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Secundermalie [Skandamalai], near Madura. The Rock and Tank

Secundermalie [Skandamalai], near Madura. The Rock and Tank

Photographer: Lyon, Edmund David

Medium: Photographic print

Date: 1868

Shelfmark: Photo 212/2(36)

Item number: 212236

Genre: Photograph

Photograph from an album of 40 albumen prints by Edmund David Lyon. Tirupparankundram, a hill a few kms from Madurai, is the site of a temple dedicated to the youthful god of war, Subrahmanya, also known as Muruga, Skanda or Kartikkeya. Subrahmanya, the son of Shiva and Parvati, has many devotees in Tamil Nadu. Tirupparankundram, where the original rock-cut shrine dates from the Pandya period (c.8th century), is the first of six specially venerated abodes of this deity in the state. Called Aarupadai Veedu, they are meant to represent battlecamps of the god when he battled with various forces of evil. Lyon's 'Notes to Accompany a Series of Photographs Prepared to Illustrate the Ancient Architecture of Southern India' (Marion & Co., London, 1870), edited by James Fergusson, gives the following description: 'Secundermalie [Skandamalai or Hill of Skanda] or Tiruparangundram is one of the six places where Subramanya is worshipped, and is so called from Skandu or Scander, one of the names of this god. It is of great celebrity, and many pilgrims annually resort hither to bathe in the tank, and also to visit the temple dedicated to Ganesa, placed on the top of the rock. On the opposite side to that shown in the Photograph, the rock rises abruptly from the plains, forming a precipice 400 feet high, whence devotees used to precipitate themselves to secure an entrance into heaven. The legend regarding the sanctity of this Temple is as follows:- In former times, when some pilgrims were in sore trouble, they applied for help to Shiva, who shot forth from his eyes six fiery beams, which produced the six-faced god, Subramanya, by whom the demons were to be destroyed. The young god was placed under Brahma, who, being one day unable to answer some question of his pupil, was put into confinement by him. Shiva interfered, and, to settle the difficulty and separate the teacher and his pupil, gave the latter this rock for his residence.'

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