Shivalaya Ottam

The Hari-Hara run

Hinduism, through the pages of history, had followers of Shaivism and Vaishnavism fight for the supremacy of their revered God. However, over the years, cohesiveness between the various sects of the religion have affirmed the universal truth that Vishu and Shiva are personifications of the single supreme. It is this message that the Shivalaya ottam in Kanyakumari district aims to uphold. Here, in the former capital of Venad, spread across an area of 100 kms stands the twelve sacred shrines of Lord Shiva called the Shivalayam. The Ottam begins at Munchirai, the first Sivalayam and goes through the next 10 temples before ending at Thirunattalam. Both Siva and Vishnu are placed in a face-to-face position in Thirunattalam. The race of pilgrims on Sivarathri day chanting the name of Lord Vishnu professes the oneness of both these divine powers.

Legend

Legend is that Doumaya Maharshi's son Vyakrapandan a great devotee of Lord Shiva had to be invited for Aswamedayagam. Lord Krishna engaged Bhima for this task while giving him 12 Shivlingams. Sri Krishna also directed Bhima to chant the names of Lord Vishnu while he meets Vyakrapadan. Hearing the chants of  'Govinda, Gopala', Vyakrapadan who disliked Vishnu devotees, chased Bhima. Bhima dropped the Lingams one by one on his way, and it is believed that they later became the twelve Shivalayams. The ottam ends at Thirunattalam which has a shrine for Shiva and Vishnu suggesting both are the manifestations of the same divinity

Deity - Temples

Deity:- Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu

Temples Covered:-  The 12 Temples are

Thiruppanricode Mahadevar Temple

Thirunattalam Sankaranarayanan Temple
Sree Neelakanda Swamy Temple, Thiruvithamcode
Thiruvidaicode Mahadevar Temple
Thirumelancode Kaalakaalar Temple
Thiruparappu Mahadevar Temple
Thirumalai Mahadevar Temple
Thikkurichi Mahadevar Temple
Thirunanthikarai Mahadevar Temple
Ponmanai Thimbileshwarar Temple
Pannipagam Mahadevar Temple
Kalkulam Neelakandeswarar Temple

Purpose

The pilgimage is believed to be fulfilled only by receiving the sandal paste from the  Sankaranarayanar Temple at Thirunattalam. The objective of the pilgrimage is to uphold that Shiva and Vishnu are embodiments of one supreme being.

Who can go?

It requires stamina to cover the temples spread across 100 kms in a day's time. Those with good physical fitness can do the Shivalaya ottam. Those who are not fit enough to do the run, can also visit these temples in vehicles.

Yatra Preparations

Before the ottam, the devotees observe three days to one week of fast. Tender coconut and tender palmyra in the day time and tulsi-water at night are the only food items taken by the devotees during the fasting days.

Travel Support

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Pooja Samagri

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Area Covered

Kanyakumari, Tamil Nadu
Language spoken :- Tamil

Auspicious Days

Shivratri is a major festival in the Shiva temples and the Shivalaya ottam is undertaken on this auspicious day

Best time to Travel

The Shivalaya ottam is done on the day of Maha Shivratri.

Duration

The journey has to be done in 24 hours.

Travel Method

The traditional ottam involves going to the twelve temples on foot in one day. Of late, people also visit these temples by vehicles.

Crowd Expected

The Shivalaya ottam is gaining popularity and thousands of devotees from all over the state of Tamil Nadu and the neighbouring state of Kerala participate in the temple visits.

Festivals

Shivratri is a major festival in the Shiva temples and the Shivalaya ottam is undertaken on this auspicious day

Must Haves

The devotees usually wear saffron colour clothes and run with palm leaves in their hand. They also carry a small bag to collect ashes from the temples. The devotees chant the name of Lord Vishnu during the journey.

Health Awarness

If doing it in the traditional way, the ottam requires fasting as well as good physical fitness to cover the circuit by foot. Those with cardiac ailments, asthma etc should avoid the journey by foot and opt to travel by vehicles

Additional Info

The pilgrims have to take a ritualistic bath in the Thamirabharani river at Munchirai before the start of the journey.

Climate

The weather during Shivaratri which falls during Feb-March is pleasant with temperatures in the hight twenties.

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