We just had to stop at Thiruvarur too, the birthplace of the Mumoorthys - Sri Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshithar and Syama Sastri - of Carnatic Music. Thiruvarur is about 40 km away from Thanjavur.
Everyone knows about the Thiruvarur Chariot (theyru). It is said to move so slowly that it has become a simile in Thamizh – as slow as the Thiruvarur Theru. It is used so unconsciously that very often one forgets that there is a temple attached to it!
And what a temple!
I had no idea of the vastness of this temple and its grandeur. With a lot of renovation work going on, parts of the temple are a bit cluttered, but we could not fail to be impressed by the majesty of the temple. The Lord at this temple is Sri Thyagaraja Swami. Ah, that then was the explanation for the composer saint to be named so, we realised.
He is also called Vanmeekinathan, because he was found under an anthill. (Remember why Valmiki is called so?). Apart from the Goddess Nilothphaladevi, there is a separate sannidhi for Goddess Kamalambal. She is the inspiration for the navavarnas composed by Muthuswamy Dikshithar.
The whole courtyard of the temple is dotted with little shrines, each one housing a shivalingam. Stories abound about these lingams, and I was told that altogether there are 108 lingams at this temple, including the ones worshipped by Shaneeswarar and Nalan. Another interesting facet pointed out was the idols of the navagrahas were all standing in a straight line worshipping Sri Thyagarjar. Usually they stand facing different directions.
Behind the temple is a huge tank filled with water almost to the brim –this is called Kamalalayam. To me it seemed much larger than our Mylapore tank.
This temple has a website: http://www.srithiyagarajatemple.org/default.asp
When we went looking for the house that Sri Thyagaraja was born in, we had to ask directions several times.
In each instance the answer was the same at first – they invariably pointed to the temple. It then struck me that to them first in importance was Thyagaraja Swami. The musician saint came only a distant second.
This little house has been well maintained with a caretaker in charge. A board outside clearly indicates that this where Sri Thyagaraja was born. Unfortunately for us there was no power inside the house, and we could only see in darkness the little image of the composer (see picture) and the pooja pictures in the room. The lady there graciously gave us thamboolam and fruits before we left.
I could not but dwell on the hospitality of the smaller towns.