Dharbaranyeswarar Temple :: Thirunallar

Thirunallar, located in Puducherry or earlier called Pondicherry, is a famous town known for Lord Shani and Shiva Temple. The temple has devotees visiting all round the year, especially on Saturdays and one has to wait for 3-4 hours in the queue to see the deity. It is believed as per Hindu myth, people who have their saade saati or Lord Shani's cycle going on, are advised to visit the temple to reduce or ward off the ill effects. It is said, Lord Nala Maharaja, got Moksha or salvation post visiting this temple.
Way to Nala Theertham

Vendors selling shampoo, oil and shikakai

Vendors selling shampoo, oil and shikakai, black towels and coconut

Nala Theertham
Devotees are advised to take a dip in the Nala Theertha, a pond where King Nala, left the clothes he was wearing after taking a dip in the pond and wore new clothes after bathing in the pond. Lord Nala, was ruling the kingdom of Nishadha and underwent hardships and agony, during the Saturn's phase. He lost his kingdom, separated form his beautiful wife and reduced to the state of a servant or cook. During the end of Saturn's phase, he was able to retrieve the lost kingdom and his wife, Damayanthi.

I was here, to visit the temple,on a Saturday, after taking a dip in the pond and wearing new clothes, the same way King Nala did. While you walk towards the pond, you find many selling the oil along with soap, black towel, shampoo sachets and black towel. The oil is available in small packet for Rs 5-10 and to be applied on your head before taking a dip in the pond. While you dip, you will notice the statue of King Nala, after whom the pond is named.

There is a Ganesha temple near the pond and you would find devotees lighting a camphor on the coconut and breaking it. It is believed that the evils are warded off by doing so.

The Garbha Gudi or the main temple is a five minute walk from the pond. If you want the keep your luggage, there are plenty of cloak rooms and they would charge less than Rs 50. I would suggest you keep all the inexpensive belongings at the cloak room and carry your mobile phone and purse along. Note that the temple authorities do not allow your luggage.

At the entrance of Lord Shani Temple
At the entrance of Lord Shani Temple
Temple Gopuram
Vendors selling the books and pamphlets 
Books related to Lord Shani
Queue at the temple
At the temple premise, devotees maintain a disciplined queue. There are counters selling at "Archane" coupons, quick darshan for Rs 50 and Til oil lamps for Rs 5. You many offer flowers, oil to the deity, depending on our convenience. It is also said that you should see the deity only once unlike visiting other temples. Lord Shiva is named Dharbaranyeswarar since the idol is originated from Dharba, a special variety of grass. As per myth, Lord Shani's favorite deity is Lord Shiva.

Accommodation I did not feel a necessity for a room since you have to dip in the pond and there are change rooms available for women. And cloak rooms to park your luggage. Moreover, it was a one day visit and the need did not arise.

Food Thirunallar has a Saravana Bhavan, though not a branch of the Saravana Bhavan you see in big cities like Chennai. The veg meals are served on plantain leaf and cost Rs 60.
Never miss lemon soda which is sold across the street, to quench your thirst in the hot weather.

Transport If you're traveling from Bangalore, the only bus to Thirunallar is run by SRS Travels at 10pm from Kalasipalya and reaches the destination by 10am. So that's truly a long journey on bus. Other options are, travel to Kumbakonam or Puducherry by train and then board a bus to Thirunallar, but you would end up  spending a lot of time traveling.

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