Ardhanareeswarar temple, Tiruchengode – is one the 64 manifestations of lord Shiva located in the state of Tamilnadu in the southern part of India known for its history, belief systems, traditions and wow architect styles and marvelous eye catching and speechless sculptures .
I visited this unique Hindu temple on 28th of January 2020.
Godess Shakthi or Parvathi took up the left side and the right side by lord Shiva. Photograph of the main deity is not allowed by temple authorities.(Images of Ardhnarishwar) Water comes out of the spring at the foot of the Deity is being distributed(one spoon) to visitors present in that place.It is believed that it is good for the health and cures many illness.
This unique half male and half female form of Lord Shiva made of “Navapashanam” material as presented in the Ardhanareeswarar temple, is the only place in the globe underlines the significance of gender equality. Amazingly the thought of equality originated some 2000 years ago in India.
After reaching the hill top temple crossing over 1206 steep steps, When I stepped into the halls or mandapam around the shrines of Ardhanareeswara, Nageshwarar and Sengotuvelar, I recollected the meaning of what I read years ago that is “Architecture is biggest unwritten document of history”.
Truly amazing to note the details carved into on stones and delicate ornate work with minute details on chains made of granite stones hanging from the ceiling.
I was very much astonished the see an image of a British officer who extended help to repair some parts of the temple. I was delighted to capture the image near the Mukkootu Vinayagar shrine.
I share here below pictures of some of the exquisite granite stone creations in the Ardanadeeswarar temple, Thiruchengode.
Then comes the “Step of Honesty”. That is, 60th step from step number 660 to 720 of the total 1206 steps to reach the hill temple popularly known as “SATHIYAPPADI”.
Its special significance has been mentioned by Arunagirināthar, ancient Tamil poet.
This practice was very unique helped to deliver justice. That is, those who had problems of litigation should ready to tell the truth should cross all sixty steps declaring that he or she was honest in telling the truth in public in front of all assembled over there from nearby villages or locality and this constituted as “evidence “in declaring judgment by the then rulers or authorities of that area and in turn acceptable to the society.
The practice was to lit with 60 oil lamps on all the sixty steps. 60 steps in a straight row with all equal size is considered great marvel as seen from the following picture taken on the spot on 28th January 2020.
There is 60 feet snake carved pit on the hill. This one can see after reaching 234th step on the hill path.Those who got inflicted by Nagadosha offer abishegams with turmeric and red colour kumkum and milk. The belief was that by doing this will help to get rid of evil spirit,family disputes and blessed with marriage prospects and children.(Naga dosha)
Further 600 meters above hill top temple of Ardanadeeswarar Ucchi Pillaiyar shrine is there dedicated to Lord Ganesha and to the lingam form of Shiva. But the passage is rocky and in fact it should be trekked.
I was thrilled to note down that since time immemorial chariot festivals are organized in the temple. Another novel feature associate with the temple is what is called Girivalam. That is, the practice of circumambulating the sacred hill (7 km) by foot on full-moon days.
Also interesting to note that Muthuswami Dikshitar, doyen of Carnatic music composer has composed a song on “Arthanareeshwram” set to KUMUDAKRIYA ragam. (KUMUDAKRIYA ragam songs)
For travelers planning to visit this hillock temple filled with history and creative ornate works on granite stones, please note the following. Carry enough water bottles and biscuits with you and no shops are found on the way and more over you have to mange the monkey menace while climbing steps. At some places, steps are scary and very deep and in the absence of any holdings elderly persons will find it difficult to complete the walking journey to the top (1206 steps). Otherwise one can reach on their own or hired motor vehicles to the top via road built up recently. But one will miss significant historic land mark locations associated with this place. Temple authorities run buses to the hill temple. Timings are infrequent. My suggestion would be to take the walking route by steps to enjoy many landmark scenery. I would be suggesting to go in early morning timings and better to avoid evenings because no way lights are fixed.
On my return when I boarded the bus to Bengaluru,India, I fondly recollected the following words..“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page”.