August 14, 2009

The Lord is resting - Suruttapalli Pallikondeswarar Temple

Site Name: Pallikondeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Suruttapalli, 55 kms from Chennai city, Andhra Pradesh state, India
A rare reclining posture of Shiva on the lap of Parvati
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai is major railway station near Suruttapalli

Nearest Airport: Chennai, 55 kms away from this site,  has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Chennai; public transport is not dependable though
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai; Suruttapalli and nearby places do not have good accommodation facilities though
Restaurants: Uttukkottai, 3 kms from Suruttapalli

You would have seen Lord Vishnu in the reclining posture in a lot of temples (Lord Ranganath). However, Lord Shiva is present in the form of Shiv Linga in most of the temples. The only temple, where you can find Lord Shiva in the reclining posture is Pallikondeswarar temple in Suruttapalli.


Suruttapalli is a small town in Chittoor district in Andhra Pradesh state of India. As the nearest city is Chennai, I am writing about this town in my series on Chennai. To reach Suruttapalli from Chennai, you need to drive around 55 kms in Tiruppati route. Suruttapalli is located near Uthukkottai town. Once you cross the Tamil Nadu state border and enter into Andhra Pradesh state, the very first thing that you will find on the high road would be this temple.


  • God - Pallikondeswarar and Valmikeeswarar
  • Goddess - Sarva Mangalambigai and Maragadambal 
  • Shiva is found in the reclining posture and has his head rested on the lap of Parvati.
  • The main deity is a triangular shaped Shiva LInga.
  • Many unique idols such as Luv, Kush, Kuber, Sanga Nidhi, Padma Nidhi, Kama Dhenu and Kalpa Vruksha are found.
  • Valmiki worshiped the deity before writing Ramayan.
  • Shiva got his name Neelakanth in this site.
  • The auspicious day of Shiva, Pradosha, originated in this site.
  • Luv and Kush visited this site.
  • Dakshinamurti with his consort is found here.
  • 14th century CE period temple


The popular legend of churning of milky ocean is associated with this site. The Devas and Asuras were churning the milky ocean using the Mandara mountain as the churning rod and the serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. After one point, Vasuki was unable to bear the pressure and it spilled out poison. As per the prayers from the Devas, Lord Shiva consumed the poison himself and saved everyone.

After consuming the poison, Shiva felt little giddiness. Parvati supported him and made him to lie down on her lap. She also gently touched his neck thus avoiding the poison from spreading to the other parts of his body. His neck turned into blue color and he was thereafter called as 'Neelakanth'. The word 'Neela' means blue color and the word 'kantha' means neck. It is believed that this particular incident happened in this site. Hence, the main deity is found in the reclining posture on the lap of Parvati.

All the sages and Devas assembled here to check the well being of Shiva. Hence, the images of Shiva and Parvati in this temple are surrounded by the images of various deities. The word 'Surutta' means assembly of deities and hence this place is called as Suruttapalli.

The Devas and Asuras continued to churn the ocean and on the Dwadasha day, they obtained their objective of getting Amruta. In that process, they completely forgot Lord Shiva. On Trayodasha day, they realized their mistake and prayed for his forgiveness. Lord Shiva forgave them and started Shiva tandava dance. All the deities and sages joined him in his dance. This moment was celebrated as Pradosha every fortnight. The Pradosha Pooja is believed to have originated in this site.

As per another legend, Luv and Kush, the sons of Lord Ram, came here along with Valmiki and prayed to Lord Shiva.

There is another legend, which claims that the sage Valmiki came here to seek the blessing of Shiva Linga before he started authoring Ramayan. Hence, there is a Shiva Linga named as Valmikeeswarar in this temple.

To get rid of the sin committed in killing Ravan, Ram sought the advice of his Guru Vashishta. As per his advice, he came here and installed a Shiva Linga and prayed to Shiva. This idol is called as Rama Lingeswara.


The temple is a Vijayanagara architecture and it was built during the period of the kings Harihara and Bukka in the 14th century CE. The temple has been renovated in such a way that except for the deities, you will not find any other ancient trace.

Temple Layout:

The temple has a small Raja Gopuram (tower) and outside the temple, a big Nandi idol is found facing towards the temple tower.

The sanctum enshrines the Shiva Linga named Valmikeeswara. It is triangular in shape, which is very unique. It is believed that the sage Valmiki worshiped this Linga and hence he is called as Valmikeeswara. Although the temple is called as Pallikondeswarar temple, Valmkikeeswara is technically the main deity. At the entrance of the sanctum, the idols of  Kubera, Shankha Nidhi and Padma Nidhi are found.

The beautiful idol of Goddess Maragadambal is found in a separate shrine. She is found in the standing posture along with Kama Dhenu and Kalpa Vruksha on her either sides.

The prakaras (circumambulatory passage) around the shrines of Valmikeeswarar and Maragambal as well as the other areas of the temple have many idols such as Varasidhi Vinayaka, Venu Gopal, Kasi Vishwanath (Shiva Linga) with Vishalakshi, Subramanya with Valli and Devasena, Ganesha with Siddhi and Buddhi, the rare Salagrama Ganesha, Shasta with Poorna and Pushkala, 63 Nayanmars, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Annapoorna, the three faced Jwarahara Murti, Chandikeshwara, Raja Matangi, Valmiki, Surya, Ayyappa, Kapala Hastheeswarar (Vishnu), Parvata Vardhini, Ayyappa, Bhairav,

Dakshinamurti along with his consort Tara is in the form of niche image. It is also unique. The other niche idols are Ganesha, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga.

There is a shrine dedicated to another Shiva Linga called as Rama Lingeswara. Apart from Linga, the idols of Ram, Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman, Luv and Kush are also found in this shrine.

There is a stone stab where the foot prints of Luv and Kush are found.

There is a separate main shrine dedicated to Pallikondeswarar. Here, the six feet long idol of Shiva is found in the resting position with his head rested on the lap of his consort, Parvati. Parvati is called as Sarva Mangalambigai in this shrine. A lot of deities and sages such as Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Markandeya, Agastya, Valmiki, Indra, Narad, Surya and Chandra are found in the form of relief images in the same shrine.

The unique practice that is followed in this temple is that instead of Vibhooti (the holy ash), teerth (holy water) is given to the devotees as prasad. This practice is something similar to that of Vishnu temples.

Happy travelling.


  1. hI. This is fantastic info. Thanks a lot for this information. Such an eye opener. Loved the description. I'm eagerly waiting to visit this temple. never knew about this temple until I came across ur blog...

    It will be great if you could share more info on other such rare temples.

  2. very good information for a religiously beliving persons

  3. very good information for a religiously beliving persons