Sometimes we know that we have a lot to say, but words don’t come. A situation where we can’t express, that is what I am facing at present. Marudhamalai is the place I have travelled most after my advent in Coimbatore. Despite being a pilgrimage, this gracious place has played a very remarkable role in making me a lover of travelling. The Marudhamalai hills are the reason for the comparatively better climate that we enjoy here. A view from a distance itself makes one say “I have made the right choice of place to visit today”.
Fifteen km west of Coimbatore, on the Western Ghats, situated in a lush, green milieu is the temple of Marudhamalai, dedicated to Lord Muruga (Dandâyudhapâni). Said to belong to the 12th Century, the temple is surrounded by the hilly range on three sides set against the backdrop of hazy blue hills dotted with shrubs and bushes of varied hues, the sacred shrine verily reflects the picture of Lord Muruga, magnificently mounted on his vehicle peacock, flaunting and swaying its feathers and plume in full bloom. The name ‘Marudhamalai’ means ‘Mountain of medicines’ which is derived as it is overgrown with shrubs and bushes of medicinal properties. The holy shrine of is believed to remove both physical and mental afflictions and attachments as the hill abounds in medicinal herbs. The story behind the temple is that a thirsty Sanyasi was walking through the forest and took some rest under a Marutha tree. To quench his thirst, he prayed to Lord Muruga. Muruga answered his prayers and sprang water from Marutha trees.
There are two ways to reach the top, one by climbing the 700 stone steps and one via bus. Being a lover of different experiences I chose to climb the steps to top and via bus down the hill. On the way to the steps is a ‘mini market’. Numerous small shops of all fancy and gifts, pooris like pyramid balanced from toppling down, ladies selling buttermilk with fried and hot chillies making our mouths watery, ever-time favourite elandavada, lots of coloured threads to tie on our hands, all kinds of fried grams so on and so forth. If one has to climb the steps in deep faith they can remove their slippers down there.
What interested me most was the scores of beliefs associated with the temple and surroundings. If a couple climbs all the steps with their hands locked they have easy chance to get married. The steps are wide enough for ten couples to walk at the same time and also its one of their unforgettable places during love-life. On the left and right sides the green forest gives calm breeze and healthy oxygen. But another belief caught my eye. There are many groups of stones kept on top of another. The believer assures that this helps him in building a house faster without tribulations. There are many small idols on the way. Nearing the top is a tree of wishes. Lots of yellow threads tied expecting to take the marriage oath soon and many cloth cradles to feel her baby’s movement in her stomach. By now anyone would be perspiring, and myself with healthy physique was not an exception.
On the top is the Adhi Moolasthanam in the shape of a lingam, where Lord Muruga is seen with Valli and Deivanai. Before praying to Shiva is Nandi in whose ears we can whisper our wishes. The other small deities are Thaan Thondri Vinayakar Temple, Idumban temple, Kudhirai Kulambu mandapam, Uchchi Pillaiyar Temple, and Pancha Vriksham . The Pambatti Siddhar Cave is another shrine drawing our attention. It is located on the slopes towards the east and can be approached by a narrow path, protected by a stone hedge or parapet. I have found it a special place of peace where I could hear the sound of water drops falling somewhere at a distance.
There is a view point at the top covering a huge area of Coimbatore. But it would be a waste if one does not stay till dusk and watch the illuminated city of Coimbatore. From the top the city looks like a sea of lights, “simply beautiful”. To return one can board a bus which will show us the lit city still in detail. I always treasure each of my visits to Marudamalai which gave me different experiences always.