CHENNAI: Chengalpattu, originally called Sengazhunirpattu, has a large temple dedicated to Rama worshipped here as Kodandarama Svami. It is believed that the original image in this temple was Varadaraja Svami and that the icon of Kodandarama Svami, which was near the Chengalpattu fort, was relocated here in 1885.
The central sanctum is entered through an 18-pillared mandapa belonging to the Vijayanagar period of the 15th or 16th centuries AD. Another spacious mandapa has numerous sanctums including that of Varadaraja Svami holding the seldom seen prayoga chakra (as though ready to be hurled). The Garuda image here faces Varadaraja Svami, while the image of Anjaneya enshrined in a santum outside this mandapa faces the main deity, Kodandarama Svami.
The principal stone image of Rama is seated in the Pattabhisekha pose, with the right hand in abhaya hasta (offering protection) and the left hand touching his knee. Sita is to Rama’s left while Lakshmana stands to the right, hands in supplication. Interestingly, Bharata and Shatrughna are also seen on either side of Rama, with Anjaneya close to Bharata.
There is an image of Vira Anjaneya with his right hand raised, left hand holding a lotus and trampling on Sanisvara (Saturn). Another shrine for Vira Anjaneya also called Satyavrata Anjaneya, who is the protector of the Chengalpattu fort, is at the entrance of the fort. At a time when a judicial court functioned nearby, people used to pray to Vira Anjaneya for winning their cases.
A few inscriptions have been discovered at these two temples. A Pandyan epigraph in the Perundevi Thayar sanctum belongs to the period of Vira Pandyan. Another inscription, datable to the 16th century AD of the reign of King Sriranga Raya of the Vijayanagar empire was found near the Anjaneya temple.
Kodandarama was originally known as Raghunayaka Hanuman on Sani
The image of Vira Anjaneya is seen trampling on Sanishvara
The Sthala Vriksham is the Punnai tree
Name of goddess
Lakshmi is worshipped here as Perundevi Thayar
The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture