April 3, 2011

Arunachaleshwarar - Varadarajar Temple - Twin temple of Chennai

Chennai, one of the four most important cities of India, is full of temples. There is an old twin temple located in Anna Pillai Street in Sowcarpet area of Chennai. The temple is dedicated to both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. Shiva is named as Arunachaleshwarar and Vishnu is named as Varadarajar in this temple.

The sanctum enshrines Arunachaleshwarar in the form of big Shiv Linga. Adjacent to the sanctum, there is a separate shrine for the Goddess Abhitakujalambal. The idol of Abhitakujalambal is gigantic and I am not sure if any other temple in and around Chennai city has such a big idol for Goddess.

Some of the other small shrines and idols that are found in the temple include Navagraha, Surya, Bhairav, Chandikeshwar, Nalvar, Shiv Ling and Ambal, Natraj and Sivakami, Somaskanda, Ganesha and Murugan with Valli-Devasena.

The outer corridor (prakara) of the temple has a separate shrine for Varadarajar. The shrines of Hanuman and big idol of Vijaya Vinayak are also there in the big corridor. There is a separate shrine for Lord Shanmukha (the six headed Skanda) along with his consorts Valli and Devasena. The idol where the Goddess is found hugging the Shiv Linga is an interesting one.

Like the other typical South India Shiva temples, the wall surrounding the sanctum has the niche images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga.

This twin temple also has a small temple like separate section dedicated to Annamalai. Annamalai is found in the form of a small Shiv Linga. The wall surrounding the shrine has the niche images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga. Chandikeshwara is also found. The entrance has the idols of Ganesha and Murugan. The idols of Surya and Bhairav are also found in the section dedicated to Annamalai. The main Goddess Unnamalai is present in a separate small shrine. Additionally, there are two shrines with big idols of Mahisasura Mardhini and Varahi, which are quite popular in this region.

Happy travelling.

Fast Facts:
Site Name: Arunachaleshwarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Anna Pillai Street, Sowcarpet, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India 
Highlights: Twin temple - temple dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu

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: Better to avoid own vehicle as the area is very congested; local train followed by cycle/auto rickshaw is the best option; various local train stations such as Fort, Central, Park and Beach stations are nearby
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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