We reached Siem Reap from Phnom Penh on our second evening in Cambodia. Siem Reap, as you will read everywhere, is the gateway to the temples of Angkor. Till then, we were yet to get a glimpse of any temple belonging to the times of Angkor Wat. So, the next morning, we started from Siem Reap to Phnom Kulen mountain with all eagerness and thus, began our exploration of the Khmer Architectural marvels.
There is an entry fee of $20 (USD) for going to Kulen Mountain / Phnom Kulen (Phnom means Mountain in Khmer) and this is different from the Angkor temple ticket/pass. Phnom Kulen is accessible by a single road which is used for ascent till 12 noon and descent after that.
Situated at a distance of 48 km from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen has a beautiful waterfalls, 1000 lingas river, Preah Ang Thom featuring a huge, reclining Buddha and some ancient Khmer temples which are inaccessible by car. So, we didn’t visit those temples.
We went to Sri Srinivasa Perumal today evening at around 5:20 pm. With only a handful of people in the temple at that time, it seemed like the perfect time to pray, relax and meditate. What better company than music in the form of the divine nadaswaram and the tavil to accompany you during those peaceful moments in the temple! As the nadaswaram player started the Dwijavanti alapana, I found myself completely relaxing and lost myself in the prayers and the music. There was only inner peace prevailing. If a raagam like Dwijavanti which oozes out only beauty and happiness not relax you, then what else will!
As the song Akhilandeswari started and proceeded to the ‘dwijAvanti rAganutE, jalli maddaLa jhar jhara vAdya’ part, the inner longing in me to get back to singing returned full-fledged. Didn’t I have a voice which could easily reach those upper octaves when it was at its best and in regular practice? Even if it is not Dwijavanti, I wish I could at least sing the nursery rhymes with my children and relax!
As I mentioned in my previous post, the best thing about the temples in Singapore is the prasadam. During my initial days in Singapore, I used to say that the Senthil episode in ‘Boys’ movie should have been featured here rather than in Madras because you’re sure to get an entire meal itself as a prasadam here if you time your visit to the temple correctly. Even otherwise, you’re sure to get some prasadam most of the times.
The one thing that you’re not going to miss much if you’re in Singapore is the visits to temple. Though the temples here are no match to our ancient temples in terms of the architectural marvels, the divine atmosphere still remains the same. The moment you step inside a temple, many a times it still feels like you’re still in Tamil Nadu. The deities beautifully decorated, the sacred chants by the pusaaris/kurukkaLs/pattaacharis, the sounds of nadaswaram and tavil, the brisk sale of nei viLakkus and archanai tickets and the temples filled with a whole lot of South Indians barring a few North Indians and foreigners create the familiar atmosphere of our very own temples.
The best part about the temples here is that every temple has its own nadaswaram and tavil players, which, unfortunately, is not the case with the temples in Tamil Nadu. It feels great to see the musical rituals too being followed strictly at all the temples here with the nadaswaram and tavil players playing the mallaris and other pieces at all the stipulated timings all through the day. My daughter being a big fan of the music made by pee-pee dum-dum 🙂 absolutely enjoys visiting the temples.
No post on the temples in Singapore will be complete without mentioning another best part about the temples here, which is, guess what, the prasadams! But that deserves a separate post in itself, so wait and watch out for that.
After seeing the grand Arupatthumoovar at Kapaleeswarar temple, I had to ‘unblock’ the blogger’s block somehow and write this post. This is a very long post! Read it when you find time.
Despite living very near Mylapore for almost 15 years now, I had never been to Arupatthumoovar even once! When I was studying in school, festival time at Kapaleeswarar temple always meant getting a holiday or two and that was all. This year’s Arupatthumoovar was on last Saturday (27th March) &, initially, I wasn’t planning on going for it. My mom having gone for Arupatthumoovar for the first time last year, tempted me to go and, here I am now, all set to relive the grandeur of the fest which left me awe-struck.