Mangala Heritage Retreat

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Mangala Heritage Retreat is a simple, traditional home in the small town of Thirupugalur, situated on the outskirts of Nagapattinam District, rich in agricultural beauty, green waves of grain, tamarind-lined roads and cool, dark temple tanks.

The Owner in Chennai, stumbled upon the place when looking for a house that could accommodate scholars and others exploring the magnificent Thyagarajaswamy Temple in Thiruvarur. Once he bought, he was clear as to what it would become – a place where travelers could experience Tamil village life.

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Nagapattinam, Tamil Nadu, India


Sri Agneeshwarar Temple

The home overlooks the vast tank of the famous “Agneeswara Temple in Thirupugalur. The God is known as Agneeswarar or Konapiran and Goddess is known as Karundhaz Kuzali. This temple is situated at a distance of 7 km from Nannilam, at 25 km from Nagapattinam and 40 km from Kumbakonam. There are a number of legends attached to the temple.

Sowriraja Perumal Temple (1 km)

This is one of the 5 Krishnaranya Kshetrams. Lord Narayana himself re-incarnated as Sowri Rajan at Kannapuram. This is the temple where the Lord showed Vibheeshana, brother of Ravana, his walking beauty. After seeing the sleeping beauty of Vishnu as Lord Ranganatha at Srirangam, Vibheeshna wanted to see the walking beauty of the Lord, upon which he was directed by the Lord to his “Keezh(akku) Veedu’ (Eastern Gateway of the Lord). It is believed that Lord Vishnu displayed his ‘walking beauty’ to Vibheeshana here on the new moon day. To mark this event, on every Amavasya day at 12 noon, Lord SowriRajan is carried out of the Sanctum and walks to the Vibheeshna Sanidhi. A devotee who used to have his daily food only after presenting to the Lord was late one evening and found the temple closed. Hence, he presented the food to the Lord from outside the temple. It is believed that when the temple doors opened the next morning, the entire temple smelt of Sweet Pongal. To mark this, every night, Pongal is served to the Lord - another feature at this temple.

Mud Pottery – Thirukanapuram (1 km)

Brass/Bamboo Making – Nanilam (10 kms)

Keevalur (15kms)

There is a temple of Agastyalinga, a mile from Keevalur station on the Tiruvarur-Nagore line. The Nataraja image here is unique with its ten heads, all armed with trident, round, shield, mazhu, noose, club etc. This represents a craftsmanship of matchless intricacy. One can see a separate sanctum for Kubera the God of fortune here, which is rare in the south.

Tiruvarur (18 kms)

The Thyagarajaswami temple at Tiruvarur is one of the ancient heritage sites of India and is a representation of the religio-socio-cultural history of the Tamil region for a period spanning over a millennium and a half. Little is known about this shrine to much of India. The vast temple complex today is truly a standing monument to centuries of history and tradition. Tiruvarur is an ancient shrine steeped in mysticism. It is rich in legend, history and tradition. The ancient Sri Tyagaraja temple at Tiruvarur is dedicated to the Somaskanda aspect of Shiva. The Kamalalayam temple tank which covers around 25 acres, is one of the largest in the country. The temple chariot is the largest of its kind in Tamil Nadu.

Thirunallaru Temple (20kms)

This is a famous Siva temple. It is a Dharbaranyam and the presiding deity is Dharbaranyeswara. There is a place of Lord Saneeswarar (Saturn) at the entrance of the temple. The Nala Theertham here is a famous tank, wherein the devotees take a dip smearing oil on their body. The original Nataraja idol of this temple is at Thiruchendur with the engravement Thirunallaru on it. The Dutch are said to have removed this idol from here. When they set sail, a fierce storm dropped them into the sea and escaped. Later, the idols were rescued from the sea by a miracle and both of them were installed at Thiruchendur.

Nagore (20 kms)

A prominent 5-acre dargah (Muslim shrine) dedicated to the 16th-century saint Nagore Andavar (literally "the Lord (aandavar) of Nagore"; also popularly called Meeran Sahib or Qadir Wali) is located there, and serves as a pilgrim center. The 14-day Kandhuri Urs (also spelled Kandoori or Kandhoori), dedicated to the saint, is held there annually. People of all religions visit Nagore Dargah to get the blessings of the Holy saint without any distinction. It is an object of Great veneration not only for Muslims but also for people of other religions.

Sikkil (33kms)

Sikkil is on the bus route from Nagappattinam to Thiruvarur. The famous Sikkal Singara Velan Temple is situated here. It is one of the most popular Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Muruga and a contender for the unofficial seventh Padaiveedu of Muruga, along with the popular Arupadaiveedu (six abodes of Lord Muruga). It is believed in Hindu mythology that this place was once a jasmine forest and due to its pleasant smell, the semi-human goddess in Hindu mythology, Kamadenu lived there. It is one of the rare traditional Hindu temples that have both Shiva (Navaneeteswarar) and Vishnu (Venaipperuman) deities in the same complex.

Velankanni (35 kms)

Velankanni is located 12 km south of Nagapattinam on the Coromandel Coast, in Tamil Nadu. The shrine here is dedicated to Our Lady of Health, the Madonna of Velankanni and is popularly known as 'Sacred Arogya Matha Church'. Virgin Mary is believed to have miraculous healing powers. Thousands of pilgrims belonging to various castes and communities flock daily to this 'Lourdes of the East'. The church has an imposing facade with tall spires and the wings present the shape of a cross. In a niche in the alter is enshrined the statue of Our Lady of Health. A festival is celebrated for ten days from August 28 to September 10 every year and pilgrims from all over the country and even abroad flock to the site, bathe religiously in the sea, have their heads shaved and then walk on their knees or roll up to the shrine as rituals.

Kumbakonam (40 kms)

Kumbakonam is a famous temple town, located in the Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu. It is called a temple town because of the large number of temples within the town and the surrounding areas. The town is known for its intricately carved panchaloha idols, fine brasswares - especially lamps, and silk and betel leaves. It is located 273 km south of Chennai, 96 km east of Tiruchirappalli and about 40 km northeast of Thanjavur. The Cauveri River on the north and Arasalar River on the south bind the temple town of Kumbakonam. Some of the famous temples there are the Sarangpani temple (a Vaishnavite temple), Chakrapani temple, Kumbeswara temple, Nageswaran and the Airavatesvara temple.

Mannargudi (55kms)

The most important Vaishnavaite shrine of South India is found here. The presiding deity here is Rajagopalaswamy, which stands at 12 feet tall. It covers an area of over 15 acres. This shrine has 16 gopurams, 7 prakarams with 24 shrines, 7 beautiful mandapams embellishing the inside and 9 sacred theerthams. The Garuda Sthamba, a monolithic pillar 50 ft. tall stands in the forefront with a miniature Garuda shrine on the top. The place is also known as the Dakshina Dwaraka i,e, Dwaraka of the South India. The evidence of Jainism can be seen from the Jain statues in the vicinity.

Vedaranyam - Point Calimere Wildlife and Bird Sanctuary (60 kms)

The sanctuary is open all year from 6 am to 5 pm. The best weather at the sanctuary is during November and December when the area is cooled by the Northeast monsoon and the grasslands are the most luxuriant. The best time for bird watching is from October to January and the best time for animal viewing is from March to August.

The sanctuary entrance and police checkpoint is located 5 kilometres (3 mi) south of Vedaranyam, 55 kilometres (34 mi) south of Nagapattinam and 380 kilometres (240 mi) south of Chennai. A 6-kilometre (4 mi) paved road leads from the checkpoint to the villages of Kodaikadu and Kodaikarai. Vehicles are prohibited in the core of the sanctuary. Forest Department guides are available, with prior request to the Wildlife Warden, to escort visitors for bird and wildlife watching in the core of the sanctuary.

There are several watchtowers accessible to the public that provide panoramic views of the sanctuary. They are located at:

Ramar Padam, a popular pilgrimage destination. The watchtower here is near the road at the northwest corner of the sanctuary just inside the entrance at Ramam Padam.
in the center of the sanctuary that may be reached with the aid of a guide.
at the eastern end of the sanctuary that may be reached with the aid of a guide.
in the birding area is a rickety steel tower about 0.5 kilometres (0.31 mi) west of the road near Muniappan Lake.
at the constables post on Kodaikarai beach at the end of the road near the southwest corner of the sanctuary is a tall damaged watchtower that requires a police escort to climb. It is not in the sanctuary, but provides a good view of it.

Mat weaving - Kollidam (60 kms)

Kodikkarai Sanctuary (65kms)

This sanctuary is just 10 kms from Vedaranyam and 68 kms from Nagappattinam. It is famous for birds. One can see black bucks, spotted deer, wild pigs and vast flocks of migratory birds like flamingoes could all be seen here. During winter season, the tidal mud-flats and marshes of the backwaters are covered with fowls like teals, curlews, gulls, terns, plovers, sandpipers, shanks and herons. These are mostly sea birds. One can see up to 30,000 flamingos at a time here. The spring season here welcomes different set of birds like koels, mynas and barbets, who come here attracted by the profusion of wild berries. November to January is the best time to visit this sanctuary.

Thanjavur (80 kms)

Thanjavur District is the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. The Big Temple and the other famous temples in the district are known all over the world. Thanjavur was the cultural capital of the country in 1790. Thanjavur gained prominence during the period of Chola Kings, who made it as their capital. Thereafter, it was ruled by Nayaks and Maratta Kings, who nurtured art and culture. The cultural, the architectural and the scholarly pursuits of these rulers are reflected in the great monuments like Grand Anaicut, Big Temple and Serfoji Mahal Library etc. in the district.

Thillai Vilagam (90kms)

It is about 25 kms south of Thiruthuraipoondi. It is a famous Vaishnavaite sthalam. The image of the presiding deity Kothandarama is of intricate workmanship. A sanctum for Nataraja can also be seen in this Vishnu temple.

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Mangala has had the benefit of impeccable design inputs from cultural heavyweight, Shanta Guhan and architect, Benny Kuriakose, famous for his work at Dakshinachitra.
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