Sri Thyagaraja Temple is ascribed to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvathi. It is situated at Thiruvottriyur, Chennai. The temple is considered as one of the ‘’Padal pettra sthalam” which means that the temple was eulogized by the Savism scholars and saints.
The Saivism Sages Sri Appar, Sri Sundarar and Sri Sambandar had rendered Thevaram hymns in praise of Lord Shiva at this temple.
Table of Contents
- Sri Thyagaraja Temple – History
- Sri Thyagaraja Temple – Structure
- Sri Thyagaraja Temple – Legends
- How to reach
Sri Thyagaraja Temple – History
The temple is believed to be in existence since the period of Pallava Kings in seventh century. It is believed to be expanded in the eleventh century during Chola regime. By 15th Century, Viayaya Nagara Kings had further expanded the temple.
The mandapams in the temple were utilized as the places of teaching and learning. Various spiritual discourses and symposiums were held in the temple premises from time immemorial.
Sages such as Sri Sankaracharya, Sri Pattinathar and Sri Ramalinga Swamigal had visited this temple and worshipped the Deities here.
Sri Thyagaraja Temple – Structure
The temple is built as per Dravidian architecture.
The Rajagopuram is five tiered. The dwajasthambam and the balipeedam are on the left side.
Sri Nandikeswara is stationed here.
Soon on entering the temple, the first shrine to visit is Sri Vinayakar Sannidhi. From there we proceed to Aruljyothi Murugan Sannidhi and the shrine of Kuzhandai Eesar.
Adjacent to these shrines, there are separate shrines for Jagannathar, Surya, Chandra, Nalvar (four Saivism saints Appar, Manicka vasagar, Thirugnana Sambandar and Sundarar), Sahasra Lingam, Ramanathar and Amirtha Kadeswarar.
Star Linga Shrines
On the left side, twenty-seven Shiv Lings were put up in twenty-seven small shrines to denote the twenty-seven stars. The Shiv Ling Shrines are in a row.
As per the legend, all the stars had come here to have the darshan of Lord Shiva. As per belief, it is considered beneficial to do abhishek to the respective star Lingam with milk and panchamukhi rudraksh on the star birthday of the devotee.
On completing the darshan of the Star Linga Shrines we come to the Shrine of Sri Valar Kali Amman.
Coming down from the Sannidhi of Valar Kali Amman, the main sanctum is to be reached.
In the main sanctum, prior to entering the central shrine, a shrine for Sri Thyagaraja Swamy exists. He is in the form of Sri Somaskandha Murthy. The combined Vigrahas of Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi and Lord Muruga exist here.
Behind the Sannidhi of Sri Thyagaraja, there is a dedicated shrine for Sri Gowleeshwara. Here Lord Shiva is in sitting posture with four hands. He has matted hair as the crown and His ears have spatika ear ornaments. His right upper hand has the trident and the right lower hand is blessing. His left upper hand has a skull and the left lower hand is kept on His chest. Sri Adi Sankaracharya is depicted at His feet.
The main Deity is called as Sri Adhipureeswarar. The main Shiv Ling is Swayabu (self-manifested) of mud mound. It is covered by an armour. As pet the legend, Lord Shiva had given recognition to the penance of Vasuki by appearing in the form of snake in the mud mound.
The armour is removed only for three days in Karthigai month during Deepam festival. Only Punugu, Javvadhu and Sambrani oils are used on the main Deity on these days.
Just opposite the main shrine, there is a shrine for Sri Nataraja. The Shrine for Ganapathi named Sri Gunalaya Ganapathi is in the Koshta. While going around the inner precinct of the main sanctum, we find the vigrahas of Sri Adi Sankaracharya, Sri Subrahmanya and Sri Dakshina Murthy.
Then the shrine of Sri Kali amman is reached. She is also known as Vattapparai Amman. As per the legend, Sri Adi Sankaracharya had installed a Srichakra here to make the Ugraroopini Kali to Shantha roopini.
Sri Ambal is worshipped here as Sri Thripura Sundari or Sri Vadivudai Amman. She is said represent the Gnana Shakthi. There is a dedicated shrine for Sri Vadivudai amman. The sanctum is considered as one of the Shakthi Peets. Here Sri Ambal appears with four hands with the head slightly tilted towards right.
One can also see the Golden Urchava Vigraha of Sri Ambal.
Inside the temple premises and around the main sanctum, there are dedicated shrines for Akasa Lingam, Thiruvottreeswarar, Nanda Vaneswarar, Thiru Puttreeswarar, Kalyana Sundarar, Annamalaiyaar, Ramanathar, Jambukeshwarar, Nagalingar, Meenakshi Sundareswarar and Eka Pathar. Apart from these Shrines, there is a dedicated Shrine for Sri Swarna Bhairavar.
The tank of the temple is known as Brahma Theertham.
Magizha tree at the temple is the Sthala Vruksham.
Sri Thyagaraja Temple – Legends
There are a few legends associated with the temple.
In Tamil, “ottri” means blotting the moisture. As per the legend, during a deluge, the whole world was getting sub-merged into water. Everyone ardently prayed to Lord Shiva for protection. He had made the fire emanate from His third eye. The fire blotted out the excess water. Hence this place was called Ottriyur which later became Thiruvottriyur.
This temple is one of the seven Kshethrams for Sri Thyagaraja. Here Lord Shiva had done the cosmic dance of Ananda Thandavam.
When Lord Vishnu took Mathsya Avathar to retrieve the Vedas, He had brought them here to this temple to get them sanctified.
Sri Brahma penance
Sri Brahma, Sri Vishnu and Vasuki were said to have observed penance here to get the darshan of Lord Shiva.
One of the Nayanmars Kaliya Nayanar was born at this place.
The holy tree associated with the temple is Magizha tree.
As per the legend, Lord Shiva had a valet named Alaala Sundara at Kailash. Sundara was in love with Aninthika and Kamalini who were the maids of Sri Parvathi Devi. Lord Shiva learnt about the desire of the trio. He asked them to go to earth, lead the worldly life and return to Kailash later.
Sundara then was born in Thiru Navalur. He married the lady named Paravaiyar. He came to Thiruvottriyur for pilgrimage. At Thiruvottriyur temple, he met Sangili Nachiyar who was doing service at the temple. He married her also under the Magizha tree. Lord Shiva was witness to the wedding. His feet are kept in a separate shrine behind the tree. The tree is still green and thriving.
Sri Ramalinga Adigal
Sri Ramalinga Adigal, also known as Vallalar was living with his brother and sister-in-law at the place called seven wells. He used to visit and have the darshan of Sri Ambal here daily. One day, it was quite late when he reached home. As he did not want to disturb his sister-in-law, he had slept with hunger at the entrance of the house. His sister-in-law woke him up and gave food.
After sometime, his sister-in-law again woke him up and asked why he was sleeping without having food. He told her that only she gave him food just a while back. She however denied it.
Then only they all realized that only Sri Vadivudai amman of Thiruvottriyur had come in the form of his sister-in-law and provided food to him.
Sage Pattinathar had lived in this place. He had composed many hymns on Lord Shiva and on the philosophical aspects of life. His Samadhi exists in this place.
Sri Vattapaarai amman
It is believed that only this Vattapparai amman was holding the constantly burning lamp for Kambar when he was writing Ramayana.
As per another belief, she is considered as the incarnation of Kannagi of Silappathikaaram fame.
As per the legend, Prince Rajathithya, the son of Paranthaka Chola had a friend named Vellayan Kumaran. Vellayan originally belonged to Chera Kingdom but had settled in Chola Kingdom. Vellyan was also the commander in Chola army.
Once, Rashtra koodas and Gangas, who were against Chola Kingdom, had waged a war on Cholas. The war happened at Thakkolam. Rajathithya had led the Chola army. Vellayan somehow did not accompany him.
In the war, Rajathithya died. Vellayan could not bear the loss of his friend. He lamented that had he been there, he could have saved his friend or atleast he would have died with his friend.
Vellayan was inconsolable. He walked upto river Ganga and took Sanyasam there. He changed his name to Chathrurana. On his return, he reached Thiruvottriyur and joined Guru Niranjana. He stayed there and taught scriptures and vedas to all. He was then known as Chathuranana Pandith. There is a shrine for him.
Around the year festivals are celebrated in this temple. Notable among them are Vattapparai amman urchavam in Chaitra month, 15 days Vasanthotsavam in Vaikasi, Thirumanjanam in Aani, Aadi pooram, Vinayaka Chathurthi, Navarathri, Aipasi Annabhishekam, Skandha Sashti, Karthikai Deepam, Arudra Darshan and 18 celestial dances festival for Sri Thyagaraja.
The temple is open from 6.00 a.m to 12.30 p.m and from 04.30 p.m to 08.30 p.m.
How to reach
The temple is situated at the northern part of Chennai. Local buses, trains and other modes of surface transport are available.