An ancient temple with a rare Siva Linga

Located here is a sanctum for Goddess Parvati, worshipped as Gowri Ambal facing south with a stone image of an elephant in front instead of the lion vahana.
Festivals such as Masi Magham, Panguni Uttiram, Navaratri, Thiruvadhirai nakshatram in the month of Margazhi and Sivaratri are celebrated here.
Festivals such as Masi Magham, Panguni Uttiram, Navaratri, Thiruvadhirai nakshatram in the month of Margazhi and Sivaratri are celebrated here.

Damal, an ancient village close to Kanchipuram, is home to two temples — one for Siva worshipped as Varahishwarar and the other for Vishnu, wherein this deity is consecrated as Damodara Perumal. According to the Sthala Puranam or the hoary tradition of the Varahishwarar temple, God Varaha (the third incarnation of Vishnu, worshipped the Siva Linga here and hence the Sankha (conch) and Chakra (discus) marks of Vishnu are said to be seen on this Linga.

This temple probably belongs to the Pallava times, with subsequent additions during the Chola and Vijayanagara as seen from the architecture and sculptures. Vijayanagara inscriptions in this temple mention the name of this deity as Panrishwara and Thiru Panrishwaram Udaiya Tambiranar, because of the Varaha connection with this temple. This village was known by the names Damar or Tamar in times bygone.

The temple is entered through a tall seven-tier gopuram which has the stone sculptures of River Goddesses Ganga and Yamuna on either side on the inner walls, as seen in many Vijayanagara and post-Vijayanagara era gopurams. This entranceway leads to the outer enclosure (prakaram) which has a small sanctum for Ganesha on the left and one for Subrahmanya with consorts Valli and Devayanai on the right.

Inbetween is the small mandapa for Nandi, facing the main shrine. In front is a long mandapa, with pillars of the Vijayanagara type, studded with sculptures of various deities, including rare ones such as Agni. Located here is a sanctum for Goddess Parvati, worshipped as Gowri Ambal facing south with a stone image of an elephant in front instead of the lion vahana.

The main sanctum of God Varahishwarar faces west. It is said that on certain days of the year, the rays of the setting sun fall directly on this Siva Lingam, which is a Swayambhu (self-manifested). The inner prakaram which goes around the central sanctum has the images of the sixty-three Nayanmars or the important devotees of Siva and also a small sanctum for Chandikeshwara.

The devakoshtas (niches on the walls of the sanctum) enshrine Durga, Brahma, Lingodhbhava, Dakshinamurti and Brahma. Although this temple must have been there in the Pallava and Chola times, inscriptions of these dynasties are not seen in this temple now. However, a few Vijayanagara inscriptions have been discovered, the earliest dated 1524 AD, belonging to Prince Thirumalaraya, son of the illustrious ruler Krishnadeva Raya. Another epigraph dated 1532 AD of the reign of Achyuta Raya, successor of Krishnadeva Raya records the gift of a village to the temple of Thiru Panrishwaram Udaiya Tambiranar.

Festivals such as Masi Magham, Panguni Uttiram, Navaratri, Thiruvadhirai nakshatram in the month of Margazhi and Sivaratri are celebrated here.

Know your city

Damal is situated about 16 km from Kanchipuram on the Chennai-Bengaluru Highway. The tall gopuram of this temple can be seen from the main road.

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