I gleaned particulars of this temple while poring over the pages of the book – Arunagirinathar Adichuvadil
by Thirupugazh devotee Ra. Krishnan
of Chennai. I planned a visit to another of less known Murugan temples.
visited numerous Murugan sthalams in his days and composed songs on each. While a majority of sites were well known, some of the places he had mentioned in his outpourings were not clear and there were conflicting claims about their location. A few are not resolved to this day. This hill temple also kept its secret well hidden for long. Its discovery would look like a work of fiction. In 1998 a stone inscription was unearthed at the foot of the temple, which when translated read as under:
"...in the 18th year of King Sambuvarayar's rule, his son Prince Kaligarayan established steps to reach Jnānamalai of this village..."
Sri Ra. Krishnan visited this spot on learning about the discovery and established the identity of the temple. Kumbhabhishekam was performed on 15th
September 2000. This is one of those elusive temples that is close to a big town and yet not easy of access. I had to make a lot of enquiries from the local populace before beginning my journey.
I started very early on 22nd
February 2008 from Cheyyar and reached Arcot town by bus. The next halt was Kaveripakkam and from there I got a bus for Thalangai and it dropped near the village Govindacherykuppam. I had a glimpse of a semi dry hillock on whose top I could just discern a small structure which I was told was the Murugan temple. I was travelling from Bangalore to Chennai by rail sometime in 2010 and while crossing Talangai, midway between Sholingur and Arakonam Junction identified the hill. The temple can be reached from Chennai by road in a matter of two and a half hours. If using public transport, travel by EMU proceeding to Sholingur and get down at Talangai station and the hill is there before you. Half an hour stroll will bring one to the foot of the small hillock. I am reproducing Google Maps pinpointing the location of the temple.
At the outset let me offer my apologies for the poor quality of photos I will be adding during the write up. Cell phone cameras were at their infancy in 2008 and I had a Nokia 6500C with 2 mega pixels and a compact Nikon camera of 4 megapixels. I did extensive post processing using several software applications and did some marginal improvements.
As one walks down the road, the semi dry hillock with poor vegetation looms before you. You can spot the temple at the top. The following photos will bear this out.
I heaved a sigh of relief as it was evident the ascent would not be demanding and I could arrive at the top fairly fresh without sweating and panting for breath. It was a hot day with poor cloud coverage and with Lord Murugan’s kindness, I did not feel this at all. Walking round the hill, I reached the start of the steps and the signpost was indeed gleaming in the dull sunlight.
Before me was revealed the uphill path with stairs cut in rock and rolling up gently. It was a typical hilly terrain with pebbles strewn around.
After half an hour of gentle scramble up the steps I reached the flat ground on top on which stood the Gnanamalai Murugan temple in splendid isolation.
The temple is being managed by Sivapuri Murugan Abhishega Committee
and they had deputed a pundit from their roles to perform poojas in the temple daily. He was a very kind gentleman full of grace and was most solicitous. Needless to say I was the lone pilgrim on that day from outside the area. I had an uninterrupted darshan of Murugan and Valli at close quarters for a long time and was allowed to photograph the moolavar.
I saw the utsavar moorti – Murugan with Valli in his lap with no decoration as it was not a utsava day like Sasti.
After the pooja was concluded, I walked around the precincts of the temple. As per legend, Murugan rested here with Valli before proceeding to Tiruttani where he married her. There is an imprint of his foot etched and it is preserved within an enclosure.
There is also an imprint of a crawling snake. I was not able to ascertain the legend behind it.
A Sivan temple is located in another part of the hill top.
When you are on top of a hill, a panorama of the plains is visible all around. Even though it was midday with sun beating down and a dust laden atmosphere, the green fields all round and the village of Govindacherry on another side lent their charm.
I now present a panorama of the view towards the north. The hills in the distance are Sholingur hills, a holy Vaishnavite shrine. I could see frequent passage of trains to and fro on the plains from the hills.
Rounding off the visit, I came down the hills and started journey in reverse. It was a day well spent in meditation of Murugan atop Gnanamalai hills.
Arunagirinathar penned two poems or songs on this God. I would urge all devotees to visit this site and receive his blessings and present their findings in a better way for information of all.
Rangan Damal Pattangi
For more photos & information about Jnanamalai go to www.Jnanamalai.org