Travelogue | Sivalaya/Shivalaya Ottam 2014 : A Spiritual Run of Mahasivarathri

We have heard about Marathon Race.  Marathon runners used to cross 45 kilometers, but here the Siva devotees are crossing about 90 kilometers (ie. distance of 2 marathon race).  Why do the people do like this? What is Sivalaya Ottam? Yes.  There are many stories behind this, but I believe in this story that, once Lord Siva gave a Varam to choondodharan that the person who point out by Asura will be becomes ash.  So the choondodharan wished to practice with Siva. To escape from the choondodharan, Lord Siva ran to these twelve places;      (B) Thirumala, (C) Thikkurichy, (D) Thirpparappu, (E) Thirunanthikarai, (F) Ponmanai, (G) Pannipagam,  (H) Kalkulam, (I) Melancode, (J) Thiruvidaicode, (K) Thiruvithamcode, (L) Thirupanniyodu and (M) Thirunattalam in erstwhile Kingdom of Travancore, now in Kanyakumari District of Tamilnadu. Lord Krishna saved Siva from Asura.  Later people built temples in all these 12 places for Siva.  But here the people are not running like Siva, but they are running for Siva.

For this spiritual running people are preparing themselves for few days before like fasting etc. On the day of spiritual running, they wear saffron coloured cloths, having a small bag for collecting viboothi from temples and a hand fan. Since Lord Siva was so tried, people use this hand fan to serve him. Actually the people have to finish this spiritual running within a day by their plain foots (without wearing any sandals), but nowadays most of the people are not following these rules, but there are some people still follow these rules. While the people run they say this slogan as “Govinda Gopala Gopala Govinda”, because while Lord Siva was running he called Lord Krishna to save him like this.

In this year’s Sivalaya Ottam we also took part.

Thirumala Mahadevar Temple, Munchira - 1st Sivalayam (Lat. 8.286053, Lon. 77.174752)
We started our journey at 5am from Marthandam to the first temple Munchira Thirumala Mahadevar Temple.  For that we followed the the way Vettumany, Kappukad and Munchira.  Still we reached the temple; we have no idea about the occasion.  There was a big crowd in the temple.  The temple located on the top of a rock.  We have to wait more than 1 hr to reach inside the temple.  From there we move to next temple at Thikkurissi.

Marthandam-Vettumany-Kappukad-Munchira : 7 KM

Entrance of Thirumala Mahadevar Temple, Munchira

Entrance of Thirumala Mahadevar Temple, Munchira

Thirumala Mahadevar Temple Pond, Munchira
Thikkurichy Mahadevar Temple, Thikkurichy - 2nd Sivalayam (Lat. 8.315418, Lon. 77.243605)
We traveled back to Marthandam junction and follow the way to Thikkurissi.  We traveled nearly 11 KM to reached the temple.  The temple is located in the bank of Kuzhithurai River. After the dharsan we had our breakfast (idly and sambar) from the same temple.  Various cultural organizations and temple authorities are arranging the free food and natural drinks to the devotees on this Mahasivarathri day.  Then we moved to next temple at Thirparappu.

Munchira-Marthandam-Thikkurissi : 11 KM

Entrance of Thikkurichy Mahadevar Temple, Thikkurichy

Entrance of Thikkurichy Mahadevar Temple, Thikkurichy

Entrance of Thikkurichy Mahadevar Temple Compound, Thikkurichy
Thirparappu Mahadevar Temple - 3rd Sivalayam (Lat. 8.392087, Lon. 77.259622)
On the way of Chitharal junction, we saw the entrance of famous Chitharal Rock cut Temple and Jain Monument.  After reaching the Chitharal junction, there are two routes to Thirparappu, Arumanai-Kaliyal-Thirpparappu and Attor-Thiruvattar-Kulasekharam-Thirpparappu.  We choose the first way and turn left from Chithral junction.  We saw a lot of temporary sign boards installed by local organizations to guide devotees to next temples.  So there was no confusion for the devotees to reach particular temple.  After traveling almost 12.5 KM from Thikkurissi we reached the Thirparappu Temple.  The temple located in the bank of Kodaiyar River and close to the famous Thirpparappu water falls.  We couldn’t spend more time in the temple because we have to go 9 more temples.  Then we followed the way to next temple Thirunanthikarai.

1. Thikkurichy-Chitharal jn-Arumanai-Kaliyal-Thirparappu : 12.5KM
2. Thikkurichy-Chitharal jn-Attor-Thiruvattar-Kulasekharam-Thirparappu

Thirpparappu Mahadevar Temple

Thirunanthikkarai Nandeeswarar Temple - 4th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.397887, Lon. 77.297295)
We reached to Thirunanthikarai Nandeeswarar temple  after traveling 8 KM from Thirpparappu.  We traveled through rubber plantations.  The temple architecture is based on Kerala style.  A rock cut temple is located nearby the temple.  The rock cut temple is protected by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).  From there we moved to the next temple Ponmanai.

Thirpparappu-Kulasekharam Convent jn-Thirunanthikarai : 8KM

Entrance of Thirunanthikarai Nandeeswara Temple

Way to Thirunanthikarai Rock cut Temple

Thirunanthikarai Nandeeswara Temple
Ponmanai Mahadevar Temple - 5th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.354370, Lon. 77.331616)
After reaching Kulasekharam Bus stand, we choose a short cut route.  The common route is through Kulasekharam Arasumoodu jn.  We travel through a narrow way parallel to a channel from Pechipparai Dam.  Now the time is almost 11’o clock.  The sun started to attack us.  Since channel is filled with water, we would like to jump in the water to take bath, but we were in hurry.  By the way we reached Kulasekharam-Ponamanai road.  By travelling 8KM from last temple we reached to the temple.  After dharsahan the temple we moved to the next temple at Pannipagam.

Thirunanthikarai-Kulasekharam Arasumoodu jn-Ponmanai : 8KM

Entrance Ponmanai Mahadevar Temple

Ponmanai Mahadevar Temple Pond

Ponmanai Mahadevar Temple
Pannipagam Mahadevar Temple - 6th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.284260, Lon. 77.326719)
We had our lunch on the way to Pannipagam. The food was very tasty also it was sponsored by a local organization.  We saw there are too many organizations sponsoring various foods to the devotees.  After few minutes we reached the temple.  We traveled almost 11 KM from Ponmanai.  This temple was smaller than other temples we visited.  On the way of the temple we found many street sellers and they were selling very fresh vegetable.  We bought some fresh cucumbers to eat. It refreshed our body just. After taking rest we moved to the next temple to Kalkulam.

Ponmanai-Pannipagam : 11 KM

Nainar Neelakandaswamy Temple, Kalkulam - 7th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.249671, Lon. 77.329579)
After traveling 6 KM, we reached to Kalkulam temple.  This temple is located near by Padmanabhapuram Palace.  A beautiful temple pond is closed to the temple.  Lots of devotees are bathing in the pond.  The temple has a gopuram.  We found many beautiful sculptures inside the temple.  After spending a short time, we prepared to go to the next temple at Melancode.

Pannipagam-Kalkulam : 6 KM

Way of Kalkulam Neelakanda swamy temple through temple pond

Kalkulam Neelakanda swamy temple

Kalkulam Neelakanda swamy temple pond

Thirumelancode Kaalakaalar Temple, Melancode - 8th Sivalayam (Lon. 8.245689, Lat. 77.342714)
The thirumelancode Kaalakaalar temple is located near by Velimalai Kumarakovil and Noorul Islam University.  After traveling 3 KM from kalkulam we reached Melancode.  This is a small temple and Melancode  devi temple is also attached to it.  We followed the way to next temple at Thiruvidaicode.

Kalkulam – Melancode : 3 KM

Thirumelancode Kaalakaalar Temple Entrance, Melancode

A Siva devotee in traditional Style

Sadaiyappar Temple, Thiruvidaicode - 9th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.221485, Lon. 77.361436)
After reaching the Kumarakovil junction of Thiruvananthapuram-Kanyakumari highway we turn left towards Kanyakumari road via we reached villukuri junction. Now the time is nearly 2’o clock. Need not to say about the sunlight.  Even in this sunlight most of the people were walking even not wearing any sandals.  Some devotees were taking rest under the trees.  Since we were traveling in the bike we did not feel that much tired.  After crossing the channel over-bridge, we turn to left side and reached Thiruvidaicode Temple.  Almost 5 KM traveled from Melancode.  Some maintenance works were going on there in the temple.  After the dharshan we followed to next temple at Thiruvithamcode.

Melancode-Kumaraikovil junction-Villukuri-Thiruvidaicode : 5KM

Sadaiyappar Temple, Thiruvidaicode, Villukuri

Sree Neelakanda Swamy Temple, Thiruvithamcode - 10th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.238863, Lon. 77.297967)
We turn left to Thiruvithamcode road after crossing Thuckalay junction.  We traveled 8.5 KM from Thiruvidaicode.  After the dharshan we moved to the next temple at Palliyadi.  On the way we had some soft drinks. 

Thiruvidaicode-Villukuri-Thucklay-Thiruvithamcode: 8.5 KM

Sree Neelakanda Swamy Temple, Thiruvithamcode

Thirupanniyode Mahadevar Temple, Palliyadi - 11th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.268726, Lon. 77.253954)
Thirupanniyode temple is located in Palliyadi.  We traveled 8.5 KM from Thiruvithamcode and reached the temple.  The devotees were so tried so they were resting in the temple.  The temple authorities are distributing natural drinks to the devotees and they arranged free Aurvedhic medical camp.  We followed the way to next and last temple at Nattalam.

Thiruvithamcode-Thirupanniyode : 8.5 KM

Thirupanniyode Mahadevar Temple, Palliyadi
Thirunattalam Sankaranarayanan Temple, Nattalam - 12th Sivalayam (Lat. 8.274406, Lon. 77.233498)
Finally we reached to our finishinh point at Nattalam junction after travelling 5 KM.  The police restricted to enter vehicles near the temple.  So we walked about a km from the junction to temple.  There too many local vendors were seen in both the sides of roads.  They were selling sweets, vegetables and toys.  In thirunattalam there are two temples, one for Lord Siva and another for Lord Krishna.  Both the temples are located either side of the temple pond.  First we went to Siva temple and after that Krishna Temple.  Devotees were taking bath the temple before the darshan.  After the darshan we spend more time in the temple.  We purchased vegetables and other items from the local vendors.  We saw the satisfaction and tiredness both in their faces. Now time is about 5.30pm.

Thirupanniyode-Thirunattalam: 5KM

Thirunattalam Mahadevar Temple

Thirunattalam Krishna Temple

Thirunattalam Pond
 After this travel we felt very pleasant in our mind but our body was so tired.  Any way we would like to go again.  If you wish to go we wish you best of luck.


Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
Om Namah Shivaya!! This was surely an incredible experience and these are wonderful shots to share it with the world. YAM xx

SG said...

Thanks for the nice narration. Never heard of this before. Also, thanks for the excellent photos.

I am sure you would have enjoyed this Ottam, but dead tired the next day.

Sandhya said...

Thank you for introducing us to so many new temples (for us!) which we have not seen until now. The ponds look quite clean. Have noted down this post, might be useful for us, one day, Krishna!

rudraprayaga said...

You have absorbed all the picturesque beauty of the areas.Thank for the info about the' Sivaalaya' Race.

Bob Bushell said...

Beautiful photos, oh, I would give anything to be there.

Rajesh said...

Good to know. I had no idea of this before.

George said...

I am sure this was an incredible experience for you, but I'm glad I could enjoy it through your wonderful pictures without getting too tired.

Ramakrishnan Ramanathan said...

What an awesome pilgrimage all covered in one day that too by foot ! The photographs are superb and the writeup informative ! Have never heard of this before. Thanks for bringing it to our knowledge so succinctly, beautifully and colorfully !

Sudhir R said...

Amazing! Lived in Trivandrun for 15 years, never knew about this.

R Niranjan Das said...

Wonderful coverage of all the temples. Never knew about this run.

Bhushavali N said...

Wow. That's an incredible experience. 90km????? That's a lot!! Wow!!! I'm speechless!!!!

Arti said...

Well narrated travelogue with all the information one needs to make a pilgrimage there and your pictures, as always, bring the place alive. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. :)

Destination Infinity said...

Double marathon? Completing that is an achievement. I spoke to a runner friend and he was encouraging me to run, as well. But I feel it will be difficult for me. Maybe sometime in the future!

So, how much time did it take for you to complete this run?

Destination Infinity

Betsy Adams said...

Wow---what a fabulous experience you had... You will remember this one FOREVER. Those temples are all gorgeous... So glad you did this and shared it with us.

Vineeta Yashswi said...

This is something new for me... Thanks for this informative post...

Meghana Hassan said...

Interesting and well narrated travelogue with beautiful photographs.. Thanks for sharing..

Meera Rao said...

Fantastic armchair pilgrimage for me:) Thanks!

Arun of Kollam said...

Great post. Appreciate the information and the commentary. Will go for this run in 2017. Om Namah Shivaya.