January 10, 2011

Kumara Kottam Murugan Temple - Chennai

Black Town or George Town of Chennai city was formed by the British. Some of the prominent temples of this locality which were built during the Colonial era are elaborately captured in the Madras related history books and other sources. However, not all the old temples are captured by those books. One such temple is Shiva Subramanya Temple. Let me discuss about this temple in this article.

Shiva Subramanya Temple is located in NSC Bose Road in Sowcarpet area. (Exact location is the junction of NSC Bose Road and Kalathi Pillayar Street). It is also called as Kumara Kottam. (There is a famous Kumara Kottam temple in Kanchipuram). People even refer this temple as Vani Subramanya temple, although I don't know the reason for the same. Apart from Kanda Kottam temple, this temple is another popular Subramanya temple in this locality.

The history of the temple is not known. The current structure is completely renovated. I personally believe that this temple could have been built in the 18th or 19th century CE. Nevertheless, all South Indian temples have associated legend. Here, the devotees believe that the temple was visited by the sage Agastya.

The temple has two entrances, one at the east direction and another at the south direction. The south entrance is considered as the main entrance. Both the entrances have towers with interesting stucco images.

The sanctum is east facing. It enshrines Shiva Subramanya along with his two consorts Valli and Deivayanai. Instead of his regular vaahan of peacock, elephant is found as Subramanya's vaahan. Nevertheless, peacock is also found outside the enclosure near the flag staff.

The enclosure which houses the sanctum also has few other important shrines. Ganesh, Aruchaleswara Linga, Valli and Deivayanai (Devasena) are found in separate east facing shrines. All these shrines are located on either sides of the sanctum. Abithakujambal is found in the south facing shrine.

Valli, who is found in the separate shrine, has four arms, whereas Devasena, the daughter of Devraj Indra, has only two arms. Ideally, it should the other way round. Valli, the human, is seen with four arms, whereas Devasena, the daughter of Indra, is seen with two arms. I could not find the reason for this kind of depiction though.

In the enclosure that has all the main shrines, the idols of Nalvar, Nava veeras and Agastya are also found. At the entrance, the idols of Dhanvantri and Pamban Swamigal are situated. The other end of the entrance to the enclosure has Bhairav and Dwara Ganesh.

The inner entrance of the south tower has the idols of Arunagirinathar and Veerabhadra.

The prakara has a lot of sub-shrines and niche images. The sub-shrines that are found in the temple include:

  • Valampuri Vinayaka
  • Ganesha
  • Chandikeshwara
  • Navagraha
  • Palani Andavan with Idumban and Kadamban at the entrance
  • Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena (utsav)
  • Nataraja-Shivakami

The niche images that are found in the temple include:

  • Bala Vinayaka
  • Naga Skanda
  • Bala Murugan
  • Narayani
  • Vishnu
  • Brahma
  • Durga
  • Dakshinamurti

The pillars all over the temple have very interesting and unique images such as Matcha Samhara Murti, Ganesha holding conch and discus, Heramba Ganapati, Sadashiva Murti along with Brahma and Vishnu, Vihnu emerging out of Shiva Linga and Sharbeshwara.

Happy travelling.

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