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This is a modest attempt to explore the famous temples of India and post songs
composed in praise of each of them culled out form many sites . I've never come across a
site that provides such information. Of course, there are close to 30000 temples in Tamil
Nadu alone and it would tae a long time to even cover !" of these #ut it never hurts to
start$ I hope this information will #e useful to carnatic music lovers of our group . I for
one is a #uffllo when it comes to carantic music ragas . #ut documented information is
power hence this documentation .
Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple (Madurai)
The %eenashi &mman Temple at %adurai is one of the most famous temples in 'outh
India as this is where, according to (indu legends, )ord 'hiva appeared on *arth in the
form of 'undareshwarar to marry +andya ,ing %alayadwa-a +andya's daughter,
%eenashi .#elieved to #e an incarnation of (indu /oddess +arvati0. & detailed article on
this divine marriage can #e found here
&s mentioned in the article, the legend of Meenakshi Kalyanam #rings together four of
the six main streams in popular (induism 3 'haiva, 'hatha, 4aishnava, and 'anda
faiths. 5efore descri#ing this #eautiful temple in detail, I' d lie to share a recording of a
wonderful song composed #y 'ri +apanasam 'ivan, in praise of the /oddess %eenashi
at %adurai. The song is '6evi Neeye', rendered #y the late %.'.'u##ulashmi. &ccording
to legend, )ord 'undareshwara .as 'undara +andya0 and his consort /oddess %eenashi
ruled over %adurai for a long period of time. In due course of time, they had a son called
7gra +andya who is none other than )ord %uruga .also nown as 'u#ramanya0.
The %eenashi &mman temple here in %adurai has #een mentioned in Tamil literature
.Thirugnanasambandar0 as early as the 8th century. I t is #elieved to have #een saced
later #y a %uslim invader and then re#uilt with the efforts of Arya Natha Mudaliyar
.+rime %inister of first Naya of %adurai, !99:3!;00&60 and Thirumalai Nayak .!;<33
!;9:&60 'hiva .as 'undareshwarar0 and his fish3eyed spouse, %eenashi, are enshrined
in this twin temple. There are in all eleven towers to this temple, the largest and most
#eautiful #eing the one on the southern doorway. =ising to a height of a#out 80 metres,
this impressive 'gopuram' is #y far the most ornate and florid of the 6ravidian towers. To
the south of the main shrine dedicated to 'hiva, is the temple of /oddess %eenashi. The
high point of %eenashi temple is its cele#rated >?ourt of Thousand +illars>. 5uilt
around the year !9;0&.6. #y &rya Natha %udaliyar, it is a great wor of structural
engineering as well as sculpture and art. *very one of its thousand pillars is su#-ected to
an ama@ing variety of ornate carvings.
(ere is another song on /oddess %eenashi, composed #y 'ri %uthuswami 6ishitar
and rendered here #y 'ri 6.,.+attammal in the r&ga gamaariya. It is #elieved that on
6eepavali, the day of naraachaturdashi, 6ishithar performed pu-a as usual and ased
his students to sing this song. &s his students sang the lines >%eena lochani paasa
mochani> he raised his hands and saying >sive paahi> left his mortal coil. Song: mIn&'i
rAgA: gamaariy&
tALA: &di
Composer: 'ri %uthuswami 6ishitar
mIn&'i m* mudam d*hi m*ca&ngi r&-am&tangi
Address to Goddess Parvathi at Madurai as Meenakshi, who wears Mechaka and is
called as Raaja Maathangi, gives me joy
m&nam&trum* m&y* maraata ch&y* shiva-&y*
mInalOcani p&shamOcani m&nini adam#a vanav&sini
!ontroller o" #ndividual sel", $u%reme $el" and the relation between two Greenish in
color like emerald &yes are like "ish 'iberator "rom worldly bondage 'ives in kadamba
madur&puri nilay* maNivalay* malayadhva-a p&N6ya r&-a tanay*
vidhuvi6am#ana vadan* vi-ay* vIN&g&na dasha gamaariy*
madhu mada mOdita hrday* saday* mah&d*va sundar*shapriy*
madhu mura ripu sOdari '&tOdari vidhi guruguha va'anari 'anari
Abodes in Madurai (aughter o" great king Malayadwaja Paandiyan, who ruled
Madurai )ace da**les like "ull moon !reator o" Ten nuances which are used in veena
and vocal music
'ives in the heart o" %eo%le who relin+uished wine and anger !onsort o" 'ord $iva, who
is known as $undareswara at Madurai $ister o" 'ord ,ishnu, who is a destroyer o"
demons Madhu and Mura Adored by 'ord -rahma and 'ord $hanmukha There is a
festival during every month in the year at the %eenashi &mman Temple. The most
auspicious of these is the %eenashi Thirualyanam .the divine marriage of %eenashi0
which happens every year in the month of ?hitrai .&pril0. Other ma-ors festivals lie
%ahashivarathri and Navarathri are also cele#rated in a grand manner. & detailed
description of all the festivals cele#rated in this temple is here.
(ere are some more songs on )ord 'undareshwara and /oddess %eenashi #y past and
current musicians.
Akhilandeshwari-Jambukeshwara Temple (Thiruvanaikaval)
Akhilandeshwari in the ragam Dwijavanti is omposed by Sri Muthuswami
Dikshitar .though several musicians, including scholars lie T.).4enatarama Iyer have
insisted that this is NOT #y this composer0. Thanks to my cousin who makes me hear
it constantly in my car, the song has been running in my head for few days now
and I thought Id start this whole project of linking temples with songs !also
suggested by him"# with this song.
%any great artists have rendered this #eautiful song over the years. It is one of 'ri
'emmangudi's popular songs, especially for his fantastic alpana swarams. There is a
rendition #y 'ri T.N.'eshagopalan, which is also very nice and easier to learn from.
Song: ahilaaN6*shvari
agam: dvi-aavanti
<A hariaam#hO-i -anya
&a1 ' =< %! /3 %! + 6< '
&v1 ' N< 6< + %! /3 %! =< /< =< ' N< 6< N< '
Thalam: &di
Composer: %uthuswami 6ishitar
ahil&N6*shvari ra'am&m &gama samprad&ya nipuN* shrI
Oh &hilandeshwari$ The one who is adept in the traditions of the &gamas .4edas0,
please protect me.
nihila lOa nity&tmi* vimal* nirmal* shy&ma)* saala al*
(er inherent nature pervades all the worlds, is pure, su#lime. 'he is the dar3
complexioned one and is the repository of all arts.
lam#Odara guruguha p7-it* lam#&laOd#h&sit*hasit*
v&gd*vat&r&dhit* varad* varashailar&-anut* sh&rad*
-am#h&ri sam#h&vit* -an&rddananut* -u-&vanti r&ganut*
-allI madda)a -har -hara v&dya n&damudit* -(n&naprad*
'he is worshipped #y )am#odara ./anesha0 and /uruguha .%urugan0. 'he possesses
shining long tresses and always sports a graceful smile. 'he is the supreme one
worshipped #y 'araswati. 'he is the #estower of #oons and the daughter of (imavan
.,ing of %ountains0, the honora#le one. 'he is 'harada, venerated #y Indra and 4ishnu.
'he is extolled through raga -u-avanti .dvi-aavanti0 and taes delight in music of the
instruments lie -halli, maddala, and -ar-hara. 'he is the conferrer of supreme nowledge.
This is the famous A!hilan"esh#ari$%am&u!esh#arar temple situated in
Thiruvanaiaval .Thiru Aanaikka. near Trichy It was #uilt #y Kocengannan, one of the
early ?holas, around !A00 years ago. This temple is one of the five ma-or 'hiva temples
representing five ma-or elements 3 Bire, *arth, Cater, 'y and Cind. The presiding deity
here, Dam#ueshwara .represents Cater0, sits under a Dam#u tree over a small stream that
engulfs the deity during the rainy season, as shown in the picture #elow. )egend has it
that )ord 'hiva appeared here under a Dam#u tree in the form of a 'hiva lingam. &lso,
two devotees of 'hiva were #orn here under the influence of a curse as a white elephant
and a spider. The elephant worshipped 'hiva with flowers and water #rought in its trun
.hence the name Tiru &anaia0. 'ri %uthuswami 6ishitar has composed a song in
praise of Dam#ueshwarar in his magnificent +anchalinga rithis that are dedicated to the
five forms of )ord 'hiva. There is a recording of 'ri %.).4asanthaumari rendering this
song, Dam#upate, in the ragam Eamunaalyani.
&lso in this temple is 'ri &hilandeshwari, one of the most famed forms of +arvati along
with %eenashi and ,amashi. The sannidhi of this goddess in this temple along with
the sannidhi of +rasanna 4inayaa is in the shape of 'O%'. It is #elieved that people who
go around the sannidhi !< times and for one full mandala .FA days0, will get the #lessings
of the goddess and have a good, healthy and wealthy life. &lso, according to tradition, 'ri
&hilandeshwari was originally an 7gra 6evata of great fury, and &di 'hanaracharya is
said to have converted the fiery energy of the deity into a manifestation of peace. (e is
said to have adorned her with ear3rings #earing the sym#ol of the charam. There is also
a shrine to &di 'hanara in this temple.
Song: -am#7pat*
agam: yamun& aly&Ni
Thalam: tishra *am .=upaam0
Composer: %uthuswami 6ishitar
-am#7pat* m&m p&hi ni-&nand&m=ta #Odham d*hi
Oh Dam#upati, protect me and give me the nowledge of the nectar of true #liss.
am#u-&san&di saala d*va namana tum#urunuta h=daya t&pOpashamana
am#udhi ga(Ng& &v*rI yamun& am#u aN6yahil&N6*shvarI ramaNa
(e is honored #y 5rahma and other celestials. (e mitigates the affliction of the heart of
Tum#uru. (e is of the form of water, the great ocean and the rivers such as /anga,
,averi, Eamuna. (e is the #eloved one of &hilandeshvari, whose nec is as #eautiful as
a conch.
parvata-&pr&rtthit&pali(Ngavi#hO pa(nca #h7ta maya prapa(ncapra#hO
sarva-Iva day&ara sham#hO s&ma-&Tavi nilaya svayam#hO
sarva aruN& sudh&sindhO sharaN&gata vatsal&rttha #andhO
nirvacanIya n&da #indO nitya mau)i vidh=ta ga(Ng*ndO
nirvialpaa sam&dhi ni'Tha shiva alpatarO nirvish*'acaitanya
In deference to the prayers of goddess +arvati, the )ord manifested in the form of the
)inga representing the element water. (e is the )ord of the universe, which is made of
five elements. (e is 'ham#hu, who is compassionate toward all #eings. (e manifests of
his own accord in the forest inha#ited #y elephants. (e is the nectar3lie ocean of mercy,
and is the succour to those who tae refuge in (im. (e is the indescri#a#le Nada#indu.
(e always holds the /anga and the moon on (is head. (e is the ,alpaa tree, and is
engaged in the desireless 'amadhi, supreme consciousness. (e is the father of the pure,
faultless nowledge in the form of /uruguha.
&lso in this temple is 'ri &hilandeshwari, one of the most famed forms of +arvati along
with %eenashi and ,amashi. The sannidhi of this goddess in this temple along with
the sannidhi of +rasanna 4inayaa is in the shape of 'O%'. It is #elieved that people who
go around the sannidhi !< times and for one full mandala .FA days0, will get the #lessings
of the goddess and have a good, healthy and wealthy life. &lso, according to tradition, 'ri
&hilandeshwari was originally an 7gra 6evata of great fury, and &di 'hanaracharya is
said to have converted the fiery energy of the deity into a manifestation of peace. (e is
said to have adorned her with ear3rings #earing the sym#ol of the charam. There is also
a shrine to &di 'hanara in this temple.
'ri %uthuswami 6ishitar has composed a song in praise of Dam#ueshwarar in his
magnificent +anchalinga rithis that are dedicated to the five forms of )ord 'hiva. (ere
is a recording of 'ri %.).4asanthaumari rendering this song, Dam#upate, in the ragam
Song: ahil&N6eshvari durusuga
agam: arn&Taa&pi
Thalam: &di
Composer: 'hyama 'hastri
ahil&N6*shvari durusuga #rOvumu
nihila t&pah&riNi #huvilOna ninu mincina v&revarunn&ramm&
': m&Niyamayamaiyunna mandira madhya v&sinI aliv*NI
shrI sham#hun&thuni r&NI varamIyav* gIrv&NI m&yamm&
(: am#Oruha sam#hava harishanara ahila munIndra p7-it& ati gam#hIr& dInara'aNI
gad& n& moralanu vinal*d&
): O am#& ninu nammina n&pai inta par&mugam*la vinu
shy&mar'Nut& cinta dIrci s&mr&-yamIyav* v*gam*
Arunachaleshwara Temple (Tiruvannamalai)
>-y seeing !hidambaram, by being born in Tiruvarur, by dying in Kasi, or by merely
thinking o" Arunachala, one will surely attain 'iberation>
3 Arunachala Mahatmyam #y Sri Ramana Maharishi
)yrics2Translation of &runachala natham
Song: aruN&cala n&tham
agam: s&ra(Nga
Thalam: r7paam
Composer: %uthuswami 6ishitar
aruN&cala n&tham smar&mi anIsham apIta uc&m#& sam*tam
# always contem%late u%on 'ord Arunachalanatha, who is in the com%any o"
smaraN&t aivalyaprada caraN&ra vindam
taruN&ditya OTi sha(N&shacid&nandam
aruN&ras&di andam sharaN&gata sura #=ndam
/is lotus "eet bestow total salvation, even "rom just remembering them /e is knowledge
and bliss, shining like crores o" suns /e is the embodiment o" sentiments such as mercy,
etc A host o" celestials has sought re"uge in /im
apr&=ta t*-Omaya li(Ngam
atyad#huta ara dh=ta s&ra(Ngam
apram*yamaparN&#-a #h=(Ngam
&r7ThOttu(Nga v='atura(Ngam
viprOttama vish*'&ntara(Ngam
vIra guruguha t&ra prasa(Ngam
svapradIpa mau)ividh=taga(Ngam
svapra&sha -ita sOm&gni pata(Ngam
/e is o" the "orm o" e0traordinarily lustrous 'inga, and holds a marvellous deer in /is
hand /e is like the bee hovering over the lotus1like A%arna1Parvati /e is seated on a
majestic bull /e es%ecially dwells in the hearts o" noble -husuras /e is very much
attached to brave Guruguha /e wears Ganga on /is glorious head, and has con+uered
the moon, the sun and the "ire with /is natural brilliance
It is said that there are three ma-or pilgrimage methods to achieve li#eration from the
cycle of life, death and re#irth. The first of these is #y meditating within the ,iru%aksha
!ave on %ount &runachala .where 'ri =amana %aharishi lived from !A:: to !:!; in
solitude0. The second is #y clim#ing to the top of &runchala (ill's holy pea. The third
method, adopted #y many, is the custom of Giri ,alam or Giri%radakshinam, which is
circumam#ulating the #ase of the &runachala (ill.
Giri ,alam must #e undertaen after a #ath, with a pure and meditative mind. It is
advised to o#serve silence or silent chanting of Arunachala during this time, and it must
#e either undertaen alone or in a small group. There are several temples, shrines,
lingams and tans one will encounter during /iri 4alam .the #oo Arunachala 1 The
/oly /ill #y =.(enninger is an excellent guide0. It is said that there are a#out 3;0
thirthas .tans0 and F00 lingams in the A mile circuit around this hill. There are lingams
at each of the eight cardinal directions along the /iri 4alam route.. Bor a map of the
route, clic http122<.#p.#logspot.com2GI9rcTsc:3f02=3
5efore continuing to some festivals cele#rated at the &runachala Temple, I'd lie to post
another song. This is the &runachala +ancharatnam, composed #y 5hagawan 'ri =amana
%aharishi, and tuned #y %. '. 'u##ulashmi. The sloam #efore the song is composed
#y a devotee of 'ringeri, 'ri )ashmana 'uri.
Interestingly, the opposition #etween th
Lyrics/Translatin ! Arunachala "ancharatnam
Song: aruN& p7=Na
agam: r&gam&li&
Thalam: &di
Composer: 'ri =amana %aharishi
*Slo!am $ &+ La!shmana Suri,
anil&nala salil& vani ra-anIara sarasIruha valla#ha
ya-am&naa samud&yaa vapusham
ahilOdaya vilay&spada mahil&nthara mahilam
#ha-a shaNaram a#hayaNaram
aruN&chala sharaNam
-erse '
arunLpMrna sudhL#dhN
a#alitaghanaviOvarMpa iranLvalyL
arunLchala paramLtman
arunP #hava chittaaQ-asuviLsLya
2 ocean o" ambrosia, the over"lowing "ullness o" grace3 2 Arunachala, su%reme s%irit, by
4whose5 series o" rays the solid "orm o" the universe is swallowed3 -e the sun "or the
com%lete blossoming o" 4my5 mind1lotus
-erse (
tvayyarunLchala sarvam
#hMtvL sthitvL pralRnamNtacchitram
nrityasi #hPstN vadanti hridayam nLma
2 Arunachala3 #n you all this %icture comes into e0istence, is sustained, and is destroyed
6ou dance in the heart as sel" 7or s%irit. as 8#8, 4and hence5 they say 8heart8 is name to
-erse )
ahamiti uta LyLtR
tyanvishyLntah pravishtayLtyamaladhiyL
avagamya svamrMpam
OLmyatyarunLchala tvayi nadRva#dhau
2 Arunachala3 -y a very blemishless mind having sought thus, 9)rom where does it
come as 8#8:9, having entered within, and having known one8s own "orm, one becomes
still in you, like a river in the ocean
-erse .
tyatvL vishayam #Lhyam
ruddhaprLnNna ruddhamanasLntastvLm
dhyLyanpaOyati yPgR
dRdhitimarunLchala tvayi mahRyam tN
2 Arunachala3 /aving given u% e0ternal objects and having meditated u%on you within
by a mind restrained by the restrained breath, the yogi sees the light They are e0alted in
-erse /
tvayyarpitamanasL tvLm
paOyan sarvam tavLrititayL satatam
#ha-atN .a0nanya prRtyL
sa -ayatyarunLchala tvayi suhN magnah
2 Arunachala3 $eeing you by mind surrendered in you, he who by otherless love always
worshi%s everything as your "orm, trium%hs having drowned in bliss in you
e top and #ottom of the mountain is a#sent here since there is no temple, as at certain
sites, of the deity with (is consort at the #ottom of the hill and one at the top of the deity
in (is yogic aspect. The sole &runchaleshwara temple is identified with the mountain as a
su#stitute. Nevertheless, this opposition is mared #y F purification ceremonies during
the year, for which the priests go up to the summit.
6uring the festival of %ahashivarathri, the appearance of a pillar of fire signifies the
supremacy of )ord 'hiva .'ingodbhavamurti0. & few months later comes the marriage
ceremony, the 7nion of )ord 'hiva with the /oddess. The third festival is that of
,arthigai 6eepam, cele#rated #y lighting a fire on top of the hill to esta#lish 'hiva's
supremacy, and also #y showing (is oneness with the /oddess in the form of
Ardhanarishwara. &fter this, the fourth and final purification ceremony represents
seperation from the /oddess and manifestation of )ord 'hiva as the great Eogi.
'een a#ove is a video of the ,arthigai 6eepam #eing lit on top of the &runachala hill.
&ccording to 'ri =amana %aharishi, SGetting rid o" the ;# am the body< idea and merging
the mind into the /eart to reali*e the $el" as non1dual being and the light o" all is the real
signi"icance o" darshan o" the beacon o" light on Annamalai, the center o" the universeT
The dee%am is lit on ,arthigai day and #urns for 8 days .or more0, #eing daily
replenished with ghee and camphor offered #y devotees. &t the temple, the priests chant
Na Karmana and perform aarti to 'ri =amana %aharishi's photograph, while devotees
sing Aksharamanamalai.
Sri #alahastishwara Temple
-aa+u .god of wind0 is incarnated as Lor" Shiva and worshipped as 'ri ,alahastisha in
this temple. The first song that springs to my mind when I thin a#out this #eautiful
temple is %uthuswami 6ishitar's masterpiece in (useini, sri kAlahast#shA. (ere is a
rendition of this +ancha 5hootha ,shetra rithi of 6ishitar #y 'avita Narasimhan, a
disciple of ?hitravina =aviiran. Kalahasti, a small town in the ?hittoor district of
&ndhra +radesh, is situated #etween two steep hills called 'ripuram and
%ummidicholapuram. The name of the town comes from the temple, which is named
after 3 animals 3 sri .spider0, &)a .snae0 and hasti .elephant0. These were 3 devotees of
)ord 'hiva .cursed #y 5rahma, 'hiva and +arvathi respectively0 who eventually attained
moksha #y worshipping (im. The river seen in the picture is 'warnamuhi, which flows
on one side of the town while the other side is #ound #y hills. The Tamil ?holas and
4i-ayanagara rulers have made several endowments to this temple. &lso, &di 'hanara is
said to have visited this temple and offered worship here.
&s proof that )ord 'hiva resides here as a vAyu liNga, there is a light in the garbhagriha
.innermost sanctum0 of this temple that continues to flicer to this day though there is no
loophole for air to enter the temple$ The shiva lingam here, with mars from the three
animals on it and the ancient nandi in front of it, is white in color and said to #e
swayambu .or self3manifest0. &lso, this lingam is in the form of an elephant with tuss on
each side, has a figure of a spider at the #ottom, and loos lie a snae with five hoods
from top .see picture #elow0.
%oving #ac to great songs composed on this temple, 4eena ,uppayyar, an exponent of
,eena and a ?arnatic composer who learned under 'ri Thyagara-a 'wami, has composed
five songs in praise of 'ri ,alahastishwara. The most popular of those is koniyAdin&
nA%ai in ragam am#hO-i, rendered in the clip #y 4i-ay 'iva, one of the leading carnatic
musicians today and a disciple of ''angeetha ,alanidhi' )ate 'ri 6.,. Dayaraman since
!:88. &nother interesting story associated with this temple is that of hunter Thinappa, a
great devotee of )ord 'hiva, who used to offer the flesh of animals to the )ord #efore
consuming them. One day he noticed tears dropping from an eye of the lingam. Thining
that someone had harmed the )ord, he immediately removed his own eye and placed it on
the lingam which stopped the tears. &fter few days, on noticing that the other eye of the
)ord was also affected, he was ready to remove his eye again when )ord 'hiva, pleased
with his strength and devotion, appeared #efore (im, restored his eyesight and gave him
the name Kanna%a. *ven today, we find ,annapa's statue near the main lingam in this
temple, and +u-as are first offered to him and then to the )ord. &di 'hanara has also
sung a#out ,annappa Nayanar in his famous poem, 'ivananda )ahiri.
The most important festival in this temple is %ahashivarathiri which lasts for ten days
#etween Be#ruary and %arch. On 'anranti, the deity is taen on a procession around the
hills .a circuit of nearly twenty miles0. In all, there are eighty3five festivals in this temple
in a year.
(ere is a list of songs composed in praise of 'ri ,alahastishwara. Muthus#ami
!. srI &)ahastIsha 3 hus*inI 3 -hampa
-eena Kuppa++ar
!. ,oniyaadina napai 3 ,am#o-i 3 &di
<. Nanu #rova r&da 3 'ama 3 &di
3. 5ir&na nannu #rova 3 (amsadvani 3 U
F. 'ama /ana )ola 3 'alaga#hairavi 3 U
9. 'evitamu r&ramma 3 'ahana 3 U