Gnayiru Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva who is named as Sri Pushpa Ratheswarar which means Eshwara on a flower decked chariot. This temple is situated near Red Hills, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. Gnayiru in tamil means Lord Surya.
Gnayiru Temple is considered as the parihara puja sthalam ascribed to God Surya.
Gnayiru Temple is one of the Pancha Bhaskara Sthalams (5 Surya worship places) in Tamil Nadu.
They are Gnayiru in Gnayiru (near Chennai) and the rest Thiruchirukudi (Nannilam), Thirumangalagudi (Aaduthurai), Thirupparithi Niyamam (Needa mangalam) and Thalai Gnayiru (Thiruvaaroor) all in Tanjavur area.
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Gnayiru Temple – legends
There are a few legends connected with the emergence of this temple.
Lord Surya’s penance
It is believed that long ago, Lord Surya was separated from his wife Chaya Devi and he did penance at this place praying to Lord Pushpa Ratheswarar.
He started his prayers from the first month of Tamil Calender, Chithra month. He did his penance on the banks of the lotus pond near the temple. He then got united with His wife.
It is believed that couple separated due to family trouble can unite if they ardently pray here.
As believed, at the time of Vamana avatharam, Lord Vishnu was seeking three feet of land from Maha Bali and Maha Bali consented for this. However, Sukracharya, the guru of Asuras, tried to protect Maha Bali.
Sukra took the form a huge bee and blocked the spout of the jar (kamandalam) of Mahabali which prevented the flow of water. This in turn stalled the ritual of giving daan.
As Sukra blocked the flow, Sri Vamana pierced the spout with a dry grass. In the process, Sukra lost his eye sight. He came to Gnayiru and worshipped Surya here and got back his eye sight.
So, this temple also believed to cure people of eye deceases. The water in the pond is said to cure eye and skin deceases.
Sage Kanva Maharishi also did penance here and got the darshan of Lord Shiva.
When a Chola king was camping at Cholavaram after a war, he was searching for a place to do Shiva pooja.
He came across this pond with lots of lotuses and sighted the Shiva Linga. He then constructed the temple here.
Surya’s sanctum is opposite Lord Shiva (Eshwaran) sanctum. Lord Shiva’s consort Ambal is called as Swarnambika. Vinayaka is called as Kamala Vinayakar. There are separate sanctums for Subramanya, Kasi Viswanathar and Sangili Nachiar.
On the outside walls of Eshwaran sanctum, Dhakshinamurthy, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are present.
Red lotus is the sthala viruksham.
Though lotus is a flower, it gets the status of a holy tree here. There is also a tree which bears ‘thiruvodu’, a begging bowl as the fruit.
This is a very old temple situated in a picturesque village. This temple is good to visit on anyday especially Sunday. On Sundays, special poojas are done for Lord Surya. People are allowed to worship Surya only after they worship Shiva.
All the archanas are to be done only in the name of the devotees and not in the name of the Lord.
This place can be reached from Red Hills, Chennai.