I passed through Erode several times in my life. Usually I took the morning train from Bangalore to Coimbatore on my way to Nilgiri Mountains. Just before the Erode, train passes several groves of coconut trees and then after Kavery River Bridge, Erode come suddenly.
Once we took a straight bus from Kotagiri to Erode thinking to spend few hours in Erode rather in Coimbatore to wait for the return train to Bangalore. When we arrived here we felt like spending a night here and explore this place and that turned out very rewarding.
Erode is a 100% South Indian city and as well 100% Tamilnadu City. Like Bangalore or Combatore etc, it does not offer a taste and touch of cosmopolitan culture. It is now a hub of cotton textile industry. Tirupur is becoming a hub of spinning and weaving mills and Erode is becoming a selling point. Trains are full of traders visiting here to buy handloom and cotton things. Large brand named mega industries like Rebook and Levi’s are making or ordering their purchases of cotton garment through Erode. Those garments like T-shirts, jeans etc. are then sold all around the world.
Erode is also turmeric capital of India.
We arrive at Erode at 10AM and ask someone about how to go to the textile area that is also around Main Market area. It turns out that the main market area is barely 2 kilometers so we start walking. That is also close to Erode fort area. Erode fort is no more but a maze of ancient streets around two huge spectacular temples are still present and it is joy to walk in that area. Wholesale textile shops are spreading in this area so one can see the hustle and bustle in these narrow streets also.
We have a cup of tea on the way and first thing we want to do is to find a hotel in an appropriate place. In half hour we reach at Main Market area and then enter in the main textile hub street. Much trade is going on here. Traders from all over India have setup their shops and distribution points here. A sizable Jain and Marwadi community is settled here. There are 2 Rajasthani/Marwadi Bhojnalayas that offer eat all you can food for a nominal price. Hotels here are basic clean and inexpensive. I have observed that hotels around the commercial hubs are basic, clean and inexpensive. We take a room in the hotel, room is just 300 rupee and decent large bathroom and clean bed sheets. After bath we set out to explore the market area. I am not into shopping but my wife finds things cheap. She begins her buying spree; she buys bed-sheets, pillow covers and much more for just everyone in the family. We return to the hotel to dump all the stuff in our room and come out again.
At the end of the textile street are two grand temples where used to be the fort center. Both temples are much revered here and both are spectacular. Both are next to each other. One is Kasthuri Ranganatha Perumal Temple, this temple overlooks the Aarudhra Kabaaleeswara Temple and is equally magnificent and might have been built around the same time. These temples have several unique features to it. The main deity of the temple is Kasthuri Ranganathar, but he is very different from any other Ranganatha Perumal one might have witnessed in other temples.
The legend of the temples says that Durvasa Maharishi, well known for his short temper, once got angry with Lord Brahma and cursed him. Brahma came here and worshipped Lord Vishnu, and got Saapa Vimochana. So true to the legend, the Lord has one arm outstretched and palm extended over Durvasa Maharishi as if to pacify him and the other is stretched towards Brahma who unlike in other Ranganatha temples is not placed on a lotus over the Lord’s navel , but he is being held by the Lord over his left hand. One can get to see Durvasa Maharishi by peeping into the Sanctum Sanatorium. The entrance has been deliberately built that way so that the devotees do not disturb the sage and anger him!!!
Another unique feature is that the Dwara Paalakas (guards) of the Lord, who are usually found on either side of the sannadhi, are found at the feet of the Lord worshipping him!!! These are said to be Devas who had been cursed to become demons and had attained Saapa Vimochana by worshipping Kasthuri Ranganatha and hence are found at his feet serving him!
It is fun and joy to visit both temples. Various religious activities are always going on here in both temples. But best jewel of Erode is Sangameshwara temple in Bhavani. That is 16 Kilometers from Erode. To get there mistakenly we took city bus and that takes long time.
Sangameshwara temple is known as Dakshin Prayag as river Kaveri meets river Bhavani here. The confluence of these rivers along with river Amuda which is believed to be flowing underneath makes it a holy place and one can see constant stream of pilgrims in the bathing ghat here at the sangam (hence the Lord here known as Sangameshawarar) performing various rituals on its banks.
The Temple of Sangameshwara is extremely beautiful and presents some serious art work in the granite stones. Lord Sangameshwara is enshrined here facing the Kaveri. As we circumambulate there are sub-shrines for Vinayaga, Dakshina Moorthy, Muruga, Vishnu, Durga and Nataraja. All 63 Nayanmars also find a special place inside the temple. Amman here is Veda Nayagi, a powerful deity and her idol is also well decked in finery. The mandapam leading to her sannidhi has lot of ornamental work on pillars and ceiling.
There is a peepul tree on the banks of the rivers and there are many Nagas and Vinayagar under it, these are typical in many South Indian temples. Pilgrims offer their worship here after a bath in the river before proceeding to the main temple of Sangameshwara.
The place where both rivers meet is very serene and we sit there for long time. Time is just flying and I look at my watch – whoa! It is 8PM and we must leave because we have to return to Erode. I enter again in the soothing and calm sangam waters and vow to return back and have more time with the Godess Kanveri. We walk past the huge temple complex and come out. On the road we catch the intercity bus to Erode, that but only takes just half hour and fare is the same.
Again we walk form bus stand to the market. On the way we buy 2 kilo cheekos (spodilla) for 15 rupee. These are very sweet. We are able to eat only half of these and rest goes to cows.
We made our day in Erode.
Not just made our day but we promised to Kanveri that we will return and have more time with her because this place is so inviting.