CHENNAI: Thirukkachur, an ancient village near Chennai is home to the Kachapeshwara Temple which is replete with legends, history, art, architecture and inscriptions. Saint Sundaramurti Nayanar of the 8th Century AD, visited this place and composed hymns praising the deities.
Though dated back to the Pallava times, the temple appears to have been renovated during the Chola period and thereafter. Most of the inscriptions are of the Chola era beginning from the 12th Century AD. There are some records of the Pandyas and Vijayanagara monarchs too. The epigraphs reveal that the ancient names of the deity were Thiru Aalakovil Perumal, Thiru Aalakovil Udaiya Mahadeva and Thiru Aalakovil Udaiyar. The name seems to have changed to Kachapeshwarar much later, in accordance with the tradition that Mahavishnu, in the form of a tortoise worshipped Lord Siva here. The processional image of this temple is Thyagaraja Svami; locals residents refer to this temple by the same name. An eye-catching feature of this temple is the Nakshatra Mandapam, in front of the main shrine which has 27 pillars denoting the 27 stars of astrology.
Tax Problems During the Chola Period
A Chola epigraph dated 1107 AD records failure of crops that year and the consequent problems regarding payment of taxes.
Tortoise Tank, Named After the Lord
The temple-tank is called ‘Kurma Tirtham’, in keeping with the tradition of Lord Vishnu as the tortoise avatar (kurma).
Another Name The Temple is Known By
The present name Thirukacchur is mentioned in the Chola inscriptions which also refer to it as Nityavinoda Nallur.
A Rare Variety of the Banyan in this Temple
The Sthala Vriksham or sacred tree of this temple is the Kal Aalamaram, a rare species of the Banyan tree.
(The writer is a historian who focusses on temple architecture)