March 24, 2013

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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