November 22, 2015

Tiruvanmiyur Marundeeswarar Temple

Site Name: Marundeeswarar temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Tiruvanmiyur, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: All sorts of options are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All sorts of options are available in Chennai

Tiruvanmiyur is a prominent area located in Chennai city in South India. A popular temple called Marundeeswarar temple is located here. It is considered as the 25th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in the Tondai region.

  • Sambandhar and Appar have revered the temple in their verses in Devaram.
  • God Marundeeswarar, Palvannanathar, Vedapureeswarar,  Oushadeeswarar or Valmikinathar
  • Goddess - Tripura Sundari, Sundara Nayaki or Chokka Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy water) - Pancha Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy tree) - Vanni (Rusty Acacia)
  • Arunagiri has revered Muthukumar of this temple in his verses in Tiruppugal.
  • One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams
  • One of the biggest, oldest and important temple in Chennai city
  • Two Chandikeshwara idols are found in this temple
  • Chola period inscriptions are found
  • A rare temple for the sage Valmiki is found near this temple.


The story of Kamadhenu

As per the legend, Indra had given his divine cow Kamadhenu to the sage Vashishta for the purpose of his poojas and prayers. One day, Kamadhenu delayed in giving milk. The sage got angry due to this and cursed the divine cow to become an ordinary cow. He told the cow that it should go to the site where Marundeeswarar temple is currently located and asked it to worship Lord Shiva. Accordingly, Kamadhenu came to this site and did abhishek (ablution) to the idol of Shiva Linga placed under the holy Vanni tree with its milk. With the blessing of Lord Shiva, it regained its divine status. Hence, Lord Shiva is called as Palvannanathar. The word 'pal' means milk in Tamil language. 

There is a different version of the story which states that the holy cow was cursed by the sage Kashyap.

Valmiki's story

The sage Valmiki was originally a robber. One day, the robber came to worship Shiva Linga in this site. Kamadhenu, on seeing the robber suddenly, ran out of the sight due to fear. While running, its feet touched the idol of Linga. The scar that was caused due to this can be seen in the idol even now, it is believed. Valmiki got the darshan of Shiva in the form of Nataraja. With his blessing, the robber turned into the sage Valmiki.

As Valmiki came here to seek the blessing of Lord Shiva, this site is named after him as Tiruvalmikiyur, which gradually became Tiruvanmiyur. I hope the readers would know very well that the sage Valmiki wrote the epic Ramayan. You can find a small temple for the sage Valmiki on the East Coast Road near this temple.

The sage Agastya

As per another legend, it is believed that the sage Agastya learnt about some magical medicines and got knowledge on various herbs from Lord Shiva. Hence, the deity is named as Marunddeswarar. The word 'marundu' in Tamil language means medicine. The sage also got the darshan of Shiva's marriage here.

Shiva gave darshan to both Valmiki and Agastya under the holy Vanni tree, it is believed.

Shiva Linga turning west

As per a legend, Appayya Dikshitar visited this place once. He was a Sanskrit scholar and Advaita Vendanta, who lived in the 16th century CE. When he visited Tiruvanmiyur, it was flooded heavily. He could not go to the front-side and was able to see only the back of the deity. He felt very bad for not able to see the front-side of the Shiva Ling idol. Moved by his prayer, the deity turned west and granted darshan to him. Hence, the main deity of the temple is facing west in this temple.

Other legends

The Shiva Linga idols which were worshiped by Hanuman and the sage Bharadwaja are found in this temple. Indra got rid of a curse with the blessing of Sundareswarar (a Shiva Linga idol) found in this temple. It is believed that Lord Brahma had conducted a festival for Lord Shiva in this site. All the four Vedas and even Ram (after killing Ravan) had worshiped Lord Shiva in this temple.

There is a legend which states that Lord Vishnu worshiped Lord Shiva in this site and got a son. As he forgot to worship the Goddess, she cursed his son to dies. After Vishnu apologized to her, she forgave him and let his son live.


As the temple has been glorified by the 7th/8th centuries old Devaram, it must be very old. 

The Cholas might have reconstructed this into stone temple in the later period. The inscriptions dating back to the 11th century CE during the reign of Rajendra Chola are found in the shrine of the Goddess Tripura Sundari Amman. The site is referred in the inscriptions found in the other ancient temples of Chennai such as Tiruvidantai, Virupaksheeswarar temple and Kapaleeswarar temple. 

Temple Layout:

The temple is one of the popular temples of Chennai city. It is located in the beginning of East Coast Road, one of the most happening places of Chennai. The temple occupying around one acre is one of the biggest temples of the city.

The temple has two entrances, one at ECR and the another at the West Tank street. The entrance at ECR is actually the backside entrance, thought most of the people use this entrance nowadays due to its proximity from ECR. 

Main Entrance

The main entrance is adorned with a seven tiered tower (Raja gopuram). In front of the main entrance, there is a four pillared mandapa and a huge tank are found. They are located outside the temple premises.

The entrance facing ECR also has a five tiered tower.

Second Raja Gopuram area

Inside the temple right after entering into the main entrance, there is another tank and an adjoining sub-shrine for Shiva Linga. A hall named Tyagaraja Kalai Arangam is also located nearby. Some ancient sculptures, which were excavated in and around the temple area are placed in the open air area nearby. Beyond this part of this temple, there is another five tiered Raja gopuram.

Outer Corridor

After entering through the second tower entrance, the Tyagaraja shrine is found. Near this shrine, the sub-shrines of Vijaya Ganapati and Murugan-Valli-Devasena are found. There is a sub-shrine called as Mummudi Vinayakar sub-shrine where three idols of Ganesha are placed. It is very rare to find three idols of Ganesha together in one place. Tyagaraja shrine enshrines the metal idols of Somaskandar form of Shiva (Shiva with Uma and Skanda). The 36 pillars of this shrine have beautiful carvings.

The holy Vanni tree is also found in this outer corridor area of the temple.

Marundeeswarar Main Shrine

Marundeeswarar in the form of Shiva Linga is found in the sanctum sanctorum facing the west direction. It is a swayambhu Linga, which was formed on its own without being sculpted. 

The Vimana of the shrine is said to be of Chaturvastam design. (I am yet to gather more information about this particular architectural design.)

In front of the main shrine, the flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are found.

In the prakara around the main shrine, the big and attractive niche images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found. 

There are so many idols found in this area, which include:

  • Surya
  • Pillaiyar
  • 63 Nayanmars
  • Nalvar
  • Another Pillaiyar (Ganesha)
  • 5-6 Nagas (serpents)
  • 108 Shiva Lingas
  • Panchabhoota Lingas (many of them are bigger than the main deity)
  • Veerabhagu
  • Arunagirunathar
  • Muthukumar-Valli-Devasena
  • Nataraja-Sivakami (in a separate sub-shrine)
  • Gaja Lakshmi
  • Two separate Chandikeshwara idols

Goddess Shrine

The Goddess Tripura Sundari is found in a separate south facing shrine. She is found with arms and in the standing posture. The pillars of this shrine are full of sculptures. Sukravaramman is also found in the main shrine of the Goddess.

Happy travelling.