This is probably the only temple where the Goddess has manifest herself in the natural form of an anthill complete with face, eyes, dainty eyebrows, parted lipts, hands, legs, and a pregnant belly. It gives you goosebumps as you circumambulate around her in the narrow and poorly lit space among the several hundreds of people who throng this temple everyday to seek her blessings.
Picture of Goddess Poongavanathamman Lord Shiva and Parvathi were walking from Melmalayanur towards Ramapuram ( the place where this temple is located, which subsequently came to be known as Putlur because of the Goddess manifesting herself in the form of a Putru - an anthill). This place was a forest those days full of neem trees. Parvathi tired after the long walk, sat down and asked Lord Shiva to fetch her some water. Lord Shiva went searching for water but could not find any nearby. He had to go to the river Coovam ( looks like it had drinkable quality water then!) to bring the water. It started raining heavily and the river was getting flooded. So he had to wait a while for the rain to subside. Tired of waiting for the Lord, and exhausted with hunger and thrist, the Goddess lay down on the floor and an anthill (புற்று) grew over her. She became one and the same with the anthill. Lord Shiva returned shortly after and found that Parvathi had permanabtly stayed there. So he too stood beside her and is called thandavarayan. Probably this is the only amman temple where you can find a nandi before the sanctum sactorium and this is because of the presence of Shiva behind the goddess.
Nandi in front of the Sanctum Sanctorium The temple, as I said is always crowded. People come and pray here for childbirth and other wishes. They usually buy five lemon and bangles from the shops outside. One lemon is taken by one of the several old ladies who can be found outside the temple. It is believed that one has to remove all "drishti" (casting of evil eye) before entering the temple. So these women circle the lemon thrice around your head, and ask you to crush it under your left foot. This is supposed to remove all dristi from you. On entering the temple, there is a trident ( trishul) on which three of the remaining lemon are pressed on.
Offering lemon at the Trishul Then you move to worship the nandi, and enter the mandapam to go towards the sanctum sanctorium. One can see that the ancient temple has been modernised over time by laying glazed tiles on the walls and floor. Actually it would have been better if the original architecture had been retained and well maintained.
Pair of Scales in front of Sanctum SanctoriumWe find a huge pair of scales here, where devotees who have been blessed with children offer sugar,banana etc. equivalent to the weight of the child. As the serpentine queue moves slowly towards the sanctum sanctorium you wait with bated breath. The main sannadhi is small, dark and crowded. There is a strong stainless steel railing affixed all around the goddess so that no one touches and damages the structure. It is difficult to see very clearly through this railing. Just behind the goddess, through a small window like structure, you can see thandavarayan looking a little sad that he could not quench his wife's thrist in time. As you circumambulate and move towards the front portion of the sanctum sanctorium, you hold your breath in awe. The goddess completely covered in turmeric paste looks magnificient. The eyes, eyebrows, the parted lips, the visibly pregnant belly all look so natural. The bangles and the last lemon are offered here. The poojari takes your bangles and gives you others as prasad. He rolls the lemon now smeared with kumkum from a stone near the goddess's feet, and the devotees collect it in the pallav of their saree. Lemon garlands are also offered and returned with her blessings and people keep them in their vehicles, shops, pooja rooms, or over their front door as a charm. On coming out, we find another huge anthill ( this does not have a human figure)to the right of the sanctum sanctorium under the stala Vriksham - Neem Tree. People who seek childbirth, tie miniature cradles near this anthill or pieces of pallav of their saree in anticipation of the fulfilment of their desire.
Cradles tied above the second natural anthill and on the Sthala Vriksham It is also very common for people to stay overnight here on full moon days. A special prayer is conducted at 5 am the next morning for these people who stay awake and pray through the night.Location of the temple: This temple is near Tiruvallur.How to get here: It is very easy to reach here by train. From Central one has to take a train, bound for Tiruvallur, Tiruthani or Arakkonam, and get down at Putlur station. Make sure it is not an express which stops only at limited stations. From there the temple can be reached either by walk or share auto.By road: On the tiruvallur road, after crossing Nemam, go straight. There will be a board on the right saying Putlur. Just a few feet away, there would also be an ambedkar statue on the left side of the road pointing to the right. Take the right turn here. A bridge is being constructed. Just before the bridge, there would be a small mudtrack to the left. Go down that track. Very soon, you will reach a railway gate. The temple is about half a km from this railway gate. There are several share autos available to take the visitors at Rs.5 per person. Tuesdays, Fridays, Sundays and full moon days are extremely crowded here.