Temples(s) Run.


No this is not about the famous game in smartphones which consumes everyone.
Every year I do a round of known temples, unknown or niche temples, in both planned and ad-hoc manner. My must see temple visits in a year are Guruvayoor, Tirupathi and Sabarimala. They collectively increase my endurance. I have not found the answer to what makes people come repeatedly in larger numbers to these temples. I also do not know why I keep going but in earlier days I used to have some kind of quid pro quid for the visits. These days I have reduced the quid pro quid with GOD.
The visit to unknown or niche temples keeps my curiosity. I typically go to figure out what is so unique about them. When I say unknown, these are not famous by the general standards, but famous and powerful for the community they serve. The definition of the community is slightly loose and it is known that GOD embraces the extremes. While there are so many unique selling points about each of these temples like architecture, the story about how the temple came into being and many equivalent, I come out convinced that if there is one thing that is boundary less it is faith. Faith carries no logical reasoning or decision trees that I am used to.
I am also getting used to the ‘T’ mode for travel where I do both the breadth and the depth. For breadth I use the hub and spoke model. This essentially means I go to the hub and from there see all nearby places. For depth I go to a single place and possibly extract everything that is known to the place. Naturally I tend towards the breadth as I typically mistake quantity for quality like most normal human beings and maybe it is a matter of time before I graduate to above normal.
On Mar 31st I undertook one such breadth travel along with my mother to the temple town named Kumbakonam. Here is a short summary of the trip
Start Date
Time
Source
Destination
Travel Time
Route
31/03/2013
05:00
Bangalore
Kumbakonam
07:30 hours. 30 minutes stop over at Salem for break fast
Bangalore – Krishnagiri – Salem – Namakkal – Trichy – Thanjavur – Kumbakonam) – Took  the Trichy bypass.
01/04/2013
13:00
Kumbakonam
Bangalore
09:00 hours. Two 30 minutes stop over. One at Namakkal Temple and the other at Kamath, Krishnagiri
Same as above
Bangalore to Kumbakonam is around 440 KMS.
Temples Covered
Temple
Place
Approximate Distance
Main Deity
Comments
Swami Malai
Swami Malai
10 KMS
Lord Muruga
Surya
Sooriyanar Koil
18 KMS
Seat of Surya. One of the Navagrahas. This temple has the minor implants of all other 8 Navagrahas as well
Sukra
Kanchanoor
21 KMS
Seat of Sukra. One of the Navagrahas
Vaidheswaran
Mayiladuthurai
55 KMS
Shiva. Adds up as one of the navagrahas as well
Saraswathy
Koothanur
45 KMS
Saraswathy
Only temple for Sarawathy in whole of India.
Sani
Thirunallar
57 KMS
Seat of Sani
Oppilliappan
Kumbakonam
10 KMS
Elder Brother to Tirupathi Balaji
Brahma
Kumbakonam
2 KMS
Brahma with Saraswathy and Gayathri
Ramasamy
Kumbakonam
2 KMS
Rama with Sita Lakshmana Hanunam
Entire story of Ramayana is painted
Kumbeshwaran
Kumbakonam
2 KMS
Shiva
Anjaneya (Hanuman)
Namakkal
200 KMS
Hanuman
However this is only a very short list of what I could do in a day. You need four days to cover all the temples and possibly more if you need to find out the stala purana (History of the Place) of each of them. Each one has an interesting history on how it came into place.
I stayed at Hotel Raya’s Grand.  (http://www.hotelrayas.com/rayas-grand.php). The stay was pretty good. It has a vegetarian hotel as well and the quality of the food especially the traditional stuff like Idly, Dosas and equivalent lived up to my expectations.  We also went to Venkata Ramana hotel which is a 102 year old hotel for the traditional Banana Leaf Lunch and I would recommend anyone who goes there to visit that hotel for an authentic Banana Leaf Lunch. My mother sThe Lunch was reasonably priced at Rs 75. After that I shopped for Coffee powder at Mohan’s. Kumbakonam is known for its degree coffee (http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/kumbakonam-degree-coffee/article4034194.ece)
I would suggest once you reach Kumbakonam, it is better to take a local taxi or local driver as they would navigate these places pretty fast and also fill you in with local history.
I have also included a list of temples apart from the above that you could cover within a radius of 60 – 75 KMS. I would also suggest from Bangalore it is better to go via Chidambaram to Kumbakonam and come back via Trichy.
Apart from Tamilnadu being a state of temples, it can also be called as a state of posters. You cannot find a plain wall anywhere and hoardings every 50 feet about some person or some event. Let the printing industry thrive.
Kumbakonam to
Temples that could be covered
Thanjavur
Patteeswaram,Thirusakthimutram,Oothukadukrishnan, NathanKoil, Udayalur, Papanasam, Thirukarukavur
Thiruvaiyar
 Ganapathi Graharam, Thirpurampiyam, Thinagallur, Thirvaiyar
Mayiladuthurai
Thirubuvanam, Thiruvidamaruthur, Thirumancheri, Thiruvenkadu, Kizhaperumpalam, Thirukadiyur
Chidambaram
Sirkali, Chidambaram
Karaikal
Thirunageswaram, Ayyavadi,
Mannargudi
Valaingaman,Alangudi,Manargudi,Karuvalarcheri
Nagapattinam
Azhagaputhur, Nachiyar, Thiruvarur, Sri Vanjiyam, Nagur, Vellankani
Chennai
Thiru Velliyangudi, Gangai Konda Cholapuram
Kumbakonam
Nageswara Samy, Pada vetti Mariyamman, Sarangapani, Chakrapani, Mariamman, Renukamman, KasiViswanathar
I have the scanned PDF of the booklet that I got at Hotel Raya’s that explains the importance, significance of each of this place. If you are interested in what each of the above place is about,  please send me a mail and I would be happy to share that PDF.
Do this Temple Run. You will find it fascinating enough.