Palani is a city and a municipality in Dindigul district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Palani is pronounced using the special 'L' used in Tamil and is also spelt as "Pazhani" in English. It is located about 60km from the city of Dindigul. It is a famous pilgrimage town and every year more than 7 million devotees visit the Palani Murugan Temple and offer their prayers to the Lord Muruga. This temple draws the largest number of devotees in Tamil Nadu.
As of 2001 India census, Palani had a population of 67,175. Males constitute 51% of the population and females 49%. Palani has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 69%. In Palani, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age. The most prominent festivals of Palani temple are " Thaipoosam " and " Panguni Utthiram ".
Mr.Sethuraman or Mr. Samandham was the first Municipal Chairman.
A most impressive back-drop to the town is formed by the picturesque slopes of an offshoot of the Western Ghats, the Palni Hills, whereon lies the esteemed hill-station of Kodaikanal. The ranges extending east-west, to the south of the town, frame the town presenting a most inimitable sight. The view within the town is dominated by the two hills, Sivagiri and Sakthigiri, on the former of which lies the famous and much resorted to temple of Lord Subrahmanyan as Bala-Dhandaayudhapaani (translated as, the young lord wielding a mace).
At the foot of the hills lie several lakes, the largest of which, the Vaiyyapuri Kolam, used, in days past, to serve as the primary water reservoir to the inhabitants of the town. At its greatest expanse during and immediately after the monsoons rains, the lake drains to the Shanmughanadi, a short distance from the town. Though shrunken in expanse due to encroachments and overgrown with weeds, the lake still remains an extensive water sheet during the rainy season.
The Shanmughanadi, a tributary of the Amaravathi River, takes its source on the slopes of the Palni Hills and runs not very far from the town. On this river, a few short kilometres from the suburbs, in the lower reaches of the Palni Hills, is built the Varadhaman Nadi Dam, which supplies the town with its supply of fresh water.
References exist to the place in ancient Tamil devotional texts. A local tradition holds that a tribal chieftain named Bayhun (பேகன்-கடை ஏழு வள்ளல்களில் ஒருவர்), once came upon a peacock in the forests shivering in the cold and chose to cover it using his own upper garment and face the cold, rather than let it die. Although the legend may be apocryphal, it reveals some interesting facts - that the people of the area were numerous enough to have a chieftain of some standing, that peacocks were as plentiful as, if not more than, they are today, that the people venerated peacocks and held them to be sacred to Lord Subrahmanyan as they do today and lastly, that the weather was cold enough to justify a warm upper garment, a circumstance encountered primarily higher up in the hills today.
The area seems to have been under the influence of the rulers of Madurai and Coimbatore, at various points of time. The temple of the Goddess Periyanayaki Amman within the town, serves as the point of reference. The Pandyan motif of two fishes is repeatedly to be encountered in its interior, in relief, which leads one to believe that the area was under the domination of the Pandyan kings of Madurai in the first millennium A.D. However, the mandapam (pavilion) right in front of the temple is more in keeping with the architecture of the Nayaka kings of Madurai, who were appointed to the administration of that city by the Kings of Vijayanagar by the 14th and 15th centuries. It is therefore logical to presume that the area came under the sway of the Nayakas in their heyday. A tradition in the surrounding area asserts that their kings remained proudly independent and did not become vassals of the Pandyas or the various rulers of Coimbatore. This, when read with historic accounts of the wars of those kings, may lend credence to the fact that certain vassals of the Pandya kings at times turned refractory and at others remained staunch allies of theirs in the numerous wars they prosecuted.
Our source of information for the next period of history comes from the records of Hyder Ali and his son, Tippoo Sultaun, which were handed over to the British on the surrender of the Dindigul district after the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Herefrom, it is learnt that Palani was then under the rule of the poligars or palayakarars (literally, town-keepers) of Balasamudram, who retained control of its brick-fort in return for a nominal tribute to the Sultaun's administrator and representative at Coimbatore. Considering the fact that there are numerous people of the Nayakar caste (the same as the Nayaka kings of Madurai), who claim descent from what is modern-day Andhra Pradesh and who retain some vestiges of the Telugu tongue, in Balasamudram, it is more than probable that their forebears were given charge of the fort of that place by the kings of Madurai, and retained its control long after their sovereigns had been displaced.
Another interesting fact is the existence of a Saurashtra Street in Palani. Since 'Saurashtra' is the term commonly used in Tamil to refer to the numerous people who emigrated to the South in the wake of the Mahratta rulers of Tanjore and Madurai, it seems to be likely that Palani came under the dominance of either the Serfojis of Tanjore or their counterparts of Madurai, in the period between the fall of the Nayaka Kings of Madurai and Hyder Ali's ascent to power in the 18th century. This community's members were originally from the 'Saurashtra' region of Gujrat.They had migrated to the southern part of India after a long stay in Andra Pradesh.These people were mainly silk weavers and silk merchants.
We have numerous references to Palani, and its famous temple, in British Gazetteers and land survey documents of the late 18th and early 19th century. The first known painting of Palani and its surroundings was made by a captain of the English East India Company's Madras Army in September, 1792, who was presumably sent to the area to assist in the investiture of the nearby fortress of Dindigul during the Third Anglo-Mysore War and who may have been one of a party sent to ensure the lack of resistance from the numerous small hill-forts that lay between Dindigul and Coimbatore after the fall of the former's fortress. The painting clearly shows the Sivagiri with the temple atop it and a wall at its base, besides a large tank, presumably the Vaiyyapuri Kolam, against a background of the Palni Hills as seen from the direction of Coimbatore. Palani is also named as being one of the most prosperous towns of the Dindigul district in a gazetteer from 1821.
The laying of a railway line may have brought an additional spurt of growth to the town since one of its chief roads is named the Railway Feeder Road, presumably because it links the highway to the District Headquarter Dindigul with the railway line.
The highway that runs from Palani to the nearby town of Dharapuram is remarkably straight and level, without the numerous windings and turns that characterise old roads. It is known that the area experienced a sudden surge in unempoyment during, or immediately after, the Second World War necessitating the development of schemes to provide employment. The road was a product of one such project floated by the British administration.
The area experienced a severe famine in the early 1950s, an occurrence that is still remembered with fear by the inhabitants of the area, considering the privations they underwent. More recently, the Shanmughanadi river was subjected to annual floods in the early 1990s, which cut off links with other towns nearby, and caused some inconvenience.
The people of Palani, for the major part, belong to the Pillai and Pandaram castes, Earlier Pandiya king buit and developed this Murugan temple Complex and asked the Pandaram to take care of Pujas and Temple administration. while there are numerous Nayakars (Naidus) in the nearby village of Balasamudram, on account of the circumstances narrated under 'History' above. Brahmins, although dispersed all over the town, have two particular enclaves - namely the Chinnakalyamputthur Agraharam, a short distance from the town, and the Gurukkal Street near the Periyanayaki Amman Temple.
Kongu Vellala Gounders, a community with a strong agricultural background in the surrounding villages, are also engaged in commerce in the town.
The language spoken is, for the most part, Tamil of the Coimbatore dialect with a strong infusion of the Madurai dialect, which may be attributable to the proximity of Dindigul, the district head-quarters, where the latter dialect prevails.
Palani is home to one of the most sacred shrines of the God Subrahmanyan, as worshipped in the Hindu cult of Koumaram. The Dhandayudhapani Temple dedicated to Lord Murugan, and regarded one of his Arupadai Veedu (Six Battle Camps), is situated here. The temple situated atop the Sivagiri is small but attracts a flood of devotees from all over the country. The architecture of the temple appears to be of the Pandya school. The Garbagriham is surmounted by a gold gopuram, most admirably worked. Steps are hewn into the rock, besides a wide path meant for the ascent of elephants, up the hill. In addition, a funicular railway with three tracks and a rope-way have been provided more recently for the comfort of the pilgrims.
In keeping with the traditions of all temples of the God Subrahmanyan, another temple is dedicated to his worship near the foot of the Sivagiri. It goes by the name of Thiru Avinankudi, and is remarkable for the exquisite appearance of the chief deity besides other sculptures.
Besides this, right at the foot of the Sivagiri is a small shrine dedicated to the god Ganapathi, where he goes by the name Pada Vinayakar. It is common amongst the pilgrims to pay their obeisances at this shrine before commencing their ascent of the hill to worship the Lord Subrahmanyan. A particular offering here is the breaking of coconuts, by flinging them against an enclosed stone before the shrine, of which many hundreds are broken by the devotees in the course of a day.
Within the town is another temple dedicated to the Goddess Parvathi as Periyanayaki Amman. It popularly goes by the name of the Oorkovil - the town's chief temple. A particularly intriguing aspect of the temple is that, although it is referred to as the temple of Periyanayaki Amman, the central sanctum, the sanctum of supreme honour in Hindu temple architecture, is accorded to the Lord Subrahmanyan. The temple is large in expanse and displays an interesting blend of Pandya and Nayaka architecture. A tradition associated with the temple is that, formerly, a subterranean passage connected it with the Periya Avudaiyar temple some distance from the town, and was used to convey the idols under a peculiar circumstance of duress - when a Nawab attacked; however, beyond the fact, obvious from his title, that he was a Muslim, nothing is known of the Nawab or of his attack. Some evidence may be said to exist of an attack since some of the sculptures in the Nayaka mandapam in front of the temple have their limbs missing.
A short distance from the town is a temple dedicated to Shiva as Periya Avudaiyar. This temple, located right on the banks of the Shanmugha Nadi, is situated in particularly peaceful environs far-removed from the bustle of the town.
Near the Periya Nayaki Amman temple are two others - the Mariyamman Temple and the Perumal Temple. The former is particularly resorted to in times of epidemics, the goddess there being regarded as the protectress against illnesses.
The Kannadi Perumal Temple, dedicated to Vishnu, is a small temple situated on a hillock 9 km south of Palani, a short distance from the highway to Kodaikanal. The name of the temple is derived from its tradition that the presiding deity of the temple wards off the effects of dhrishti, a Sanskritic term which may be held to mean 'casting an evil eye'. One of the practices of the devotees of the temple is to bring the first-born calves of their cows to the temple seeking the deity's blessing, as the protector of cattle. On account of its secluded location it is not resorted to by many.
Banks at Palani
தமிழ் இலக்கிய மன்றம் (Tamil Ilaykkiya Mandram)
Palani has an organised இலக்கிய மன்றம் which is engaged in promoting Tamil Literature related activities.
The Devastanam Board runs several institution based on culture and education.
Sri Subramaniya College of Engineering and Technology is an institute of higher technical education located near Palani on the way towards Udumalpet.
The Municipal Schools in Palani are:
Further, there are various private schools in Palani:
Engineering Colleges: Sri Subramanya college of Engineering & Technology (College is situated in the National Highway 207 Palani - Pollachi) Computer Education & Netcafe Centres: 1.Appolo Computer Education 2.SSI Computer Education Netcafe: 1.NETPark Netcafe Owned & running by RenuGopal & Babu
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