How to reach Nanguneri?
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After driving about 180 Km south of Madurai and 30 Kms from Tirunelveli on the Kanyakumari Highway, you still find dry and empty land on both sides of the road with thorny bushes. The sun is hot and you feel like you need some place to rest. Suddenly as though the nature has understood your mood, from nowhere emerges lush green fields and tall trees. And at the place where earth and the heaven meet, you gradually start getting the sight of a tall structure, which has stood there for many hundreds of years. Yes, you get the darshan of the temple tower (Gopuram) of Shri. Vanamamalai Perumal and you instantly get rejuvenated with fresh energy. Especially for the folks who are home coming, this is an experience they will never forget. As you draw closer, the temple tower (Gopuram) grows in size and finally engulfs your heart. You have entered a place called Nanguneri.
Historically, Nanguneri was ruled by Pandiya and Kerala rules. One day a king on his way to the battle field, had to camp under a tree. As the myth goes, Shi. Vanamamalai Perumal appeared in his dream and told him that he build a temple at a site where the idol of himself (perumal) is lying buried. The king did as was instructed. However, during the digging operation, the shovel, the king used by mistake strikes on the head of the idol and inflicts a wound. It is said, that the scar due to this wound is still visibile on the diety. It is for the same reason that every day pure gingly oil is applied on the idol in this temple. Even today this routine is practised. The oil thus collected is stored in an open well, which due to the natural process acquires many healing powers. This oil is available as prasadam and for sale (to be applied on oneself) at the temple.
Inside the temple, Vanamamalai Perumal is seen seated with one leg folded. He has a Prayoga Chakarm (a posture wherein he holds the discuss ready to throw (at the evil)) at his hand. He is accompanied by 11 other members including brugu, markandeya rishis inside the sanctum sanctoram of the temple. The utsava murthy is Sri Deivanayakan and the godesses is Sri. Srivaramanga Thayar. Many Alwars (Vaishnava Saints) have visited this divya kshetram (Place of sanctity) and have praised the lord by way of composing songs. They have written Mangalasasanam (glorifying a place through verses) on Nanguneri.
Nanguneri is one of the rare temple towns where the scared Sri Vaishnava Sampradaya is practised till date carried from ages. Every pilgrim who visits Nanguneri is sumptously fed by the temple and comforted. The people of Nanguneri live as a family participating eagrly in each other's family functions. Nanguneri is surrounded by lush green forest, big water tank and acres of fertail land. People in the town live a simple life, their daily routine may include taking bath in the water tank, visiting Sri Vanamamalai Temple and worshipping the Deity, taking blessings of Jeer and partaking prasadam offered in the temple.
Nanguneri is surrounded by beautiful villages, hamlets and forests. Almost all the villages are centered around a temple, rich in stone carving in the style of Chola and Pandiya style. From Nanguneri one can trek to many places by taxi, bus or jeep. There are temples to visit, pilgrimages to make and rainforests worth taking a look. The western part of Nanguneri is dotted with a chain of mountains called wester ghats which is home of the rare species of Monkey called Lion Tailed Monkey (a rare species preserved from extinction). This is also home for Magaseer fish, a large fresh water fish, again a rare species preserved by the Forest Department, Government of India. With a prior permission of forest officials, it is possible to visit these picnic spots by jeep.
Nanguneri is gaining more importance on the industrial map. The coveted wind energy (Non conventional Energy Resources) project is situated near Nanguneri to exploit the high speed wind blowing from south west direction. About ___ Megawatts of power is generated at peak season from these wind turbines. Nanguneri district is also home for many defence projects and space projects. A nuclear power plant is also planned in the district.
Owing to the scarcity of conventional employment opportunities, younger generation of Nangunerians have moved to far off distances including The States. These citizens should come forward to make commercial, technological and industrial investments, ventures in Nanguneri to exploit the natural and artifical resources of this region and provide more employment to the citizens.
Nanguneri is well connected by train from Chennai, Madurai, Coimbatore, Mumbai and Kanyakumari. Advance reservations can be made to/from Nanguneri from anywhere in India.
The nearest airport to Nanguneri would be Madurai which is 4 hours journey by Surface. The second nearest would be Trivandrum which is also at a distance of 4 hours journey.
The most preferred form of transport would be through Bus. Nanguneri is situated on National Highway No. 7 and is well connected by Bus from Tirunelveli (30 min journey) in the North and Nagarkoil (1.30 hour) in the South.
Good hotels are available in Tirunelveli and Valliyoor. You also have holiday resorts as you move towards Kanyakumari (the Seashore town)
Places of Interest
About 10 minutes journey towrds North from Nanguneri will take you to a Place called Moondradaippu which is a Bird Sanctury. Every year migrating birds visit this place from foreign countries. Another 1 hour journey towards the Hills on the west, and you will reach Malai Nambi which is a tiger resort. The endangered species - Lion Tailed Monkey and Magaseer Fish are preserved here. As you move south of Nanguneri, you reach Kanyakumari, a seashore having beautiful temple dedicated to Sri.Kanyakumari and a monument for Swami Vivekananda Towards north if you move up, you can visit places like Kutralam Water Falls and numerous temples famous for their sculptures in Black granite.
Places of worship
Apart from Nanguneri, one can visit many temples in and around the district.
- Thirukanamgudi has a cluster the famous Nambi temples built by Demons (Bhoodam),
- Alwar Thirunagari,
- Krishnapuram (famous for sculptures),
- Suseendram etc...
Depending on the availability of time, you can visit as many as possible as there are hundreds to choose from..