Posted in Divya Desam

Trip to Malai Naadu Temples – Experience & Recommendations

Note: If you came here expecting information on visiting all 13 Malai Naattu Divya Desams, then read the blog in Tamil here. This blog entry only covers the six dhivya desams bordering Kottayam.

Having completed a visit to the six Malai naadu divya desams over the weekend, adiyEn would like to share some personal experiences and notes that might help devotees who plan to visit in the future. Though adiyEn travelled alone, the recommendations provided here are from the perspective of those who travel with their families. The places covered were as under:

  1. Thirukkadiththanam – Changanassery, Kottayam District
  2. Thiruvallavaazh – Tiruvalla, Pathanamthitta District
  3. Thiruvanvandoor – Thiruvanvandoor, Alappuzha District
  4. Thiruchengundrur – Chengannur, Alappuzha District
  5. Thiruppuliyur – Chenagannur, Alappuzha District
  6. Thiruvaranvilai – Aranmula, Pathanamthitta District

These places collectively represent the kutta naadu divya desams. Although these places apparently look to be spread across three different districts, they are fairly close to each other and can be covered even in half-a-days’ time if we start as early at 6 AM. The places mentioned above are located from top to bottom on the map in the order mentioned. Hence, it makes sense to cover them in that order.

To cover these places, one must pick a Trivandrum/Kollam bound train that goes via Kottayam. All Trivandrum and Kollam bound trains from Chennai go via Ernakulam (Kochi). However, beyond Ernakulam, there are two routes leading to Trivandrum/Kollam – one via Aleppey (Alappuzha) and the other via Kottayam. To visit the six places, one has to take the Kottayam bound train and get down at Kottayam. Bhagavathas travelling from Madurai and nearby places can directly take a bus to Kottayam that goes via Kumili.

Kottayam is a buzzing town, and is easily a vegetarian’s haven in Kerala. Considering the state’s Muslim domination, there are a countable few towns like Kottayam where one can find enough vegetarian dining options. Hence, if tourists are required to stay overnight, they should prefer Kottayam over Changanassery or Chengannur. Alternatively, the tourism department of the Government of Kerala runs a decently-maintained guest house just outside Tiruvalla temple. This place can also be chosen for overnight stay. To cover the divya desams, one can negotiate an auto or a cab from Kottayam/Tiruvalla. Most auto-drivers are aware of the temples and the travel routes to reach them as they have been routinely taking Srivaishnavas around. An auto-ride to all these places is expected to cost around Rs. 700-800.

It is also worth noting that most of the malai naadu divya desams are referred to by different names in Kerala. So it is better to get the local names right before venturing out. As is the norm in other Kerala temples, gents have to adorn a veshti, leaving their upper body part uncovered to gain admission into these temples. Hence, it is always better to carry a pair of them in your travel bag pack.

Almost all these temples have granite slabs in which a select nammazhwAr pAsuram of that kshetram is inscribed. Other than Thiruvalla and Thivaranvilai, which are seats of commercial activity, the other temples in the list hardly had any visitors. Hence, adiyEn was able to spend a long time (full fifteen minutes) enjoying the beauty of emperumAn and thinking of nammAzhwar pAsurams written about the Lord. In the case of Thiruvalla, there were an additional 11 pAsurams of Thirumangai AzhwAr which adiyEn enjoyed in admiration. nammAzhwAr glorifies the sylvan surroundings of these places in his pAsurams and it is a tribute to the people of Kerala that much of it is preserved even today. Especially, nammAzhwar glorifies Tiruvalla as a place where the smoke from vedic rituals adorns the sky. One can feel a divine calm in his/her heart by entering the temple’s prahAram itself. Similarly, in the pond adjacent to Thirukkadithanam temple, adiyEn was witness to ugaLum kayalgaL and turtles attempting acrobatics, which are definitely a treat to the nature lover.

The namboodris in all the temples mentioned appeared to have a lot of respect for Srivaishnavas. That was evident from their fond enquiries and their generous offering of prasAdams (flowers, chandanam and tulasi leaves).

Since adiyEn temporarily resides in Kerala and has covered almost all malai naattu temples now, adiyEn would be more than interested in helping bhAgavathAs out with travel directions. However, adiyEn’s recommendation is avoid these places from November to January as there will be a huge deluge of Sabarimala tourists, limiting one’s boarding/lodging options.

28 thoughts on “Trip to Malai Naadu Temples – Experience & Recommendations

  1. Nicely written and very informative. I travelled alone from bangalore and covered these divyadesams in December 2010 and I stayed overnight in Chengannur. I hired a ambassador car for 800 and we left by 5am and covered all the divyadesams by 8.30am. I travelled by Ernakulam express which leaves bangalore at 6:30 and I got down at Thrissur at 3.15pm. stayed overnight at Guruvayoor and visited Thirunaavai divyadesam. then reached ernakulam by train and took a train to chennganur.

  2. Thanks for your informative post. Apart from the above 6 locations, I am also planning to cover the other malai naadu divya desams, except Trivandrum and Tiruvattaru. I am planning to travel with family. Can you kindly suggest the route beyond Kottayam – can I hire a car from Kottayam to these places and return to Kottayam? Also let me know if I should plan for 1 day or 2 days from Kottayam to the other divya desams.

    Thanks for your assistance.

    Regards
    Balaji

    1. I assume you are also excluding Thiruvanparisaram from the trip as this place is near Nagerkovil.

      You will need a minimum two days to complete the trip to the remaining Divya desams. Assuming you start at 6AM on day 1 in thiruvalla/thirukkadithanam, you can wrap up all these divya desams by 12:30 PM itself. So you may have your lunch and leave for Aluva/Alwaye on the same day and cover Thirukkatkarai and Thirumoozhikkalam in the evening. Return to Thrissur and stay overnight.

      The next morning, you may wake up early, have a darshan at Kulasekara Azhwar Avathara Sthalam at Thiruvanjikkalam and then cover Thirunavai and Thiruviththuvakkodu by the evening. You can then pick up the return train from Palakkad itself. No need to go back to Kottayam.

      I have also written an entry on this in Tamil which you can read here: http://madhurakavidasan.blogspot.in/2012/03/travel-planner.html

  3. highly useful . can we stay in chenganoor & visit all these 6? and pl suggest whether decent accomodation (nearby veg food) in the range of Rs 500-600 per day

    1. It will be possible to stay in Chengannur and visit all the six dhiyva desams. But it would be a better idea to plan your stay based on where you begin your journey from. If you start from Chennai, it would be better to stay in Kottayam and cover these places. I don’t have any information on the accommodation options but you’ll surely find hotels to your budget in Kottayam.

  4. Excellent and very helpful write up and information. It is heartening to see sharing of these great experiences from fellow srivaishnavites. IWe are visitiing Guruvayur and wanted also to go to thiruvanjikkalam. How long will this take by car…thanks and best wishes

    1. Just 50 odd Kms swami. You should be able to cover Thiruvanjikkalam as well on the same day. Just drive down SH-66 from Guruvayur to Kodungallur and ask for TKS Puram Azhwar Temple.

  5. The kerala tradition of visiting these temples is different. The temples thiruchittat, thirupuliyoor, thiruvaranmula, thiruvanvandoor and thrikkodithanam are called Pancha Pandava Temples. Devotees should first visit Dharmaputra’s Thiruchittat. Then visit Bhima’s thirupuliyoor and return back and visit Thiruchittat again. Then proceed to Arjuna’s Thiruvaranmula and return to thiruchittat for darsan. Then proceed to Nakula’s Thiruvanvandoor return to Thiruchittat. Then go to Sahadeva’s Thrikkodithanam and again return to Thiruchittat. This is called pandava kshetra praikrama. The journey is finished only if the pilgrims also visits the Krishna Temple near mavelikkara where Kunthi Devi installed the idol of Krishna.

  6. Can you give us the contact number of the guest house referred in this post? How far is that from Kottayam station? Can you also give us any person contact number who can coordinate and arrange the whole thing for us from Kottayam and help?

    1. Unfortunately, I don’t have the contact numbers with me now. If you are thinking of a pre-planned trip, then you should get in touch with tour operators in Coimbatore. I don’t have much idea about them.

      1. Dear Latha
        Thanks for the information. Is it possible for you to arrange for stay and food and accompany us for all the 13 Divyadesam. We are pleased to bear all your expenses.

  7. DEAR SIR,
    Your desription of malainadu was very fine with apt emotions and instruhur.ctions.thank u very much.we r planning a trip to malainadu divyadesams arouind feb.10th.
    pl.suggest some good hotels in kottayam,trivandrum ,ernakulam and guruvayur/trichur so that the three of us will stay comfotably.you r free to give us any advise to make the trip c.omfortable and memorable.thank u once again for your detailed description

  8. Dear sir
    Accept my thanks for an excellent blog on malai nadu dhivya desam.my wife and visited guruvayoor last year and then visited thiruvitthuvacode and thirunavai.
    We would now like to visit other malainadu dhivyadesam excluding thiruvanthapuram ,as we have already had darshan of the lord there.both of us are senior citizens and hence keep our trips to two or max.three days
    Can you suggest best itineary from chennai.we have no problem to return from nagerkovil
    Sorry for the trouble

    1. Dear Sir,

      You have two options. One is to take any Ernakulam or Trivandrum-bound train from Chennai and get down at Thrissur/Aluva/Angamali. I would recommend Thrissur because it is the bigger of the three towns and is expected to have the facilities that you might need to book a room, take bath and get ready for your travel.

      From Thrissur, you may cover Thirumoozhikkalam, and then catch the Cochin highway and head to Thirukkatkarai. In the same evening, head to Kottayam and plan your night’s stay there. On the second day, you can start from Kottayam and cover Thirukkadithanam, Thirvalla and Thiruvanvandoor in the morning. In the evening, you may cover Thiruchengundrur, Thiruppuliyur and Thiruvaranvilai by day 2 evening.

      You can stay in Chengannur or Trivandrum for that night. The next morning, you may head to Marthandam from Trivandrum and cover Thiruvattaru first. From Marthandam, you can catch any Nagercoil-bound bus. Thiruvanparisaram (locally Thiruppathisaram) is 4 miles to the north of Nagercoil, You can book your return train from Nagercoil on Day 3 evening.

  9. Interesting article.I covered thiru naavi and thiruvithuvakkodu.Thiru Navvi experirnce was unique and I have been sharing with my friends again and again. Now I would like to have dharshans of remaining 11. Happy to note I can cover 6 from Kotayam.We are seniors (71 yrs wife 63 healthy CHENNAI based).I would take taxi for tour and can do abut 200kms a day. Please guide me.Srinivasan

  10. I was blessed by the Divya Dampathis to visit the 13 Malai Naadu Divya Desams in Jan 2016. Should anybody require any assistance / suggestions for their trip to the same, please feel free to call me / write to me at 9 5 9 71 0 6 7 8 7 / krishnaabode89 at the rate of gmail dot com.
    Balaji Dasan
    Sri Krishnaarpanam.

  11. Radhekrishna
    I had the opportunity to visit all the 13 Malai Naadu Divya Desams between Jan 23 and 25th, 2016. It was possible because of His blessings by getting me a good Guide cum Driver ( as I went in my car) in Mr Prasad. He was very underatanding, very very NOMINAL and above all very soft in approach. He reads the situation very well and act to the demands. Mr Prasad can be contacted though 9946232542 AND 9846538642 and he will arrange cab if one requires it.
    Balaji Dasan – 9597106787
    Sri Krishnaarpanam

  12. Thank you for the information. Iam Parimala Karanth planned to undertake the visit to 13 malai nadu temples on 18th May2016 which will help me a lot.

  13. I went with my Mom with Athigiri Yatra Travels of Kanchi from Apr 27 to 2 May and covered 13 Malainadu divyadesams along with Guruvayoor and 2 Bagavati Ammans at chottanikarai and Chenganur by deluxe Bus with Push Back seats and food was arranged by them with panthalam Tirugurunkudi asa bonus and a falls at padmanabapuram called Thiraparupu really a fascinating and fulfilling Tour my suggestion is go by Tour operators that would be better from the point of view of Food and Travel

    1. Dear Shri Balaji,
      krishnaabode89.gmail.com
      Sri Krishnaarpanam.

      Sir,
      Me and my husband S.Raju are planning to visit malai nattu divya desam during Oct 14-16.
      we have fixed our schedule as Chennai – Chengannur – {cover 6 divya desam in morning}
      Ernakulam – {Cover 2 divya desam evening} night train to Trivandrum –
      Thiruvananthapuram darshan on day 2 and return to Chennai by ananthapuri.

      in our plan, we would like to get help for stay in Chengannur. Can you please suggest some decent hotel or guest house near Chengannur railway station
      Rukmani Raju

  14. Respected Balaji, we are planning only nagercoil divya desam (2 ) tiruvattaru & Thirupathisaram , padnabhapuram Palace and sucheedram hanuman temple. How do we cover from nagercoil n we are also planning for kanyakumari trip..

    I want to know the temple timings..

    Thank you so much
    Radha mohan

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