January 3, 2011

The history of Pattinam temples - Chennai

Chenna Malleeswarar and Chenna Kesava temples are twin temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, and most probably the Chennai city got its name from these temples. This article is about the original history of these temples. I will write about the structure of these temples in separate articles later.

Thimmannah, the dubash (agent) of British East India Company, who can be considered as one of the founders of the Chennai (aka Madras) city (along with Francis Day and Andrew Cogan), built Chenna Kesava temple and donated the same to Narayanaiyar. This is as per a sales deed dated April 24, 1648 AD. This temple was called as Great Pakoda in Black Town. This temple was present in the land where the Madras High Court is located today. In between, the British lost the city to French and regained it. In 1757, the British wanted to expand its army and demolished the temple.

The demolition of the temple caused unrest among the residents, and the British sought help from the prominent people who served in the fort. The Company donated 1173 pagodas and the land spanning 24000 square feet to construct a new temple. That was not enough; Manali Muttukrishna Mudaliar, the last Chief Merchant of the East India Company contributed 5000 pagodas and collected more money from the public. Eventually, a total of 15000 pagodas was collected the work began in 1762. This time, along with Chenna Kesava, a temple for Lord Shiva was also built. Hence, this became twin temples, one for the replacement of old temple called as Chenna Kesava, and another was the new temple named Chenna Malleeswarar temple. For long, it was the practice in Madras High Court for witnesses to be sworn to the truth on the tulasi teerth of the Chenna Kesava temple or the vibhuti prasad of the Chenna Malleeswarar temple. There is a strong theory that the city Chennai was named after these twin temples. Even today, these temples, located in Devaraja Mudali Stree of George Town area, are referred as Pattinam temples.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Pattinam temples (Chenna Malleswarar temple and Chenna Kesava temple - the twin temples of Chennai)
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Sowcarpet, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: Twin temples of Chennai; The temple constructed with the fund from the British
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, train, and flight
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

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1 comment:

  1. Great informative article. I think this temple resembles the one that used to be in Mannadi, but was demolished by the british and built at a later location, can't recollect the name of the temple though.

    Please note that Thirthabaleeswar temple (Present in Llyods road, Triplicane) was also one of the oldest, but lesser known temples/