Palani

Palani

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Palani is a city and a municipality
Municipality
A municipality is essentially an urban administrative division having corporate status and usually powers of self-government. It can also be used to mean the governing body of a municipality. A municipality is a general-purpose administrative subdivision, as opposed to a special-purpose district...

 in the Dindigul district
Dindigul District
Dindigul District is an administrative region in the south of Tamil Nadu, India. The district was carved out of Madurai District in the year 1985...

 of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is one of the 28 states of India. Its capital and largest city is Chennai. Tamil Nadu lies in the southernmost part of the Indian Peninsula and is bordered by the union territory of Pondicherry, and the states of Kerala, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh...

, located about 100 km South of Coimbatore
Coimbatore
Coimbatore , also known as Kovai , is the second largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a major commercial centre in Tamil Nadu and is known as the "Manchester of South India"....

 City and 60 km west of Dindigul
Dindigul
Dindigul is a town and municipality in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. The name Dindigul comes from the Portmanteau of “Thindu” meaning pillow and “kal” meaning Rock and refers to the bare hill dominating the city’s both land and skyscape...

. It is the location of the far-famed temple
Palani Murugan Temple
The Hill Temple of Palani is one of the most famous temples of Murugan in India. It is located in the town of Palani, 100 km southeast of Coimbatore and a similar distance northwest of Madurai, and in the foot-hills of the eponymous Palni Hills...

 of the god Murugan
Murugan
Murugan also called Kartikeya, Skanda and Subrahmanya, is a popular Hindu deity especially among Tamil Hindus, worshipped primarily in areas with Tamil influences, especially South India, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Mauritius and Reunion Island. His six most important shrines in India are the...

, visited by pilgrims and tourists by more than 7 million each year.

Etymology


The town derives its name from the compounding of two Tamil words pazham, meaning fruit, and nee, you, hearking back to the legend of the chief temple. Palani is pronounced using the retroflex approximant L (ழ) of Tamil and may thus also be spelt as "Pazhani" in English.

History


Tradition
References exist to the place in ancient Tamil devotional texts. A local tradition holds that a velir chieftain named Bayhun (பேகன்-கடை ஏழு வள்ளல்களில் ஒருவர்), once came upon a peacock in the forests shivering in the cold and chose to cover it using his own upper garment and face the cold, rather than let it die. Although the legend may be apocryphal, it reveals some interesting facts - that the people of the area were numerous enough to have a chieftain of some standing, that peacocks were as plentiful as, if not more than, they are today, that the people venerated peacocks and held them to be sacred to Lord Subrahmanyan as they do today and lastly, that the weather was cold enough to justify a warm upper garment, a circumstance encountered primarily higher up in the hills today.

Mediaeval Period

Palani and most of Dindigul district
Dindigul District
Dindigul District is an administrative region in the south of Tamil Nadu, India. The district was carved out of Madurai District in the year 1985...

 were part of the Kongu Nadu
Kongu Nadu
Kongu Nadu is a region comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu India. The region is bounded on the west and north-west by the Karnataka state, on the west by the Kerala state, on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Madurai regions of...

 region of the Tamil country. The northern part of the Palani and Oddanchatram
Oddanchatram
Oddanchatram is a Municipality in Dindigul district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is located in the base of the western ghats in South India. It lies on the highway between Madurai-Coimbatore and Dindigul-Palani. It has a population of more than 40,000, with considerable migrant population...

 taluks is held to have been part of the Anda Nadu sub-region, whereas the rest of the area constituted the Vaiyapuri Nadu.

Under the Nayaks
The area seems to have been under the influence of the rulers of Madurai and Coimbatore, at various points of time. The temple of the Goddess Periyanayaki Amman within the town, serves as the point of reference. The Pandyan motif of two fishes is repeatedly to be encountered in its interior, in relief, which leads one to believe that the area was under the domination of the Pandyan kings of Madurai in the first millennium A.D. However, the mandapam (pavilion) right in front of the temple is more in keeping with the architecture of the Nayaka kings of Madurai, who were appointed to the administration of that city, as Vanavarayars, by the Kings of Vijayanagar by the 14th and 15th centuries. It is therefore logical to presume that the area came under the sway of the Nayakas in their heyday. A tradition in the surrounding area asserts that their kings remained proudly independent and did not become vassals of the Pandyas or the various rulers of Coimbatore. This, when read with historic accounts of the wars of those kings, may lend credence to the fact that certain vassals of the Pandya kings at times turned refractory and at others remained staunch allies of theirs in the numerous wars they prosecuted.

The 18th Century
Our source of information for the next period of history comes from the records of Hyder Ali
Hyder Ali
Hyder Ali was the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore in southern India. Born Hyder Naik, he distinguished himself militarily, eventually drawing the attention of Mysore's rulers...

 and his son, Tippoo Sultaun
Tipu Sultan
Tipu Sultan , also known as the Tiger of Mysore, was the de facto ruler of the Kingdom of Mysore. He was the son of Hyder Ali, at that time an officer in the Mysorean army, and his second wife, Fatima or Fakhr-un-Nissa...

, which were handed over to the British on the surrender of the Dindigul district after the Third Anglo-Mysore War
Third Anglo-Mysore War
The Third Anglo-Mysore War was a war in South India between the Sultanate of Mysore and the British East India Company and its allies, including the Mahratta Empire and the Nizam of Hyderabad...

. Herefrom, it is learnt that Palani was then under the rule of the poligars or palayakarars (literally, town-keepers) of Balasamudram, who retained control of its brick-fort in return for a nominal tribute to the Sultaun's administrator and representative at Coimbatore. Considering the fact that there are numerous people of the Nayakar caste (the same as the Nayaka kings of Madurai), who claim descent from what is modern-day Andhra Pradesh and who retain some vestiges of the Telugu tongue, in Balasamudram, it is more than probable that their forebears were given charge of the fort of that place by the kings of Madurai, and retained its control long after their sovereigns had been displaced.

Saurashtra
Another interesting fact is the existence of a Saurashtra Street in Palani. Since 'Saurashtra' is the term commonly used in Tamil to refer to the numerous people who emigrated to the South in the wake of the Mahratta rulers of Tanjore and Madurai, it seems to be likely that Palani came under the dominance of either the Serfojis of Tanjore or their counterparts of Madurai, in the period between the fall of the Nayaka Kings of Madurai and Hyder Ali's ascent to power in the 18th century.

British India
We have numerous references to Palani, and its famous temple, in British Gazetteers and land survey documents of the late 18th and early 19th century. The first known painting of Palani and its surroundings was made by a captain of the English East India Company's Madras Army in September, 1792, who was presumably sent to the area to assist in the investiture of the nearby fortress of Dindigul during the Third Anglo-Mysore War and who may have been one of a party sent to ensure the lack of resistance from the numerous small hill-forts that lay between Dindigul and Coimbatore after the fall of the former's fortress. The painting clearly shows the Sivagiri with the temple atop it and a wall at its base, besides a large tank, presumably the Vaiyyapuriyan Kulam, against a background of the Palni Hills as seen from the direction of Coimbatore. Palani is also named as being one of the most prosperous towns of the Dindigul district in a gazetteer from 1821.

The laying of a railway line may have brought an additional spurt of growth to the town since one of its chief roads is named the Railway Feeder Road, presumably because it links the highway to the District Headquarter Dindigul with the railway line.

The highway that runs from Palani to the nearby town of Dharapuram
Dharapuram
Dharapuram is a town and a municipality in the Tirupur district of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Dharapuram one of the Oldest Town in Tiruppur District. Dharapuram, then known as Rajarajapuram was the capital of Kongu Nadu under Kongu Cholas. The Amaravathi River flows through the ancient...

 is remarkably straight and level, without the numerous windings and turns that characterise old roads. It is known that the area experienced a sudden surge in unempoyment during, or immediately after, the Second World War necessitating the development of schemes to provide employment. The road was a product of one such project floated by the British administration.

The area experienced a severe famine in the early 1950s, an occurrence that is still remembered with fear by the inhabitants of the area, considering the privations they underwent. More recently, the Shanmughanadi river was subjected to annual floods in the early 1990s, which cut off links with other towns nearby, and caused some inconvenience.

Geography


A most impressive back-drop to the town is formed by the picturesque slopes of an offshoot of the Western Ghats
Western Ghats
The Western Ghats, Western Ghauts or the Sahyādri is a mountain range along the western side of India. It runs north to south along the western edge of the Deccan Plateau, and separates the plateau from a narrow coastal plain along the Arabian Sea. The Western Ghats block rainfall to the Deccan...

, the Palni Hills
Palni Hills
The Palni Hills are a mountain range in Tamil Nadu state of South India. The Palni Hills are an eastward extension of the Western Ghats ranges, which run parallel to the west coast of India. The Palni Hills adjoin the high Anamalai range on the west, and extend east into the plains of Tamil Nadu,...

, whereon lies the esteemed hill-station of Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal
-Climate:Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate . The temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation of the city.-Economy:...

. The ranges extending east-west, to the south of the town, frame the town presenting a most inimitable sight. The view within the town is dominated by the two hills, Sivagiri and Sakthigiri, on the former of which lies the famous and much resorted to temple of Lord Subrahmanyan as Bala-Dhandaayudhapaani (translated as, the young lord wielding a mace).

At the foot of the hills lie several lakes, the largest of which, the Vaiyyapuriyan Kulam, used, in days past, to serve as the primary water reservoir to the inhabitants of the town. At its greatest expanse during and immediately after the monsoons rains, the lake drains to the Shanmughanadi, a short distance from the town. Though shrunken in expanse due to encroachments and overgrown with weeds, the lake still remains an extensive water sheet during the rainy season.

The Shanmughanadi, a tributary of the Amaravathi River, takes its source on the slopes of the Palni Hills and runs not very far from the town. On this river, a few short kilometres from the suburbs, in the lower reaches of the Palni Hills, is built the Varadhaman Nadi Dam, which supplies the town with its supply of fresh water.

Although Palani lies in a geologically stable area, construction of a dam at Idukki, in neighbouring Kerala
Kerala
or Keralam is an Indian state located on the Malabar coast of south-west India. It was created on 1 November 1956 by the States Reorganisation Act by combining various Malayalam speaking regions....

 State, has been known to cause tremors occasionally.

Demographics


As of 2001 India census
Census
A census is the procedure of systematically acquiring and recording information about the members of a given population. It is a regularly occurring and official count of a particular population. The term is used mostly in connection with national population and housing censuses; other common...

, Palani had a population of 67,175. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Palani has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 69%. In Palani, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The most prominent festivals of Palani temple are " Thaipoosam " and " Panguni Utthiram ". Mr.Sethuraman was the first Municipal Chairman.

Religion
Hinduism is the most common religion of the people of Palani, followed by Islam and Christianity.

Caste Distribution
The Hindu people of Palani town, for the major part, belong to the Pandaram and Pillai castes. Kongu Vellala Gounders, the dominant community of Kongu Nadu
Kongu Nadu
Kongu Nadu is a region comprising the western part of the Tamil Nadu India. The region is bounded on the west and north-west by the Karnataka state, on the west by the Kerala state, on the east by Tondai Nadu, on the south-east by Chola Nadu and on the south by Madurai regions of...

 forms the majority population in the surrounding villages. Gounders are also engaged in commerce in the Palani town. There are numerous Nayakars (Naidus) in the nearby village of Balasamudram, on account of the circumstances narrated under 'History' above. Brahmins, although dispersed all over the town, have two particular enclaves - namely the Kalyamputhur Agraharam(Aka A.kalayamputhur), a short distance from the town, and the Gurukkal Street near the Periyanayaki Amman Temple.

Languages
The language spoken is, for the most part, Kongu Tamil with a strong infusion of the Madurai Tamil, which may be attributable to the proximity of Dindigul, the district head-quarters, where the latter dialect prevails.

Temples


Palani is home to one of the most sacred shrines of the God Subrahmanyan, as worshipped in the Hindu cult of Koumaram. The Dhandayudhapani Temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, and regarded one of his Arupadai Veedu (Six Battle Camps), is situated here. The temple situated atop the Sivagiri is small but attracts a flood of devotees from all over the country. The architecture of the temple appears to be of the Pandya school. The Garbagriham is surmounted by a gold gopuram, most admirably worked. The walls of the Garbagriham have numerous stone inscriptions describing offerings made by devotees to the temple. Steps are hewn into the rock, besides a wide path meant for the ascent of elephants, up the hill. In addition, a funicular railway with three tracks and a rope way have been provided more recently for the comfort of the pilgrims.

In keeping with the traditions of all temples of the God Subrahmanyan, another temple is dedicated to his worship near the foot of the Sivagiri. It goes by the name of Thiru Avinankudi, and is remarkable for the exquisite appearance of the chief deity besides other sculptures.

Besides this, right at the foot of the Sivagiri is a small shrine dedicated to the god Ganapathi, where he goes by the name Pada Vinayakar. It is common amongst the pilgrims to pay their obeisances at this shrine before commencing their ascent of the hill to worship the Lord Subrahmanyan. A particular offering here is the breaking of coconuts, by flinging them against an enclosed stone before the shrine, of which many hundreds are broken by the devotees in the course of a day.

Within the town is another temple dedicated to the Goddess Parvathi as Periyanayaki Amman. It popularly goes by the name of the Oorkovil - the town's chief temple. A particularly intriguing aspect of the temple is that, although it is referred to as the temple of Periyanayaki Amman, the central sanctum, the sanctum of supreme honour in Hindu temple architecture, is accorded to the Lord Subrahmanyan. The temple is large in expanse and displays an interesting blend of Pandya and Nayaka architecture. A tradition associated with the temple is that, formerly, a subterranean passage connected it with the Periya Avudaiyar temple some distance from the town, and was used to convey the idols under a peculiar circumstance of duress - when a Nawab attacked; however, beyond the fact, obvious from his title, that he was a Muslim, nothing is known of the Nawab or of his attack. Some evidence may be said to exist of an attack since some of the sculptures in the Nayaka mandapam in front of the temple have their limbs missing.

A short distance from the town is a temple dedicated to Shiva as Periya Avudaiyar. This temple, located right on the banks of the Shanmugha Nadi, is situated in particularly peaceful environs far-removed from the bustle of the town.

Near the Periya Nayaki Amman temple are two others - the Mariyamman Temple and the Perumal Temple. The former is particularly resorted to in times of epidemics, the goddess there being regarded as the protectress against illnesses.

The Kannadi Perumal Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is a small temple situated on a hillock 9 km south of Palani, a short distance from the highway to Kodaikanal. The name of the temple is derived from its tradition that the presiding deity of the temple wards off the effects of dhrishti, a Sanskritic term which may be held to mean 'casting an evil eye'. One of the practices of the devotees of the temple is to bring the first-born calves of their cows to the temple seeking the deity's blessing, as the protector of cattle. On account of its secluded location it is not resorted to by many.

Transportation


Roadways
NH209 connects Palani to Coimbatore
Coimbatore
Coimbatore , also known as Kovai , is the second largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a major commercial centre in Tamil Nadu and is known as the "Manchester of South India"....

 and Mysore. There are frequent buses to Dindigul
Dindigul
Dindigul is a town and municipality in the Tamil Nadu state of southern India. The name Dindigul comes from the Portmanteau of “Thindu” meaning pillow and “kal” meaning Rock and refers to the bare hill dominating the city’s both land and skyscape...

, Coimbatore
Coimbatore
Coimbatore , also known as Kovai , is the second largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a major commercial centre in Tamil Nadu and is known as the "Manchester of South India"....

, Madurai
Madurai
Madurai is the third largest city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world. It served as the capital city of the Pandyan Kingdom. It is the administrative headquarters of Madurai District and is famous for its temples built by Pandyan and...

, Erode
Erode
Erode is a city, a municipal corporation and the headquarters of Erode district in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.It is situated at the center of the South Indian Peninsula, about southwest from the state capital Chennai and on the banks of the rivers Cauvery and Bhavani, between 11° 19.5"...

, Tirupur
Tirupur
Tiruppur pronounced as is a textile city located on the banks of Noyyal River. It is also called Dollar city. It is the administrative headquarters of the Tiruppur district. It forms a part of the ancient Kongu Nadu region of South India, where its people were the first to establish territorial...

, Pollachi
Pollachi
Pollachi is a taluk of Coimbatore Rural district of the Tamil Nadu state of India. It lies in the southern part of the Coimbatore city around 40 kilometres from downtown Coimbatore. This is the second largest town in the District after Corporation of Coimbatore. Owing to the proximity to the...

, Karur
Karur
Karur is a large town and a municipality in Karur district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu situated on the banks of Amaravati. Karur district was formed on 30 September 1995 by trifurcating Tiruchirappalli district. It is the administrative headquarters of Karur District. Karur has a very long...

, Trichy. Many Omni buses are available to Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

, Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

 and Kodaikanal
Kodaikanal
-Climate:Kodaikanal has a monsoon-influenced subtropical highland climate . The temperatures are cool throughout the year due to the high elevation of the city.-Economy:...

.

Railways
There was a metre gauge line between Coimbatore and Dindigul via Palani, which is presently under gauge conversion. After the gauge conversion a Coimbatore-Madurai Intercity Express and Coimbatore-Rameshwaram Express are expected to ply the route.

Airways
Palani is located equidistant from Coimbatore, Trichy and Madurai Airports.

Traditional Commerce


Palani is a centre of a form of traditional Indian medicine known as Siddha Vaidyam
Siddha medicine
The Siddha medicine is one of the oldest medical systems known to mankind. This system of medicine originated from south Indian Tamil traditional medicine, as part of the trio Indian medicines - ayurveda, siddha and unani. This system was very popular in ancient India...

, said to have been developed by the ascetics resident, in prehistoric times, in the hills about the modern-day town. Further, the town is also the centre for production of vibhuthi (sacred ash) and pancha amritham (literally, 'the five nectars' - a traditional preparation of fruit pulp and molasses
Molasses
Molasses is a viscous by-product of the processing of sugar cane, grapes or sugar beets into sugar. The word molasses comes from the Portuguese word melaço, which ultimately comes from mel, the Latin word for "honey". The quality of molasses depends on the maturity of the sugar cane or sugar beet,...

), both of which are considered holy and distributed to devotees after being offered to the Lord Subrahmanyan in the hill-temple.

Educational Institutions


Besides numerous government and private schools, the Devasthanam Board runs several institutions of higher education.
  1. Sri Subramanya College of Engineering and Technology
  2. Arulmigu Palaniandavar College of Arts and Culture.
  3. Arulmigu Palaniandavar Arts College (Women)
  4. Arulmigu Palaniadavar Polytechnic College
  5. Madurai Kamaraj University Evening College.
  6. Sri Balamurugan Polytechnic College.(Private)

External links

  • Lord Muruga Information Web Portal http://www.palanitemples.com
  • Visit http://www.palanitourism.com
  • Sri Subramanya College of Engg. and Tech., Web Portal http://www.subramanya.org

See also

  • Palani (Lok Sabha constituency)
    Palani (Lok Sabha constituency)
    -Assembly segments:Palani Lok Sabha constituency is composed of the following assembly segments :#Vellakoil#Kangayam#Palani #Oddanchatram#Natham#Vedasandur-Members of the Parliament:Lok SabhaDurationName of M.P.Party Affiliation...