April 11, 2016

Kailaya Eswaramudaiya Mahadev Temple - Kesavaram

Site Name: Kailaya Eswaramudaiya Mahadev Temple
Site Type: Hindu stone temple of Chola period
Location:  70 kms from Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An unknown ancient temple located at the origin of Cooum river
Nearest Major Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: The village is reachable by road; public transportation is not dependable; it is a little known remote place and the roads are not in good condition; there is no road to the temple due to encroachment; need to walk through the paddy fields for about one km to reach the temple
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

Kesavaram is a small village located at a distance of around 70 kms from Chennai city in Tamil Nadu state of India. The nearest well known site is Thakolam, which is at a distance of around 3 kms from here. It is the village where the river Cooum originates. A dam was constructed in the exact site where the river Kosasthalaiyar is split into two rivers. The second river thus originates here is called as Cooum. The dam is called as Kesavaram Dam.

At around one km from Kesavarm Dam, by walking through the paddy fields, we can reach the ancient Chola period stone temple of Lord Shiva. Due to encroachments, there is no proper road or pathway to reach this destination. 

(P.S. Thanks to the efforts and funds raised by Aalayam Kanden Trust, the temple has become accessible now. The vehicles can go upto the temple now.)

The site where the temple is located was once called as Kailaya Eswaram. Hence, Lord Shiva in this temple is named as Kailaya Eswaramudaiya Mahadev, which means Mahadev (Shiva's another name) who owns Kailaya Eswaram. 

Kailaya Eswaram is technically an island surrounded by the rivers Cooum, Kosasthalaiyar and Kallaru. We do not find water in both these rivers now, which is different sad story. The third river Kallaru is not at all existing now. It was called as Moksha Nadi in those days and hence the island was also called as Moksha dweep.

The temple has Chola period inscriptions. Kulotunga Chola I of 11th century CE gave Uriyur village as grants for this temple. This temple appears to have been built from the grants given by his wife Ezhulagam Udaiyal.

The temple is currently in dilapidated state. However, there are few volunteers who have been spending good effort and time in the recent times to renovating this temple. 

The east facing temple does not have gopura or flag staff. The stone temple has the Gaja prshtha Vimana resembling the back side of the sleeping elephant. 

The sanctum enshrines Lord Shiva called as Kailaya Eswaramudaiya Mahadev. There are no idol found in the ardha mandap or maha mandap. 

The beautiful sculptures of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the niche images.

A new Nandi idol and a new sub-shrine for Chandikeshwara have been sculpted recently. 

Such a beautiful heritage site - it is sad to find this lying unknown!

(P.S. Although I have mentioned that this temple is located at the origin of the river Cooum, it is not on the basis of mythology. Technically, this temple is located near the origin of Cooum. But, mythologically, Tiruvirkolam temple is considered as the one which is on the banks of the river Cooum.)

Happy travelling.

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