The Queen’s Curse & Other Temple Mysteries

There’s nothing more mysterious than mystery itself, more so when eeriness dwells with divinity, when magic co-exists with black magic, the ‘unfathomable’ meets with divine grace.
 
India has always intrigued the world with her fascinating mysteries, but nothing to beat the mysteries that abound in her Temples! The inscrutability that lurks in the precincts of some ancient Indian temples is beyond human comprehension and have shocked scientists and skeptics alike; the faithful and infidels too!
 
Following are some of these temple mysteries! Some are renowned temples, while others are Lesser Known Temples of yore.
 
At the bottom, lies the ‘Queen’s Curse’, (my husband’s Kuladev Temple) which still echoes with the anguish of an angry queen, whose curse still refuses to be stilled!  
 
So, take a peek into some of these sanctum sanctorum and have a Darshan of some astounding facts….

1.      THE GODDESS WHO MENSTRUATES!

In Chenganoor village, Kerala, lies a temple cloaked in mystery, for within is the temple dedicated to the Goddess Bhagavathy who gets her monthly periods!

History behind the Mystery

Legend has it that 33 crores of Devas and Asuras had gathered to witness Lord Shiva’s marriage ceremony in Mount Kailas, resulting in the balance being tipped at the North. 

Alarmed, the Lord instructed Sage Agastya to move to the South. The latter chose Chenganoor as the spot. 

So that Agastya would get a glimpse of the sacred ceremony, the divine couple moved to Chenganoor but the Goddess had begun to menstruate during her stay here. 

Even today, this phenomenon prevails, thus confirming the fact that Divine Energies do dwell in stones as well!

Centuries ago, after the idol was installed, the temple priest was flummoxed upon spotting stains in Her robes. He summoned his wife and other ladies to confirm this.

If still shocked, then let’s hear the story of a Britisher ‘Munro’. During the reign of Travancore kings, Munro was in charge of temple grants. Upon hearing this legend, he laughed and sneered at the Indian preoccupation with superstition, and stopped the temple grant. Soon enough, his wife discovered that her menses did not stop! 

When no physician could cure her, someone advised him to resume with the grant. With no other solution in sight, he took an oath that he’d open a trust if his wife was cured. Needless to say, the woman was cured of her malady and the grant was resumed too!

While the periods today occur only once in 2-3 years, the Goddess’s robes known for their medicinal properties, are known to cure gynecological disorders. Thousands throng to buy these robes, which are sold in the premises!

The deity is moved into another chamber whose sanctum sanctorum remains shut during the period. 

Note: Along with sarees & flowers, tiny cradles available in the premises are offerings that are made. Couples wanting to be blessed with a progeny, can buy & offer these to the Goddess.

    

2.    NO DUSSHERA HERE!

Baijnath Temple, Palumpur, Himachal Pradesh is an ancient temple dating back to A.D. 1204 & is dedicated to Lord Shiva ―the physician and hence the name Baijanth to mean Vaidyanath, where ‘Vaidya’ means medicine. 

 

Dusshera is one Hindu festival celebrated in every Indian state, but not in the town of Baijnath.

History Behind the Mystery
Once the evil King Ravan meditated upon a Jyothirlinga at Baijnath. 

Pleased, the Lord conceded to settle down with Ravan in Lanka. The Lord asked to be carried to Sri Lanka in the Linga form, provided the Linga was not placed anywhere on Earth en route to Sri Lanka!

Upon reaching Baijnath, Ravana had an urge to answer Nature’s call. He handed over the sacred stone to a shepherd, instructing him not to place it on the ground. 

But finding the stone heavy, the shepherd settled it down for a moment, after which the Linga got installed here permanently. Should we think that God has a way of teaching devotees a lesson??

Baijnath rose to fame because of the temple, and the villagers owe it to Ravan!

As a mark of gratitude, burning Ravan’s effigy is never a custom here. While Kullu is renowned for Kullu Dusshera, in Baijnath it’s never celebrated!   

On the temple precincts, is a lawn bearing a plaque indicating the exact spot where Ravan had meditated.  

3.  WONDERS AT THE LORD’S WORLD
This 800 year old temple is renowned for the wooden handless idols of Krishna, Subhadra & Balabhadra. Apart from this, there are many more wonders prevailing in the premises.

History behind the Mystery
*The annual Car Festival (Ratha Yatra) attracts scores of visitors every year. The 3 idols are placed in a chariot and taken out in a procession. Every year a new chariot is created and every 12 years new idols are carved out.

*The idols are always carved from wood of a Neem tree that’s found growing at crossroads, with absolutely no untoward marks on it and with no bird having built its nest on its branches!  The tree should also bear a snake hole, it seems.

*The chariot that carries the idol symbolizes the human body, with the horses being human desires and the charioteer being the person who holds the reins.

*Once inside you’d be surprised to find the flag on the Shikra flapping against the wind instead of towards it.

*The Sudarshana Chakra atop the Shikra always faces only you, irrespective of which place you try to face it from. So none can sight even the sides of the disc!

*While airplanes are designed by humans, birds are designed by Nature. But, no plane or even birds are known to fly above the temple!

*In the temple kitchen, 7 pots are piled on top of each other when the Prasad is being cooked on firewood. But it’s observed that the dish inside the pot on top gets cooked first and the one at the bottom gets cooked last!

*The quantity of food cooked remains the same and can feed any number of devotees spanning from a few thousands to a lakh even and still never gets wasted!

*When you enter through the main gate, there’s no sound of the roaring ocean but when you exit from the same spot, ocean waves are audible!

I’m determined to make a revisit, now that I know there’s more to Puri.

Nevertheless, we witnessed another wonder on that freezing December evening almost 3 decades back. On Puri’s busy streets, was a cow nursing a pup! Blissfully unmindful of the hustle & bustle & the honking of cycle-rikshaws, was a display of motherliness, and the implicit trust infants have. Isn’t it said that God is like an innocent child who comes running even at an evil doer’s behest? 

4.TESTING THE TUBE AT TITWALA TEMPLE

Titwala and Ganpati are synonymous! But, nearby is a nondescript Vitthal Mandir with a remarkable feature.

 

 

What no devotee can resist is, lending a ear to the Bhajans (hymns) that are sung in Pandharpur ―a temple that is more than 100 miles away! 

History behind the Mystery

Maratha King Shivaji had built forts atop hills to defend Marathas from the Mughals. During war, what shocked the Muhgals was that their strategies were always known to Shivaji even before the Mughals had a chance to execute them. They were also amazed to see the speed and ease with which the Great Maratha king communicated with his commanders at every province, without budging an inch from where he was!

Thanks to the Transmission Lines set within the forts through which commanders communicated! The same Transmission Line is what facilitates this magic too!

 


Every time I visit Titwala, this fascinating aspect never fails to thrill me. Usually one can find a beeline of devotees waiting to listen to the hymns.


5. THE RAMESHWARAM TEERTHS

It was December of 1996 when we arrived wet and famished at Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. 


Separated from mainland India, Rameshwaram on Pamban Island, & Sri Lanka are about 270 kilometers as the crow flies. Our train from Madurai snaked through the Pamban Bridge with the ocean lashing on all 4 sides, to reach Pamban Island where Ramanathswamy Temple is.

 

At Rameshwaram we had to take a holy dip in 24 of the 64 holy Teerths(Ponds). Our guide informed us that all Indian rivers converged at Rameshwaram and thus the temperature and taste of each would differ from the other! 

 
Some were wells while others were tanks; 14 of them were found within the Ramanathswamy Temple.  

And of course, the temperature of some were warm despite the ceaseless rains outside, while others were cold! Some had a salty taste, while some were tasteless. Remember, all these waters were exposed to the elements and despite the relentless rain and storm outside, the waters retained their original quality! The warm temperature of some, is still inexplicable! 

Ramnathaswamy Temple’s 1000 pillared complex is another wonder! 

The ceiling between each pillar contains lively friezes done up in bright colors. The third corridor is the longest in the world!

Yet another wonder is the set of pillars known to produce the 7 ‘SARGAM’ notes or ‘Do, Re, Me, Fa, So, La Tee’. Of course, we tried to test this fascinating aspect!
Remember, Madurai Meenakshi Temple also has a similar feature.
6. THE TEMPLE THAT TSUNAMI SPARED

This shore temple looks like just any other temple in Tamil Nadu, but here the sanctum sanctorum is actually located below sea level ―within a cave! A flight of steps leads you down to the sanctum where the idol of Lord Kartikeya is worshipped. 

When you look out from this point, the sea level is higher! The shoreline is just about 100 meters away from the temple.

Yet, a decade back when Tsunami struck, water that rose on all 3 sides of the temple receded the moment it touched the temple precincts! The same waters that had wiped off the nearby village and bus-stand, receded a kilometer away without touching the temple! 
History behind the Mystery

According to legend, Lord Varuna (Lord of the Rains) had conspired to hide the evil Soorapadman under the sea, away from the ‘Vel’ (Lord’s spear). Surapadman was causing havoc and Lord Kartikeya’s birth was to put an end to Soorapadman. But it was here at Tiruchendur that the Lord had slain Soorapadman. Hence, from then onward, Lord Varuna had vowed never to touch Lord Kartikeya’s feet ever! 
Villagers did spot a crater on the fateful day, but the water receded instead of moving forward.
   If this seems incredulous, a visit to Tiruchendur will confirm this fact!

While this phenomenon is still a moot point among scientists and laymen, we can only conclude that Temple Architecture in ancient India followed certain rules and also adhered to the laws of Nature. 

7.BIJLI MAHADEV TEMPLE-HIMACHAL PRADESH

 14 kilometers from Kullu, Himachal Pradesh, lies a hamlet, whose refreshing environs is like a breath of fresh air! 

For, here atop Mathan Hills, is the sacred temple of Bijli Mahadev whose presiding deity is Lord Shiva.

‘Bijli’ which means ‘lightning’ highlights a rare and wondrous phenomenon which occurs when lightning strikes, shattering into smithereens the phallic symbol-the Shiv Ling! This electrifying event is however not frequent, but does occur. Yet, when it occurs, the Linga is magically joined together by the temple priest, into a single piece again by using clarified butter (ghee) as adhesive!

The butter (ghee) that’s also found within the temple is what is used by the priest to join the pieces together.

 

History behind the mystery
There’s no satisfactory scientific explanation given by anyone about this rare phenomenon. But once you step into Himachal Pradesh, you’d instantly feel you’ve stepped into heaven! Topographically, it is an extension of Kashmir, the Himalayas tapering off at Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh on the eastern side. But, having relished all three, I’d say this is where heaven is! Little wonder then, that it’s truly a magical land!
8. TEMPLE OF WISDOM

Koothanoor Saraswati Temple, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu ―a 1000 year old temple is one of the 6 temples dedicated to the Goddess of Wisdom. 

The shops leading to this temple of course sell images of the Goddess and flowers for worship, especially the Lotus flower. But, notebooks, pens and pencils are sold too! One can buy and donate these to the many underprivileged children who flock to the temple.
               Pic-Courtesy madura.com
History
Unlike the aforementioned temples, there’s no magical phenomenon here. But, being one of the few temples dedicated to Goddess Saraswati, thought of sharing with you some of the temple’s attributes and how the temple came into existence.
Koothanur earlier known as Amabalpuri is the birth place of a famed Tamil poet Ottakoothan, who was born more than 1000 years back. Ottakoothan who was born an ordinary man just yearned for one thing. Wealth or other excesses was not what he wanted. He sought the grace of the Goddess so that he may be able to compose beautiful poems! Pleased with his devotion and humility, the Goddess is said to have granted him his wish, after which he began composing soulful poetry!
Captivated by his compositions, King Rajarajachola gifted the poet a piece of land at Ambalpuri. It was not crops that the poet cultivated; nor did he build a mansion, but with the help of his grandson Ovathakootar, the poet built the present temple here!

Students wanting to progress academically, and even disciples of fine arts seek the grace of this Goddess. Not just flowers but also hall-tickets and papers bearing student’s name and roll number, find their way to Her sacred feet here!  


9.  THE LAKE THAT NEVER FREEZES

If some temples are shrouded in mystery, Nature too throws up some surprises. And that’s what we discovered in Sikkim.

Given the tortuous as well as torturous journey, Gurudongmar Lake in Sikkim, is only for the intrepid traveler! A 10 hour journey from Gangtok brought us to Lachen at night. 
Before dawn, at 3 am we proceeded uphill on jeep, to reach Gurudongmar Lake at 8 am, halting midway for 45 minutes for tea and magi.

So what’s so unique about the place? There’s no temple here, although a Gurudwara does greet you.

Yet, the place does need a mention, for, even in peak winter, when the entire region is cloaked in a blanket of snow, a portion of the lake does not freeze!

May of 2012….the lake lay placid with its limpid waters reflecting the silvery clouds of the sky in a cold desert, surrounded by snow-clad mountains and low levels of oxygen!

Gurudongmar Lake is one of the highest lakes in the world, located at an altitude of 17,100 ft!

History behind the Mystery

Legend has it that the lake used to freeze in winter, thereby disabling humans from using water for their needs.

Once when Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Dzongmar) was returning from Tibet, the hapless villagers approached Him for help. The Guru is known to have cast a glimpse on a portion of the lake, which till now remains unfrozen even in peak winter!
After having feasted our eyes on verdant rolling mountains and
 and cheery Alpine blossoms,
this cold desert cloaked in white, appeared to be contrast.
Yet, the place which only a few dare to visit, exuded nothing but serenity….suddenly alienating us from the humdrum of worldly life.
The vast expanse punctuated by tall titanic snowy mountains and the lake that stole all the attention just seemed to humble us!
Low levels of oxygen hushed human sounds, thus placating the din created by tourists. 
Conversing with the soldiers posted at base camp, perhaps cemented a bond between both, thus enabling a tate-e-tate with the Universe! Unbeknownst to us, unknown faces are the guardians, who protect the nation & there in that strange land, we sent a prayer in gratitude, seeking their well-being.  

Whizzing and hurtling past ragged roads and dodging precarious ravines, many times during the journey I cursed myself for not abandoning this visit…

But that one hour spent at the spot was indeed rewarding!  
I’m sure a visit to Gurudongmar is indeed a ‘once-in-a- lifetime’ visit!


My sister-in-law who’s usually wary of strenuous travel, just hugged me exclaiming, “Thanks Shubhs for bringing us here!” I wondered if we were hallucinating thanks to low levels of Oxygen! 😜

 


10. TOWERING ―TALL & PROUD!

Known as Rajarajeshwaram Temple and also as Peruvudaiyar Kovil, Periya Kovil (Big Temple), or Brihadeeshwara Temple is certainly a pride of Tanjavur in Tamil Nadu, whose colossal Gopuram can be sighted from anywhere in Tanjavur!

This temple built by Raja Raja Chola I in 1010 AD, completed 1000 years in 2010 AD.

Brihadeeshwara Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is a part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site as ‘Great Living Chola Temples’!

Housed within the Shivganga Fort, this temple made entirely of granite (approximately 130,000 tons of granite was believed to be carried by elephants) is a sight to behold!
However, the most wondrous exclamation the temple deserves is the fact that the Gopuram or the pyramid shaped tower that spans 215 ft is built in such a way that its shadow never falls on the ground regardless of the time or season! 

15 years ago, when we visited, we wanted to see this marvel unfold. Unfortunately Tanjavur was experiencing a spell of rains although it was only mid-April!

The grey clouds concealed the sun although the showers had abated that morning and the sweet fragrance of wet earth wafted through the cool breeze that the showers brought.

As we rambled along the temple precincts, I felt quite light…Was it the crispness in the air? Was it the vast empty stretch that lay ahead or was it the absence of cantankerous city clamor…., I know not.
The next thing to awe you will be the mammoth Shivling measuring 8.7 meters.
The Priest Performing Daily Libation ―Standing Atop the Ladder!

If divinity prevails, then art cannot be far behind!

Outside the sanctum sanctorum are other smaller temples which certainly need a mention for the profuse carvings and intricate details.

The most striking feature however is the 108 ‘Shivlings’ encased in separate smaller turrets.

11. THESE WOODS ARE DARK & DEEP

Brijbhoomi needs no mention as the place often conjures up images of Raasleela!

Brijbhoomi is also synonymous with the spray of Pichkari, an air of flirtatious mischief & scoops of butter!

 

When we stepped into Mathura, that’s exactly how we felt. The following morning, we ventured out to Vrindavan. The cold December morning chill made us huddle together into a bullock-cart.

The air was redolent of cow-dung and, the jingling of bells accompanied us as the pastoral scene unfolded…

What fun it would be to spend a week at the heart of this nondescript village!

Vrinda meaning ‘Holy Basil’ (Tulsi) and Vann meaning ‘grove’, Vrindavan is the place where Lord Krishna spent his growing years after being born in Mathura.

Once here, we couldn’t help but visualize the romance that must’ve transpired between Radhika and Krishna.

 

How pleasant it is to think of the rendezvous that might’ve existed some eons ago between young lovers!

A local guide led us to Nidhivan-a grove which abounds with Tulsi shrubs. Highlighting the significance of Vrindavan, he mentioned, “This is the grove in which Krishna danced with Radha (Radhika) and the Gopis every night.

 

  • The Tulsi Grove-Nidivan

    Pointing to the shrubs he continued, “Come night and even today these Tulsi plants transform into Gopis and Radha & Krishna and perform the celestial dance! Mind you, no one is allowed to wander here after dusk. Those who’ve tried watching the coupling, have instantly perished or have become dumb. This is true of even straying cattle. Every morning the celestial beings assume their normal  faunal forms!”

This intriguing piece of information didn’t seem a myth when the guide claimed to know of accursed living beings loitering about the streets of Brijbhoomi, in their demented state.

Can anyone dare testify this?? We stood speechless….

Note: The streets of Mathura are famed for their Pedhas and other sweetmeats. But, nothing to beat brass bells and golden frames framing the romantic razzmatazz between the Gopis and Krishna and also the mischief of Maakhanchor with Yashoda.

But what anyone would die for is the picture of His true love Radharani!

There’re hundreds of pictures done in papers and all kinds of fabrics like jet black muslin and these are very cheap on the pocket too. Brass statues of the duo are also available along with T-Shirts and Kurtas embodying this legendary romance.


12. PILLARS STRIKING A CHORD

If man has enjoyed crooning, he has also improvised instruments to match his tenor. But to think that he’d breathe life into stone pillars, is surely a proof of his ingenuity and adroitness.

‘Geet Gaya Patharon Ne’ rings a bell when you see this for yourself. Strike the pillars at Madurai’s Meenakshi Temple (Tamil Nadu)! For inside the complex at the North Tower is the piece de resistance―a set of musical pillars, five in all, each consisting of 22 smaller pillars. Carved from a single mammoth stone, these pillars are indeed music to the ears. When struck, these pillars produce the seven musical notes!


It’s not just in Meenakshi Temple (Madurai), but also in temples of (Thirunelveli), Sucheendram Temple (Tamil Nadu), in temples at Hampi (Karnataka) and Lepakshi Temples in Andra Pradesh that you’d find these wonders.

The 7th Century Meenakshi Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu is the single most iconic structure of Madurai. Structural additions were added to the main structure till the 18th century. But the most spell-binding wonder is certainly the musical pillars.

 

Sculpture is considered to be one of the 64 art forms &, artistic expression is certainly a means of rising above all mundane matters. Ancient temples are standing testimonies to this sublime grace! 
The creation of a temple in ancient times called for several artists who’d showcase their skills to create a magnificent masterpiece which exuded beauty, symmetry, peace and bliss to worshippers, who set foot to seek their higher selves.
 
If colorful friezes mesmerized you with their elegance, then carvings would bespeak arty eloquence. But to think that stones could reverberate with music is beyond cognitive capacity today.   
History Behind the Mystery
 
According to M.G. Prasad and B.Rajavel, Department of Mechanical Engineering at Stevens Institute of Technology, USA, there are two kinds of stone-‘Male’ and ‘Female’.
 
Sculptors of yore chose stones which emitted a deep resonating tone when tapped or struck. Those emitting deep ‘gong’ like sounds like a bell were considered ‘male stones’ and those emanating a feeble sound like when a brass vessel is struck, were considered ‘female stones’! Of course there were neutral stones too. The first two kinds were used to make musical pillars.    

Note: Musical Pillars are an exclusive feature of South Indian Temples and these do merit a visit!

 

Meenakshi Temple’s piece de resistance

13. YOUR FUTURE LIES IN THIS TEMPLE

Ancient temples often boast of their panel of astrologers. But, tucked away within the Vaitheeshwaran Kovil, Tamil Nadu are ancient palm-leaf manuscripts, some of which may bear your name and destiny!

Nadi Astrology is no new concept, given the number of Nadi experts having infiltrated metropolitan cities today. However, Vaitheeshwaran Temple is the original place where sages of yore are known to have stashed away a wealth of information about humans who’d be inhabiting the Earth thousands of years later!

There are charlatans and there are authentic practitioners, but the ones in the temple are original practitioners, whose lineage has been and will be practising this science since the time these leaves originated, that is some 2000 years ago!

It is believed that a person’s palm leaf is to be found here only if he/she is destined to visit the temple to discern their future. The palm leaf manuscripts of people irrespective of caste, creed, religion and even nationality, can be found here and the temple still sees a number of foreign tourists, curious to take a peek into the future. ‘Nadin’ in Tamil means ‘on one’s own accord’. 

Very different from palmistry or horoscopes that are tools used to determine the future, Nadi Astrology depends on only your thumb impression! Accuracy depends upon the diviner who can even indicate your parents’ name! Interestingly people flocking this place are more interested in knowing who they were in their past lives than what’s in store in the future!

Caveat- Many charlatans who claim to be Nadi Astrologers have permeated cities and are known to dupe gullible customers with fake leaves. Beware!  


14. STEPPING STONES TO MUSIC

If pillars can strike a chord, there are steps to music too! 3 kilometers from Kumbakonam (Tamil Nadu), is Darasuram renowned for the 12th century Airavatheshwara Temple, which is included in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

What makes it all the more riveting is the construction of a flight of steps that can make you dance to its tunes.

A flight of three steps leads you to the main sanctum. When tapped, these steps give out different musical sounds! All 7 notes of music emanate out of these stones when specific points are tapped.

Unfortunately fearing vandalism, ASI has barricaded this masterpiece. So next time you visit this place, perhaps you may not be able to strike a chord, or let’s hope that with a small token of exchange, entry is indeed permitted.


Built by Chola Kings, this monumental marvel is enlisted as one among the ‘Great Living Chola Temples’ and another breathtaking scene is the Yamatheerth or pond where according to legend, Yama the God of Death is supposed to have bathed and the waters of which have cured him of skin disease.

 

15. Sacred Birds of Gangtey, Bhutan

If temples & deities display supernatural powers to bewilder humans, creatures of a lesser God are nothing less. Gangtey Gompa (Monastery), located in Pobjikha Valley in Wangdue Phodrang district of Bhutan is a 17th century monastery that rose to prominence due to the annual Black Necked Crane Festival held here on the 11th of November every year.

Black Necked Crane Festival
Black Necked Cranes, locally called Thrung Thrung are endangered species that make an autumnal appearance every October, when they fly down to Pobjikha Valley from the Tibetan plateau & roost here till spring, after which they spring back. Interestingly, the birds upon their arrival in October as well as before their departure in February are known to circle the Gompa thrice! To the Bhutanese, these are sacred birds, reincarnated as the two deities believed to protect the valley & their three-fold circling of the Gompha denotes the protecting of the Three Jewels of Buddhism-the Buddha, the Dharma & the Sangha.
Unsolved Mystery:- Bird migration is inherent but that these mute creatures circle the Gompa & that too thrice, before roosting & before leaving the valley, has left me stumped.

16. THE QUEEN’S CURSE

If temples boast of miraculous powers, the Gods and Goddesses within, have also bestowed some powers to suffering souls.

Nestled deep in the woods, with pathways paved by footprints and motor tracts, is our family temple in Tirunelvelli (Tamil Nadu)-Sundaraakshi Amman Temple.


Goddess Sundaraakshi being my in-laws’ family deity, had me visiting the place some years ago.

‘Tiru’ meaning ‘fine’ or ‘bounteous’ and ‘Veli’ meaning ‘field’, ‘Tirunelveli’ certainly stands for all that the name signifies. The place wrapped in emerald verdure is indeed a visual treat…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was indeed ironical that there weren’t many houses on the path, despite the carpet of green…

Sundaraakshi where ‘Aakshi’ means ‘eyes’ and ‘Sundar’ means beautiful, Sundaraakshi is the Goddess with beautiful eyes and also Sundar’s (Shiva’s consort).

However, it was only later that I discovered another significance for the name. Stated on a plaque in Tamil was the story of Queen Sundaraakshi, a king’s wife who perhaps resided in the place a few hundred years ago!

The story on the plaque piqued my curiosity and unraveled some truths. On further probing the head priest began his narration by stating that no man who lived in the village surrounding the temple was able to enjoy his first marriage because his wife would eventually die, thereby compelling him to remarry!

Thus began the story and saga of Queen Sundaraaskhi….  

Eons ago, lived a queen with a devout king for a husband. The wise and just king was revered by his subjects I heard, and the queen lived happily…till destiny changed their course… 

Having fallen for the charms of another woman, the King brought home a common woman as his second queen. Though perturbed, the first queen resigned to her fate as was the norm those days.

But when the king decided to crown the son begotten by his second wife, Queen Sundaraakshi was appalled, for, more suitable was her own son. When her pleadings fell on deaf ears, she appealed to the ministers and the villagers, who maintained a tight-lip fearing the king’s wrath.

It was his elder son’s thread ceremony when the king announced his decision. On the fateful day, Queen Sundaraakshi took a dip in the nearby pond. Completely drenched, she entered the temple in deep turmoil. Composing a song in the name of the Goddess she cursed the entire townsmen that they would lose their wives and never be happy even after remarrying! She collapsed onto the floor and breathed her last! At that instant, her step-son too is supposed to have collapsed after being struck by lightning!

Sounds clearly melodramatic and filmy but it indeed is a true story.

“And to this day”, the priest continued, “No man has led a peaceful conjugal life Amma; all men become widowers soon and even if they marry, nobody is blessed with a progeny! This village is accursed and families that resided within 3 kilometers of this temple have all fled to other villages.”

To quell my curiosity I asked him one question, “Have the ones who migrated, been leading happy lives?”
 
“Yes, Amma” (Amma is the way women are addressed in Tamil). “Only ‘this’ village is cursed. We’ve tried exorcising the spirit of the queen but to no avail. The curse remains….

Having stumbled upon this piece of valuable information, we left for Mumbai to narrate the story to other family members..But each time I think of the village, the temple and the priest’s narration, I can’t but help rerunning the narration in my mind.
On 18th April 2014, the temple celebrated its Kumbabhishekam and the main structure got a revamp…

 

“Hell hath no fury like that of a woman scorned”….seemed to echo! 

The queen’s curse just brings home the truth that no matter how compassionate and benign the Almighty may be, His compassion seems to pale in comparison to human feelings!    

There are many more temples which perhaps are lying in the wings of time to be discovered; the veils of which, when lifted would reveal more engineering marvels, many more fascinating secrets…and here’s hoping that in due course I traverse these tracts and leave a trail here!

  

  

 

Comments

  1. it was really interesting to read your blog , spend the whole evening reading it, very well described each and every minute details
    looking forward for more

  2. Thanks Raj, for taking time to read the entire post. Glad that you liked it. Do keep a watch for more..

  3. Great and beautifully written. Worth reading again and again.

  4. Thanks, you've always been my inspiration..:-)

  5. May I know which place this particular temple is present? I mean which place in tirunelveli ?

  6. It is in Mannapadaiveedu or Mannapadai in Paalayamkottai district.

  7. […] a peek into this blog http://www.tra-verse.com/the-queens-curse-other-temple-mysteries/ for more information on this temple. 3 hours from Cochin, in the district of Chenganoor, is this […]

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