September 2, 2009

Parthasarathy Temple - Triplicane, Chennai

Site Name: Parthasarathy Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Triplicane area, Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the two most popular temples of Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai

Chennai city, the gateway to South India, has a lot of temples. Many of them are ancient temples and few of them are well known even outside Chennai. Parthasarathy temple is one of the two most popular temples of Chennai city, the other temple being Kapaleeswarar temple. Let us discuss in detail about the magnificent temple located in the Tiruvallikkeni locality (Triplicane) of Chennai city.


Highlights:

  • Tirumangai Alwar, Tirumazhisai Alwar and Peyalwar have sung hymns about this site in their verses.
  • It is one of the two most popular temples of Chennai city.
  • It is one of the oldest temples of Chennai.
  • It is considered as the 61st Divya Desam temple. It is located in Tondai region.
  • The only temple where Lord Krishna is found along with his family members.
  • Lord Krishna is found with moustache in this temple.
  • Sri Tyagaraja Swamigal and Sri Muthuswami Deekshithar have composed songs on this deity.
  • It is widely believed that 'Kannan Songs' written by Bharatiar were on the deity of this temple.
  • Interestingly, the moolavar (presiding deity/stone idol) is not Parthasarathy and the temple is named after the utsav idol.
  • The Goddess Vedavalli of this temple is not the consort of the main deity Venkatakrishnan or Parthasarathy.
  • God Venkatakrishnan ; Utsava deity - Parthasarathy
  • Goddess Vedavalli
  • Teerth (holy water) - Allikkeni or Kairavini
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Makila tree (Ape flower tree)
  • Vimana Ananda Nilaya Vimana

Legend:

Vedavalli's birth

The name of the site is derived from Allikkeni which means lily pond that is found in front of the temple. As per the legend, Bhrigu Rishi performed penance to beget Lakshmi as his daughter. He found her as an infant in a lily flower in this pond amidst a dense Tulsi forest. He named her as Vedavalli. When she attained adulthood, Lord Ranganath married her.

Darsan to Rishis

According to Brahmanda Puran, Sapta Rishis have worshiped the five deities found in this temple. Narasimha gave darshan to Atri Rishi and hence there is a shrine for Narasimha in this temple. Similarly, Ram along with his brothers and consort gave darshan to Maharishi Maduman in this site and accordingly Ram's shrine is also found in this temple. In addition, Saptaroma Rishi gave darshan of Vishnu in the form of Gajendra Varadar in this site.

Origin of Murti

According to the same Brahmanda Puran, the King Sumati prayed to Tirupati Balaji to give darshan in the form of Parthasarathy to him. Sarathy means 'charioteer'; as Krishna took the role of the charioteer for Partha (Arjun), he is also called as Parthasarathy. To fulfill the wish of the king, Balaji gave darshan to him as Parthasarathy in Brindaranya Kshetra (the current Triplicane). 

Atreya Rishi was advised by Vyasa to visit this place to perform penance. Vyasa also gave a murti (idol) to Rishi. The Rishi came to this site and with the permission of the King Sumati, he installed the idol, which holds conch in his right arm. This is the origin of the presiding deity of the temple. 

Ramanuja

It is believed that the parents of the Vaishnavaite saint Ramanuja prayed to Lord Parthasarath for a son and the great saint was born to them.


History:


The temple is believed to have been built during the Pallava period (probably during the period of Dantivarman in the 8th century CE). The extensions were made by the Cholas and Vijayanagaras. 


Temple Layout:


Entrance


The entrance has a east facing Raja gopura. There is another gopura facing the west side. In front of the tower, there is a very big mandap with a lot of sculptures in the pillars.

Main Deity

The east facing sanctum enshrines the gigantic 9 feet tall idol of Venkatakrishnan. The stone idol (moolavar) is called as Venkatakrishnan and only the utsav murti is named as Parthasarathy. However, as the temple is called as Parthasarathy temple, people started calling the stone idol also as Parthasarathy nowadays.

The grandeur and commanding look of the main deity is something that cannot be found in any other temple. Lord Krishna, who is known for his charming smile and handsome look, is found here in a magnificent form. He has mustache on his face. He just has two arms and holds conch on his right arm. These are all some of the unique features of this deity.

Krishna's consort Rukmini is found on his right side. In addition, Satyaki, Balram, Pradyumna and Aniruddha are all found in the sanctum.  Balram was the elder brother of Krishna. Pradyumna was his son and Aniruddha was his grand son. Satyaki was a relative of Krishna. Thus, Krishna is found along with his family members in this temple, which is another unique feature. 

The flag staff, bali peetha and Garud shrine are found facing towards the main shrine.


Parthasarathy

The temple is named after the utsav murti, Parthasarathy. His face has scars that were caused by Bhisma's arrows during the Mahabharat war. As seen above, he played the role of charioteer to Krishna during the battle.

Vedavalli

The Goddess of the temple is Vedavalli. Her idol is extremely beautiful. She is found in a separate east facing shrine in the prakara.

Ranganath

As stated earlier, the Goddess of the temple, Vedavalli is not the consort of the main deity. She married to Ranganath, who is found in a separate east facing shrine in the maha mandap area of the main shrine. He is found along with his two consorts and Brahma in his navel. He is found in the reclining posture on Sesha. Narasimha is found near his head and Varaha is found near his feet. 

Azhagiya Singar

Yoga Narasimha is found in a separate west facing shrine behind the sanctum. This shrine is very popular. There is a separate entrance with gopura and a flag staff in front of this shrine. The utsav murti is called as Thelliya Singa Perumal or Azhagiya Singar. The shrine is also named after the utsav murti.

Ram

There is a south facing shrine located within the maha mandap of the main shrine, which is dedicated to Lord Ram. The specialty is that he is found along with Sita and all his three brothers and not merely with Lakshman. Hanuman shrine is found facing towards Ram.


Gajendra Varadar

There is a separate shrine for Gajendra Varadar seated on Garud. It is situated in the prakara.


Andal

Andal is found in a separate shrine in the prakara.


Other Shrines

The temple also enshrines few other idols or sub-shrines such as Tirukachi Nambi, Vedanta Desika, Ramanuja, Chakrathalwar, Manavala Mamuni, Alwars, Madhav, Keshav, Anant, Garud, Alavandar, Vishwaksena and Tirumazhisai Alwar. 

Happy travelling.


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