Palani - the abode of Lord Muruga

We were in Coimbatore for Diwali.  It was decided to make a visit to Palani to have a darshan of Lord Muruga. Palani is about 110 km from Coimbatore.  The route is on NH209 Coimbatore - Pollachi - Udumalpet - Palani.  We decided to drive down and started from Coimbatore at 6.30 AM.  We found the road to be pretty good, as well as fairly empty in the morning (the morning after Diwali).  It is a two-lane highway with no divider, but well-tarred.  We found just one speed breaker and one unused railway line. 

It is a very scenic route, especially Pollachi to Udumalpet - with dozens of windmills dotting the horizon.  Since we wanted to make good time, we decided to take photos while returning. (As it turned out, this was not a good idea).  Interestingly, only two or three windmills actually rotated - the rest were quite stationary, indicating it was not a windy morning.

We were in Palani by 8.30 AM and proceeded to have breakfast.  Through a known person, a pass was arranged for darshan.  Two of us needed to have our heads tonsured. We found three or four designated places - each claiming to be the authorized one.  It costs Rs.10/- per head, which includes the cost of a blade as well.  That is the official rate.  While tonsuring, the barber requests an additional Rs.40/- claiming he is not paid!  Our two year old niece was surprisingly quiet and chirpy as her hair was removed. 

There is a pay and use bath facility next to the tonsuring place.  While Rs.10/- gets you a bucket of cold water, an additional Rs.10/- makes it a hot bucket of water! 

Post-bath, we were ready for darshan.  The question was how to reach the top.  There are three means of transport - by foot, by winch and by roap car.  From where we were, the rope way was the nearest and we walked to it.  However, we found a long queue and announcements indicating it may take two and a half hours to reach the top.  Leaving the elderly ones in the queue, we decided to climb up.  We kept asking for directions and soon were accosted by a person.  He claimed that he will arrange for darshan along with puja and abhishekam.  It did not take us long to figure out that he was a tout and was trying to pull a fast one on us.

Ultimately we found the path to the steps leading up to the top of the hill.   The group waiting for the rope way, abandoned it and were directed towards the winch.  This was in the opposite direction to where we walked.  The winch was equally crowded and all of us converged near the stairs.  There are two ways to climb up by foot as well - one set of steps are steep, but less in number, while the other is not steep, but  longer distance.  The latter is called "elephant path".   We took the latter and made our way up.

It was around 2 PM when we reached the top.  The pass we had obtained proved to be of great help, since we could take a preferential (VIP) queue, which put us way ahead of the rest of the devotees.   The darshan was short and sweet and got over in no time.

We managed to take a winch on our return, which was quite exciting.  We got to take some snaps as we descended.

We were quite hungry as we went to the same hotel that we had had breakfast.  But it was so crowded that after a 15 minute wait, we went to another one.  This one had a different problem - staff shortage. Ultimately, we grabbed some food and started on our return.  It was 5.30 PM.

The drive back was pretty bad, not because of the road, but because of the way Indians drive in the dark. Not one vehicle had its lights dimmed.  Since there were no road dividers, overtaking was tricky.  Ultimately, we reached Coimbatore by 8 PM, where we got into a good restaurant for a well-earned dinner.

Some useful links:

Palani
Palani Arulmigu Dandayudhapani Temple

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