Location: 60 kms from Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights:An unknown ancient temple
Nearest Major Railway Station: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;
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options
Senji is a small lesser known village located at a distance of around 60 kms from Chennai city in Tamil Nadu state of India. The nearest well known site is Thakolam, which is at a distance of 15 kms from here. This village has two unknown ancient temples. Let us discuss about one of those temples in this article. If I can Senji as the lesser known village, I would call the temple of Lord Shiva in this village as an unknown site. The temple which is in dilapidated state is called as Janmejaya Eswaran temple. Janmejaya was the great grand son of Arjun, one of the five Pandava brothers of Mahabharat. I assume there must be some legend related to Janmejaya and this temple. Probably, Janmejaya might have visited the site or mythologically built this temple. Unfortunately, similar to this temple, even the legend, if any, remains a mystery. Hence, we could not conclude the connection between Janmejaya, the very first listener of Mahabharat epic, and Lord Shiva of Senji, who is named after the Emperor. As per the inscriptions of this temple, it appears that the original name of the deity was Jayamadeeswaram Udaiya Mahadevar. So, there is a possibility that this village was originally called as Jayamadeeswaram and the deity's name was slowly changed to Janmejaya Eswaran. Not sure!
The east facing temple does not have a tower. It has a small Nandi mandap and bali peetha which are not in good condition. The entrance of the sanctum is on the southern direction and it is erected on a raised platform. The moolasthan is in extremely bad condition and the ceiling can fall at any time. Hence, the main deity, Shiv Linga called as Janmejaya Eswar, is moved to the Ardha Mandap area. In the Maha Mandap, the idol of Goddess is found. It appears to be new and not part of the original temple. The name of the Goddess is not known.
The wall around the sanctum has the niche idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava and Brahma. Except for Lingodbhava, all other images appear to be newly sculpted. There are two sub-shrines behind the sanctum. They obviously belong to Ganesha and Subramanya. However, no deity is found in those sub-shrines.
There are inscriptions found on the walls of the temple. They belong to the period of Rajaraja Chola III and Kulotunga Chola III (12th/13th centuries CE). Although few experts who have visited this temple believe this to be of a Chola temple, from the style of pillars in the Maha mandap and the sculptures of lions, for me, it appears to be a temple built originally by the Pallavas. I believe that the temple originally built by the Pallavas could have been renovated by the later Cholas. There are few bas-relief sculptures such as Uma Sahita Murti, Nataraj, Rishabha Arudana Murti, Kamadeva with his consorts, Kannappa with Shiv Linga and others, which are very beautiful. Overall, it is originally a beautiful temple, which will not exist after few years, as hardly there is anyone to preserve this site. Happy travelling.