Palani.  The second hill, not far from the first one, is known as Idumban malai.

The Idol of Sri Dandayudhapani is an amalgam of nine minerals, called Navapashana.  It was made by Siddha Bhogar at the beginning of Kali Yuga 5,000 years ago.   Bhogar, who is said to have been born in Varanasi, chose the Palani Hills to practice rigorous Yoga. 

The hill can be reached by a flight of 659 steps, but also by winch or cable car.  The winch is a train-like contraption, on rails, which is electrically pulled up the hill, at times, almost vertically.  Danda is stick, and Ayudha is weapon.  So is Sri Dandyaudhapani:  He with a staff for his weapon.  Here He is depicted in different kolams (forms), including as a king (Raja alankaram), and as aandi (mendicant), clad only in a loin cloth, with a staff in hand, as if to say: "Renounce all to reach Me."  Nearby is  small shrine where siddha Bhogar attained swaroopa samadhi.  Goddess Nava Durga is worshipped here as Sri Bhuvaneswari, along with a Markata Lingam.

Keralites come here in large numbers, due to its proximity (50 km from the border), and also because from time immemorial Malayalis have had a great reverence for Sri Dhandayudhapani.  Rajasekhara Varma, popularly known as Cheraman Peruman, is said to have built the sanctum in the Eighth century CE, and also richly endowed the temple.

Abishekam (ritual bath) of the deity is very popular in Palani, and the water is acclaimed for its medicinal properties.  Palani Panchamritam, a sweet delicacy, made of fruits, sugar, gee, honey, etc., is, perhasps as popular as Sri Dandayudhapani Himself.  It is now hygienically prepared using modern techniques, and sold in tamper proof cans.

Sri Dandyudhapani Devasthanam is the third richest in South India, after Tirupati and Guruvayur (in Kerala).  The temple runs many educational institutions, including a school for nadaswaram vidwans.

How to get there:  Palani is easily accessible by buses from all parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala.  It is also on the Dindigul-Pollachi-Podanur rail route, serviced by passenger trains.  Take the Trichy train from Chennai Egomore, alight at Dindigul and take the bus from there.  Or take the Chennai-Coimbatore train at Central, get down at Tiruppur, and board a bus to Palani (100km).

Accommodation:   The Devasthanam provides near, comfortable, inexpensive rooms/cottages, both AC and Non-AC, private lodges are also available. Palani Hotels

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