Trichy Rockfort Or Tiruchirapalli Rock Fort
Rockfort, in the heart of Trichy, is the city's most famous landmark. It is an 83m high rock, in an otherwise flat terrain. This rock is stated to be one of the oldest in the world, around 3,800 million years, which makes it as old as the rocks of Green Land and older than the Himalayas.
According to legend, in the fight between Adisesha and Vayu (the Wind god) to possess the Maha Meru (the Himalayas), three pieces of the mountain fell at three different places. One fell in Trincomalee (Sri Lanka), the second in Sri Kalahasti (Andhra Pradesh), and the third is Rockfort. There are three peaks on this hill, the domain of Shiva, Parvati and Vinayaka, the reason it was called Thirisikarapuram (the town of three sikaras: peaks). Thirisikarapuram is now Tiruchirapalli or, simply, Trichy. At the foot of the fort, built by Viswanatha Nayak (1559-63), are the tank and pavilion, built by him. Halfway up the hill is Sri Thayumanavar Swamy temple, within which is Sri Mathrubutheswarar shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, where the Lingam is a projection of the rock itself. It is said that a young woman devotee of Shiva, who lived across the Cauvery, came to the shrine to worship the Lord, despite her being in an advanced stage of pregnancy. But, on her return journey, she found the river swollen. While waiting for the flood to subside, she developed labour pains. Alone and abandoned she cried to her mother for help. A woman, who looked like her mother arrived, helped her deliver the child safely, and left. A little later her real mother arrived. It was then that the young woman realised that it was the Lord Himself, in the guise of her mother, who had helped her in her hour of need. The presiding deity from then on came to be known as Sri Thayumanavar (God, who is also the mother).
The incident is commemorated during a festival call " Chettipenn Maruthuvam" in the Tamil month of Chithirai (April-May). The divine consort here is Sri Matturvarkuzhali. The temple is particularly popular with pregnant women. And, after the child is born, they offer bananas to the Lord, which is distributed to the devotees as prasad.
The temple can be accessed by climbing 200 steps up the Rockfort, or Malaikottai, in Tamil. Saints Sambandar, Manickavaasagar, Tirunavukkarasar and a saint, also known as Thayumanavar, have sung extensively in praise of the deity here. The original temple is said to have been constructed in the Third Century CE. It was later occupied by Jains. The Pallavas rebuilt it in the 7th century, it is said. Atop the rock is Sri Uchipillaiyar koil, a temple dedicated to Vinayaka, accessed by climbing another 200 odd steps. A panoramic view of Tiruchi and srirangam can be had from the top. Equally, the view of the fort/temple from the plains is astounding.
It is said that Sri Rama, after His coronation, presented Ravana's brother, Vibishana, with an image of Sri Ranganatha. Sri Rama also told Vibishana that the idol should be placed on the ground only at the site of installation. If it was kept, even accidentally, elsewhere, it would be stuck to the place. Vibishana then left for Lanka with the idol. However, on the way, he was fascinated by the sight of the Cauvery, near Srirangam, and desired to take a bath there. He looked around and found a boy who volunteered to hold the idol. The boy further said that he would call out to him if the burden was too heavy. Vibishana agreed and entered the Cauvery. The boy then called out to him thrice, which, however, did not reach Vibishana's ears. When Vibishana returned from his bath, he found to his consternation that the idol had been grounded, and had also grown enormously Vibishana was furious, for no matter how much he tried, he could not move it. Realising Vibishana's fury, the boy began to run. He ran up the Rockfort hil, chased by Vibishana. Reaching the peak, he sat there, unable to run any further. Vibishana caught up with him and delivered a blow on his head. The boy then revealed himself as Vinayaka. Vibishana then offered his obeisance's to Vinayaka and left for Lanka. The Ranganatha image remained where it was, and the temple in Srirangam grew around it. It is said that Vinayaka played the trick on Vibishana to ensure that Lord Ranganathaswamy stayed in the mainland.
Vinayaka's idol in the Uchi Pillayar temple still retains the dent caused by Vibishana's below. There is an inscription at the summit, dating back to the 3rd century BC. Near the temple is a cave, which leads to Woraiyur, the capital of the Ancient Cholas.
How to get there:
Tiruchirapalli, or Tiruchi, is 325km from Chennai. It is connected by air. Trichy junction receives trains from all parts of India. It is well connected by road with the rest of Tamil Nadu.
Accommodation: Trichy has hotels and eateries to suit ever pocket.