June 4, 2016

Tiruneermalai Neervanna Perumal Temple

Site Name: Neervanna Perumal Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Tiruneermalai, Near Pallavaram and Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: Three temples; Divya Desam in Chennai region
Nearest Railway Station: Pallavaram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road 
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants: A lot of options across Chennai

Tiruneermalai  is a small area located near Pallavaram, which in turn is located near Chennai city in Tamil Nadu state of India. The village has a prominent temple for Vishnu called as Neervanna Perumal Temple.  It is considered as the 61st Divya Desam located in the Thondai region. 

You need not to be a devotee to love this place. The hilltop temple gives a good aerial view of Tambaram and the adjoining areas. In a winter day, if you visit the place either in the early morning or late evening, you could enjoy the pleasant weather. 

Let us explore about this temple in this article.


  • Tirumangai Alwar and Bhootatalwar have sung about this site in their verses.
  • It is considered as the 61st Divya Desam temple. It is located in Thondai region.
  • Vishnu is found in four different forms and postures in four separate shrines in this temple.
  • Considered as one of eight Swayam Vyakta Kshetrams (the other seven are Srirangam, Sri Mushnam, Tirupati, Salagram, Pushkar, Naimisaranyam and Naranapuram
  • God Neervanna Perumal, Narasimha, Ranganath, Tri Vikrama
  • Goddess - Anima Malar Mangai
  • Teerth (sacred water) - Kshri Pushkarani for Ranganath, Karunya Pushkarani for Neervanna, Siddha Pushkarani for Tri Vikrama and Swarna Pushkarani for Narasimha (Technically, there is only one tank though)
  • Vimana Ranga Viman (Ranganath), Shanta Viman (Narasimha) and Thoyagiri Viman (Tri Vikrama)
  • This temple has two Brahmotsavam festivals celebrated every year, which is unique.


This temple must have been rebuilt as stone temple by the Cholas in the 9th or 10th century CE. Later, the Pandyas and the Vijayanagaras have made additions and renovations to this temple.  

The temple walls are full of stone inscriptions. On the eastern wall of the sanctum, the inscription of Rajaraja Chola III are found. The inscriptions of Sundara Pandya III and Kulashekhara Pandya I of 13th century CE, the inscriptions of Vira Venkataraya I of Vijayanagara are too found in this temple.

Though there is no solid proof, it is widely believed that the utsav deity of this temple got mixed up with that of Chenna Keshava Perumal in Sowcarpet area of Chennai.

This is the temple where the great Carnatic singer Smt. M.S. Subbu Lakshmi got married to Shri Kalki Sadasivam. The front side mandap in the hilltop temple was donated by Sadasivam, which is named as Kalki Mandap.


As per the legend, when Tirumangai Alwar came to this site, the hill was surrounded by water. He waited for six months for water to get drained and then he visited this temple. Hence, the site is called as Tiruneer Malai or Thoyagiri Kshetram. The word Neer and Thoya mean water. The words Malai and Giri mean mount.

King Tondaiman got darshan of Neelamukil Vanna Perumal. After visiting Sri Rangam, the sages Markandeya and Bhrigu were passing through this site and as per their wish, Vishnu appeared to them in the reclining posture (Ranganath).

It is said that the sage Valmiki visited the hilltop temple. After climbing down the hill, he wanted to get darshan of Ram. Hence, Ranganath appeared as Ram to him. Thus, there is a shrine of Ram found at the foothill. As per another version, as per the wish of Valmiki, Ram gave the darshan of his wedding to the sage in this site.

Four Forms of Vishnu:

Everyone admires this temple as the Divya Desam where Lord Vishnu appears in four different forms/postures as:

  • Neervanna Perumal  - Ninram (standing posture)
  • Bala Narasimha - Irundhan (sitting posture)
  • Ranganath - Kidandhan (reclining posture)
  • Trivikrama (also called as Ulagalantha Perumal) - Nadanthan (walking posture)

In fact, Vishnu is also present in the form of Ram. If we include that, there are totally five different forms in which Vishnu appears in this temple.

Ranganath's reclining posture in this temple is referred as "Manicka Sayanam".

Bala Narasimha is not in his usual furious form but he is a Shanta murti (peaceful form); behind him, there is furious form of Narasimha. It is very rare to find Narasimha in both the forms in the same shrine. 

Interestingly, Tirumangai Alwar calls this site in four different names depending on the four different forms of Vishnu.

  • Nindran - Tirunaraiyoor
  • Irundhan - Tiruvaali
  • Kidandhan - Tirukudandai
  • Nadandhan - Tirukoviloor


At the foothill, the temple of Neervannan is found. The east facing temple has a Raja gopura. 

The east facing sancum has entrance at the south direction. There is no Garud shrine, but the bali peeth and the flag staff are found as usual.

The sanctum is situated on a high raised platform (maada kovil form). The sanctum enshrines Neervanna Perumal in the standing posture. He has four arms and is found with two consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi on his either sides. 

The utsav idol is called as Neelmukil Vannan. He is also found along with his consorts in the sanctum.

In the maha mandap area, there is a shrine for the utsava murtis of Ranganath-Sri Devi-Bhoo Devi. Here, Ranganath is in the standing posture. The sub shrine of Utsav Andal and Alwars are also found in the Maha Mandap.

The Goddess Anima Malar Mangai is found in a separate shrine. The name as well as the idol of Anima Malar Mangai are very beautiful.

There is a sub-shrine of the beautiful Andal in the prakara.


Adjacent to Neervannan sanctum, there is another sanctum dedicated to very big idols of Ram, Sita and Lakshman. The stucco idol of Hanuman is also found in this temple.

All the sub shrines stated above have the stone idols as well as the respective ustav idols.


A flight of many steps would take us to the hilltop temple adorned by a small tower. On the way to the hilltop temple, there is a small shrine for Hanuman. 

The tower and the sanctum are south facing. In the sanctum, Ranganath is found reclining on the five hood serpent Sesha. Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi are found along with Ranganath. Brahma is emerged out from his navel. 

The tall flag staff, bali peeth and Garud are found facing towards the sanctum. At the entrance, the idols of Dwarapalas are big in size. The utsav idols of Ranganath and his consorts are also found in the sanctum.

Ranganayaki, the consort of Ranganath, is found in a separate shrine.

Bala Narasimha:

The shrine of Bala Narasimha is found in the prakara. The murti of Ugra Narasimha is located behind the Shanta murti.

Tri Vikrama:

Trivikrama a.k.a. Ulagalantha Perumal is found in a separate shrine in the prakara. The deity has his left leg raised upwards.

Happy travelling.

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