Day 4 was fairly laid-back. There wasn’t much on our agenda except the Thanjavur Brihadeeshwara temple and then off to Trichy. However, a minor development made our day a bit more exciting than we anticipated. My mother called in the morning to let us know that Tamil news channels were talking of the floodwaters rising in the Kaveri and the bridge across the river sinking. We realised that if we wanted to see Srirangam and Thiruvanaikaval, it would have to be that day and not the next, given that Mettur had opened the previous day and water takes time to travel.
Day 4 – Stop 1 – Thanjavur Brihadeeshwara Temple
There’s very little that needs to be said about this temple, given that it’s so famous. Along with Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram, it is part of the triad of monuments known as the Great Living Chola Temples and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of my favourite temples, because there’s so much peace despite it being so popular. We realised that the day we arrived there was Aadi Pooram and there was a special Abhishekam scheduled for the Lord. What a sight that was! In all these years of going to Thanjavur, this was easily the best darshan we got. If you’ve never been there, please ignore all the stories about the shadow of the vimana falling within the base and take the time to look at the mandapams in the periphery of the temple. They house some of the most exquisite examples of Chola vegetable oil painting. These have been painted over by subsequent rulers, but the originals can still be seen in parts. There’s a lot more to see within the temple but that would merit a blogpost of its own.
After this, we went off to Trichy. That’s where we realised that the rumours of the Kaveri rising were precisely that. Rumours. After an afternoon’s longish siesta, we set off to Srirangam with a two-point agenda: find one kacha uruli for Amma and see the two temples.
Day 4 – Stop 2 – Srirangam – Ranganathaswamy Temple
This temple, along with Thiruvanaikaval were not part of the agenda, but again like in Thanjavur, it made sense to visit because we were there. Also, we seemed to be going on a temple run of only Shiva temples and one Perumal temple seemed to be a fair deal. The Srirangam temple is centuries old, having been built over and extended through several dynasties, much like the Chidambaram temples. And of course, it is one of the most sacred of the Srivaishnava shrines. The most entertaining part of the visit to this extremely-crowded, full-of-red-tape temple was one old lady who assumed that Sriram and I were married, and never bothered to listen to anything we were trying to tell her. It took us a full 45 minutes to get rid of her and go our way! Anyway, some fun for the day!
Day 4 – Stop 3 – Thiruvanaikaval – Jambukeshwara Temple
This temple is a shrine dedicated to one of the five elements, water in this case. The deity, Jambukeshwarar is tiny and can only be seen by bending down to knee level. What’s interesting in this temple is that the sanctum sanctorum is said to be filled with water all the time, justifying the name of this place. The Goddess Akhilandeshwari was beautiful and since it was Aadi Pooram, the darshan was all the more special. We must have spent close to an hour just taking in the beauty of the temple.
PS: We found that kacha uruli and also one tiny brass azhakku (measuring vessel) for Sriram’s mother, thereby escaping all the lectures from both of them. Now, we had just two things to do. Those would be for the final day of the trip.
PPS: The bridge was nowhere close to flooding. It could have taken several million litres of excess water and the river was a good seventy feet below the bridge!