The temple at Palani dedicated to Lord Thandayuthapani (Lord
Murugan) is one of his six famous abodes known as 'aarupadai
veedu'. It is situated in the district of Madurai about 112
km from Madurai and 152 km from Trichi. The shrine of Lord
Thandayuthapani is at the top of a hill about 500 feet high, but
there are several shrines and 'theerthams' surrounding
the hill itself. One of these is the famous shrine called
'Aavinankudi' situated at the foot of the hill, which is
mentioned in old religious verses. It is believed to be more than
2000 years old. Some devotees go round the hill itself before
The temple is about 5 km from the railway station on the
Dindugal - Coimbatore line of the Southern Railway. There are bus
services from all the major towns in Tamilnadu as well as from
the adjoining state of Kerala.
The shrine situated at the top of a hill can be reached either
by climbing the flight of steps or by travelling in a carriage
hauled to the top by winches along rails laid on the side of the
hill. Along the steps there are small shrines to various deities
with resting places where tired devotees can rest awhile during
their climb. There are about 690 steps to the top of the hill.
Extensive building works and renovation have created a large area
at the top of the hill. Large corridors run on all sides of the
temple with various buildings attached to it. The whole complex
had been built at a height of 1086 ft above sea level, and
standing at the top one realises the mammoth task involved in
transporting the building materials to the top of the hill which
has no access either by road or rail.
Sage Agasthiar during one of his trips away from his abode at
'Pothigai' created two hills, Sivagiri and Sakthigiri. He
then prayed to Lord Shiva and his consort Sakthi to appear on
these hills so that he could offer his daily 'pooja'. In
response to his prayer Lord Shiva along with his consort appeared
one on each hill. At the end of his worship Agasthiar wanted to
take these two hills to his place in Pothigai. He therefore asked
his disciple Idumban to transport these two hills. Idumban in
response to his preceptor's request tied these two hills in a
'thandu' (pole) and carried them like a 'kavadi'
and followed Agasthiar on his journey. Arriving in the area now
known as Palani Idumban felt tired and put the 'kavadi'
down and rested for a while. While Idumban was resting another
event was unfolding in 'Kailash' - the abode of Lord
Naradha, the celestial wanderer and 'mischief-maker',
acquired a rare and precious mango fruit and offered it to Lord
Shiva and Goddess Parvathy. Lord Shiva in turn wanted his
children to enjoy this rare fruit. So he summoned his two
children Subramanya and Ganesha but he could not decide as to who
should get this fruit. So he set a contest between them. He told
them, "Whoever goes round the Universe and returns to me
first will get this fruit". Lord Subramanya without wasting
time immediately got on his mount, the peacock, and flew away at
a lightning speed, while Lord Ganesha pondered over this problem
for a while. He then slowly got up from his perch and went round
his parents and requested the fruit for himself, saying,
"You are the Universe and all the Universe is in you. By
going round you I have gone round the Universe. Therefore the
fruit is mine." Parvathy and Parameswaran (another name for
Lord Shiva) delighted by these words gave him the fruit. Lord
Subramanya on his return found that he had been outwitted by his
brother and became angry. He threw down all his ornaments and
renouncing all his worldly possessions but with just a loin cloth
(Kaupeenam) and a staff (Thandu) went in search of a retreat for
himself. On his search he came across the hills that Idumban had
laid down and settled on one of them.
Idumban after his rest tried to lift his 'kavadi' so
that he could continue on his journey but found that he could not
lift them. He found out that there was an intruder in one of his
hills and tried to attack him without realising who the intruder
was. Lord Murugan (Lord Subramanya) immediately killed Idumban
but he was later restored to life at the pleadings of
Idumban's wife and of Agasthiar. Idumban then prayed to Lord
Murugan that he be allowed to stand at the entrance to Lord
Murugan's shrines as 'Dwarapalaka' and any devotee
carrying a 'kavadi' to these shrines in fulfilment of a
vow should be granted his wish.
Lord Shiva finding that his son had become a recluse tried to
pacify his anger by appealing to him that he (Murugan) himself
was the fruit of all the wisdom and righteousness of this world
and that he did not need another fruit. The pronouncement that
Lord Murugan himself was a fruit (Pazham = Fruit; Nee = yourself)
gave the name to this place as 'Palani'
The deity on the hill shrine thus appears in the form of an
ascetic and stands with just a pole in his right hand and is
called 'Thandaayuthapaani' (Thandu = Pole; Aayutham =
weapon; Paani = Appearance. There is another hill nearby called
'Idumban malai', the other hill that was carried by
Festivals and Opening Hours
The early morning worship starts at 6 am. and the temple is
open all day until the last worship is conducted at 8 pm.
There are special 'pooja' every month on
'karthigai' day. The main festivals fall on
'Thaipoosam' in January; 'Panguni uththaram' in
March; 'Vaikasi visakam' in May; 'Skanda sashdi'
in Oct/Nov. 'Pankuni uththaram in March is the main festival
and draws large crowds from all over Tamilnadu and the
neighbouring state of Kerala.
The idol of the deity in the hill shrine is made up of a
wax-like substance and is believed to be an amalgam made up of
nine different herbal substances while others believe it to be of
nine rare minerals. Devotees believe that any substance that
comes into contact with the body of this idol acquires miraculous
curing powers for many illnesses. The materials used on this idol
during 'abishekams' (purifying ablution), especially the
sandal paste used to cover the body overnight are highly sought
after. It can also be observed that the 'panchamirtham'
(a mixture of fruits and honey) used in the 'abishekam'
is kept for long periods without any preservative in it. These
are distributed to the devotees who do not suffer any ill effects
when they ingest it
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