January 9, 2011

Villivakkam Agasteeswarar Temple - Chennai, India

Site Name: Agasteeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Villivakkam,Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: Chola period ancient temple; Shiva worshipped by the saint Agastya
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

Villivakkam is a well known locality of Chennai city. It is located in the central part of the city. In this area, there are two ancient temples. One temple is dedicated to Vishnu and the other one is dedicated to Shiva. The temple of Shiva is called as Agasteeswarar temple. It is the oldest temple of Villivakkam area and is one of the oldest temples in the entire city. It is located at a distance of around 400 meters from the Villivakkam bus stand. Let us explore about this temple in this article.


  • God Agasteeswarar
  • Goddess Swarnambikai
  • Teerth (Holy Water) - Angaraka Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy Tree) - Bilva
  • It is a Chola period temple
  • Angarak has special status in this temple and is called as Angarak Parihara Sthala


There are many Shiva temples called as Agasteeswarar in and around Chennai. Most of those temple have legends related to Shiva's divine marriage and the sage's travel towards the southern direction. However, this temple of Agasteeswarar has a different legend.

There were two Asura brothers namely Villavan and Vatapi who were troubling the sages. Agastya killed both of them. As one of those Asuras namely Villavan was killed in this site, this locality obtained the name 'Villavanpakkam', which later became 'Villivakkam'.

The sage was affected by Brahmahatya after killing the Asura. He installed Shiv Linga in this site and performed poojas to him to get rid of his sin. As the sage Agastya worshiped Shiva in this temple, Shiva is called as Agasteeswara.

Lord Shiva ordered Veerabhadra to help Agastya by ensuring no one disturbed his pooja. Bhadra also relieved the sage from Brahmahatya. It should be noted that there is a big shrine for Bhadra outside the temple complex.

Later, Lord Shiva appeared to the sage. Uma, who was found along with Shiva, was wearing golden ornaments. Hence, she is called as Swarnambikai (the word 'swarna' means gold).


The temple belongs to Chola period. It is believed to have been built by Kulotunga Chola in the 12th century CE. 

Temple Layout, Architecture and Sculptures:


The gigantic temple spreads across two acres of area. The temple tank is equally big. It is called as Angarak teerth and is located outside the temple complex. Unfortunately, there is no water in this tank. Else, it would have been an awesome sight.

The temple is big but there is no tower. The sanctum faces the east direction as usual, but the temple entrance faces the southern direction.


In the sanctum, the big sized Shiv Linga called as Agasteeswarar is found. The entrance has two big and attractive Dwarapala idols. In addition, the entrance has the idols of Ganesha and Kartikeya in either sides. Kartikeya is found in Brahma Shasta form here, holding Japamala.

A small Nandi idol is found in the Maha mandap facing towards the sanctum. Outside, the tall flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi mandap are found that face towards the west direction.


The Vimana is typical Chola style Gajaprshtha. Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the niche idols around the sanctum walls. The images are old and look beautiful. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.


The Goddess Swarnambikai is found in a separate south facing shrine located in the inner prakara of the main shrine.

There are two prakaras around the sanctum.

Inner Prakara

The inner prakara has the following sub-shrines:

  • Ganapati
  • Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
  • Saraswati and Lakshmi (they were originally found at the entrance of Swarnambikai shrine; during renovation, the idols are moved here)
  • Vishwanatha Linga, Vishalakshi and Agastya
  • Utsav deities of Uma & Maheshwara, Somaskanda, Agastya, Ganesha, etc.
  • Nataraj-Shivakami

Apart from the sub-shrines, there are few idols too found in the inner prakara, which are not housed in separate sub-shrines. They include:

  • Surya
  • Chandra
  • Bhairav
  • Adhikara Nandi
  • Nalvar

Outer Prakara

The outer prakara is a vast open space area with a lot of trees and plants. 

Eleven small Shiv Linga idols, the sthala vruksha Vilva, a small idol of Goddess called Vilveswari and Navagraha are located in the outer prakara. Navagraha was originally placed in the opposite direction Swarnambikai shrine. Swarnambikai facing Guru was considered as auspicious; somehow during the renovation work, the temple authorities shifted Navagrahas to the outer prakara.

Veerabhadra and Kali

There is a separate shrine for Veerabhadra located outside the main temple complex. Veerabhadra is found along with the smaller idol of goat faced Daksha. A small sub shrine of Kali is also located within Bhadra's temple.


There are few holy trees found together. Around those trees, there is a snake hole and a lot of idols of Nagas found. I am not sure if there is any other temple in Chennai, where there are so many Naga idols found.

Happy travelling.

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  1. It is great to see this Article, that i have born in this punya chethram and started my childhood and till now i was living in this Location.
    It is proud

  2. Great writings about our land and temples.