Tiruvottiyur Temple

Sri Thiagarajaswamy/ Sri Vadivudai Amman temple is in Tiruvottiyur, a bustling township, at the fringes of Chennai. Shiva is worshipped here as Sri Thyagaraja, and His divine consort as Sri Vadivudai Amman.  Shiva i also worshipped here as Aadipureeswarar.  It is a reference to the antipuity of the place, Adipuri (primordial place), and its claim to be the first Shiva sthala on earth. As in Tiruvannamalai, Shiva is worshipped as the formless Supreme, as Agni or Light, without a beginning and without an end.  In the physical, He is worshipped in the Lingam form.  The swayambhu Lingam is covered with a kavacham (shroud), which is removed on Full Moon day in the the month of Karthika (November, December).  According to the sthala purana, at the request of Brahma, Shiva perfomed the cosmic dance in the presence of the celestials here in Tiruvottiyur.  Shiva is called Nandeswarar, as He blessed Nandi deva here.  Apart from the representation of nandi, within the temple premises, there is a separate shrine for him in the North Mada Street nearby.  Here nandi, who is usually shown in his bovine form, is depicted with the human body.  Shiva's utsavamoorthy halts for a few moments in front of this temple, so that Nandi Deva can savour once more the vision of the Lord's cosmic dance.

The first restoration of this ancient temple was said to have been undertaken in 750 CE by Thondaiman, who ruled from Kanchipuram.  But the present structure was built by the Imperial Cholas (9th to 12th century).  It is one of the finest examples of Chola I (907-50) and Uttama Chola (970-85) are found on pillars here.  The central shrine was rebuilt during the time of Rajendra Chola, who erected the rounded vimanam 9tower) with black stone, in the Chola style.
King Lava, the son of Lord Rama, is said to have worshipped at this temple, prior to performing the Rajasuya sacrifice.  Kannagi, the heroine of the epic, Silappadikaram, is said to have visited this temple after burning down Madurai.  Saint Pattinathar, who has sung many songs in praise of the Lord of Tiruvottiyur, came here at the beginning of the Christian era (Nine CE).  He had been told by the Lord that he could attain salvation at the place where the sugarcane that he carried tasted the sweetest.  It was at Tiruvottiyur that the cane tasted very sweet, indicating that the place was suitable for his samadhi.  A Lingam marks the place, where he is said to have disappeared, on the shore, nt far from the temple.  Adi Sankara consecrated the shrine of the Mother Goddess with yantra.  It is said that Kambar stayed here, while composing the Ramayana.  Ramalinga Swamigal worshipped the Goddess, prior to composing Arutperumjyoti.

The shrine of the Mother Goddess, Sri Vadivaudi Amman, is hugely popular.  And not merely now.  Saint Thyagaraja (1767-1847), the foremost among the Carnatic music trinity, visited this temple in 1839. He was so captivated by the splendor of the deity that he composed the Thiruvottiyur Pancharathnam (five gems).

How to get there:

Tiruvottiyur is only 10km from Chennai Central.  Buses stop near temple. There is also a railway station here.

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