March 8, 2015

Dharmaraja Draupadi Temple - Chennai

Site Name: Dharmaraja Draupadi Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Anna Pillai Street, Sowcarpet, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The oldest temple in Chennai dedicated to Draupadi
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 as this is centrally located in 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

Chennai is considered as the gateway to South India. The capital city of Tamil Nadu state of India has hundreds of tourist sites which include museum, British period monuments, temples, beach, etc. Let us explore a little known temple called Dharmaraja Draupdai temple located in Chennai.

Sowcarpet is a congested but popular locality in Chennai. It is part of the original Madras city formed during the British period. In this area, there are many temples dated 300-400 years are located. Dharmaraja-Draupadi temple is one of such temples located here. It is located near Arunachaleshwar temple in Anna Pillai Street in Sowcarpet area.

The temple which is dedicated to the first brother among five Pandava brothers of Mahabharatha epic Yudhishtra (Dharmaraja) and his wife Draupadi is around 350 years old. Although there are many small temples of Draupadi/Dharmaraja in and around Chennai, it is believed to be the oldest in this region. It is the Kula Devta temple of various groups including Marathas, Chettiars, Mudaliyars and Idaiyars.

The east facing temple does not have tower. The sanctum sanctorum enshrines the stone idols of Dharmaraja in the sitting posture and Draupadi in the standing posture. The idols of Ganesha and Krishna are also found in the main shrine. Krishna is found with four arms and holding conch and discus in his fore arms. He is not in his usual posture and looks similar to Maha Vishnu.

The utsava (metal) idols of Ganesha and Draupadi are also placed inside the main shrine.

The temple has just one prakara. In the sub-shrine that is located in the prakara, the utsava metal idols of Arjuna and his wife Subhadra are found. Anyone could mistake this idol for Rama as he is holding bow and arrow. It is very rare to find Arjuna and Subhadra in a temple. Subhadra is generally found along with his brothers Krishna and Balrama in Orissa style temples.

The sub-shrine also enshrines the utsava metal idols of Krishna with his two consorts Rukmini and Bhama. (The temple authorities claim that they are Radha and Rukmini, which is technically wrong according to me.)

The big stucco image of Aravan's head, a small stucco image of Porththu Raja (the general of Pandava army?) and the ferociously looking stucco image of Draupadi are also found in the prakara.

The flag staff and bali peetha are found facing towards the main shrine. The bas-relief image of Porththu Raja is found in the flag staff facing towards the shrine. 

Two big stucco idols of Dwara palikas are located at the entrance of the temple. The top portion of the entrance has the stucco images of five brothers, Krishna and Draupadi as well as Krishna with his two consorts.

Happy travelling.

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