Stop Walking Alone In Your Shadow! – Groundhog’s Message

Stop Walking Alone In Your Shadow! – Groundhog’s Message

In NYC, we crave for the luminous skies and warm weather which are still months away. I am recovering from the cabin fever. All is frozen outside but certainly not my heart.

As a curious explorer in school, I used to enjoy weather forecasting by observing the activity of a groundhog at Staten Island Zoo where on February 2, the groundhog comes out of the burrow all day and the ceremony is open for all.

As it looks at its own shadow it indicates the continuation of cold dry winters while if there is an umbrella of clouds, it stays outside predicting the arrival of spring. The behavior of this intelligent rodent helps in predicting the waning of winter or the onset of spring. I find this phenomenon fascinating.

Last evening as I was sitting with Fred, my retired, reformist friend, at the pub, he enlightened me with his perspective of the Groundhog Day which was rather unique and interesting. It gave me a new insight.

Fred said, “You know Bob this day reminds me of my lonely days, I emerged from my coldness only to find my own shadow which was as solitary as my pride, my seasons never changed till I transcended my attitude and eventually, I made great friends who enveloped me in love and warmth. More I open myself to camaraderie, the springtime of my life continues.”

The only prerequisite for long-lasting happiness is to stop walking in your own shadow. We are the weather prophets of our life. So pause and reflect, are you warm or cold today?

Have a great day! I will be with you and my observations of life that will inspire the best in us.

History of Ramanathapuram


History of Ramanathapuram district bears the evidence of the rule of the Pandyas, Cholas, Marathas and also the British. In the beginning of the fifteenth century the present dominions of the district of Ramanathapuram comprising of Tiruvadanai, Paramakudi, Ramanathapuram, Kamuthi, Mudukulathur and Rameswaram taluks were included in Pandyan Kingdom. It remained for a short period under the rule of the Chola Kings when Rajendra Chola brought Ramanathapuram under his territory in A.D. 1063. In A.D. 1520, the Nayaks of Vijayanagar brought this area under their control from the Pandyan dynasty. For about two centuries, Marava chieftains-Sethupathis who were Lords under Pandyan Kings reigned over this part.

The earlier parts of the eighteenth century witnessed several disputes in the family of the rulers over succession which led to the division of Ramanathapuram. By the aid of the King of Thanjavur in A.D. 1730, one of the chieftains deposed Sethupathy and became the Raja of Sivaganga. Acting upon the weakness of the Nayak rules, the local chieftains became independent. Chand, a Sahib of Carnatic, captured Ramanathapuram and in 1741, the area came under the control of the Marathas and then under the Nizam in 1744 AD. The rule of the Nawabs made displeasure in the mind of those chieftains and thus they declared the last Nayak as ruler of Pandya Mandalam against the Nawab in 1752 AD. By that time, throne of Carnatic had two rivals, Mohamed Ali and Shanda Sahib, and this district was part of Carnatic. The French and the British supported Mohamed Ali and Chanda Sahib respectively and thus resulted in a series of conflicts in the southern part of the continent.

In the year 1795, the British East India Company deposed Muthuramalinga Sethupathy and took over the control of administration of Ramanathapuram. In the year 1801 Mangaleswari Nachiyar was made the Zamindar of Sivagangai. After passing of Queen, the Marudhu Brothers took the charge by paying regular revenue to the East India Company. In the year 1803, the Marudhu Brothers of Sivaganga revolted against the British along with Panchalamkurichi and Kattabomman. Colonel Agnew captured Marudhu Brothers and hanged them and then made Gowri Vallbah Periya Udaya Thevar as Zamindar of Sivaganga. After the defeat of Tipu Sultan, the British took the control of this district and imprisoned the Nawab. In the year 1892, the Zamindari system was abolished and for the administration of the district a British Collector was appointed.

Ramanathapuram was formed in the year 1910 by clubbing some portions of the Madurai district and Tirunelveli district. Shri J.F. Bryant (I.C.S) was the first collector of this district and the district was named Ramanathapuram. During the rule of the district, this district was called `Ramnad`. This name continued after the independence of India and later the district was renamed as Ramanathapuram. The district of Ramanathapuram was trifurcated on the 15th of March 1985. Pasumpon Muthuramalinga Thevar district was formed after the trifurcation of Ramanathapuram district and it consists of Karaikudi, Devakottai, Thiruppattur, Manamadurai, Ilaiyankudi and Sivaganga taluks. Later, this district was renamed as Sivaganga district. Another district which was formed is the Kamarajar District. This district consists of Virudhunagar, Sriviliputtur, Chiruchuli, Sattur, Aruppukottai and Rajapalayam taluks and later the district was renamed as Virudhunagar district. The district of Ramanathapuram consisted of the Paramakudi, Kamuthi, Tiruvadanai, Ramanathapuram, Mudukulathur and Rameswaram taluks. During the trifurcation of the Ramanathapuram district the district collector was Shri S.Gurumurthy (I.A.S).


Emerald (Maragatha) Lingams and Idols in Ramanathapuram at Tamil Nadu Temples


Emeral Natarajar, Uthirakosamangai


Thiru Uthira Kosa Mangai- Ramanathapuram,Tamil Nadu

Uthira Kosa Mangai is a tiny hamlet, famous for the Siva temple considered to be 3000 years old. This is the place where Siva transferred the secrets of  Vedas to Parvati. Uthiram means (updesham) kosam( secrets) Parvati  (Mangai )  hence this place is known as Uthira Kosa Mangai.

The main deity here is Mangalanathar ( Siva) and his consort is  Mangleshwari.  There is a Nandi just outside the sanctum and a bigger Nandi in the outer prakaram  known here  as Pradosha Nandi.   Special poojas are conducted here on Pradosham days in the evenings as it is  believed that Siva dances between the horns of Nandi during that time. There  are also  shrines for Kalabhairavar and  Sanishwarar here. Each pillar in this temple has beautiful carvings and the ceiling is painted in myriad hues.

The main attraction of this temple is a statue of Natarajar made of emerlad which is about  51/2 feet tall. This idol is known as Margatha Natarajar and the deity is always covered with sandal paste.  Only in the Tamil month of Margazhi on Tiruvathira nakshtram (latest  was on Dec. 22nd 2010)  the sandal paste gets removed and there is abhishekam for the idol and this special darshan is known as  Arudhra darishanam. Lakhs of devotees visit the temple on this day and on the next day again the idol  gets smeared with sandal paste. To have a darshan of this deity, one must be there around 12.00 noon on regular days.

On the way to Natarajar temple we find other sub shrines dedicated to Sahasra Lingam ,which has thousands of tiny Lingams carved on a single Shiva Linga and a separate shrine for Manikka Vasagar(the saint poet who was a regular visitor to this temple) near the Agnitheertham (tank) . The sthala vricksham is also considered as old as the temple. The base of this  tree has a huge hollow in which I could find some images of serpents.


Sapta (Seven) Vitanka Sthalams

Seven Saiva temples dedicated to Lord Thiyagaraja or Somaskanda (a form of Lord Siva) are located in the vicinity of the temple town Tiruvaroor in Tamil Nadu (Ancient Chola country –Southern banks of the holy river Cauveri). The Chola emperor Musukuntha Chakravarthy said to have obtained seven icons of Lord Thiyagaraja from Lord Indira. The emperor enshrined these seven icons at these seven shrines.All these seven Saiva shrines are referred as  ‘Sapta Vitanka Sthalams (Shrines). The tern ‘vitanka’ suggests that the Maragatha (emerald) Siva Lingam icons are self formed (swayambu) and not chiseled or sculpted. The seven Lord Thiyagaraja shrines are located at:

  1. Lord Thiyaraja temple, Thiruvaroor. Here Thiyagaraja (Gomethaga Lingam enshrined) is called as Veedi Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Ajapaa Natanam.’
  2. Lord Dharbaranyeswarar temple – Thirunallaru, Pondichery Sate (near Nagapattinam). Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Naga Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Unmatta Natanam.’
  3. Lord Kayarohaneswarar temple – Thirunagaikaronam (Nagapattinam) temple.  Here Thiyagaraja (Maragatha Lingam) is called as Sundara Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Paraavaara Taranga Natanam.’
  4. Lord Kannayira Natheswarar temple – Tirukkaaraayil, Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Aadi Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Kukkuta Natanam.’ 
  5. Lord Sundareswarar temple  – Tirukkuvalai, Thiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Avani Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Bhringa Natanam.’
  6. Lord Vaimurnathar  temple – Tiruvaimur (near Tirunellikka) Tiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Neela Vitankar. The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Kamala Natanam.’
  7. Lord Maraikkaadanaar temple, Vedaranyam, Nagapattinam district, Tamil Nadu. Here Thiyagaraja (maragatha Lingam enshrined) is called as Bhuvani Vitankar.  The Lord is in a dance pose called ‘Hamsapaada Natanam.’

The ‘Gomethaga Lingam’ of Lord Thiyaraja temple, Thiruvaroor and the ‘Maragatha Lingam’ of Lord Kayarohaneswarar temple – Thirunagaikaronam (Nagapattinam) temple were stolen during early 1990s. The police case regarding the theft of these two priceless Siva Lingams remains undetected.

The Tamil Nadu CID police of  Economic Offences Wing (EOW) – Idol Wing has recovered the Maragatha Lingam icon – weighing 990 grams – belonging to  Lord Maruntheeswarar temple Thiruthuraipoondi, Thiruvaroor district, Tamil Nadu from the two member gang. The idol was stolen by the team of five gang members from the temple on February 22, 2009 during night time. The police acted up on tip-off and hatched plan to catch the criminals. On October 26, 2009, Monday,  the police team encircled the gang at Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus or CMBT, Koyambedu, Chennai. The antique value of the stolen Maragatha Lingam idol is estimated about Rs. 50 crore. Few days later the stolen Maragatha Lingam was handed over to the temple authorities (HR & CE). The CID police have emphasized the need for tight security to protect the priceless maragatha lingam icons in seven Saptha Vitanka sthalams and 27 upa-vitanka sthalams in Tamil Nadu.

Lord Mangalanaathar temple at Uthirakosamangai (near Ramanathapuram) in Tamil Nadu is another ancient Saivite shrine glorified in Thiruvasagam by Saint Manickavasagar. The temple houses the most precious and rare emerald (maragatha) Natarajar icon. The six feet (1.83 meter) tall and huge sized Lord Nataraja statue has separate shrine at Lord Mangalanathar temple. Normally bronze icon of Lord Nataraja will be enshrined in Saivite temples. You can not find such a huge emerald Nataraja any where in the world. The idol will be covered in sandal paste all through the year. On the eve of Aardhra or Tiruvathirai star (Lord Siva’s birth star) the temple celebrates Arudhra darshanam festival. The sandal paste will be removed on this day. Thousands of people come here to witness the event. Thereafter the icon will be protected with sandal paste.

Tiruvidaichuram Temple
Lord Idaichuranathar temple, Tiruvidaichuram, Sembakkam (Vada Thiruvanaika) (Pancha pootha sthalam) is an ancient Saivite shrine located in the Chingleput, to Tirupporur bus route. The shrine represents water (one of five elements). Similarly Thiruvanaikka temple (near Tiruchirapalli) represents water element. It is one of the 32 Thevaram shrines located in Thondai Nadu region of Tamil Nadu. The self formed principal deity is the Maragatha Lingam.

Thiru-engoi-malai Temple
Lord Thiruvenginadhar Temple at Thiru-engoi-malai is another ancient Saivite hill-shrine located in the Tiruchirapalli – Musiri bus route. It is 40 km away from Tiruchirapalli. The self formed (Swayambu) Principal deity Lord Maragatheswarar(Malaikozhnthar) is an emerald (Maragatha) Lingam. It was reported that the Maragatha Lingam was stolen from the temple.

Panchetti (Panjetty) Temple
Sri Aanandavalli sametha Lord Agastheeswarar temple Panchetti (Panjetty),Chennai, Tamil Nadu is another Saivite temple located in the Chennai – Calcutta National Highways and the shrine is 30 km away from Chennai. Sri Anandhavalli, the consort of Lord Siva, has separate shine in this temple. It is a south facing shrine. The icon of this goddess is made up of emerald (maragatha) stone.
Palani Temple (Hill Shrine)
Sri Dandayuthapani Swamy temple at Palani is the saivite shrine devoted to Lord Subramanya. The icon of Lord Dandayuthapani Swamy is sculpted out of the material formed after composing nine deadly poisons – Navapashanam” ( a combination of  Gauri Pasanam,  Jathilingam, Kandagam, Mridharsingh, Pooram, Rasam, Silasat, Veeram and Vellai Pasanam). The idol was conceptualized by Saint Bhogar (one of the 18 Siddhars of Tamil tradition) . You may find the shrine of Bhogar at the southern part of the Palani hill shrine. The Maragatha Lingam found at this shrine was believed to be worshiped by Saint Bhogar.
Siruvapuri or Chinnambedu Temple
Sri Unnamalai Amman Sametha Lord Agasteeswarar temple, Siruva puri, Chennai is Saivite shrine devoted Lord Subramanya and is located in the Chennai – Calcutta National Highways and the shrine is 37 km away from Chennai. The icon of Lord Agasteeswarar is the self formed one. The peacock (the vehicle of Lord Subramanya) is carved from emerald (maragatha) stone.


  1. Uthirakosamangai Sivankoil, Wikipedia
  2. Arulmigu Dhandayudhapani Temple, Palani
  3. Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu Tourism
    Sapta Vitanka. Templenet
  4. Siruvapuri Murugan Temple
  5. Stolen ‘Maragathalingam’ idol recovered from gang The Hindu October 26, 2009
  6. Thiru Engoimalai Maragathachaleswarar Temple
  7. Tiruvidaichuram -Idaichuranathar Temple
  8. Thiruvarur. WhatisIndia

How to reach: The nearest airport is Madurai . Ramanathapuram is 100 Kms from the Madurai airport.

Many buses ply from Madurai  to Ramanathapuram.

Accommodation- It is better to stay in Madurai which has good hotels.

Ramanathaswamy temple,Rameshwaram , Tirupullani, Sethukarai and Navapashanam are the other  famous temples  nearby.