March 24, 2013

Vittalapuram near Chennai

Site Name: Pramiki Vittala Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Vittalapuram, near Mamallapuram, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A beautiful temple by Vijayanagara kings
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: Go to Chennai, Chenglepet or Mamallapuram
Restaurants: Go to Chennai or Mamallapuram

Vittalapuram is a small little known village near the popular tourist site Mamallapuram in South India. In this village, there is a temple dedicated to Vitthaleshwarar aka Pramiki Vitthala (a form of Lord Krishna). This temple was built during the reign of the Vijayanagara emperor Krishnadeva Raya in the beginning of the 16th century CE. It was built by the emperor's representative named Kondaiya Chola Maharaja.

The small beautiful temple is located in a calm atmosphere. The main deity Pramiki Vittala is found with both his hands resting on his hip. A unique feature in this temple is that he is found along with his two consorts Rukmini and Satyabhama. Generally, only Rukmini is found in the Vittala temples.

The temple built in the Vijayanagara architectural style has sub-shrines for the Goddess Santana Lakshmi, Ramanujar & Vishwaksena, Srinivasa-Lakshmi and Varadarajar-Lakshmi.

The flag post, bali peeth and Garuda idol are located facing the main shrine.

The idol of the main deity is extremely beautiful.

Happy travelling.

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Vaayalur Twin Temples of Pallava Period

Site Name: Thirupuleeswarar and Vaikunthanathar Temples  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Vaayalur village, near Kalpakkam, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Lesser known ancient temple of Pallave period
Nearest Railway Station: Chenglepet
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Connected by road from Chennai; the path near the site is not in good condition and very narrow; Also, it is difficult to find the route
Hotel: Go to Chennai, Chenglepet or Mamallapuram
Restaurants: Go to Chennai for better options

The East Coast Road - ECR in Chennai city in South India is popular. Mahabalipuram town is famous for its heritage rich sites. Kalpakkam town is popular due to its nuclear plant. However, people know very little about the small village named Vaayalur located between these two towns on the ECR. The village can be reached by travelling around 4 kms from Kalpakkam. It has two temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu in the same complex.

The temples are currently under the control of ASI. Hardly anyone visits the temples. The entire complex is a huge open space amidst trees. The temple doesn't have tower or ceiling covering the corridors. There are pillars with beautiful sculptures and carvings found inside the temple.

There are two main shrines - Thirupuleeswarar (Shiva) and Vaikunthanathar (Vishnu). Bali peeth and Nandi are located facing the Shiva shrine. Inside the shrine, apart from Shiva Linga there are few bronze idols (utsava idols) located. The other shrine has small idols of Vaikunthanathar along with his two consorts. All of them are small beautiful idols found in the sitting posture. Few statues excavated in the site are also kept in this shrine. A small beautiful idol of Garuda is found facing the main shrine.

The temple also has three sub-shrines: Angayarkanni - the Goddess; Ganesha and Arumukham (Skanda with six heads and 12 hands) with his consorts seated on the peacock; the idol of Skanda is extremely beautiful.

The shrine of Shiva is built in Gajaprshtha architectural style (Thoonganai - the back side of elephant). The idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found in the form of koshta deities.

The entire temple complex gives an antique feel. Neither the history nor the legend about this site is known. It is believed that the temple was built during the period of Mahendravarma Pallava (7th century beginning).

Happy travelling.









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March 23, 2013

The Chola-era Brick Temple near Chennai - Vedal

Site Name: Vadavamuga Agneeswarar Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Brick Temple
Location:  Vedal, near Cheyyur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Lesser known brick temple built during the period of Raja Raja Chola I
Nearest Railway Station: Chenglepet
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Connected by road from Cheyyur; the path near the site is not in good condition and very narrow; Also, it is difficult to find the route
Hotel: Go to Chennai or Chenglepet 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai for better options

Cheyyur is a lesser known village located near Chennai city in South India. Around 10 kms from Cheyyur, the small village named Vedal is located. Vedal lake is a popular one. Near the lake, the 10th century brick temple of Lord Shiva is found. It is believed to have been built during the era of Raja Raja Chola I, the emperor who built the famous Tanjore Brahadeeswarar Temple.

Little care is being taken by the villagers or the Government to preserve this architecturally excellent temple. A huge crack is running through the middle of the vimana and the backside wall of the temple (at the time of writing this post - March 2013).

The Cholas reconstructed a lot of brick temples into granite temples. Only few brick temples are found today in Tamil Nadu state of South India. Especially, there is hardly any brick temple that exists near Chennai city today. Hence, Vadavamuga Agneeswarar temple located in Vedal is a rare one.

The temple which is almost in ruins has two separate shrines - the main shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva (Vadavamuga Agneeswarar) and the other one dedicated to Goddess Vasanta Nayaki. The main temple is built in the Gajaprshtha architectural style (aka Thoonganai style which resembles the back side of the elephant).

The koshta images Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found on the wall surrounding the main shrine. Chandikeshwarar is also found as usual.

The vimana along with the images of the Gods is strikingly beautiful although it is in the ruins.

Happy travelling.





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Cheyyur Kandaswamy Temple

Site Name: Kandaswamy Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Cheyyur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 27 Vedalam (ghost) sculptures representing 27 stars are found in the temple
Nearest Railway Station: Melmaruvathur
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Connected by road from Cheyyur; the path near the site is not in good condition and very narrow
Hotel: Go to Chennai or Chenglepet 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai for better options

Cheyyur is a small village located near Chenglepet, which in turn is located near Chennai city in South India. The ancient and beautiful temple of Lord Kandaswamy (Subramanya aka Muruga) is located in this village.

Highlights:
  • Arunagiri Nathar has revered the temple in his verses in Tiruppugal.
  • There are idols of 27 Vedalams (Bhootganas/ghosts) representing 27 stars found in the  temple; it is unique which cannot be found anywhere else.
  • Lord Brahma and Vishnu are standing as dwarapalas of Lord Shiva.
  • The koshta images of Subramanya are unique - the dancing Skanda, Skanda holding bow and arrow, etc.
  • God Kandaswamy
  • Goddess - Valli and Devasena
  • Sthala Vruksha (holy tree) - Vanni

Temple Layout:

The south facing temple does not have tower. Although the entrance is facing the southern direction, the main shrine is facing east. The flag post, bali peeth and peacock statue are found facing towards the main shrine.

The sanctum sanctorum has the idols of Lord Kandaswamy with his consorts Valli and Devasena on his either sides. They are found in the standing posture with a peacock at the backside.

The koshta images that are found in the sanctum walls are unique; instead of regular koshta idols, Karthikeya is found in different postures as koshta devta. Nridya Skanda - Karthikeya in the dancing posture, Brahma Shasta with four arms in the sitting posture, Shiva Gurunathar with four hands in the standing posture, Bala Skanda in the standing posture with two hands and Pulindar holding bow and arrow. All these images are rare and unique.

The inner prakara has the idols of Guha Surya, Bhairava, Ganesha, Chandikeshwara and Arunagirinathar. There are few utsava idols found here.

Throughout the outer prakara the idols of 27 vedalams (ghosts) representing 27 stars are found. Outside the main shrine, the sub shrine of Somanathar (Shiva) and Meenakshi is found. Instead of dwarapalas, Vishnu and Brahma are found at the entrance of the sub-shrine. A sub-shrine for Pradhana Ganapati (Ganesha) and Navagraha are also found in the outer prakara.

Valli and Devasena are found in two separate shrines with the separate prakara. The mandapa in front of their shrines is full of beautiful sculptures.

The pillars outside the main entrance of the temple also has few intricate sculptures. There are several beautiful sculpture panels found at the outside of the temple wall.

Happy travelling.














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Lesser Known Ancient Jain Sculptures near Chennai - Onampakkam

Site Name: Jain Sculptures  
Site Type: Jain rock-cut sculptures
Location:  Kurathi Malai near L.N.Puram village, next to Onampakkam; on the way to Madurantagam from Cheyyur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Lesser known ancient Jain sculptures
Nearest Railway Station: Melmaruvathur
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Connected by road from Cheyyur; the path near the site is not in good condition and very narrow
Hotel: Go to Chennai or Chenglepet 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai for better options

Cheyyur is a little known village located near Chennai city in South India. Near Cheyyur, in a small hillock, the 8th century CE Jain sculptures are located. It is challenging to locate the exact hillock  as there are many hills in this area. This particular hill is called as 'Kurathi Malai' or 'Samanar Malai' by the local people. It is located near a village named Onampakkam. There are three sculptures found on top of the hillock. Few steep steps are found upto halfway to the hilltop. Beyond that, we need to climb up the rocks. 

The details of three Jain sculptures:

1) Parsvanath in the standing posture with a five heed serpent on his head along with two Yakshas on his either sides
2) Adinath in the sitting posture
3) Mahavir in the sitting posture

There are few Jain beds found in this hillock.

It is unfortunate that this ancient site remains unknown although it is located near the most happening Chennai city.

If you live in Chennai or somewhere nearby, ensure that you go to this site in a week end.

Happy travelling.











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March 22, 2013

Melmaruvathur Adi Parasakthi Temple

Site Name: Adi Parasakthi Peetam  
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Melmaruvathur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the popular Goddess temples in Tamil Nadu
Nearest Railway Station: Melmaruvathur
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: Go to Chennai or Chenglepet 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai for better options; there are some local restaurants in Melmaruvathur which are not very good

Melmaruvathur, a small village, located near Chennai city in South India, has emerged as a major town thanks to Adi Parasakthi Peetam.

Adi Parasakthi Peetam is one of the most popular Hindu Goddess temples in Tamil Nadu state. It is claimed that there was a neem tree stood in the place where the main shrine is located today. The tree was considered as a holy tree in 1960s and it slowly emerged as a religious place. The person Melmaruvathur Adigalar by name constructed the temple in the late 1970s. In the last 40 years, the temple has become so popular that the temple trust runs so many educational institutes and hospitals.

There are people who believe Adigalar as the Goddess or saint. The temple has a huge complex today. However, unlike the other Hindu temples there are not many idols. The main shrine has the  small idol of Adi Parasakthi. Apart from that, there are sub-shrines for Sapta Mata, Naga (snake God) and Pratyingara Devi (the Lion Goddess).

Happy travelling.

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