April 14, 2013

A Hindu Temple in St. Thomas Mount

Site Name: St. Thomas Mount Sivan Temple a.ka. Nandeeswarar Temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  St. Thomas Mount area, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the oldest temples of Chennai locality; there is a belief that St. Thomas lived in Chennai and the area was named after him; however, there is a different theory that the area was named after Bhringi Maharishi and the legend is connected to this temple
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: By raod or by locat train of Chennai city
Hotel: All over Chennai - varieties of options
Restaurants: You will find a good restaurant in every nook and corner of Chennai city

It is generally believed that St. Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus Christ lived and was eventually killed in Chennai city, South India. The locality was thus believed to be named as St. Thomas Mount and even there is an old Church in this area claimed to have been built on the same spot, where he was killed. The Tamils used to call the foreigners as "Parangi" in those days and thus the place was called as "Parangi Malai" (the hill of foreigners) in Tamil language. However, interestingly there is a different version claimed by few Hindus. It is said there was a saint, Bhringi Maharishi by name, lived in this small hill and hence it was called as Bhringi Malai; later it became Parangi Malai and the Christians made it as 'St. Thomas Mount' in the recent times. They claim that the temple of Lord Shiva - Nandeeswarar temple is one of those temples in this original locality belonging to the Hindus. Some even claim that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Nandi to Bhringi in this site.

The east facing ancient temple is a small one without a tower and flag post. A small Nandi and bali peeth face towards the sanctum. The Shiva Linga idol (Nandeeswarar) is big however the idol of Avudai Nayaki, the Goddess, which is located in a separate south facing shrine is not very attractive. The temple has just one prakara. In the parakara the sub shrines of Sundara Vinayaka, Subramanya with his two consorts and Navagraha are found. Inside the maha mandap the idols of Ganesha, Surya and Bhairav are located. Near the entrance of the main shrine the idols of Ganesh and Subramanya are found. The exterior wall of the sanctum has the small Koshta images of Nardana Ganapati, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Durga and Brahma. The idol of Chandikeshwara is big and looks very old.

Although it is believed that the temple was built by a Chola prince named Aadhani Chola (on whom the neighborhood is called as Adampakkam) and renovated by Kulothunga Chola III, there is  no symbol of Chola's architecture found in the current structure of the temple. It completely looks like a temple built in the 20th century CE. 

Happy travelling.

View Larger Map