Saturday, January 21, 2017

St. Thomas Mount, Chennai

Name :  Church of Our Lady of the Mount

Location :

St. Thomas Mount (known in Tamil as Parangimalai) is a small hillock located in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India, near the neighbourhood of Guindy and very close to Chennai International Airport.

The neighbourhood is served by the St. Thomas Mount railway station on the southern line of the Chennai Suburban Railway Network. Integration of the Metro and MRTS with the suburban station in the neighbourhood, is expected to make the suburb the city's largest transit hub after Chennai Central.

Legend :

According to tradition, the Cross chiselled on a stone of this hill by St Thomas himself and used by him for his personal prayer gave strength to him when he was pierced from behind with a lance as he was praying before it. It is believed that the Cross should have been stained with the blood of the Martyr. This Cross was accidentally discovered later by the Portuguese when they dug the foundations for the new Church in 1547.

According to ancient records, this Cross sweated blood during the Holy Mass celebrated by Fr. Gasper Coelho on the 18th December 1558. In the early years, this Cross used to sweat blood every year, then every two or three years and, later, at longer intervals. The last occasion on which it was found sweating blood was in 1704.

Popular faith says that innumerable miracles of cures were attributed to this sacred stone cross through mere contact with it in faith and it has roused the conversion of many unbelievers. Even today the natural dampness on its surface is a perennial factor of surprise and devotion. The image of the Cross itself is unique

It was in 1908 after much disputation that the inscription around the cross was deciphered as: "Through the Cross, the Messiah borught salvation to the world".

As per tradition, the oil painting of the Madonna of the Blessed Virgin was painted by St Luke the Evangelist on wood and was brought here by St Thomas and used by him for prayer. Hence it is popularly known as the "Scapular of St Thomas.".

In "Tombs and Descriptions in the Madras Presidency" ( A Government Publication ), Mr. J. J. Cotton says : "This is a picture painted by St Luke who was an artist. The Virgin died when Thomas was away and on his return he had the tomb opened in order that he might once more look upon her. It was found that the body had been miraculously removed and Thomas was so disturbed that St. Luke offered to paint him a portrait of the Virgin as a consolation. This portrait St. Thomas carried with him on all his wanderings".

The first written account of this painting is made in 1559 when the King of Bisnaga took it to his Court in Chandragiri and later returned it in a palanquin to the Mount.

The wear and the warp of this sacred species are explained by the efforts of the people down the ages to bury and hide it in order to protect it from the onslaught of the invading enemies.
However the Madonna is considered to be one of the oldest and most venerated paintings in India and countless favors and blessings have been recorded by devotees who have stood and prayed before it.

Description :

The ancient Syrian Christian community of India trace the origin of their church to St. Thomas the Apostle, believed to have been martyred in St. Thomas Mount . The altar of this Shrine was built on the spot, where St.Thomas was martyred in 72 AD.  The St. Thomas Garrison Church is located at the bottom of St Thomas Mount. The St. Thomas Syro Malabar Catholic church is located east of the shrine at North Silver Street , foot holds of the mountain Shrine.

A shrine dedicated to "Our Lady of Expectation" (Mother Mary) was built in 1523 on top of the mount. An Arch inside the church bears the title in Portuguese: "Senhora da Expectacao" (Our Lady of Expectation) with the year of its construction 1523.   At the northern foot of the mount, is a gateway of four impressive arches surmounted by a cross bearing the inscribed date 1547. A flight of 160 steps leads up to the summit of the mount. There are 14 stations of the cross erected on the way to the summit.

History :

The Mount was a grant to the church by the Kings of Bisnaga, or Vijayanagar, who called the place in Telugu "Fringy Kondah" meaning "European Hill" The Portuguese called the place Monte Grande (Big Mountain)

St Thomas Mount is a Holy place of international prominence, historical eminence, religious glory and tourist attraction.The ancient Church on the top of St. Thomas Mount has served as the light house for the Portuguese and Armenian ships and vessels in the Bay of Bengal in the 16th and 17th centuries. Interestingly, it is said, when sailors sighted the Church they offered prayers for a safe Voyage and then discharged from their artillery in salutation.

The Mount of Saint Thomas is easily accessed by the devotees who make the vowed climb through the 134 granite steps as an act of penance and sacrifice. An ornate arch with an imposing elegance remains an attraction to all those who happen to glimpse it with a note of the year of its construction, 1726.

The Armenian merchants of old were great benefactors of many Catholic Churches in and near Madras. Petrus Uscan was the greatest among them. He built a brick paved road with granite steps at intervals flanked by a double wall leading from the road below to the top of the mount. In his foresightedness, he also left a sum of money with the Administrator-General of Madras for the upkeep of these steps.

To make possible for modern vehicular traffic fully asphalted road laid by the military from the south- western base of the hill right upto the top in 1962.

The fifteen Stations of the Cross adorn the sides of the steps. The minute precision with which the figures have been moulded and the heaviness of the rare metal used in them add colour and life to the scenes of the Stations of the Cross along the steps of the Mount.They are spots of inspiration and they spiritually dispose the pilgrims who climb the steps for an eventual spiritual experience on the hill top Every year during Lent thousands of people flock the hill to make their Stations of the Cross with the help of these depictions. The annual mammoth gathering of people for the Mass celebrated by the Bishop on the Palm Sunday evening is the culmination of their Lenten pilgrimage.

Fr.Gaspar Coelho, Vicar of the Church in Mylapore in 1545 records that one Diego Fernandes, a Portuguese, built a small oratory on top of the hill over the foundation of a very ancient church in 1523 AD. The spot was already a place of pilgrimage.

Since this oratory dedicated to the Mother of God was very small and since the number of pilgrimage was increasing, Fr. Coelho laid the foundation for a bigger church on March 23, 1547 and completed the existing church within a year. It was then known as the Church of Our Lady of the Mount.

 Fr. Gaspar Coelho, who had built the church was buried in it and there is an inscription over his grave at the very entrance of the church.

The welcoming gate of the Hill Shrine with its Indian lamp conveys the message that Jesus Christ is the Light of the World. The two lampstands with seven wicks each symbolize the witnessing life and death (Rev 11:4) of the Prophet Martyrs like StThomas. An osmosis of light at the entrance reminds us that a city built on the hill top cannot be hidden (Mt 5:14) but that it will shine.

The shrine church entombs a piece of the Bone of St Thomas casketed in a beautifully ornamented monstrance. People have witnessed to many miracles that have been effected through the efficacy of this holy relic.

This Sanctuary is said to be the spot where St Thomas was martyred. Any one standing on this surface will certainly feel the vibrations of the hidden current that floods this main altar area. The excellent artistic background elevates the inner soul.

The framed oil painting of St Thomas being pierced with a lance from behind in his praying posture on the wall behind the high altar is the high point of awe and devotion for all who climb the hill to reach this sanctuary.

The artistic finale exhibited in the attractive wooden podium of the fifteenth century is a monumental piece of ancient art. It bespeaks the importance attached to the Breaking of the Word in the liturgy of the early centuries. The ornamental wood carving in unison with the main altar is a banquet for the eyes of the beholder. This is another gift of Petrus Uscan. The Italian marble laying, the dim lighting effects, the antique hanging lamp, and the Portuguese styled ancient altar add to the serenity of the place and the sanctity of the Chapel.

The votive shrine that shelters the colourful Statue of Our Lady in the sitting posture is of a later fashioning and it exhibits a graceful look and maternal benevolence.

The huge framed paintings of antiquity screening before us the images of the twelve Apostles and that of Christ and of St. Paul are marvelous treasures of art and faith. They not only adorn the church but they also elevate our spirits. Though such pictures of the Apostles are common in the great Basilicas of the West, the uniqueness of these consists in their miniature picturesque information about the way in which each of the Apostles glorified their Master in their final offering.

The open air stage meant for public worship and the grilled open space provide an exquisite sight of the whole city of Chennai. The presence of a huge banyan tree and a green peepul/ pipal tree on the Hill is a natural gift to the seekers since both the trees are a rare sacred species in the Indian context.

Festivals :

+Every year the 18th December has become the Annual Feast Day of this Shrine Chapel, which is celebrated with function and devotion.

Timings :
This Adoration Chapel is kept open everyday from 7.00 a.m to 7.00 p.m

Websites :

Anuvavi Subramania Swami Temple

Name : Anuvavi Subramania Swami Temple

Location :
Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple is an ancient temple situated in the outskirts of Coimbatore & it is located on the Anaikatty highway.

Legend :

While passing through this hill with the Sanjeevi mount, Sri Anjaneya felt thirsty.  He prayed to Lord Muruga here for water.  Lord punched a place here with His Vel from where water sprang up and flowed as a river. This shows that Muruga worship was n vogue even during Valmiki’s period.  There are also 2 mentions about the velocity of the arrow of Rama as that of Muruga’s Vel.

The word Hanu stands for Sri Anjaneya.  Vavi in Tamil means water resource.  Hanuvavi means a water source that appeared for Hanuman-Anjaneya.  In days that followed the name changed as Anuvavi.  As Kumara-Muruga helped Hanuman, the hill is also praised as Hanumakumaran Malai.  Malai in Tamil means hill.

Description :

Lord Subramania in the temple is a swayambumurthy and Lord Murugan is worshipped as Anubhavi Subramaniar here. Presiding deity Muruga blesses devotees in His standing posture with consorts Valli and Deivanai. Lord Vinayaka and Muruga’s army chief Veerabagu are in the front Mandap. Sri Anjaneya is facing north. There is a shrine for Navagrahas the nine planets. Lord Shiva blesses in the name Sri Arunachaleswara. Till now, the origin of the spring in the temple could not be discovered. It is noteworthy that the famous Marudamalai Murugan temple is on the southern side.

The beautiful scenery of Western Ghats makes the devotees to love this temple. Devotees believed that the natural spring at this temple has healing powers. Hence they take a dip and then worship this lord.

You have to climb a thousand steep steps to get to the temple. The temple is 1 km far from the foot hills. Idumban shrine is before the hill temple. This Anubhavi Subramaniar temple has a natural water outflow, which spouts water all through the year. The spring in the hill is mentioned as Kaanachunai – meaning not discoverable – in a document by a king of Mysore. It is perennial. People use to place a flower on the head of the deity seeking his approval before starting any new work.

Those seeking child boon worship here for five Tuesdays. Bathing in the spring before sunrise continuously for some days offers an effective cure for mental and skin diseases, it is said. Those facing delay in marriages use to offer mangal sutras, vastras and perform wedding festival for Lord Muruga.

Temple Timings :

Devotees can worship this lord on Monday - Friday: 6.00 AM - 8.30 PM, Saturday: 6.00 AM - 8.30 PM, Sunday: 6.00 AM - 8.30 PM, Public Holidays: 6.00 AM - 8.30 PM

Festivals :

Aipasi Sura Samharam in October-November; Krithika star days and Karthigai in November-December; Panguni Uthiram in March-April and Vaikasi Visakham in May-June are the festivals celebrated in the temple with special abishekam and pujas.

Contact :

Sri Subramania Swami Temple,
Anuvavi, Coimbatore district
Phone: +91-94434 77295, 98432 84842,

Connectivity :

By Road: This Place is well connected to Coimbatore by Road
By Airport: The Nearest Airport to Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple is Coimbatore Airport, Coimbatore which is 16 Kilometers away from Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple.
By Railway: The Nearest Railway Station to Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple is Coimbatore Railway Junction which is 7 Kilometers away from Anubhavi Subramaniar Temple.

Websites :

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Sri Prasanna Venketasar temple, Thiru vaiyavoor

Name : Sri Pranna Venkatesar Perumal Temple

Location :
Sri Prasanna Venkatesar Temple, Tirumalai Vaiyavur, Chengalpat, Kancheepuram district.

Legend :

Prasannam means that which appears in the mind.  There are staunch devotees who attain darshan of Lord in their mind though they could not have it with physical eyes.   King Tirumalai Naicker had such a darshan of Lord Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal and built a temple at Tallakulam in Madurai.  Similarly, a king of the Thondaiman dynasty in Thirumalayavur prayed to Lord Venkatachalapathi for safety to his land.  Lord protected his land.  When the king expressed his gratitude to the Lord, He came to this hill with His scepter and granted darshan.  Thondaiman king built this temple and named the Lord Prasanna Venkatesar.

Description : 

According to rules of worship in Tirupathi, the first worship should be dedicated to Lord Aadi Varahaswami before reaching Lord Srinivasa-Venkatachalapathi.  The same system is followed in this temple too.  There is a separate shrine for Lord.  When Perumal took Varaha Avatar, Garuda Bhagwan could not have this darshan.  Hence, this Varaha darshan was granted to Garuda in this temple.

Lord Prasanna Venkateswara in the sanctum sanctorum looks majestically holding the scepter-Sengole.  Two Mahalakshmis are on His broad chest on both sides.  Divine serpent Adi Sesha has his place in the Tiruvasi frame.   Lord is wearing Ashalakshmi-Sahasranama malas and Dasavatara Odyanam the belt around the waist.  Lord grants Netra darshan (Darshan of eyes only) without any special Alankaras on Thursday mornings.  The view of Lord falls on the devotees.  Of the Dwarapalakas, Jayan is wearing the Simha design ear ring and Vijayan is wearing the Gaja –elephant designed ear rings.  This is a different feature in this temple.  There is a separate shrine for Mother Alarmelmangai Thayar.

Lord Lakshmi Varaha is in a separate shrine with His own Kodimaram-flag post.   He has his right leg on Adisesha’s tail and the left on head head, holding Mother Mahalakshmi on His lap.  The first Deepa Aradhana is dedicated to Him as He is the pradhan murthi in the temple.  Even during festivals to Lord Prasanna Venkateswara, the flag hoisting is done in this shrine only.

Each month on the Tiruvonam Star day, Ona Dheepam is lighted in the temple.  It is said that Emperor Mahabali was a rat in one of his previous births and lived in a Shiva temple.  When a lamp in the temple was about to extinct, the rat incidentally fell on the lamp rekindling the wick of the lamp.  The lamp continued to burn.   This rewarded him with a royal birth as Emperor Mahabali.  He was graced by Lord Vishnu on a Onam Star day.  Remembering the event, a big lamp (Aganda Dheepam) is lit in the temple on each Tiruvonam star day.

Lord Srinivasa offers Darshan on the day in the front mandap.  Yajnas, Tirumanjanam and wedding pujas are performed here.  The Aganda Dheepa is placed at the feet of the Lord.  Those facing problems about marriage, concerned about children offer ghee to the lamp for relief.

There are two procession deities, Srinivasa and Kallarpiran.  The former comes in car procession during the Purattasi festival and later in Chithirai festival.  There are shrines for Chakarathazhwar, Venugopalar and Lord Sri Rama in the temple.  Sri Veera Anjaneya is at the foot of the temple in a flying posture.  Devotees submit their prayers in writing to Sri Anjaneya, cover it in a yellow cloth along with an unstripped coconut.  Lord Lakshmi Ganapathi shrine is nearby.

Moolavar    : Prasanna Venketasar
Urchavar    : Srinivasar, Kallapiran
Amman / Thayar    : Alarmel Mangai
Theertham    : Varaha Theertham
Agamam / Pooja     : Vaikanasam
Old year    : 500 years old

Websites :


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