CHENNAI:The Bharadvajeshwarar temple, popularly known as the Puliyur Sivan Kovil, is one of the many ancient shrines in Kodambakkam. At the entrance on the south side, which is the one used by most who visit this temple, is a five-storeyed gopuram constructed in recent times. Interestingly, many old musical instruments, perhaps once played in this temple, are displayed at the side of the gopuram, as one enters it.
The central east-facing sanctum of Chola vintage enshrines the Siva Lingam, which according to inscriptions, was once worshipped as Puliyur Thiruvalikoil-udaiya Nayanar and now known as Bharadvajeshwarar. According to the traditional lore (Sthala-Puranam) of this temple, Sage Bharadvaja worshipped this deity here. It is also said that Vali, the monkey-king prayed to this Lingam as did the beautiful celestial (apsara), Urvashi.
The sanctum for Goddess Parvati, worshipped as Swarnambikai Ambal, designed like a chariot is a modern structure, though the original one was as old as the central sanctum. The entry to the shrine of the Goddess is through a mandapa, through which devotees have to enter to reach the main sanctum also. At the east-entrance to the mandapa, leading to the principal shrine from the outer prakaram, is a Chola image of Ganesa to the left and a modern image of Subrahmanya to the right.
The temple has numerous small modern sanctums for Bhakta Ganapati, Veda Subramanya with consorts Gaja Valli (Devasena) and Vana Valli, an ancient Linga worshipped as Ramanatha, Bhairava, Navagraha, Surya and Saptamatrikas.
A donative Tamil inscription dated c.1259 AD, belonging to the reign of Vijayaganda Gopala, a chieftain of the Telugu Choda dynasty found in this temple, mentions that this area was situated in the ancient territorial subdivision called Puliyur Nadu, a subdivision of Puliyur Kottam alias Kulottunga Chola Valanadu, in Jayankonda Chola Mandalam.
The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture