Location: Near Vallimalai Hills, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped: Lord Subramanya
Significance: One Of The Six Padai Veedu Shrines Of Skanda
Festivals Celebrated: December 31st Step Festival And The Aadi Krittikai Festival in July-August
Tiruttani constitutes one of the 6-padai veedu shrines of Skanda (Lord Subramanya), and it represents the site where Subramanya stayed after destroying the demon Surapadman. Tiruttani is said to be the place where the Lord Subramanya married Valli - one of his two consorts. This sacred place is on the Chennai-Mumbai route, 13 kilometers from Arkonam and 84 kilometers from Chennai.
About The Temple: The beautiful temple of Lord Muruga at Tiruttani crowns a single rock 700 feet above sea level. It is situated amidst a range of hills with a dramatic panoramic view.
The hill temple (the hill is called Tanikai hill) here is reached by a motorable road, and is also accessed through a flight of 365 steps. It has 4 Prakarams and a series of towers. There is a shrine to Aabat Sahaaya Vinayakar who is said to have come to the aid of Skanda in winning Valli's hand in marriage.
The processional image of Skanda is housed in a Rudraksha Vimanam with his consorts. The "Shadkona Padakkam" or the hexagonal medallion adorning the image of Skanda is decorated with green stones and is of great beauty. Also of significance here is a golden Vilva garland.
SPECIALITIES OF TIRUTTANI
Saravana Poikai: The sacred tanks of the shrines of the Lord are all known as "Saravanapoikai" (sacred pond of the reedy marsh where Lord Kartikeya was born). The tank at Tiruttani, which (unlike in other places) is at the very foot of the hill, is particularly renowned for its sacred water (Teertham) having curative effect for ailments both bodily and mental, as it is rich in minerals such as sulfur, iron, etc. A bath in this holy tank refreshes the devotee and makes him hale and healthy.
Sapta Rishi Teertham: At the lovely garden on the south side of this sacred hill amidst a thick cluster of shady trees and seven cool sprints, the Seven Rishis (who today form the Great Bear stellar constellation) are said to have worshipped Lord Muruga (Lord Subramanya) and the Sapta Kannikas (Seven Virgins) enshrined at this place in a tiny temple.
On the outskirts of the Tiruttani town, on both sides of the Nandi River, are the ancient temples of Lord Vijayaragama Swami, Arumuga Swami and Veerateeswarar, the latter two of which are more than a thousand years old. In the temple of Arumuga Swami, there is Surya puja every year for three days in March when the rising sun is said to worship Lord Subramanya by casting its rays upon the holy Feet of the deity on the first day, Breast on the second day and Head on the third day through a hole in the wall, which reveals the marvelous intellect of the architects of ancient days.
History Of The Temple: The origins of this temple are buried in antiquity. Nakkeerar has mentioned Tiruttani in the Sangam period work Tirumurugaatruppadai composed. The Vijayanagar rulers and local chieftains and Zamindars have patronized it.
Legends Connected With The Temple: Legend has it that Subramanya married Valli who hailed from the Vallimalai hills nearby. The same legend is associated with Velimalai in Kanyakumari district.
Legend also has it that Indra the king of the Gods gave his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to Skanda, and along with her presented his elephant Airavatam as part of his dowry offering. Upon Airavatam's departure Indra found his wealth waning.
Subramanya is said to have offered to return the white elephant, however Indra bound by protocol refused to accept a gift that he had made, and insisted that the elephant face his direction, hence the image of the elephant in this temple also faces the east.
Another legend has it that Indra presented a sandal stone as a part of his daughter's dowry. The sandal paste made on this stone is applied to the image of Subramanya and the applied paste is said to acquire medicinal value.
Legend also has it that Skanda bore the discus thrown by the demon Tarakasuran on his chest, and hence there is a hollow in the chest region of the image of Subramanya in this temple. Legend also has it that Skanda gifted the discus to Vishnu.
Legend also has it that Skanda imparted knowledge of Tamil to the sage Agasthyar and he is regarded as Veeramurthy, Gnanamurthy and Acharyamurthy in this shrine.
Puranic Importance of Tiruttani: Of Lord Murugan's six padai veedus, Tiruttani ranks prominent as the crown jewel of the Lord. As its very name indicates, when we propitiate the Lord in this holy shrine, He blesses us with mental peace and bodily happiness. His righteous indignation towards the Asuras for their cruelty is said to have been quelled and cooled at this place and is therefore known as "Shantipuri" (Abode of Peace). As the prayers and desires of the devotees who worship Lord Subramanya on this hill with faith and intense devotion are fulfilled in no time, this hill is also called "Chanikasalam".
When the Lord came to this hill after wedding Goddess Valli at Vallimalai, She implored Him to enlighten Her on the importance and greatness of this hill. In reply, the Lord said that if one worshipped Him with heart and soul for five consecutive days in this hill temple, that person would be blessed with all that is best in this life and hereafter.
In Treta Yuga, Lord Rama, after putting an end to Ravana, worshipped Lord Shiva at Rameshwaram, at whose request Rama came to Tiruttani and found perfect peace of mind by worshipping Lord Subrahmanya here.
In Dwapara Yuga, Arjuna got the blessings of the Lord here by offering prayers to Him on his way to the South for Teertha Yatra (pilgrimage to take sacred immersion).
Lord Vishnu prayed to the Lord at this place and got back His powerful Chakra (sacred wheel), Shanku (sacred conch), which were forcibly seized from Him by Tarakasura, brother of Soorapadma.
Lord Brahma propitiated the Lord here at the holy spring (by the sides of the steps to the shrine) known as "Brahmasonai" after his imprisonment by the Lord for his failure to explain the Pranava ('Om' mantra) and got back his creative function of which he was deprived by the Lord due to his egotistic impudence in neglecting to worship Lord Subrahmanya on his way to Mount Kailasa to worship Lord Shiva.
Lord Indra planted and reared in the pool known as "Indrasonai" adjoining this hill temple the rare plant known as "Karunkuvalai", which gave three flowers a day and worshipped the Lord thrice daily with these flowers and, thus, got back the precious wealth of Deva Loka such as Sanghaneeti, Padmaneeti, Chintamani etc seized by the Asura Titan.
Literary Importance of Tiruttani: Apart from the puranic greatness of Tiruttani, Saint Arunagirinathar, the illustrious devotee of Lord Muruga who lived 600 years ago, praised this hill as the chosen place for worship by devas and the favorite abode of saints performing prolonged tapas (austerities). He also compared this hill to Shivaloka (Bhuloka) and as the very soul of the world. Saint Ramalinga Swamigal (Arutprakasa Vallalar), who lived 150 years ago, was invited to come here by the Lord, Who appeared before the saint in the mirror of his puja room at Chennai after which the sour-stirring arutpa songs flowed from his lips in chaste Tamil like a torrential stream.
Sri Muttuswami Deekshitar, who lived 200 years ago (one of the trinity of Karnatic music) had his inspiration in Tiruttani when the Lord (in the guise of an old man) met him on the steps and sweetened his tongue with the prasadam of this temple, which impelled him to sing his first song on the Lord.
Many a miraculous event takes place at this shrine from time to time by the grace of the Lord.
Festival Celebrated: Four worship services are offered each day here. Besides the monthly Krittikais, which attract a large number of devotees to this shrine, the two outstanding annual festivals are the Aadi Krittikai and the 31st of December New Year Step Festival. Other festivals celebrated are the Bhramotsavam in the month of Maasi, during which Valli Kalyanam is celebrated on the 8th day, and the Skanda Sashti is celebrated in the Tamil month of Aippasi. The gold and silver peacock Vahanams (also spelt as Vahanas) are of great beauty here.
Aadi Krittikai: Aadi Krittikai festival (in July-August) lasts for three days with Float Festival when lakhs and lakhs of devotees come to this holy place from far and near. The streets are thronged to the full. About one lakh and fifty thousand flower Kavadis (which increase with each year) are offered to the deity. The sight of the devotees who carry them, uttering the sacred and inspiring "Haro Hara!" (Hallelujah) as they march and dance in long row touches the very core of our hearts and makes us spellbound. One should see it to believe it.
December 31st Step Festival: When the old (Gregorian) year is rung out and the New Year sets in (i.e. at the stroke of midnight on December 31st each year), lakhs of devotees are present on the sacred Tanikai hill to have the Darshan of there Lord. They come to Tiruttani to offer their heart-felt prayers to the Lord on that day and night to be blessed with peace and plenty during the New Year.
Nearby Attractions: Around Tiruttani is famous religious places such as Kanchipuram (Banares of the South) on the South, Sholingar and Vallimalai on the West, the popular and renowned pilgrimage center, Tirupati (otherwise called Balaji) and Kalahasti (with its Vayu Lingam) on the North and Tiruvalangadu (of puranic fame) with Lord Nataraja on the East.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is at Chennai (84-km).
Rail: Tiruttani is situated on the Chennai-Renugunta railway line. There are many trains from Chennai going via Tiruttani.
Road: Several buses ply between Tiruttani and Chennai (86-km) and between Tiruttani and Tirupati (66-km).