September 30, 2009

A memorial for an actor - MGR Square, Chennai

MGR Square, similar to Anna Square, is a site in Chennai which is visited by hundreds of people everyday. The proximity of MGR Square to Marina beach and Anna Square is an advantage for this site.

MGR Square is the memorial, which houses the tomb of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state, M.G.Ramachandran, who was affectionately called as "MGR" by people of Tamil Nadu. He started his career as a drama artist and then moved to Tamil cinema. He was the emperor of Tamil cinema till he retired. He was the disciple of C.N.Annadurai and was a part of DMK party. He later started a new party named AIADMK and won the election. He repeatedly won the elections and became Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu continuously for three terms.


The small tomb at MGR Square is provided with a pillar like structure along with an eternal flame.You can visit this place along with Marina beach and Anna Square, as this place is located almost in the beginning of Marina beach (northern end of the beach).

Happy travelling.


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September 29, 2009

Anna Square, Chennai

Anna Square is a site in Chennai which is visited by hundreds of people everyday. The proximity of Anna Square to Marina beach is an advantage for this site.

Anna Square is the memorial, which houses the tomb of the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu state C.N.Annadurai, who was affectionately called as "Anna" by people of Tamil Nadu. He was the one who brought an end to Congress party rule in Tamil Nadu, and he was the first non-Congress Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. All the Dravidian parties of Tamil Nadu (AIADMK, DMK, MDMK, etc.) consider him as their God Father.

The structure of the entrance resembles elephant's tusks and there are statues of two great Tamil Poets, Kambar and Ilango, at the entrance. The memorial is huge in area and it is well maintained with a lavish park. It also houses a hall, where all the photographs related to Anna are displayed. You can also find some materials such as pen, spectacles, etc. which were used by Anna in this exhibition. The small tomb at Anna Square is provided with a pillar like structure along with an eternal flame.
You can visit this place along with Marina beach, as this place is located almost in the beginning of Marina beach (northern end of the beach).

Happy travelling.


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September 26, 2009

Shopping paradise in Chennai - T.Nagar South Usman Road

T.Nagar is the poor man's shopping paradise in Chennai. Any shopping in Chennai will not be complete without visiting T.Nagar's South Usman Road and Ranganathan Street. You can buy anything from a small safety pin to a diamond necklace worth lakh rupees in T.Nagar. The only problem is the place is crowded like anything. You will find it difficult even to walk.

T.Nagar's South Usman Road and the narrow Ranganathan Street have lot of pavement shops as well as retail outlets and showrooms. The proximity to Mambalam Railway Station and T.Nagar bus stand has also made this area as a preferred shopping spot.

You can buy anything from a small plastic mug to fridge and washing machine in the storse such as Saravana Stores and Saravana Selvaratnam. You can buy all varieties of stainless steel materials in the shops like Ratna Stores and Saravana Stores. Hotel Saravana Bhavan and Murugan Idli are there for good food. Pothys, Kumaran Silks, RmKV, and Chennai silks offer you varieties of cloth materials. GR Thanga Maligai and Kerala Jewellers are some of the popular jewellery shops in the area. The varieties of shops and the things that you can buy in those stores are endless.

Happy travelling.



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September 25, 2009

Shiva Vishnu Temple, T.Nagar, Chennai

Shiva Vishnu temple is located in South Usman Road between the T.Nagar bus stand and Mambalam Railway Station in Chennai. This is one of the popular temples of Chennai even though it is not an ancient or huge temple. The highlight of the temple is that this temple is a joint temple for both Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.

The temple has two entrances, both facing the east direction. Both the entrances have towers. The small entrance would take us directly to the shrine of Vara Siddhi Vinayaka. Although, the temple is called as Shiva-Vishnu temple, in the sanctum Ganesh is found. The wall around the sanctum has the niche idols of Dakshinamurti, Vishnu and Brahma.

The section of the temple which can be reached through the main gate has two sub-section. One section has the idols and shrines related to Vishnu, whereas the other sub-section is dedicated to Shiva.

Lord Shiva is called as Kedareeswarar in this temple. He is found in his usual Shiv Linga form in a shrine. The sub-shrines of Parvati, Nataraja-Shivakami, Ganesh-Siddhi-Buddhi and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are also located nearby.

Vishnu is found as Srinivasa Perumal in a separate shrine. The sub-shrines of Maha Lakshmi, Anjaneya, Garud, Ram with Sita, Lakshman and Hanuman are all located nearby.

In the prakara, the niche idols of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, Krishna, another Ganesh and Lingodbhava are found. The idols of Surya, Chandra, Bhairav, big Shiv Linga, Navagraha and Chandikeshwara are also located in this temple.

Happy travelling.



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September 24, 2009

Sringeri Sharda Peetham Temple, T.Nagar, Chennai

There are five towns in India where Shankar Mutts (originally established by Adi Shankaracharya around 2500 years back) are located. Out of these five Shankar mutts, Sringeri and Kanchipuram Shankara mutts are very famous.

Sringeri mutt has its branches in various cities and towns all over India. Sringeri Sharda Peetham Temple, located at Venkat Narayana Road, T.Nagar, Chennai, is maintained by Sringeri mutt. This temple has a huge hall. The main deity of the temple is Sharda Devi. Adjacent to Sharda Devi, there are idols of Lord Shiva and Adi Shankaracharya. A good place at the heart of the city to get calm and serene feeling.

This temple is at at a distance of around 8.5 kms from Chennai Central Railway Station. It is located very near to Natesan Park and Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji Temple at Venkat Narayana Road, T.Nagar.

Happy travelling.


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Natesan Park, T.Nagar, Chennai


The Indian cities such as Bangalore and Delhi have a lot of parks and gardens. However, Chennai doesn't have so many parks. Hence, the very few parks that are available in Chennai have become very popular and landmarks of the city.

Doctor Natesan Park is located in Venkat Narayana Road in T.Nagar area in Chennai. It is located diagnolly oppostie to the famous Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji Temple.

Natesan park is huge and it attracts hundreds of visitors daily. There are different varieties of trees and ornamental plants along with fountains available in this park. There is a children's section too. It is really a great place for a morning walk or a quiet evening stroll to relax from the day’s stress.

Happy travelling.



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September 23, 2009

Tirupati Balaji in Chennai

If you are living in Chennai, if you wish to visit Tirupati (the second richest shrine in the world; the most richest is Vatican Church), and if you couldn't go there, you can at least visit Balaji Temple a.k.a. Tirupati Devasthanam temple a.k.a Venkatachalapati temple in Chennai.

Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji temple is located in Venkat Narayana Road in T.Nagar and it is one of the famous land marks in Chennai. The distance from Chennai Central Railway Station is around 8.5 kms.

Tirupati Devasthanam Balaji (Venkatachalapati) temple is maintained by Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple Trust of Tirupati. The temple has Lord Venkatachalapati (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu) and Alarmelu Manga (aka Alamelu Manga) as the main deities. There is a shrine for Lord Ranganath (Lord Vishnu in the reclining posture) along with Sree Devi, Bhuma Devi, and Brahma.

If you want to book etickets for Tirupati darshan, you can book the same from this temple. If you are lucky, you will get "Tirupati laddu" prasad from this temple.

When you happen to visit T.Nagar area of Chennai, do not miss to get the blessing of Lord Balaji.

Happy travelling.


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September 22, 2009

Anna Nagar Ayyappa Temple, Chennai


The Ayyappa temple, located in the 2nd Avenue, Anna Nagar, Chennai is the most popular Ayyappa temple in Chennai. The temple is being visited by a large number of devotees.

The main deity of the temple is Lord Ayyappa (incarnation of Lord Shasta, son of Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu). There are also shrines for other Gods and Goddesses such as Ganesha, Subramanya, Durga, Hanuman, Navagrahas, and Nagaraja.

This 25 year old temple, which was built in Kerala architecture style can be easily reached either by public transport or by auto rickshaw/taxi, as the temple is located in a prime location of Chennai. The distance is around 15 kms from Chennai Railway Station.

Happy travelling.


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September 21, 2009

Vadapalani Murugan Temple, Chennai

Murugan temple in Vadapalani area in Chennai is one of the most popular temples of Chennai. Lord Murugan (Skanda or Kartikeya) is the son of Lord Shiva. There are six most important temples  for Lord Murugan, which are called as Arupadai Veedu. One of those temples is situated in a small town named Palani, and Murugan is called as Palani Andavan in that temple. As Chennai is located in the north of Palani town, this temple for Palani Andavan is called as 'Vada Palani Andvan temple'. The word 'Vada' means north in Tamil language.

Vadapalani Murugan temple is located at the heart of the city and it is one of the famous landmarks of the entire city.

There was a Murugan devotee named Annaswami Tambiran who kept a painting of Lord Murugan in a small hut. During his meditation and worship, it is believed that he used to experience some divine power entering his body and inspiring him to utter some mysterious things (called as ''arulvakku'' in Tamil). His utterance relieved people in several ways, such as curing diseases, getting jobs, etc. After his demise, his follower named Ramaswamy used to give "arulvakku". It was during his time (in the early 20th century CE), this temple was built slowly with the funds collected from the public. You can find a small meditation hall in this temple even today where you can find the same old picture of Murugan.


The temple is very big and has entrances at all the four directions. The sanctum is facing the east direction. However, the entrance at the south direction is prominent and is used by the people as the main entrance. The five tiered Gopuram at this entrance is bigger than the other three towers of the temple.

The sanctum enshrines the beautiful idol of Murugan. He is in the standing posture and is of 4 feet tall. There are two prakaras around the sanctum. The wall around the sanctum has the niche images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga, similar to the typical shrines of Lord Shiva. It is rare to find such niche idols for a Murugan shrine.

The flag staff and bali peetha are found facing towards the sanctum.

In the inner prakara, there are many small sized idols such as Nalvar, Surya, Chandra, Chandikeshwara, Shaneeswara, Vaiyapuri Pandya, Vishwanatha Linga and Vishalakshi, Maha Lakshmi, Bhairav, Veerabhadra, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena,  Naga Subramanya and Nataraj.

There are many sub-shrines situated in this temple which include Vara Siddhi Vinayaka, Chokkanathar Linga, Meenakshi, Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena, Angarak (Chevvai), Arunagirinathar, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena and Hanuman,

A very big temple tank is situated outside the temple complex.

There is a big hall in this temple where generally marriages and important functions are arranged. Hundreds of marriages happen in this temple every year. Also, devotees sacrifice their hair by shaving their heads (mundan/mottai) in this temple.

Happy travelling.



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September 20, 2009

A unknown 12th century temple in Chennai - Koyambedu Vaikunthavasa Perumal Temple


In my last post, I wrote about Kurungaleeswarar temple in Koyambedu area in Chennai. Adjacent to that Shiva temple, there is a temple for Vishnu, which is Vaikunthavasa Perumal Temple. Both Kurungaleeswarar temple and Vaikunthavasa Perumal temple are together called as "Twin Temples of Koyambedu". I would request you to visit my earlier post to know how to reach the place, why Koyambedu got this name, and other related information.

Similar to Kurungaleeswarar temple, Vaikunthavasa Perumal temple is also believed to have been built by Kulotunga Chola III during the 12th century CE. As per the legend, the deity was worshiped by the sage Valmiki along with Lord Rama's sons Luv and Kush.

This temple doesn't have a Raja gopuram (temple tower), and it is comparatively small. The main deity of the temple, Vaikuntha Perumal (Vishnu) along with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhooma Devi is seen in the standing posture. There is a separate shrine for Goddess Kanakavalli. There are also separate shrines for Andal and Hanuman. The temple tank is common for both Kurungaleeswarar temple and Vaikunthavasa Perumal temple. The highlight of the temple is the idol of Sita Devi which is present in the form of a pregnant lady in the prakara of the temple. Also, there is a shrine in which Lord Rama and Sita have dressed up like ordinary men, unlike other temples where they dress up like king and queen.

The Utsava idol is called as Azhagiasingar and there is an unconfirmed report that the Thelliyasingar deity in Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane, was kept here during the foreign invasion or due to some riots in the area. Another highlight of the temple is the ancient manuscript of the Ramayana in Telugu letters and its title is Vaidya Ramayanam and it is well preserved.

Go and visit this historically and religiously important temple. It's our duty to visit such ancient temples and to support them.

Happy travelling.



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September 18, 2009

A 12th century temple near the public market - Kurungaleeswarar temple, Koyambedu, Chennai

Koyambedu - the congested area of Chennai is famous for its bus terminus. You can get buses to almost all the cities/towns in South India which can be travelled by bus, from this bus stand. Another reason why Koyambedu is popular is due to the wholesale market where one can buy fruits, vegetables, and flowers at cheaper rates. Only few people know that Koyambedu is famous not only for market and bus terminus, but it has two ancient temples belonging to  the 12th century CE.

Kurungaleeswarar Temple is one of the twin temples of Koyambedu. The main deity of the temple is Kurungaleeswarar (Lord Shiva). As per the legend, Lord Rama's sons Kush and Luv worshipped Kurungaleeswarar. This place was named as Kusha Luva Puri which later got corrupted to Koyambedu. It is also believed that the sage Valmiki lived here and he brought up Luv and Kush along with their mother Sita when she was exciled to the forest by Rama.

Dakshinamurti, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta idols. Chandikeshwarar is found in his usual location near Durga. The shrines of Ganesh, Navagraha, Shasta, Subramanya with his consorts and Nalvar are also found in this temple.

The Goddess Dharmasamvardhini is found in a separate shrine. Her left foot is slightly projected forward. It is believed that she put her left foot forward before leaving her abode to kill a Rakshasa.


The temple is believed to have been built by Kulothunga Cholan III during 12th century CE.The pillars of Kurungaleeswarar temple are artistic and have beautiful sculptures. Sharbeshwara sculpture in a pillar has become very popular in the recent years and it attracts hundreds of people to this temple.

The temple is located very near to the Koyambedu bus stand and you can reach this place very well either in auto/taxi or by public transport.

Happy travelling.

September 15, 2009

A good place to meditate - Ramakrishna Mutt, Chennai

Ramakrishna Mutt located at RK Mutt Road in Mylapore area Chennai is definitely one of the best places where you can meditate in a pin-drop silent environment in and around Chennai. Ramakrishna mutt had a small meditation hall for many years. Around 15 years back (this article was written is 2009 CE), the huge structure named "Universal Temple" was built within the premises of mutt.

At the centre of the shrine, the big murti of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa is enshrined. Sri Ramakrishna was the guru of Swami Vivekanand (the great Hindu reformer) and this temple was dedicated to him. The temple also houses the shrines of Sri Sharda Devi (wife of guru Ramakrishna) and Swami Vivekanand. The monument is extremely beautiful and it is built in the combination of South Indian and Bengal architectural style.

This temple is very near to Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore and as this being a landmark of Chennai you can easily reach this place.

There is a library and book stall found in the premises. The beautiful garden of the temple is good for an evening walk or a early morning walk.

Temple timing: 4.30am-11.45.am; 3.00pm to 9.00 pm

Happy travelling.



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September 12, 2009

A memorial to the Father of the Nation - Gandhi Mandapam, Chennai

I don't think there is anyone in this world who wouldn't have heard about Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi, the greatest Indian leader, was the pioneer of non-violence movement (ahimsa), which led to Indian independence from British government. A lot of leaders have been inspired and have followed his non-violence movement not only in India, even in foreign countries.

Next to Snake Park and Children's park at Sardar Patel Road in Guindy area in Chennai, there is a memorial to Mahatma Gandhi called as 'Gandhi Mandapam'. The memorial structure resembles South Indian temple architecture. The memorial houses few statues of Mahtma Gandhi and a small auditorium.

Go, visit this place and pay tribute to the great leader.

Happy travelling.



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September 9, 2009

Snake Park, Chennai

The snake park is situated adjacent to Guindy National park in Chennai, about which we have seen in the previous post. The snake park was established in 1972 CE. It houses various varieties of snakes including cobra, python and vipers. It also houses different varieties of crocodiles and other reptiles.

The snake park along with the adjacent children park is one of the hottest destinations in Chennai. It remains as one of the best choices for a week end for the past 30+ years for Chennai people.

Visit my previous blog post on Guindy National park to know how to reach the place.

Happy travelling.


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September 6, 2009

A forest within the city - Guindy National Park, Chennai

Guindy National Park at Guindy in Chennai is one of the few national parks situated within the city limit in India. The park is located very near to Raj Bhavan, the residence of Governor of Tamil Nadu state, which is a popular landmark of Chennai city. You can reach Guindy National Park easily either by your own vehicle or by bus/train. The park is located at around 12 kms from Chennai Central Railway Station.

The park houses different varieties of plants and trees. The endangered black buck is one of the highlights of the park. The park is home to various animal species which include jackals, python, hyena, different varieties of deer, a wide variety of snakes and tortoises, birds, and monkeys.

Guindy National Park is also called as Children’s park as it was started with the objective of providing children a natural environment. I believe the park has met the objective as it keeps educating them about animals and creating awareness on conservation for many years.

Guindy National Park has some adjacent attractions such Snake Park and Gandhi Mandapam. Go to this place along with your children. You will enjoy your weekend for sure.

Happy travelling.


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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.