February 14, 2011

Padi Tiruvalleeswarar Temple - Chennai, India

Site Name: Tiruvalleeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Padi, Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Guru Parihara Sthalam in Chennai; One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalam temples
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: Chennai city is reachable by road, train, and flight; Padi can be reached by road from the other parts of Chennai
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

Padi is an area in the central part of Chennai city in Tamil Nadu state of India. This place has a very prominent temple called Tiruvalleeswarar TempleIt is considered as the 21st among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Tondai region. Let me explore about this temple in this article. 


  • Sambandhar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • God Valleeswarar or Validayanathar
  • Goddess Jagadambal or Thayammai
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Bharadwaja Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Padiri (Bignoniaceae)
  • 21st Devara Paadal Petra Sthalam located in the Tondai region
  • Guru Sthalam - a very special temple for Guru worship in Chennai 
  • One of the Navagraha Sthalams in and around Chennai region
  • Bharadwaja, Ram, Hanuman, Indra, Surya, Chandra and Valiyan (black drongo) are believed to have worshiped Lord Shiva of this temple.
  • Arunagirinathar has sung hymns on Subramanya of this temple in his Tiruppugazh.


Black drongo

The sage Bharadwaj got a curse and became a black drongo. He worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple and got back his original appearance. The word 'valiyan' in Tamil language indicates the bird. As Valiyan worshiped in this site, the site is also called as Tiru Validayam.


Brahma had two daughters named Kamalai and Vimalai. They got married to Lord Ganesha in this site.


The temple was rebuilt by Kulotunga Chola III in the 12th century CE and was renovated later by Krishna Deva Raya. 

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a simple three tiered Raja gopura. It is said that the temple originally had many prakaras and even the Padavettu Amman temple which is around 1 km from this temple was within the temple complex. However, today only two inner prakaras remains with the temple and all other parts of the temple have become buildings and roads. Even the temple tank is situated outside the current complex of the temple.

As soon as you enter into the temple, you can find the images of one pair of small fish and tortoise and another pair of big fish and tortoise on the floor. It appears to be unusual. 

Even what remains with the temple today is huge area. A very tall flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi mandap are situated in the open space and they all face towards the sanctum sanctorum.

The east facing sanctum has a big Shiv Linga idol called as Tiruvalleeswarar or Validayanathar. The vimana is Gajaprshtha vimana, which resembles the back portion of the sleeping elephant. Also, the vimana is unusually tall somewhat similar to a small gopura.

The main shrine has Garbha griha, Ardha mandap and Maha mandap. At the entrance of Garbha griha, the sculptures of small Dwarapalas are found. The relief images of Ganesha and Subramanya are found at the entrance of the long Ardha mandap. A small Nandi is also situated here. The ceiling of Maha mandap has many images of fish in different sizes. The pillars of Maha mandap and the inner prakara is full of beautiful sculptures.

Adjacent to the sanctum of Tiruvalleeswarar, the Goddess Jagadambal is found in a separate south facing shrine. There is a separate entrance for Jagadambal and a separate bali peetha and lion vahan are there for her.

In the inner prakara, the sculptures of Surya, Nalvar, Arunagirinathar, Bala Subramanya, six Shiv Lingas under the serpent, a Shiv Linga, Veerabhadra in the seated posture,  Eri Pattar, Neelakandar, Ninraseer Nedumaran, Mangaiyarkkarasi and another 3-4 Shiva devotees.

A big Bhairav idol is also found in the inner prakara. In the usual place where Chandra is found, the idol of Valampuri Vinayaka is found. There is a separate sub-shrine for Guru Brahaspati; he is found with four arms. Next to his shrine, the sub-shrine of Navagrahas is situated. 

The wall around the sanctum has the beautiful and big niche idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual position.

There is a sub-shrine of Somaskanda Murti, where apart from the attractive Somaskanda the metal utsav idols of Vishnu with two consorts, Ganesha, Subramanya with his two consorts and other idols are also situated. 

Near the shrine of Jagadambal, the sub-shrine of Nataraja and Shivakami is located.

The other sub-shrines that are found in the inner prakara include:

  • Ganesha
  • Subramanya with Valli and Devasena
  • Sundareswara Linga and Meenakshi (Unsually, Meenakshi is found with four arms)
  • Linga and Hanuman worshiping him
  • Vadukkuvada Shiv Linga

Few more unusual things about this temple - in the south west corner, where Ganesha sub-shrine is supposed to be located,  the sub-shrine of Somaskanda is located instead. Subramanya shrine is also not located in its usual location; instead it is found right behind the main shrine.

Happy travelling.

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