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In the remote town of Elavanasurkottai in Villuppuram District of Tamilnadu is one of the long forgotten temple built by Raja Raja Chozha which houses Lord Shiva who is called Ardhanarisvarar here with his consort Brahan Nayagi. The Temple might have been long forgotten, but it is significant and bears the years of wear and tear with a charm on its own.
There used to be a grand and massive fort in this area, thus giving the town the name. This Shiva temple is believed to be on top of once a small hill, but now the place is all flat and plain. To whom or which dynasty the fort belong to is unclear, though speculations are made on this regard. The fort itself is non existence in the area, but the temple still stands high and proud. This temple is also a house of many unique features apart from the obvious Chozha features which includes Yaazhi, a separate and big shrine for Chandikeshvarar, highly ornamented gopurams and the many inscription in almost every inch of the walls.
It is believed by the locals here that, once when Raja Raja Chozha came this way for hunting and found this Linga in the middle of the forest. He was immediately drawn to the shiva that seemed to be “suyambu” or that has been formed naturally, meaning it was not carved out or made by anyone. He immediately felt devoted to the Linga that he decided to build a temple around it.
This temple is built in Dravidian style, with the entrance gopuram is smaller than that of the main gopuram where the inner sanctum is situated. One of the peculiar thing about this temple is that the sanctum of the Lord Ardhanarisvarar is located on the first floor of the temple. Devotees who visit the temple has to go up a flight of stairs to reach the sanctum. The reason behind this is even more interesting: The Linga here is believed to be growing and the base of the Linga is at the ground level and the actual linga is at the first floor of the temple. There are also two praharas for the temple and unlike other temples where the praharas will be in concentric sequence, here it is in two levels: one in the ground floor and one in the first floor.
This temple also has another unique feature: a “suyambu” sculpture of Aadhi Shakthi, who by Hindu belief is the first power to have formed along side Aadhi Shiva who is the supreme and first power. This is a rare sight in any of the Shiva temple.
In this temple, Vishnu and Brahma are worshipped alongside which is almost non-existence in any other temple.
Unlike any other Shiva temple, the Nandi on the entrance and the Nandi in the sanctum faces away from Shiva, i.e., the Nandi is seen sitting having his back to the Lord Shiva, while in all other temple Nandi sits facing the Lord. The reason for this is either haven’t been found or have been lost in the lore. Either way the locals here seem to know little about the reason behind it.
There is also a shrine for an incarnation of Lord Shiva Baadhala Lingeshvarar who is believed to have appeared in front of a Malaiyaman Chief, Deivigan when he prayed the to the Lord before starting for a battle. The town in itself is said to have been donated by Sembianmadevi, grandmother of Raja Raja Chozhan and she donated this town and nearby lands to this temple.
This once majestic temple, even though maintained by the Government has still took the bad side of wear and tear through the centuries it has stood there.
The dissipated fort that once guarded and protected the magnificent city, still stands proud at the heart of the modern day city of Tiruchirappalli. The fort walls may have been built-over, the city may have grown beyond its once magnificent walls, the history of the city that the walls withheld might have been re-written and retold more than once, but the stories it tells and creates every day has never stopped.
Those who come from Trichy, would have heard of the Main Guard Gate for sure. It is in a fact in itself the heart of the city with four centuries of history woven into its walls, sometimes quite literally as it has been renovated and redesigned by various kings of Pallavas, Cholas and Madurai Nayakas, each leaving their own subtle signatures all along the fort and into the city itself.
The fort includes some of the iconic places like Rani Mangammal Palace, which was used as durbar of Madurai Nayak when Trichy was their capital which now houses government offices and government museum; Clive’s hostel that once housed Robert Clive and his men when the city was made cantonment during the British era, now houses the hostel for young students of St. Joseph’s college; the busy streets beyond the gate surrounding the temple tank which is filled with shops and the Main Guard gate itself which stands proud and that which protected its walls and the city in some of the fiercest battles fought in its wake which includes the Carnatic war fought between Chandha Sahib and the British. The most iconic and famous place of all is the upper cave temple -Lalithankura Pallaveshwaram cave temple which is believed to be built by Mahendhra Varman I and lower cave temple also believed to be built by Narasimha Varman I Mamalla, which adorns the upper and lower part of the massive 3.8 billion year old rock formation, commonly known as the Rockfort.
It is an amazing thought indeed that the once the streets that saw the troops paraded on, now has commuters and shoppers ebbing with excitement and the quarters of the Clive’s hostel once held meetings planning the course of action for protecting the city walls and other military operations, now holds meetings planning the weekend plan of the students staying there.
As of today, the remains of the once magnificent fort and the city and the remnants of the fort walls itself carries stories of its past and victories: some cherished and some forgotten in time. The once proud walls that protected the city and roared cries of victories over the won battles, now reverberates with the roars of laughter shared by the commuters and shoppers and tell stories of the life that in itself portrays the very essence of the modern city of Tiruchirappalli.
Paths of Glory by Jefferey Archer is the Life story of George Herbert Leigh Mallory, an English mountaineer who lost his life in an attempt climb the Everest. The words of Archer take us on the cold and hard journey with Mallory.
The published story created a controversy in few places around the World, New Zealand in particular for major factual errors, which made the book less popular than Archer’s other works, but it didn’t stop to deliver the clichés of Archer. It had the overwhelming emotions spurting out of his words.
With Mallory in this book, we take many journeys through several summit including his historical journey to the top of Everest, the one that claimed his life and the one from which he never came back alive. Along with Mallory, we endured the cruel nights at the first base of the summit, breathless stumbles along the second base, gruelling days that were disappointing in more than one way and his final ascend and suffocated along with him in the thick layer of snow. The ending leaves us with the kind of emptiness that one will find when they fail at something that they have pushed their limits for. It didn’t make it any better to know that a living, breathing human being went through all those ordeals only to give it all up with his life. The fact also made the controversy much more understandable as the factual errors on Mallory’s life would tarnish the memory of him.
Keeping the factual errors aside, Archer didn’t disappoint in delivering an amazing story of an even amazing human being who died doing what he loved and creating history while doing so.
The Forty Rules of Love is a breathtaking piece by Elif Shafak, who took the reader on a memorable journey through love, religion, mysticism and many more through her beautiful words.
This book is a perfect example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Some may think this book is about a kind of a guide book to be a success in love, well it is in a way, but in the most poetic and unexpected way possible.
The story starts with Ella having an existential crisis over a book she is reviewing. With Ella, we take up on a journey in search of love that is beyond the understanding of an average mind.
Does this book talk about love? Friendship? Companionship? Love of God? Self-Love? Religion? Meaning of life as a whole? Yes, yes and yes to all of the above. Shafak took us on a journey with Shams a Sufi in search of a companion who can mirror him and give a meaning to his solitude. When he finds Rumi, anyone who understands solitude will ache to have a companionship like Shams and Rumi.
“I have never been to a tavern before and have never consumed wine. I don’t think drinking is the right thing to do. But I trust you fully, because I trust the Love between us”
– Rumi to Shams
These beautiful words, as simple as it might be, revealed a prospect of the heights of trust and love a person could have for another. This level of trust as purely a concept of fiction as it can be in this modern times, it makes one think how much human beings are capable when it comes to love and ache for a time where it could be possible.
The forty rules that is spread across the entire story is not just a rule for just common kind of love between a man and a woman, but for forty kinds of love and more. None of the two rules address the same kind of love. As you explore the rules one by one, you fall in love with god, with life, with yourself, with your ability to love, with another person, with humans in general and the list goes on till it come to a point where you fall in love with love itself.
After reading this book, you will never see life and the rest of the world the same way again. It will take you apart and put you back piece by piece in the most poetic way possible.