May 27, 2016

Kovur Sundareswarar Temple

Site Name: Sundareswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Kovur, Near Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of Navagraha Sthalams of Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai 

Kovur is a peaceful locality near Chennai city. The nearest well known area is Porur on one side and Kundrathur on the other side. The village has an ancient and big temple of Lord Shiva. Let us explore about this temple named Sundareswarar temple in this article. 

Highlights:

  • God Sundareswarar or Tirumeneeswarar
  • Goddess Soundarambikai or Tiruvudai Nayaki
  • Teerth (Holy Water) - Shiva Ganga Teerth
  • Sthala Vruksha (Holy Tree) - Bilva
  • It is a Budha sthalam and one of Navagraha sthalams of Chennai
  • Sri Tyagaiyar had sung hymns on the presiding deity of this temple, which is very rare as he had sung mainly about Lord Ram
Legend:

As per the legend, the Goddess Kamakshi performed severe penance towards Lord Shiva standing on Panchagni. The surrounding localities could not bear the heat and the people suffered due to this. Devas prayed to Lord Shiva to protect the people from fire. However, Shiva was in deep meditation. As per the advice from Vishnu, his wife Lakshmi came down to the site where this village is located today. She took the form of a cow and prayed to Shiv Linga idol in this site. Lord Shiva was pleased with Lakshmi's prayers and opened his eyes, which resulted in the surrounding places getting cooled down. As Lakshmi took the form of a cow, the place was called as Gopuri, as the word "Go" means cow. Later, the name probably got corrupted into Kopuri and at last Kovur.

As per another legend, Sri Tyagaiyar was passing through Kovur in a palanquin on his way to Tirupati. He did not halt or visit this temple. The robbers were trying to attack palanquin. However, all of a sudden two men appeared and they threw stones towards the robbers and drove them off. Tyagaiyar believed that Lord Ram and Lakshman had come to protect him. He went back to Kovur and visited the temple of Lord Shiva. He composed five songs on Sundareswarar of this temple.

It is believed that Sekkizhar from the nearby Kundrathur locality started writing Periya Puranam in this temple.


History:


The temple belongs to Chola period and was probably built by Kulotunga Chola II.

Sri Tyagaraja Swamigal had sung compositions on Sundareswarar of this site. It is called as Kovur Pancharatnam. Tyagaiyar had sung mostly about Lord Ram. This is one such rare site where the great saint had sung about other deity.


Temple Layout:



The temple is located in a peaceful street surrounded by trees on either sides. The gigantic tower has seven tiers and faces towards south direction. The gopura has the idols of Ganesh and Kartikeya at the entrance.


The east facing sanctum enshrines a tall and magnificent Shiv Linga called as Sundareswarar a.k.a. Tirumeneeswarar. Dwarapalas and small idols of Naga Skanda are found at the entrance of the main shrine. 

The Vimana is Gaja prshtha style vimana. Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche idols. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual location.

The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the main shrine. 

The Goddess Soundarambikai a.k.a. Tiruvudai Nayaki is found in a separate south facing shrine. As per the names, both Shiva and Ambikai look very beautiful. The wall of Amman shrine has Indrani, Maheswari, Maha Lakshmi, Brahmi and Durga as the niche images. Chandikeshwari is found instead of Chandikeshwara. 

There is a separate shrine for Karunakara Perumal who is found along with his two consorts. There is another shrine where the utsav idols of Sekkizhar and Thogai Adiyars are located. 

In the inner prakara, the idols of Ganesh, Surya, Sekkizhar, Nalvar, Kali, Veerabhadra and Bhairav are found.

In the outer prakara, the shrines of Ganesh, Murugan-Valli-Devasena, Shaneeswar and Navagraha.

The other shrines that are found in the temple include Netra Vinayak, Somaskanda, Sukravara Amman, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Utsav idols of Murugan with two consorts, Natraj-Shivakami, utsav idols of 63 Nayanmars, Muthumari and Ponni Amman. There is a separate shrine where the beautiful utsav idols such as Ganesh, Chandrasekhar and others are located.

Happy travelling. 

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