Agasthya 5.3 Malaimel Nambi Kovil an insignia of culture and biodiversity
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While traveling from Kalakad towards Thirukurungudi on the bank of Periyakulam one could see a signage directing you to look towards the hills westwards for Malaimel Nambi Kovil. It is a common sight to see travelers join their palms to worship the Lord Vishnu, locally called as Nambi. From this marked vantage point all one can see is a small white speckle nestled in the laps of lush green forest clad mountainous landscape. The perennial river, Nambiar descending from the mountain skirts the temple and flows down further to irrigate the rice and banana fields. Near the Malaimel Nambi, a statue of a deity called Sangili Boothathar is worshipped by the community from the nearby villages. Two contrasting cultures seem to conduct their religious customs to their hill top deities in an amicable fashion. Nambi Kovil is located in the middle of dry evergreen forest. Among the many rare plants found here are medicinal plants such as Decalepis arayalpathra and Begonia floccifera. 'Siddhars', who were well versed about the herbs of health and medicinal significance, are believed to have flocked to these hills. Nambiar river, on both the banks, is lined with mango, naval, pungam, illupai whose magnificent canopy is interlocked by the branches and woody climbers such as 'Aanaipuli'. The boulders found in the fast flowing Nambiar is perhaps the only habitat for Indotristichia tirunelveliana, a small aquatic plant anchored firmly. The forest around the temple supports arboreal animals such as Thevangu (slender loris) and the Hanuman manthi (common langur) apart from birds, amphibians and insects.

Serenity provides the ideal ambience to those who seek to experience unison with the mountains. Agasthyamalai encompassing the Thirukurungudi forests is known as abode for the great souls like Agasthya, Gorakkar and several other siddhars. Hence it is hardly surprising that the dense forests and peaks of Thirukurungudi far away from hustle bustle of the human dominated landscape attracted Nambi, whose main abode is in Thirukurungudi, eight km at the foothills of these forests. The Thirumalai Nambi presides in the forests and devotees either walk or use vehicles to reach this temple. The other four Nambi's incarnations are located around Thirukurungudi village at foothills . Each of these are unique postures of Nambi the Ninra Nambi (Standing posture), the Irundha Nambi (Sitting posture), the Kidandha Nambi (Sleeping posture), and the Thiruparkadal Nambi (on the banks of Nambiar within the village). Thiru Ramanuja Acharya, a well known Vaishnavite saint is known to have visited these temples.

As with any Vaishnavaite temple, last Saturdays of all the Tamil months are considered sacred and thousands of devotees throng the temple. The entire Puratassi month and Pournami day of Chitthirai month are of special significance. Nambi Kovil is an important stopover for thousands of pilgrims and tourists , who visit the landscape. In the past, with a smaller population and limited commutation facilities there was little damage to the surrounding forests. Now, drastic change in the lifestyle has started to take toll on the forest. Today polythene, liquor bottles, and leftover of sacrificial fowls, goats and food items are common sight than leaf-litter in the forests and the river near the temple. The forest around Thirumalai Nambi temple is not only known as the abode for numerous gods and holy souls but also is home for several rare plants and animals and the river Nambiar, instrumental to bring wealth and prosperity in the downstream villages. Hence, it will be a divine injustice if pilgrims continue to pollute and destroy the inseparably interlinked Malaimel Nambi Kovil Thirukurungudi forest - the insignia of culture and biodiversity. Pilgrims should co-operate with the Forest Department in maintaining cleanliness and tranquillity of the habitat that supports divinity and biodiversity.



Editorial Team
Editor: Allwin Jesudasan
Associate editor: Rajkamal Goswami
Editorial Review: R. Ganesan, M. Soubadra Devy, T. Ganesh
Design and presentation: Kiran Salegame

Volume 5,  Issue 3
      November 2011

A S H O K A   T R U S T   F O R   R E S E A R C H   I N   E C O L O G Y   A N D   T H E   E N V I R O N M E N T

Malaimel Nambi Kovil an insignia of culture and biodiversity
- R Ganesan
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