A small picnic spot in Tirunelveli, Papanasam is a village close to the main town. As the name suggests 'Papanasam' meaning putting an end to all the sins, the waters of this place are known for their mystical powers of redeeming the wrongdoings. With peace in its environment and beauty all over, it has emerged as a popular getaway destination for the people living nearby. The mountains around it are home to 108 herbs which are not found anywhere else in the world. In its vicinity are many things which let you spend a gala time over here.
Away from the hustle-bustle of the city life, one can enjoy the serenity of peaceful life in its laps. Situated at a distance of almost 45 km from Tirunelveli, a dense forest surrounding the village makes it a perfect recreational spot for people who are looking to spend some time with their friends and family. Papanasam has bewitching attractions such as Thamirabarani river, Agasthiyar falls, Papanasam dam and the Shiva temple. Moreover, the powerful waters of Papanasam have made it a famous pilgrimage destination.
From its mythological and historical origins to the beauty which is a feast to one's eyes, Papanasam has an ample of attractions. These attractions embrace the significance of the small place, making it bigger in the name.
1. Papanasam dam: The building of this dam dates back to the British Raj in India. Surrounded by high mountains and dense forest, the water from the dam is used to irrigate the paddy fields of Tirunelveli and Tuticorin districts. It is almost 240 m high, 5.4 m wide and 265 m long and has a total area of 147 sq km.
2. Agasthiyar falls: Papanasam Falls also called Agastya Falls lies almost 42 km from Tirunelveli. According to some beliefs, its location has encountered the act of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati appearing before the sage Agastya. Papanasam means relieve from sins. It is a significant pilgrimage centre where people take a bath in its waters to relieve themselves from sins. Papavinashweshwara or the Siva temple is also located nearby to the falls. A trek to Agasthiyar Falls helps you explore the place more closely.
3. Manimuthar falls: Located almost 35 km from Tirunelveli, the Manimathur falls is a natural waterfall that flows throughout the year and is located just above the Manimuthar dam. Bike riding to the place is considered very thrilling and adventurous according to many people who have visited the place. There is also a pond nearby with a depth of 90 feet. This place, on the whole, is beautiful and picture perfect.
4.Manjolai Hills: Tucked above the Manimathur falls, this picturesque hilly area is a panorama of emerald green tea plantations. The tranquillity and serenity of the place are apt for the travellers with relaxation motifs. Moreover, it is a paradise for the nearby trekkers.
Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the holy shrine is a home to Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati who are worshipped as Papanasanathar and Ulagammai respectively. The temple hosts six daily rituals and three yearly festivals out of which the Brahmotsavam and Thaipoosam are the most prominent ones. Some say that Papanasanathar is an outcome of sage Agasthya's sheer devotion towards Lord Shiva. The temple remains open from 6 am - 1 pm and 4 pm - 8:30 pm on all days. Festival days are exceptions when it is open the full day.
Lord Indra, the king of celestial bodies, slew a demon Dwastha as he performed penances for seeking superior powers against other Gods. Dwastha was the son of Sukracharya, the Guru of Asuras. By killing him, Indra had committed Brahmatti Dosha i.e. the sin incurred by killing a Brahmin. Since his sin or the Papam was expiated in this place, the place got its name Papanasam.
Another legend speaks of a story of two siblings who after their separation in childhood, unknown to their prior relationship married each other as they grew. The story is weaved around the times when a Pandyan King who converted to Buddhism wanted his people to follow his footsteps. Harassment and bloodshed of those who did not convert took place. A family of a father and two children were great devotees of Shiva. Hence, they left his kingdom and went to the neighbouring state. There the separation of the two siblings took place. As they grew up, each of them roamed and finally reached Benaras. Here, completely unknown to their past they met, fell in love with each other and eventually got married. As the time passed, they got to know about their brother-sister relationship. To absolve the sin committed they searched for many ways. A way advised to them was wearing black clothes and taking a dip into the holy waters of India until the time their clothes turned white. The colour changing to white indicated the absolvement of their sins. As they dipped in the waters of Papanasam, their clothes turned white, and the place got its name along with the name of its deity, Papavinaseswarar, meaning the redeemer of sins.
Apart from sightseeing and trekking visitors can indulge themselves in boating.The lush green fields of Papanasam and glimpses of fiercely flowing river Thamirabarani paint an unforgettable picture in the visitors' mind. It is another way of exploring the nature's playfields.
The best time to visit Papanasam is during its peak season which starts in the month of October and continues all the way to the month of March when the climate is cool and sunny.
Air: With a distance of 145 km, Trivandrum International Airport is the nearest airport to Papanasam. After getting down at the airport, you can take a bus or hire a cab to reach your final destination.
Rail: Ambasamudram Railway station is situated at a distance of 8.5 km from Papanasam. Hence, it serves as the nearest junction to the place. It takes about 20-30 minutes for you to reach Papanasam.
Road: Regular bus services are available from nearby towns such as Chennai, Bangalore, and Thiruvananthapuram to Papanasam.