February 14, 2011

Velachery Dhandeeswarar Temple - A 11th Century Chola Temple - Chennai, South India

Velachery was a remote neighborhood of Chennai city in South Indian 10-15 years back. Today, it has become a part of Chennai city and has already become one of the most happening areas of Chennai, thanks to IT industry boom. Looking at the proximity of Velachery to IT companies and its hi-style apartments and shops, anybody would hardly imagine that there is a 11th century temple located in this area. Dhandeeswarar temple located in Velachery, which was built by Chola kings, belongs to 11th century AD.

During Treta yug (as per Hinduism, there are four yugs (periods)), an Asura (demon) named Somugasura stole all the four vedas and kept them under his custody. Lord Vishnu took the incarnation of a fish (Matsya Avatar), killed the asura, and released the vedas. As all the four vedas were under the custody of asura, they wanted to clean themselves. All of them came to this site and worshiped Lord Shiva. As Shiva was worshiped by Vedas,this site got the name - Vedasreni. Later, the name got diluted to Velachery. There is another version for the site to get this name. It is said that as there were many yagnas happening in this site, the site was called as 'Velvichery' (Velvi = yagna), and later it became 'Velachery'.

As per another legend, Yama threw his rope on Markandeya and tried to take off his life. However, Markandeya, the great devotee of Lord Shiva, hugged the Shiv Linga tightly. Shiva appeared and saved Markandeya from Yama. He got angry with Yama and took off his weapon named Dhanda. As per the advice from sage Narad, Yama came to Velachery, made a pond (called as Yama Teerth today), and worshiped Shiva to get his weapon back. Hence, Lord Shiva in Velachery got the name of Dhandeeswarar. You can find the big tank outside the temple today, which is not maintained properly.

Dhandeeswarar temple of Velachery belongs to Chola architecture. The temple tower itself looks unique and architecturally beautiful. Once you enter into the temple, you would find Veda Vinayak in a small shrine towards your left. Before entering into the main shrine, you can find the shrines of Vinayak and Murugan on either sides. Once you enter into the main shrine, Dhandeeswarar is found in the form of Shiv Linga in the sanctum sanctorum. The entrance of the sanctum has the idols of Ganesha and Murugan. The flag post and Nandi idol are found in the opposite direction to the sanctum. There again, you can find small idols of Ganesha and Murugan. The goddess Karunambigai is found in a separate sanctum within the main shrine. There also an idol of Ganesha is found.

The wall surrounding the sanctum of Dhandeeswarar has unique and beautiful idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma, Durga, and Chandikeswarar. The small shrines of Somaskandar, Chandrasekhar, Nataraj-Sivakami, Murugan-Valli-Devasena as utsav (metal) idols, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Vishnu, Chandikeswarar-Gnana Sambandhar, and Bhairav.

The outer corridor of the temple has the shrines of Navagraha, Viswanathar-Visalakshi, Ganesha-Murugan, Meenakshi-Chokkanathar, and Vaideeswarar.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Dhandeeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Velachery, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: 11th century Chola architecture
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 from the other parts of the city
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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