August 31, 2009

Tribute to a great poet - Bharathiar Illam, Triplicane, Chennai

Subramanya Bharathi, who lived between the end of 19th century CE and the beginning of 20th century CE, was one of the greatest poets of India. He wrote a lot of poems in Tamil, which inspired thousands of people to fight for independence of India. He wrote poems almost on all subjects; however, his patriotic poems, devotional poems and poems on social reform became very popular among Tamils.

Bharathi was a national leader, who actively involved in politics. He started writing poems, when he was just seven years old. He knew a lot of languages including English, French, Sanskrit, and Telugu. He also wrote a lot of stories. He used to sing his own songs. His speech in public meetings was always inspirational. He was always a journalist. Some of his followers refer him as the incarnation of Goddess Saraswati due to his abundance knowledge.

Bharathi, who was born in a village near Tirunelveli in Southern Tamil Nadu, spent his last days in Triplicane, Chennai. The house, where he lived was bought by government, and it was converted into a monument (Bharathiar Illam a.k.a Bharathiar house). The Bharathiar Illam monument houses a lot of rare photographs of Bharathi and his family members and friends, some letters exchanged between Bharathi and others and Bharathi's works.

It is a must see place in Chennai to honour this great poet. You can reach Triplicane easily by public transport or auto/taxi. The monument is located very near to the famous landmark, Parthasarathy temple. You can visit this place and Marina beach together in one evening.

Happy travelling.


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August 27, 2009

A beautiful beach - Elliots beach, Chennai

Elliots beach in Besant Nagar area in Chennai is cleaner and better than the Marina beach, the second longest in the world. This is one of the favorite destinations for Chennaites, as it is located in a prime location of Chennai.

The stone memorial for the Dutch sailor Karl Schmidt ,who lost his life while rescuing a drowning sailor is a beautiful landmark in this beach. When you visit the beach, you can also visit the nearby Velankanni church, Ashta Lakshmi temple and Arupadai Murugan temple.

There are many restaurants such as Ponnuswamy Restaurant, Karaikudi restaurant, Lee's Chinese Restaurant and the new Shangri La - Malaysian restaurant available near this beach.

Go and enjoy this beautiful beach.

Happy travelling.


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August 25, 2009

Snake worship - Thiruverkadu Karumariamman Temple, Chennai

Site Name: Karumari Amman Temple
Site Type: Ancient Hindu Temple
Location:  Thiruverkadu, Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
A very important temple in and around Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

Karumariamman temple a.k.a Mariamman temple, which is located in a small village named Thiruverkadu at a distance of 18 kms from Chennai, is one of the most important temples located around Chennai.

Goddess worship in various forms is very popular in the state of Tamil Nadu. Parasuram was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Parasuram's mother was Renuka Devi. She is worshipped in the names of Mariamman, Karumariamman, and Renuka Parameswari in Tamil Nadu. Most of the people do not know the legend of this goddess and they worship her as Parvati (Goddess Shakti - wife of Lord Shiva).

Legend:

Once, Karumari took the form of an ordinary woman and went to Surya (the Sun God) and was trying to tell his fortune. However, he neglected her and as a result, he started losing his brightness. Later, he sought her pardon and got back his brightness. As per his request, she made Sunday as the auspicious day for her and made the rays of Sun fall on her idol for two days in a year.

Temple Layout:

Thiruverkadu villages is very ancient and there are references about the place in some old texts. There is no doubt about that. However, I personally feel that Karumariamman temple might not be ancient. This might be around 100 years old, even though there are people who claim this temple to have a lot of legends and old stories.

The main deity of the temple is Karumariamman. There are also shrines for Ganesh, Verkanni Amman, Subramanya with Valli-Devasena, Srinivas, Ram with Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman, and Sapta Matas (seven divine mothers). The highlight of the temple is the holy snake hole, which is being worshiped. This temple is popular for snake worship, as devotees believe that Karumariamman took the form of snake. There are also some idols found under the neem tree in this temple.

You can reach Thiruverkadu easily from any part of Chennai either by public transport or by taxi/car. As it is located very near to Mangadu, you can plan and visit all the following temples on the same day:

1) Kamakshi Amman Temple, Mangadu
2) Velleeswarar Temple, Mangadu
3) Vaikunda Perumal Temple, Mangadu
4) Karumariamman Temple, Thiruverkadu

Happy travelling.


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August 23, 2009

A unknown ancient temple - Mangadu Vaikuntha Perumal Temple, Chennai

Site Name: Vaikuntha Perumal Temple
Site Type: Ancient Hindu Temple
Location:  Mangadu, Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
A little known ancient temple near Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

In my two previous posts, I wrote about the temples of Kamakshi Amman and Velleeswarar of Mangadu. There is another temple in Mangadu, the suburb of Chennai, which is as old as the other two temples (around 14th century CE). This temple is dedicated to Vaikuntha Perumal (Lord Vishnu). If you visit Mangadu, you can get blessings of Shiva (Velleeswarar), Shakti (Kamakshi) and Vishnu (Vaikuntha Perumal) on the same day.

You can visit my post on Mangadu Kamakshi Amman temple to know how to reach Mangadu from Chennai.

The temple is very small and located in a calm atmosphere. The temple enshrines Vaikuntha Perumal along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. All three of them are in the sitting posture. Perumal is holding conch and discus in his upper arms. He is also seen sporting a ring which he was planning to present to his sister Kamakshi. The sage Markandeya is found in the sitting posture worshiping the deity inside the sanctum. As per the legend, he along with his consorts came to Mangadu to get his sister married to Shiva. However, as the marriage did not happen in Mangadu, he had to return.

The temple also enshrines the following sub-shrines or idols:


  • Tirukatchi Nambi
  • Ramanuja
  • Chakrathalwar
  • Hanuman
There are two shrines in the prakara, namely Kanaka Valli Thayar and Andal.

Please note that Mangadu does not have good hotels or restaurants. Please ensure that you pack your food with you while visiting this place.


I wish people who visit Kamakshi temple should also visit this beautiful temple.

Happy travelling.


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August 22, 2009

An ancient temple - Mangadu Velleeswarar Temple, Chennai

Site Name: Velleswarar Temple
Site Type: Ancient Hindu Temple
Location:  Mangadu, Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
A little known ancient temple near Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

In my previous post, I wrote about the famous Kamakshi Amman temple of Mangadu near Chennai. In this post, I am going to introduce you to an ancient temple, located just behind the Kamakshi Amman temple. The beautiful small ancient temple is dedicated to Lord Velleeswarar (Shiva). As per the legend, Shukracharya worshipped this Shiva linga and hence the deity got the name Velleeswara (Vellee means 'Shukra' in Tamil language).(There is another Velleeswarar temple in Chennai, about which I have already written.)


The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva named as Velleeswarar. There is no Goddess in this temple as she is present in the separate temple (as Kamakshi) nearby.

The ardha mandapa has the idols of Ganesh holding mango and Subramanya with his consorts sculpted in a single stone.

It is believed that Kamakshi performed penance in this temple. Hence, the footprints of Kamakshi is found near the Nandi idol.

The temple originally belongs to Pallava period. It appears that the original brick temple was reconstructed as the stone temple.

Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava and Durga are found as the Koshta (niche) idols. Vishnu and Brahma are seen in the sitting posture with folded hands on either sides of Lingodbhava, which is not usually seen in the other temples.

Some of the other idols and sub-shrines in the temple include Kasi Vishwanath and Vishalakshi, Kala Samhara Murti, Nalvar, Nataraja, Surya, Bhairav, movable (utsav) idols, Siddhi Vinayaka, Veerabhadra, Subramanya with his consorts, Balambikai and Navagrahas.

I wish people who visit Kamakshi temple should also visit this beautiful temple.

Happy travelling.


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August 21, 2009

Mangadu Kamakshi Amman Temple, Chennai


Site Name: Kamakshi Amman Temple
Site Type: Ancient Hindu Temple
Location:  Mangadu, Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
A very important temple in and around Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

In this post, I am going to introduce you to one of the most popular temples near Chennai - Mangadu Kamakshi Amman temple. This is one of the Shakti Peeth/Sthalams (important sites of Shakti, the Goddess) in India. This is one of the most visited sites in and around Chennai.

Mangadu is a small village situated at a distance of around 20 kms from Chennai on Chennai - Bangalore high way. You can reach this place easily through public transport or on your own transportation.

Legend:

As per the legend, Shakti playfully closed the eyes of Lord Shiva in Mount Kailash, due to which the entire creation went into darkness. Shiva got angry and Shakti came to Mangadu and started performing penance by resting the left leg on the Panchagni (holy fire) and folding the right leg.Her left arm is raised above her head and she holds Japamala in this arm. This posture is called as Tapas Kamakshi and the Goddess is found in this posture in this temple.

 Lord Shiva appeared and promised to marry her. Their wedding took place in the nearby Kanchipuram city. Kamakshi left the place without extinguishing the fire and the whole area suffered from the unbearable heat for a long time. Sri Adi Shankara came here and installed Ardhameru Chakra and thus extinguished the fire.

Temple Layout:

The temple is big; however, only very few idols are found apart from Tapas Kamakshi Amman and Meru Chakra in this temple.

The idols of Ganesh, Nava Kanyas and festival (utsava) idols are some of the other deities found in the temple.

When you happen to be in Chennai, go and visit this temple.

Happy travelling.

Click here to view the Google map for the route to Mangadu.

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August 20, 2009

An unpolluted calm place - Thirukkallil aka Thirukkandalam, Chennai

Site Name: Thirukalleeswarar Temple
Site Type: Ancient Hindu Temple
Location:  Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
One of 274 Paadal Petra Shiva Sthalams
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

In this post, I am going to introduce you about a place in Chennai, which is not known even to most of the Chennaites. Thirukkallil aka Thirukkandalam is a calm and unpolluted village located at a distance of around 40 kms from Chennai. You need to take Periyapalayam route to reach this village from Chennai. This village is at a distance of around 10 kms from Periyapalayam. The village has an important temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is considered as the 18th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Tondai region.



Highlights:


  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • God - Thirukkaleeswarar or Shivanandeeswarar
  • Goddess - Ananda Valli
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Alari (Oleander Plant)
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Nandi Teerth
  • Considered as one of the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams

Legend:

It is believed that the temple tank was created by Nandi. Hence, it is called as Nandi Teerth.

The temple has a lot of legends associated with it. In the beginning, Shiv Linga of the temple was in the midst of Kalli trees and hence he got the name Kalleeswarar. The saint Bhrigu worshiped Shiva amidst kalli trees in this site and Lord Dakshinamurti along with Shakti appeared in front of him. Hence, in this temple, the rare idol of Dakshinamurti is found along with his consort. 


There is also another legend about this temple. When Lord Shiva and Parvati got married at Mount Kailash in the north, all Devas and Asuras gathered there. Hence the land in the north was dipping. Shiva ordered the saint Agastya to go to south to balance it out. The saint camped in a place near this temple and Shiva gave Shiva Ananda darshan (appeared in a specific pattern) to the saint to compensate him for not attending the wedding. Hence he also got the name Shivanandiswara in this temple.

There is one more legend according to which, after fighting with Lakshman and Ram, Ram's sons Kush and Luv dipped in the river in this village and hence the river got the name Kushasthalai.


History:

The temple appears to have been built in the 12th century CE. The inscriptions from the Chola, Pandya, and Vijayanagar emperors, which belong to the period from 12th to 15th centuries are found in the temple.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a beautiful five towered Raja Gopuram (tower) and a tank in front of it. 

The main deity of the temple is Shiva Linga named as Thirukalleeswarar or Shivanandeeswarar. Facing his shrine, the bali peetha, flag staff and Nandi idol are found.

The Goddess Anandavalli is found in a separate shrine. 

Natana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the Koshta (niche) images. The Vimana of the temple is based on Gajaprshtha architecture style.

There are other idols and sub-shrines found in this temple such as Nalvar, Surya, Hanuman, Sundara Vinayak, Kalathinathar (Shiva Linga), Bala Subramanya, Chandikeshwara, the unusual Shakti Dakshinamurti, Bhairav and Navagrahas. 

Go and visit this unusually calm and beautiful village and well maintained temple. If you like, take a dip in the clean tank. Enjoy!

Happy travelling.

August 19, 2009

The best place to meditate - Thamaraipakkam Shiva Linga temple

Site Name: Shiva Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple and Meditation Center
Location:  Thamaraipakkam, 45 kms from Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
An ideal place in Chennai for meditation
Nearest Railway Station: Tirupati

Nearest Airport: Chennai, 45 kms away from this site,  is the major airport nearby
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
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

Thamaraipakkam Shiva Linga temple is perhaps the best place to meditate in Chennai.

Thamaraipakkam is a small village located at a distance of around 45 kms from Chennai. You can reach this place via Periyapalayam route from Chennai. This place has a Shiva Linga temple which is very calm and serene. This temple is built for Chinmaya mission and it is arguably the best place in Chennai for meditation. The entire temple structure is in Shiv linga shape and hence the temple is called as Linga temple.

The temple has a small shrine for Lord Shiva and a big meditation hall. You need to climb up the stairs to reach the shirne. The moment you reach up to the shrine you would enjoy the breeze as the temple is located in a green and shady atmosphere.

An ideal place to spend time with calm and to avoid noise pollution and traffic congestion of Chennai. Do visit this place and enjoy.

Happy travelling.

Click here to access Thamaraipakkam map.

August 17, 2009

Ice House aka Vivekananda House, Chennai

Site Name: Vivekananda House
Site Type: Memorial
Location:  Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 
A unique attraction in Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city


Ice House a.k.a. Vivekananda House a.k.a. Vivekanandar Illam in Tamil, is a landmark in Chennai. In 1833 CE, an ice merchant named Fredric Tudor from Boston, USA, brought ice to India. That was the first time ice was brought to India. He built three houses in three different cities of India - Chennai, Calcutta, and Mumbai, to keep ice under proper insulation. Ice House was the house he built in Victorian architectural style in Chennai for the purpose of storing ice, and hence the building got the name 'Ice House'. Later, a Chennai based lawyer named Biligiri Iyengar bought this house.

"Arise, awake; and stop not till the goal is reached" - the inspirational quote is from one of the most powerful persons of India in the 19th century, Swami Vivekananda. Swami Vivekananda was considered as the one who spread Hinduism, Vendanta and Yoga to European countries and USA. A lot of national leaders of India in the 20th century got inspired by Vivekananda's speech. He was the major force in modern India for the revival of Hinduism religion. In 1893 CE, he addressed the audience gathered at Parliament of World's Religions in Chicago, USA, as "brothers and sisters", and introduced Hinduism to the international community. His speech brought his a great fame.

After the successful tour of the West, Swami Vivekanda returned to India via Chennai in 1897 CE. He stayed in Ice House between February 6, 1897 and February 15, 1897, and delivered seven inspirational powerful speeches. In February 1997, a hundred years after Swami's visit to Chennai, the government gave the building to Ramakrishna Math on lease. The building now houses a gallery of around 150 rare photographs on the life of Vivekanda. It also houses a section on India's cultural heritage and on the history of the building itself.

Vivekananda house (Ice house) is open on all days, except Wednesdays. When you go to Marina beach next time, visit Vivekananda house also, as this is located in the beach road.

The place is a must visit for Vivekananda's devotees and those who are interested in heritage and history. As this is a famous landmark in Chennai, you can reach this place easily either through public transport or by taxi/auto/your own vehicle. This is located right opposite to Marina beach on the beach road in Chennai.

Happy travelling.

Click here to access Ice House Google map.

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August 16, 2009

Tirupati Balaji got married here - Narayanavanam

Site Name: Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Narayanavanam, 95 kms from Chennai city, 35 kms from Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh state, India
Highlights: 
A rare temple where Balaji along with his consort Padmavati found in the same temple complex
Nearest Railway Station: Tirupati

Nearest Airport: Chennai, 70 kms away from this site,  is the major airport nearby
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Chennai and Tirupati; public transport is not dependable though
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai; Tirupati is an alternate option; Nagalapuram and nearby places do not have good accommodation facilities though
Restaurants: Go to Tirupati for good restaurants


Narayanavanam is a small town near Puttur in Andhra Pradesh state. As you can visit this place conveniently from Chennai city, I am writing about this place too in my series of posts on Chennai. Narayanavanam is located at a distance of around 35 km from Tiruppati and 95 km from Chennai. The town has become popular because of the ancient beautiful temple, Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy temple.

The current temple was built during the Vijayanagara period. However, the temple has a very old story. As per the legend, the king Akasha Maharaja had a son and a daughter. The daughter was Padmavati, an incarnation of Maha Lakshmi. She fell in love with Venkateswara a.k.a Balaji, an incarnation of Vishnu, and got married with him at Narayanavanam. Her brother built two temples for Lord Venkateswara, one at Narayanavanam, and another in Tirupati (the most famous Balaji temple of Tirupati). You can find a grinding stone in the temple, which is considered as sacred as it is believed to be used for grinding turmeric during the marriage of Venkateswara and Padmavati.

In Tirupati, Lord Venkateswara and Padmavati are not in the same temple. However, the specialty of Sri Kalyana Venkateswara Swamy temple is that both Venkateswara and Padmavathi are present in the same temple. The main shrine of this temple has Lord Venkateswara. Near the main shrine, there are idols of Dasavatar and Alwars found. In the prakaras (circumambulatory passage) , you can find the shrines of Padmavati, Andal, Ranganath, Prayag Madhav, Ram along with Sita, Lakshman, Hanuman, and Rajamannar.

When you go to Tirupati, ensure that you visit Narayanavanam too. If you are travelling from Chennai, you can cover this place along with the other two places mentioned below on the same day, as all three shrines fall on the same high road from Chennai:

1) Suruttapalli temple
2) Nagalapuram temple

Happy travelling.

August 15, 2009

The Temple of Fish God - Vedanarayana Swamy Temple, Nagalapuram

Site Name: Vedanarayana Swamy Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Nagalapuram, 70 kms from Chennai city, Andhra Pradesh state, India
Highlights: 
A rare temple dedicated to Matsya Avatar of Vishna
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai is major railway station near Nagalapuram

Nearest Airport: Chennai, 70 kms away from this site,  has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road from Chennai and Tirupati; public transport is not dependable though
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai; Tirupati is an alternate option; Nagalapuram and nearby places do not have good accommodation facilities though
Restaurants: Uttukkottai, 20 kms from Suruttapalli

Lord Vishnu took many avatars (incarnations) in this world. Out of those various incarnations, ten avatars are important and they are called as Dasavatars (ten incarnations). The first avatar is Matsya avatar (fish incarnation). Lord Vishnu took Matsya avatar to kill the rakshasa Somakudu  and get back the Vedas stolen by him. Vedanarayana Swamy temple in Nagalapuram is the temple for the savior of vedas, Matsya avatar. To my knowledge, I don't think there is any other temple dedicated to Matsya avatar.

Nagalapuram is a village in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh. You can reach this place either from Chennai or from Tiruppati. The distance from both these cities to Nagalapuram is almost same - around 70 kms. In my previous post, I have written about Suruttapalli temple. You need to travel another 11-12 kms on the same high road from Suruttapalli to reach this place (towards Tirupati route). You can conveniently cover Suruttapalli and Nagalapuram in one day, if you travel from Chennai.


The temple is an example for Vijayanagar empire's architectural beauty. The temple was built by the emperor Krishnadeva Raya in the 16th century CE. The main deity of the temple is Veda Narayana Swamy (Matsya avatar), who is found along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi. The temple is huge and architecturally very beautiful. The temple also houses other shrines such as, Vedavalli, Lakshmi Narasimhar, Veera Anjaneya, Bhakta Anjaneya, Ram with Sita and Lakshman.

Go and visit this religiously and architecturally important temple.

Happy travelling.

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
Highlights: 
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.

Location:

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.

Highlights:


  • 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


Legend:

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.

History:

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.