It has been 15 days since April 1 when I started the Ayyappa Vratham and on 11th April I had the trip to Chengannur. At least till the daybreak of 11th the trip was in WL mode and did not get confirm despite giving an Emergency Quota request too. It could just ascend up to RAC. Somehow managed the show and reached Chengannur at around 7 AM. Then took the Pampa bus from there to reach Nilakkal by 9 AM. En route the bus stopped for a breakfast in a small restaurant. From Nilakkal we took another bus to reach Pampa by 10 AM. After a brief dip in the very tiny stream of the river started trekking the up hill by 11 AM. We reached the Sannidhanam by 2 PM and the temple was scheduled to open only by 4 AM.
The #Sukku coffee which is sold by hawker was simply delicious along with medicated herbal water distributed free by Travancore Devaswom Board. These are mandatory to ensure a healthy trek up and down the sacred hill. We had a good darshan after the temple opened without much crowd. We then had the annadhanam (dinner) at the Travancore Devaswom Board Annadhanam center itself. That was another delicious divine offering and was sumptuous. That night we chose to halt in Nambiar Mandapam and then start downhill trek early morning of 13th. Once we reached Pampa around 7 AM we were trying to get a direct bus to either Nagercoil or Kumily and we were out of luck. We then figured out that we ought to reach Pathinamthitta and only from there we could get a bus. In between another interesting experience. One bus driver told us that we can board any bus and get dropped in KSRTC station a few feet away and no ticket for the same the conductor was refusing and was asking for a full charge of Nilakkal even to get dropped in KSRTC bus station in Pampa. So when we started walking to KSRTC bus station the other bus driver who was guiding us was coming and he stopped his vehicle and offered us the lift.
Once we reached KSRTC bus station we took the bus to Pathinamthitta. In Pathinamthitta bus stand we realized that bus to Nagercoil or Kumily just left and for Chennai there used to a direct bus till a few months ago but mysteriously ceased to come without any intimation to even the timekeepers. So we took a bus to Thiruvananthapuram. The biggest headache in this bus stand was everything was written in Malayalam. One KSRTC driver helped us locate the Thiruvananthapuram bus and helped us board it.
After a few hours journey by afternoon the bus reached Thiruvananthapuram. After having some quick lunch started to Chennai. On a casual chat with conductor he was telling the bus is going through Aralvaimozhi. We requested him to see if he can go slow when it is near Isakki temple and he added that he will even stop for us couple of minutes to have a darshan and come. And he did too. So one more darshan in Isakki temple we got.
The bus reached Chennai on 14th morning at around 7 AM.
Today also marks the completion of 6 Week Mangadu Lemon Pooja. When I visited the temple at 9 AM I reminded a friend who agreed to help by procuring boiled milk with added sugar locally instead of having it to ferry all along the city perimeters. Interestingly since he got locked with another commitment to travel to 45 kms still North of Chennai, he was waiting at the temple to quickly give the bottle of milk and then left.
Though it is a new plastic bottle the priest had a concern because showing the prasadam on a plastic bottle is not considered apt but it looked like Kamakshi convinced to accept it and offer the same to Her.
When they offered the milk to Her it resembled to me as if giving the milk to a tiny baby. In fact she always appears to me like a small kid.
Thanks to Her blessings for a gentle completion of 6 week pooja.
After a long hiatus of 9 years 6 months and 27 days the prayer commitment of a Veshti to Velachery Pillayar was completed today. It was prayed for a different reason that time on 28th July 2009. While Pillayar kept His word and fulfilled the aspiration the return promise got delayed this much time because of various other preempting commitments, travel reasons, logistics etc.
Thanks to Pillayar itself and Todolist was diligently following it up and taking the same to closure.
When I visited the Pillayar Temple it was quite close to 5.45 AM and I was the one to give a #Wakeup call to Him and the priest at their cellphone. The temple opened at 0645 and after they completed the morning rituals they put the veshti over the Pillayar.
Today it happens to be the third week of Aaru Vara Vazhipadu in Mangadu. So first visited Mangadu by 0830 AM. During the journey witnessed some hostile incident between drunkards and MTC crew in Tambaram West bus stand which was unnecessarily delaying the services by a few minutes.
Once Mangadu darshan complete tried to visit Moondram Kattalai Sri Santha Mookambika Temple. This temple visit comes after several years. Found one interesting feature in this temple. The sanctum sanctorum is attended by women folk unlike other temples. Oh Yes. Melmaruvathur is an exemption again where women folk attend the duties in sanctum sanctorum.
Next scheduled visit was to Siruvapuri Balamurugan Temple which involves a lengthy journey. First bus to Poonamalee and then another to Red Hills but alighted at Avadi itself on sighting a bus to Arni (to avoid city entry). From Arni took a share auto to reach Siruvapuri. Unfortunately the temple just got closed when I entered so had to wait for an hour and a half and had darshan at 1615 hours.
The return trip was crowded bus to Vallalar nagar and hence alighted at Karanodai to catch another bus to Red Hills. Then to CMBT for onward travel back.
The day break opened with 2nd week of 6-Week Mangadu Prayers. Considering the delayed woke up in the morning because of extended previous day’s schedules I could start only by 7.30 AM but managed to reach Tambaram bus stand in less than 40 minutes thanks to the Green Route offered by the signals on the way. The Mangadu bus was almost to depart and no sooner did I board the same than it started rolling its way.
The otherwise trafficky route of Pammal, Anakaputhur, Kundrathur too was kind of helpful and I could reach the destination by 8.30 AM and joined the queue lines by 8.45 AM. Slow moving line did manage to get me near the sanctum sanctorum by 9 AM. With Good darshan of the Lordess (Sri Chakra Ardha Meru Kamakshi), Tapas Kamakshi, Kala Bhairav and Ganesh (the latter two I missed last week in a hurry). There is another Ganesh at the entrance which I did not miss anyway though.
During circumambulation of the temple had an opportunity to talk to the temple office where there was a big Kamakshi photo, artistically created and inquired whether a copy of the same is available. However that was not available however he was magnanimous to give a pocket-sized photo of the same which has temple schedules also.
The photos have been scanned and shared here for the benefit of all devotees in Kamakshi group here.
Once darshan completed had a quick refresh at one of the shops outside the temple. Just like last week the bus seemed to be playing hide and seek. So took the other side of the route and proceeded towards Poonamalee and went through Ayyappanthangal to Vadapalani to meet a business client. En route another experiene with MTC at Ayyappanthangal depot where the bus got delayed by 45 minutes.
Once the business meeting got completed got the return trip in the same direction of Poonamalee-Sriperumbudur and reached Vallakkottai Murugan temple. En route found another two discoveries.
- Had a quick lunch in restaurant and when paid by PhonePe got a 20% cashback. Wonderful business initiative by the Flipkart enterprise.
- Another beautiful stall called Sri Venkateswara Boli Stall (West Mambalam famous) has now a franchise branch outlet now opened near Avichi school.
The temple was open but not that having much crowd. Having completed the darshan then took the next bus to reach home by 9 PM.
Yesterday I started the Aruvara Vazhipadu for Mangadu. Morning I started around 7 AM and reached Mangadu by 8.30 AM. Had a quick darshan of the Lordess. While the up journey was comfortable the down journey was herculean because of lack of buses. Thought of taking a detour through Ayyappanthangal/Vadapalani but that was met with a bit of traffic jams too. So in effect 4 hours trip was extended to 6 hours in total.
As discussed in my previous narration, I visited Shiva temple on Wednesday night at 9 PM. There were four blocks. For those who had registered for the special blocks they could perform abhishekam and others can sit and participate by listening and joining with the participants.
The whole night ensured constant hearing of Om Nama Shivaya and nothing else. Unlike in 2017 where in the state of Tamil Nadu due to the iron rods being erected in the temples to segregate pilgrims on the basis of economy this was a total equality before the Almighty.