Chennai,Tiruvallur, Perumbadur, Pakshi Tirtham, Mahabalipuram and Madurantakam

 Kapaleswara Temple with Maha Kapaleshwara Linga is a large complex with separate Mandirs of Devi Parvati and Lord Subrahmanya is most popular in the City and in the Pradakshina are Nataraja, Nayanars / Shiva Bhaktas, Ganesha, Dakshina Murti, Nava Graha Complex and significantly enough Mayureshwara Linga where Devi Parvati by assuming the form of a Mayura worshipped the Shiva Linga and hence the name of Mylapura where this Temple is situated; Partha Sarathi Temple again with a huge complex is the Murti of Bhagavan Shri Krishna’s fairly big Murti as the Charioteer of Arjuna in Maha Bharata battle and delivered the Immortal Exortation of Bhagavad Gita; Bhagavan Partha Sarathi is accompanied with the Idols of Devi Rukmini, Balarama, Satyaki, Pradyumna, and Aniruddha as also of Nrisimha and Balaji. Nearby are the Idols of Rama, Laksmana, Janaki Vigrahas in a different Mandira. There is also a distinct Balaji Temple with a highly impressive Vigraha of Lord Venkateshwara drawing huge crowds on week ends and festival days. Besides the notable week-end attractions are Ashta Lakshmi Temple, Ayyapan Temple complex, Madhya Kailasa Temple and so on besides two Sai Baba Temples in the City and on the outskirts. The less known private family Mandir Sri Lakshmi Kamakshi Nivasa in the heart of the City with very select yet comitted devotees, as blessed by Paramacharya Shri Chandrashekhara Swami of Kanchi Mutt is what this Script Writer intenseley devoted to!The Inaugural Kumbhabhisheka of this Mandir in February 1990 was celebtated on behalf of the Paramacharya of Kanchi Mutt by HH Jayendra and Vijayayendra Saraswatis; the owner of the Mandir the late Shri Chavali S. Sastri a reputed Chartered Accountant and an ardent devotee of Paramacharya was blessed byRamana Maharshi of Tiruvallamalai with an Idol of ‘Ashwattha Ganapati’ and was appropriately installed under a Peepul Tree which was the initial contruction of this Mandir. Tiruvallur: Away by 15 km is the lesser known but legendary VaradarajaTemple of Veera Raghava Swami as Sesha saayi with his right hand kept on the head of Maharshi Shalihotra; this Temple also has a Lakshmi Mandir with her name as Kanakavalli or Vasumati. In the premises of the Temple is a Sarovar called HutashanaTirtha and two other Mandirs of Shiva Linga andof Devi Parvati.The background of this Temple was that the two notorious Madhu-Kaitabha Daityas hid themselves in a dense forest then known as Veekshararanya and Bhagavan Vishnu came to know about this and landed himself in the Ashram of a Rishi named Shalihotra who was always in the habit of providing help to guests of virtue. He took extra care for the new Atithi as he was impressed by his conduct and Dharma readily participating in Agni Karyas and Karma kanda along with the Rishi.As time elapsed the guest one after their meals gave the biggest surprise to the Muni that he himself was Vishnu with the mission of killing the two daityas! After his mission was fulfilled Bhagavan blessed the Maharshi and bestowed him Vaikuntha Sthaana. Further miracles at this Place followed: Veekshanaranya King called Dharmasena was blessed with a daughter named Vasumati was of Lakshmi Swarupa and she came of age and got her married to a Prince Veeraagava and visited the Temple of Veeraraghava; both of them intensely identified with the Vigrahas and got absorbed into them; since then Kanakavalli and Vasumati came to be addressed by either name while the Prince’s name continued for ever!The Pousha Month’s Bhadrapada nakshatra is thus celebrated at this Temple every year eve since. There was a King named Pradyumna in Satya Yuga who prayed to Narayana for long time and eventually had his darshan of Bhagavan who granted his wish to secure a male child; besides he also blessed that the significance this Kshetra be intensified and there appeared a Hutaashana Sarovara to wash off the sins of Yatris. Sriperumbudur: This is the Sanctified birth place of Shriramanujacharya, where the Temple of Lord Rama with Devi Sita has been ancient existence as Bhutapuri. This Kshetra is also the Abode of Keshava in Yoga nidra as Sesha shaayi as also a separate Mandir of Devi Lakshmi. More over the Temple of BhuteshwarMaha Deva has been in existence even in more ancient ages. Maha Deva excelled in natya and performed Tandava Nritya in total ecstacy when Parshada Bhutas laughted and made fun of him; the angry Maha Deva stripped them of Parshatwa and the latter approached Brahma. Brahma directed them to worship Narayana. After very long and deep worship,Narayana suggested to the Bhutas that Maha Deva was ever merciful and their refuge to him should be rewarding and eternal. They them bathed in the Ananta Sarovara and after purifyng themselves begged Maha Deva of mercy and after securing it got trained in the Tandava Natya Siksha eversince! Thus Perambudur is as much a Vishnu Kshetra as a Maha Deva Kshetra! Now, at the adjoining highway is the Memorial of the Past Prime Minister of Bharat, Rajiv Gandhi.  Pakshi Tirtha: Some 35 km off Chennai is Pakshi Tirtha on the top of the Vedagiri mountain. Down the mountain of Vedagiri itself, there is a Sarovara called Shankara Tirtha which attracts large crowds once in12 years when the Guru Graha enters Kanya Raashi when a Shankha or conchshell emerges and festivities take place. Quite near to the Shankha Tirtha is an ancient Mandir of Rudrakoti Shiva Linga and Devi Parvati’s name is Abhirama Nayaki. Up the Vedagiri mountainare 500 steps enabling to ascend and find a Shiva Linga named Dakshina Murti which looks like a Plantain Tree trunk and is stated as a Swayambhu or self-generated. Besides the Linga is Soma Skanda. Nearby is a Devi Parvati Mandir inside a cave. From the top Shikhara of the Mountain down a small staircase is the most popular Pakshi Tirtha or the Place of receiving Griddhas or White Kites to pick up cooked food or the ‘Prashad’ offered to the Deities by a Pandit of the Temples; this phenomenon is age old as at the appointed duration of time of afternoon the Holy Birds arrive in twosomes from destinations unknown; the belief is that these birds were Rishis cursed to turn into birds and perfom Tapasya at far of places some where in Uttar Bharata Kshetras.One belief is that Lord Brahma cursed his own sons to turn as birds as far back as the Satya Yuga till the end of Kali yuga and accept food daily from a Temple Priest who himself was a Muni in his repetitive mortal births! It is further believed that Maha Deva instructed Nandi Deva to install three most Sacred Tirthas at Srishaila as Mallikarjuna, Kalahasti as Kalahasteshwara and here at Vedagiri as Dakshina Murti. Mahabalipuram: Some 5, 6 km further to Pakshi Tirtha to Mahabalipuram which is on Seashore is basically a Cave Town. Countless of neglected sculptures like Devi Durga and seven other Devi Murtis, a very prominent four and half feet high Shiva Linga in rather bad shape as also a Nandi all in spoilt stage covered by Sea Sand beckon the visitors. On the Seashore are several dilapidated sculptures of Shiva Parvati Yugala Murtis, Ashtha Bhuja Murtis, a sand filled Shiva Mandir, Vishnu Idol of eleven feet height, excellent sculptures struggling to survive, a Ganesha Cave Mandir, Murtis atop elephant tops, a Group of Murthis with the full Pandava Parivar, Mahishasura Mardini alighted on a lion and such innumerable pieces of Master Craft in stone are all standing proofs of ancient skills.

Notwithstanding the efforts of the sucessive Central Govts, further decadence might perhaps be slowed down but there are sure signs of non restoration of age old treasures. Thus Mahabalipuram stands sad proof of age old mastery of unbelivable golden ages. At the most, the Place is but a beautiful picnic spot away from the din and drudgery of modern life! Madurantakam: Considered as significant by Yatris, especilally the followers of Ramanujacharya who assumed ‘diksha’ as a Sanyasin at this Vakula Kshetra where a Vakula Vriksha is still in place, Madurantakam is proud of its legendary past. In this erstwhile form of Vakularanya, there was a hermitage of Vibhandaka Rishi from where interesting references were obtained: in SatyaYuga, Lord Vishnu directed Brahma putras to worship him and get identified with himself at thisSacred Sthala. During Treta Yuga, Lord Rama after killing Ravana and installing Rameshwar Maha Linga passed through Vakularanya and instructed Hanuman to set up a Rama Temple with his parivar for worship by posterity. Eventually, Ramanujacharya’s diksha followed near the Rama Mandir under the Vakula Tree by way of Pancha Samskara of ‘Taapa’(Sapta samudrankana), ‘Pundra’ or Tilaka, ‘Namadheya’ or assigning a suitable name, ‘ Mantradaana’ or according ‘Mantropadesha’ and finally ‘Yagna’ / Viraja homa and so on. There are interesting references in Tamil/ Telugu books kept in the well preserved Library at the Kondada Rama- Janaki Temple of date about an ‘Anikut’ built across a violent water body creating floods in paddy fields causing enormous losses in the adjoining rural economies. A British Expert named Mr. Place for Flood Control was commisioned for constructing a strong and expensive bridge and as plodded by local engineers called on the then Vaishvanava Head of Madurantakam who advised to build a Janaki Mandir; jokingly the British Expert replied that most certainly he would do so in case the new bridge could with stand the powerful spate during the next flood season. The bridge got ready in time and the floods too were round the corner. One fateful night, the spate was so severe that Mr. Place had no sleep in the other side of the most powerful spate ever and floods at both sides were certain to submerge including the fairly distant places where he was staying himself; next morning he resolved to initiate the construction of Janaki Temple which is now in position!

Sri V.D.N.Rao and Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham presents the Essence of Puranas in English, condensed by Sri. V.D.N.Rao, devotee of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Compiled, Composed and Interpreted by V.D.N.Rao, Former General Manager, India Trade Promotion Organisation, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi Ministry of Commerce, Govt. of India The author can be contacted at