January 7, 2011

Thirumazhisai Nagar Jagannath Temple

Tirumazhisai Alwar is one of the twelve alwars - the twelve great devotees of Lord Vishnu from South India. The town where Tirumazhisai Alwar was born is Thirumazhisai Nagar, which is located near Chennai city. There is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu in this town. The name of the deity in this temple is Jagannath.

Lord Jagannath temple in Thirumazhisai Nagar is one of the three important Jagannath temples in the world. Jagnnath is a name given to Lord Krishna. Puri is considered as Uttara Jagannath Kshetra (Northern Jagannath), Tiruppullani is considered as the Dakshina Jagannath Kshetra (Southern Jagannath) and Thirumazhisai Nagar is considered as the Madhya Jagannath Kshetra (the middle Jagannath site).

Even though the exact age of Jagannath temple is unknown, from the records and inscriptions, it is evident that this temple was maintained by Kulothunga Chola III of 12th century CE. Tirumazhisai Alwar, the great devotee of Lord Vishnu, who was associated closely with this temple, belonged to 8th century CE. Hence, we can assume that this temple should be older than Kulotunga's period.

The temple has a majestic tower (Rajagopuram) with five tiers and the temple tank (Bruhu Teerth) and a mandap are found outside the tower.

The east facing sanctum enshrines Lord Krishna, who is called as Jagannath in this temple. He is found along with his consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama on his either sides. All the three idols are big, wide, and gigantic, and they are found in the sitting posture. The idols of the saints Markandeya and Bhrighu are also seen in the sanctum.

There is a separate shrine for Tirumazhisai Alwar - a big idol in the sitting posture with his third eye on the thumb nail in his right leg.

The goddess of the temple Tirumangai Valli Thayar has a separate shrine in the corridor. There are separate shrines for Andal and Narasimha with Lakshmi on his lap in the prakara. Near the sanctum, next to the shrine of Tirumazhisai Alwar, there is a shrine for Kannan (Krishna). The idol is too beautiful.

Garud is found in front of the sanctum as usual.

There are shrines for other alwars too in this temple. The walls of the temple have the niche images of Ganesh, Vishnu and Vaishnavi.

Tirumazhisai Alwar's story is an interesting one. Even though I wouldn't give his story in detail in this post, I would like to brief about the same. Tirumazhisai Alwar was born to Bhargava Rishi and he was born as a lifeless fetus without limbs. He was thrown into a forest. Lord Vishnu appeared before him and gave life and limbs. Then, he was found out and picked up by a tribe named Tiruvalan. Tirumazhisai learnt about Buddhism and Jainism in the beginning. Later, he became a great devotee of Lord Shiva. It was Peyalwar who converted him to Vaishnavism. Lord Shiva once appeared before him and asked him to ask for boon. When Tirumazhisai Alwar asked for Moksha, Shiva answered that it could be granted only by Lord Vishnu. After few arguments, Tirumazhisai Alwar made fun of Shiva. Shiva got angry and showed his third eye on his forehead. Immediately, Tirumazhisai Alwar also showed his third eye on the thumb nail of his right leg. Shiva appreciated his Bhakti towards Lord Vishnu and disappeared.
Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Jagannath Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Thirumazhisai Nagar, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: 12th century ancient temple built by Chola king
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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