CHENNAI: The consecration of the Virupakshishwara temple was last held in 1998. After a complete makeover including a 72 feet high rajagopuram at the entrance of the south side on the Virupakshishwarar Koil Street and covered with stucco sculptures like the 108 Tandava forms of Siva, a kumbabhishekam was performed early morning Wednesday.
A large crowd of devotees thronged the temple, in complete awe of the temple-complex that had been spruced up. The temple is located in the heart of Mylapore at Bazar Road and is one of the seven important Siva temples in the Mylapore area and also one of the most ancient.
Historian Chitra Madhavan briefed us on the history of the temple in a release. “Those connected with this temple claim that the Linga enshrined here is the largest among the seven well-known Siva temples of Mylapore. There is a small mandapa adjoining the main sanctum which has pillars of delicate workmanship. If you observe closely, you’ll find that no two pillars of this hall are alike,” she explains.
These pillars are covered with many carvings, one of which is believed to be that of Sivanesan Chettiyar, who is fondly remembered by the Mylaporeans as the father of Poompavai who was brought back to life by the renowned Saivite saint or Nayanmar, Tirugnana Sambandar. This story is closely connected with the nearby Kapaleeswarar temple.
The south-facing shrine of Goddess Vishalakshi, the consort of the presiding deity, can be entered through this same mantapa. “In front of the Goddess is a small stone image of Nandi, the vehicle of Siva and not the lion, the mount of Parvati. This is indeed rare. It is said that this is exactly like the temple of Goddess Vishalakshi in Kashi where a Nandi sits in front of this deity and not a lion,” adds Chitra.
Many Tamil inscriptions line the walls of this temple but time and neglect have taken their toll on these ancient documents. Most of them are damaged and some are hardly visible. Explaining the inscriptions, Chitra says, “The earliest of these records belongs to the reign of Vira-Rajendra Chola (1062/63-1070AD). There are two inscriptions of the 13th Century. The only inscription that would be clearly visible to the visitors can be found above a pillar in the maha-mantapa.”
Festivals Celebrated Here
Tamil New Year, Chitra Pournami, Vaikasi Visakam, Ani Thirumanjanam, Adi Pooram, Adi Krithigai, Avani Vinayaka Chaturthi, Purattasi Navaratri, Ippasi Annabhisekam, Kanda Sasti, Karthigai Deepam, Arudra Darshana in Margazhi, Pongal and Thai Poosam in Thai and Kadalatri Vizha in Masi, Panguni Uttiram in Panguni and many others.
(Visit the temple on Bazzar Road, Mylapore. For details, call 04424981893)