During a recent trip to Karaikudi, a charming town in Tamil Nadu’s Chettinad region, I had the delightful experience of visiting three renowned temples, each with its unique allure and spiritual ambience. This journey took me to the Karpaka Vinayakar Temple in Pillaiyarpatti, the Shanmughanathar Temple in Kunnakudi, and the Sri Vairavar Temple in Vairavapatti, making for an enriching and memorable pilgrimage.
Shanmughanathar Temple Kundrakudi
A short drive from Karaikudi, lies the Kunnakudi Shanmughanathar Temple atop a modest hill of 130 feet. The ascent, taking a mere 10-15 minutes, is an easy climb with steel benches thoughtfully placed for those needing a rest. The temple’s main deity, Lord Murugan, is flanked by his consorts Valli and Deivasena, elegantly seated on a peacock. On my visit, the idols were adorned with Vibuthi (sacred ash), partially veiling their intricate details, yet the darshan was spiritually uplifting. The convenience of bypassing the queue, thanks to pre-purchased archanai tickets and flower garlands, got us noticed by the archagar (priest), and added to the serenity of the experience.
Karpaka Vinayakar Temple Pillaiyarpatti
Visiting the illustrious Karpaka Vinayakar Temple, a 7th-century CE rock-cut cave shrine was a long-cherished dream that finally came true during my trip. As we arrived around 6 PM, we found myself among a group of approximately 50 devotees, all waiting eagerly as the sanctum had been closed for the evening offerings from 5:30 PM to 6 PM. After a brief wait of about twenty minutes, we were directed to the innermost left line, allowing us a closer and intimate darshan of Lord Vinayakar. The deity, adorned in golden vestments and ornaments, was a magnificent sight. Keen to relive the spiritual experience, I joined the queue for a second darshan. This time, the wait was notably shorter, and I was able to quickly gain access to the deity’s presence once more. The serene ambience of the temple, especially near the pushkarni (temple pond) at dusk, added to the profoundness of my visit.
Sri Vairavar Vairavapatti
A short distance from Pillaiyarpatti, in the village of Vairavapatti, stands the Sri Vairavar Temple, deeply revered by the Nagarathar Chettiyar community as being one of the nine temples of importance for them. Here, the presiding deities are Lord Valaroli Nathar and his consort Vadivudai Ammai. The archanai is performed for the Vairavar. The temple’s vibrant paintings and impressive sculptures lend it a distinctive charm. A notable historical feature is the stone inscription marking the installation of the first electric light in the temple on 16th September 1947, a testament to the temple’s blend of tradition and modernity.
Each temple visit was a unique blend of spiritual fulfilment and cultural enrichment, making this journey through the Chettinad region an unforgettable experience.