January 7, 2011

Thirumazhisai Nagar Othandeswarar Temple - Chennai, India

Sri Othandeswarar Temple at Thirumazhisai Nagar near Chennai city in South is one of the important Shiva temples of South India.

Chennai, the city which is considered as the gateway to South India, has a lot of tourist sites and temples in and around. Thirumazhisai Nagar is a small town located on the route of Chennai to Tirupati. It is located at a distance of around 25 kms from Chennai city. Thirumazhisai Nagar got its name from Tirumazhisai Alwar, one of the twelve alwars (important devotees) of Lord Vishnu, who was born here. Othandeswarar temple located on the Chennai - Tirupati high way at Thirumazhisai Nagar is one of the two important temples of Thirumazhisai Nagar. The other important temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu named as Jagannath.

Sri Othandeswarar temple of Thirumazhisai Nagar is around 1000 years old temple built in the Gajaprshtha (back side of the sleeping elephant) architectural style by Chola kings. It is one of the important temples dedicated to Lord Shiva in South India. Lord Shiva is named as Othandeswarar in this temple.


As per the legend, when almost all the Gods and Goddesses gathered at Himalayas in North India to watch the wedding of Lord Shiva and Parvati, the earth lost balance and tilted. To set the balance of the earth right, Lord Shiva ordered the sage Agastya to travel towards the south direction. Later, the sage Agastya witnessed the divine marriage in a place named Tiruverkadu. (You can find similar legends in various temples of South India.) However, Agastya's disciples including Pulastya didn't get a chance to see the marriage of Lord Shiva. As per their request, Agastya along with them, selected a site near to Tiruverkadu. The site was a forest full of Azhinjal trees. He formed a Shiv Linga idol and worshipped, and then all of them got the sight of the divine marriage in the site. That site is believed to be today's Thirumazhisai Nagar.

In due course, the idol of Shiv Linga got submerged, and the site became forest. When Karikal Chola was ruling this region, he had to fight against a group called Kurumbar. When he was passing through this forest in his elephant, his elephant couldn't move as a creeper encircled its leg. Karikal Chola got down and tried to cut down the creeper using his sword. Immediately, the blood was oozed out of the place and he found the Shiv Linga there. He felt guilty and cut his own arm using his sword. Immediately Lord Shiva appeared in front of him and he got his arm back. There are some people who claim that it was Kulothunga Chola II, and not Karikal Chola. As the Lord gave back hand to the king, the Lord (Othandeswarar) is also called as 'Kai Thanda Piran' (meaning the Lord who gave hand in Tamil language).

Temple Structure:

Sri Othandewarar temple is located on the high road connecting Chennai and Tirupati. You can find the temple tower (raja gopuram) from the outside. Once you enter into the temple, you would find the small shrine of Devaraja Ganapati (Ganesha). You need to move towards your right to find the east facing main shrine. In front of the main shrine, the temple tank is found. You can also find the idol of Nandi and Dhwajasthambha in front of the main shrine. The main shrine has the sanctum of Othandeswarar in Linga form. Behind the Shiv Linga idol, you can find the idols of Lord Shiva and Parvati depicting the marriage scene. There is a separate sanctum for the goddess Kulirnda Nayaki facing south. Othandeswarar is also called as Agastheeswarar. The goddess also has another name - Seethalambigai.

The main shrine has the smaller prakara (corridor) which houses the shrines of utsav (processing/metal) idols of Nataraj with Sivakami, Somaskandar, and Rishaba Vahanar. The wall surrounding the sanctum of Othandeswarar has the idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga, and Chandikeswarar. The prakara also has the idols of Surya, Chandra, Bhairav, Adikara Nandi, Nalwar, and Murugan along with his wives Valli and Devasena.

The big corridor (prakara) has a separate shrine for another Shiv Linga named Gangadareswarar along with the Goddess Parvathavardhini. It is believed that Gangadareswarar was installed by the saint Pulastya. The prakara also houses the shrines of Navagraha, Shaneeswarar, and Siva Subramanya along with Valli and Devasena.

The temple tank is named as Agastyar Teerth or Kalyana Teerth. The sthala vrukshams of the temple are Azhinjil, Vilvam, and Parijatham.

Even though the outer temple tower is colorful and looks new, if you want to feel the ancient style of the temple, look at the interior temple towers. They look old and really beautiful.

When you visit Chennai, ensure that you visit this 1000 year old Chola architecture.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Othandeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Thirumazhisai Nagar, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: 1000 years old 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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