CHENNAI: Kundrathur, close to Porur in Kancheepuram district, was part of the ancient Tondaimandalam region. As the place has a hill (kundru in Tamil), it is named Kundrathur. To historians, Kundrathur has a special importance as it is the birthplace of Sekkizhar, the author of the famous Tamil work Periya Puranam which chronicles the lives of the 63 Nayanmars or the important Saiva devotees. Sekkizhar was the minister of Kulottunga Chola II (1133-1150 AD) and wrote this work at his behest.
Sekkizhar was a devotee of the Nageshwara Swami temple in Tirunageswaram near Kumbakonam which is associated with Rahu, one of the nine planets (navagraha) of Hindu tradition. He is said to have built the Nageshwara Swami temple in Kundrathur in the 12th century AD. Since the Kundrathur temple is to the north of the original Thirunageshwaram, it is called Vada (North) Nageshwaram. Many Chola architectural features can be seen here. This Rahu sthalam in Kundrathur is one of the nine Shiva temples near Porur associated with the Navagraha.
The entrance to this temple is on the east with a five-tier gopuram at the entrance. On entering, the devotee sees a mandapa of the Chola times, near which is a shrine for Kamakshi Amman. The main linga is worshipped as Nageshwara Swami and the utsava-murti is Somaskanda. This temple has a separate shrine for Sekkizhar. This scholar-devotee holds a garland of prayer beads (japa mala) in his right hand and palm-leaf manuscripts in his left hand. A large number of inscriptions have been discovered in this temple of the reign of Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagara monarchs as well as kings like Rajanarayana Sambuvarayar.
(The writer is a historian who focuses on templearchitecture)