Maruthamalai temple in Coimbatore was one of the places I wanted to visit in Coimbatore. Even though there are many temples all along the way in Coimbatore, all of them colourful, this one was listed in all the sites for “Places to visit in Coimbatore”.
Making the plan to the temple, my friend also jumped in since it has been a long time we have caught up with each other. The pre-plan was to take a bus to the temple from the Ghandipuram bus stand and reach the temple directly. But, it turned out we were taken to the temple by her husband in their car. So, no bus advice on how to reach there, but there are direct buses that go to the base of the temple and another one which takes to the entrance of the temple.
I was expecting a normal many storied temple with colourful paintings, sculptures and statues. But the road to the temple itself was a great start. The road to the temple is through this hills with winding roads. And reaching the top, there it was, a temple in the middle of the clouds and two valleys.
Maruthamalai Velmurugan temple is situated on a hill top just like all the other Velmurugan temples are. The location was just perfect and everything about the temple made me happy about visiting the temple than skipping it. I had a lot of questions too. Thanks to my dear friend, who is pretty knowledgeable about all the Gods and Goddesses, and happy to explain the myths.
The Vel And The Hilltop Temples
“Vel” is one word I have heard a lot in Tamil Nadu. Whether it is the names of the people or places, “vel” was a word I saw used very often. So, I was curious to know what it actually is.
Most of the Gods in Hindu mythology has thier own weapons. Like the revolving sudharshana chakra that spins in the hand of lord Vishnu. "Vel" is the weapon given to the lord Murugan who is the son of lord Shiva and Parvati. It looks like a stick with a pointy edge made of iron.
I was interested in knowing any stories where the Vel was actually used but my friend couldn't remember any. The Vel is drawn at different places on the walls to the temple and it resembles an arrow otherwise.
Another interesting fact about Murugan temples or Subramanya swami temples always situated on hilltops is also related to an interesting story. Subrahmanya is another name of lord Murugan, sometimes referred as Velmurugan too. Legend has it Murugan went to hills after a fight with his aprents lord Shiva and goddess Partivati. However, different stories on this also exists.
There were 1001 steps to reach Maruthamalai temple from the base of the hill. There is also an alternative route built that reaches directly to the foot of the temple steps. I am told normally people takes these 1001 steps to fulfill their special needs or prayers.
We went to the temple entrance parking and left the footwear in the car itself. There was another locker room otherwise to keep the footwear. From the parking also there are quite a few steps to climb up to reach the temple.
The center of the steps had sandalwood pasted along with some flowers and a small candle in the middle. Even though it was burning out because of the wind, many tried to make the fire stay.
The stairs to enter the temple and exit were different. While going inside, there were shops near the stairs that sold flowers, snacks and such. Once we reached on the top, there were these small stones stacked up all around the temple.
These are the stacked up by the devotees symbolizing their wishes and dreams, mostly for the house. These balanced rocks are in a way their prayers to build a house and once they built a house, they come back and destroy the pile of rocks they have put up there.
I am not sure how they understand which one they created since there are many such stacks but my friend says they just know. There was also this huge bell near those rocks.
Reaching on the top of the temple, there was a huge queue to enter inside. Interestingly, there is also an express entry counter too where you can pay Rs.20 per head to enter the temple without standing in the queue. We took the express entry and went inside.
It was pretty busy inside with the priests yelling at people to come forward faster and take the offerings. A pinch of ash is given from here and a little of it is put on the forehead and the rest is used on both palms.
Getting out of there, many other small temples surrounded with different deities. At each of these small temples, the ash given were different in colour and smelled different. I liked the black one I got from one of the temples.
Mainly built with the stone, there was this beautiful drain to let out the water, ghee, turmeric and so on used for the pooja. They all had this designs on them which made them look pretty cool for a drainage.
Right outside the temple were these colourful statues of Peacock, a goat and a rat. Each of them carried the respective deities they are assigned as the vehicles. These are used for the religious procession.
Also, there were these bundles of hay tied up and also offered as an offering. Apparently, chicken is also a common offering to this temple (or maybe to most Murugan temples).
There were two chickens standing right in the middle of the prayer hall on a raised platform. They looked a bit confusing but fearless of the people.
The temple had colourful pillars and ceilings. I love how colourful the temples in Tamil Nadu and other southern district looks. Not just the pillars, but the huge entrance buildings are also colourful with their signature architecture.
Moving ahead to the other side of the temple, there was this small section for the nine planets. Each planet is represented by 9 different dieties. They were also dressed up in different coloured cloths.
I was told to make 9 rounds surrounding that and in between I lost the count. It is believed to have a good vibe to life by removing the negative affects by the influence of planets and time, something related to astrology.
Next was this tree and another deity who in fact is the same God but a different abode or form. The offering here was the hay bundle or a grass bundle. There was a young priest who offered prayers and gave the ash and sandalwood to everyone waiting in line. By now, I had a lot of ash mixed in my hand, it was difficult to distinguish between the smell.
The deity looked like this with more than one face. The tree next to this was filled with small houses made of ice cream sticks. They were tied on the tree to fulfill the devotees' prayer for building a house. Each of these tiny houses had the name and address of the person pasted on one side.
The tree was a wish-prayer bearer of many who came here with strong belief. There was also a "Vel" stood next to the tree guarding those prayers. Surrounding the tree was an end to the temple visit.
The huge structure that is seen from the far is the exit gate from the temple. The view of the valley from the top of the hill or the temple is good enough to spend some more time.
The big gates had these golden bells on them and opened to more small stairs. Each staircase ended in a platform where people rested. This is also a good spot for photography and videography. Many couple (read my friends :P) come here for their wedding outdoor videos catching drone shots on these winding stairs.
While going down, there were three big steel vessels installed to serve three different items. We packed two packets of pongal, whcih is a sweet and a Puliyogri, which is tamarind rice with a more spices added to it. Also, there was this stall that sold Panchamritham, another sweet made of jaggery, banana and other fruits.
The stall here also sold snacks and sweets. There was this leaf packaged palm sugar for sale too.
And that was the end to a Sunday morning in Coimbatore. I was back to my hostel till the evening. I gets hot during the daytime and going out in the sun always ends up with a headache.
Maruthamalai temple was worth a visit for its fog filled valleys, wish tree and the ambiance.