Pazhamudircholai Murugan Temple
Atop a hill covered with lush greenery and dense forests lies one of the six divine abodes of Lord Muruga, The Pazhamudircholai Murugan. Also known as Solaimalai Murugan Temple, It is Twenty-five kilometers to the north of Madurai, India, and stands only two and a half kilometers away from the Vishnu temple of Azhagar Kovil.
It is said that the Azhagar Kovil was the original home to the main deity of this temple, and the deity was later relocated to Pazhamudircholai during Thirumalai Nayak’s rule in Madurai.
For ages, the Vel, which is the weapon of Lord Muruga’s primary weapon Vel(an ancient spear), which was crafted and handed over to Lord Muruga by goddess Parvati is worshipped as the presiding deity in the shrine. As per the Hindu mythology, Lord Murugan split the demon king Surapadman in half with the Vel during their vicious battle. Being the only temple amongst the six holy abodes where Lord Murugan blesses his devotees along with both his consorts, he stands along with Goddess Valli and Devayani.
The famous Tamil poet Nakkeerarm mentioned Solaimalai in his Tamil Poem Tirumurukaatruppadai. Though it is sixth among the Arupadaiveedugal(the six abodes), in terms of visitors, it still attracts plenty of devotees all over the world with its soothing charm and the lush green flora-fauna that surround the temple.
History Behind the Temple
Stories of Saints
Avvaiyar was a renowned and legendary Tamil poetess and a name behind one of the most famous and appreciated works ever written in Hindu folklore. Her exceptional vocabulary and dexterity in the language made her works stand apart, in the list of even the greatest of the poets. This had started to make her audacious over her abilities. According to the pages drenched in the antiquity of the Hindu folklore, Lord Murugan who was well-versed with his devotee wanted to teach her a lesson and took the shape of a ten-year-old boy in here in Solaimalai.
After having achieved everything in her life, Avviayar was resting under a Naaval tree, trying to figure out what lied next for her. A small boy appeared out of nowhere and stood on the tree. The boy asked Avviayar if she would like some fruits. Driven by hunger and thirst, she agreed instantly.
The boy asked if she wanted a hot fruit or a cold one, which confused Avviayar but was tired to argue and opted for the cold one. Smilingly, the boy shook the tree, as many fruits fell, all of which were collected by her.
The fruits were coated with the sand, so Avviayar blew them to remove it. The boy asked innocently, why was she trying to cool down the fruit blowing, which was already cold.
This incident left Avviayar humbled by the clever wordplay and the poetic knowledge of the little boy. However, She was skeptical of the boy’s true identity which was revealed to her as Lord Murugan himself. She bowed to the almighty and requested him to bestow her with his bountiful knowledge, for she had realized the power of infinite learning. She sought Lord Murugan’s blessings and embarked on her quest for endless knowledge.
The Story of Muruga
Lord Muruga, is considered as the chief deity by many Tamils all over the world. His story is even elaborated in the largest Mahapurana called Skanda Purana. Muruga, also known as Skanda or Kartikeya and is considered the god of love and war.
Legend says that the celestial gods asked Lord Vishnu for help after being tortured and tormented by the demon King Surapadman. He assigned Kamadeva to awake Lord Shiva from the state of deep tapas. This led to the birth of Lord Murugan with the sole purpose of finishing Surapadman and putting an end to the misery of the celestial gods. Tamil literature further goes explaining, how Lord Muruga was married to his consorts, Valli when he fell in love with her, and Devayanai, daughter of Lord Indra after winning the battle at Tiruchendur.
As Arunagirinathar’s song mentions, the almighty answers the prayers of his devotees and reprieves them of their grief and fulfills their wants.
People come here all to way to pray to Lord Murugan, be it seeking blessings for wedding, child, or academics.
The diverse architecture
The Pazhamudircholai Murugan is a perfect example of the rich ancient architecture and a magical aura radiating beauty fused seamlessly. The Navaranga Mandapam built by Nayaks is a fascinating structure made fully by stone, incorporated by four pillars and furnished with nine bays. The other portions of the temple have a heavy Pandiya influence, which was built by them besides several local heads, different religious groups, and individual devotees.
The temple tower itself is distinctive. The Silambar River flows by the temple adding to the peaceful and soothing atmosphere. The temple and the rose apple trees associated with the legendary poetess of Tamil, Avvaiyar, and Muruga is still said to be found near the temple. Fruits are usually yielded from July to September. The tree in the temple yields fruits which ripen only during the Skanda Sashti festival, six days after Deepavali.
Noopura Ganga, a natural spring along with a temple dedicated to Rakkayi Amman, is located at the top of the hill. Pilgrims coming to the Pazhamudircholai never miss an opportunity to take a dip in this sacred spring that, according to the mythology originated from the anklet of
Tirumal or Lord Vishnu and is said to have magical healing powers and is blessed with health and wealth.
There are other springs and Theerthams in this hill, Hanuman theertham, and Garuda theertham are among the few. The pond known, as Moolavavi has quite some mystery associated with it, as the water level rises in the summer and drops in the winter. The holy Siddha Agastya is said to have constructed this pond. Fruit-eating bats are seen in large numbers near the temple hanging down the branches, waiting to taste the fresh ripen fruits.
Sundaranandar Siddha is one of the most popular and celebrated among the eighteen Siddhas. He was born to rishis in the Kishkinta hill region. He was a protégé to the great Siddhar Agathiyar who awarded him Shiva linga, which he later on installed in the Sathuragiri hills as “Sundara Mahalingam”. He is behind the popularity of the Sathuragiri hills in the Western Tamil Nadu. Sattaimuni Siddha thought him Siddha medicine, Siddha yoga, Siddha gnana, and astrology. He lived along with his guru Sri Sattaimuni Siddhar in Sathuragiri hills for some time while he compiled his works on Siddha medicine and astrology. From depicting auspicious days for cultivating fruits and produce for the maximum yield to predicting the exact day of birth and the possible day of attaining puberty in children, he has vast studies under his name. One of his works Manaiyadi Saasthiram gives appropriate ways to construct a house for leading a healthy and hearty life. He has enriched the Siddha medicine system with his long researched works on poison treatment and the preparation of universal salt Muppu which are considered immensely valuable by many.
Siddhar Sundaranandar was an expert in space travel and attaining peace of mind through the means deep meditation i.e Samathi yoga. Siddha Bogar mentioned this in his work, Bogar 7000. Sri Paramanadar and Vaalai Siddha were the two of his disciples. After decades of serving humanity, he finally attained samadhi in Madurai.
The fact corner
A rare occurance
In ancient times, Muruga’s Vel was only worshipped as the main deity. The idol of Murugan along with his consorts Valli and Deivanai were only added later on. Lord Murugan symbolizes Jnana Shakti, Goddess Valli-Iccha Shakti, and Goddess Deivanai-Kriya Shakti here.
This is the only temple out of Six Abodes of Muruga, where Lord Muruga is seen along with both of his consorts Valli and Deivanai. Apart from visiting the temple to seek the divine blessings of the almighty, many come to this temple to pray for fertilization, successful marriage, and good education.
The Naaval Tree
The Naaval (Jamun) tree usually yields fruits only during the July – September season. It is a miracle that, the trees in this temple yield fruits throughout the October – November season, the time when Lord Murugan’s iconic Sashti festival takes place.
Noopura Ganga, a natural spring along with a temple dedicated to Rakkayi Amman, is located atop the hill. Pilgrims coming to the Pazhamudircholai Murugan never miss an opportunity to take a dip in this sacred spring. Which, as per the Hindu mythology originated from the anklet of
Lord Vishnu. It is said to have magical healing powers and is blessed with health and wealth.