Travel to Tirunelveli

13th Jan 2016
Vegetarian restaurant on the 4 lane NH from Madurai to Tirunelveli by Tiruparankundram. Decent food and the small onion oothappam (Dosa) was excellent. Neat rest rooms to take a break and get onto travel again
3 Bedroom accommodation was neat, affordable and located on the main road near Aathupaalam. Salem Saravana's vegetarian restaurant is below and we found the food to be good as well.
Early to the temple, we had darshan pretty quick, this temple is also quite expansive. Sadly, Gomathi, the elephant was unwell and was kept in a closed enclosure. On the same note, none of the elephants were seen in the temples as they are off to their rejuvenation camp. This is one of the temples where people surrender images of insects, body parts as a part of offering to safeguard one from getting affected. Three parts of the temple are dedicated to sankaralingam, Sankaranarayanar and Gomathi Amman. We can Sankaranarayanar as one half Narayana and other half as Shiva.
Reached Courtallam and went straight to Peraruvi. Peraruvi falls is the largest of the falls and we have many – five falls, tiger falls, shenbaga falls and more. Few things that disturbed us – the place was badly littered with plastic bottles and covers spoiling the beauty of the best nature have bestowed us. Men’s section of the falls was much better in water flow than ladies but it also provided us an opportunity to go close and spend some time without being disturbed. The rocks carrying the falls conveyed the sanctity of the place with shivalingams etched and water was flowing through them. Water was fresh, cool and refreshing. Though people are warned against using soaps while bathing, we could see people using it without any guilt. Our timing was not suitable to see Kutralanathar temple.
A temple of historic significance, it is a huge temple and required more than 2 hours to cover it fully. This temple is also one of the five sabhas of Lord Nataraja, Thamira (Copper) Sabhai. The sabai is such a beautiful artwork and is used only during Thiruvadirai (Arudra darisanam) held in Margazhi month. It was absolutely ecstatic seeing Lord Nataraja in copper with significant features enough to enamor any devotee to his omnipresence. We were lucky enough to see Aishwarya Lingam in full decoration. The priest explained that it is one of the three places where we can see Aishwarya Lingam, the other places being Tiruvannamalai and Thiruvanaikaval. Seeing lord in total decoration is only on few days in a year and we happened to be there. We are thankful for those Golden moments in front of the glistening lord. If you are visiting this temple, be sure to be ready for a good walk as the sanctum sanctorum of the goddess is a temple by itself. It was a day where there was not much crowd and we had the liberty of spending much of our time in sync with the peaceful aura of the place.
It was a surprise factor that the falls was located in the Kalakkad Mundanthurai Reserve Forest Hill which also is a Tiger Sanctuary. We are allowed to be there only 5.30 pm since wild animals move out after sunset. We took permission from Forest office to enter the hill and the beauty of the place unadulterated and without any commercialization won our heart. We decided to see karayar dam in the upper camp, 13 kms from base and the ride was our time of oneness with nature filled with herb smell and sweet chirps of birds and occasional grunts. We could not see any wild animals on our way up or down.
We could see peacocks, birds, mangoose, varieties of monkeys in their natural habitat as we proceeded towards Agasthiar Falls. Agasthiar falls did not disappoint us and it was flowing full to our excitement. There was a temple on the top of the hill dedicated to Agatheeswarar and we could see steps leading to it. We had our mind to go for it but people who came down said it is quite a climb and we may not be able to make it up within time.
Small temple with local presence but had very good darshan. Do not miss the cottonseed milk here.
It was not 5 km but more than 15 kms to reach Suseenthiram. Though the navigation system asked us to take a right long before, we loved the 4 lane drive and kept heading on. Likely, we took the longer route. Many places on the way were worth visiting but this time we were focused. The beautiful magnificent white gopuram was splendid. Being a Saturday, the temple was crowded as it is known for Anjaneyar. It is special to dedicate butter and rose water to him and it was all streamlined as we went through the process. One thing here, for the people who are doing it, it is 10 + 1, for everyone who is doing it, it is special. Wish this understanding sets into the minds of people taking care of the pooja. The deities here are unique, you will see 3 faced god representing Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma and the main lingam with a face of an ascetic with beard and jadamudi (hair bundled on the head), a very unique presentation of the lord. We always tend to go around the temple and the beauty of the carvings left us spellbound. There were steps to climb and on the top we have Kailasanathar in all opulence, a perfect meditative spot for those looking for calm and peace in the temple. Further as we came around, there was a smaller temple kind of structure, where we saw Ardha Meru and many gods and goddesses with the ancient structure preserved intact.
We started from Suseendram and reached Kanyakumari around 1.10 PM and was still lucky enough to have the darshan of Bagavathy in her glory. Quite crowded owing to the day being a holiday, we also had crowd coming back from Sabarimala on their way home. The queue was pretty long for Vivekanada Rock and so we quit that too. Not fond of crowds, we spent a little time in Triveni Sangamam and decided to have our lunch.
We checked out of the hotel and reached Madurai around 8 PM. Iyappan Dosai kadai, a small joint is known for its best dosas in Madurai. If you are in Madurai, check it out in North Mada Street near Lalitha Jewellery. Basically a mess, has now become a small joint with minimal seating. Anytime you can see crowd waiting and the smell of dosa wafting in the air. Be sure to try out their Chana Dosa, Chocolate Dosa and Goa Dosa.