Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sthalasayana Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Nilamangai Thayar, Boosthalamangadevi|
|Deity:||Perumal||Historical name:||Tirukadal Mallai|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 3 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Divya Desam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||mamallapuram||District:||Chengalpattu|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Chennai (64 km)||Kanchipuram (73 km)|
|Tiruvallur (82 km)||Viluppuram (133 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
During his penance, Sage Pundareeka saw pond filled with lotuses nearby. Wanting to submit these to Vishnu in Tiruparkadal, he plucked them and attempted to cross the sea to reach Tiruparkadal. To make his way to Vaikuntam, he started draining the sea water with the basket in which he normally plucked flowers, one basket at a time. Vishnu came there in the form of an old man, and explained why this was a fruitless exercise, but the sage was adamant. The old man then asked the sage for some food, telling him that He would continue the work while the sage was away. When the sage returned with food from his house, he saw Vishnu lying on the ground in sayanam, and wearing the flowers collected by the sage as a garland. This is portrayed in the garbhagriham where Perumal is seen lying in sayana kolam but on the ground, instead of his usual bed – Adiseshan, and is possibly the only Vishnu temple with such iconography.
Another puranam that is often mentioned for this temple is about King Harikesavarman, who used to travel from Mamallapuram to Tiruvidanthai every day to worship Perumal there, and how Vishnu, at the king’s request, came to be here. However, based on research, this seems to be the puranam connected to the Tiruvalavendhai temple.
Sage Pundareeka is seen at the feet of the moolavar. Nilamangai Thayar is also seen standing on the ground (and hence the name), instead of on a lotus-peetham. Ulaguyya Nindraan – the utsava murti at this temple – is seen with a lotus in his hand, waiting to be offered to the moolavar! The temple Teertham is called the Pundareeka Teertham, honouring the sage in the sthala puranam. Sage Agastyar is believed to have worshipped at this temple. This place is the avatara sthalam of Boothathazhvar, one of the 12 azhvars, who has a separate shrine at this temple.
Mamallapuram is referred to in Sangam literature, and was also a key trading port during Chola times. At one time, there were seven Vishnu temples built in what is Mamallapuram today, but were all destroyed due to erosion. Later, Rajasimha Pallava built three temples, two of which were destroyed, while this temple is the third. According to inscriptions in the temple, prior to its shifting, this temple received grants from Parantaka Chola, Rajendra Chola I, and Kulothunga Chola II, as well as the Pandyas. The temple had also been expanded by Vikrama Chola in his time. Its location was shifted in the 14th century by Parankusha of the Vijayanagara dynasty, and is largely constructed in the style of that time.
The temple is one of the 32 monuments in Mamallapuram that are collectively classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but this temple is itself maintained by the ASI.
Other information for your visit
This temple is not to be confused with the Lakshmi Varaha Perumal temple at Tiruvalavendhai.
To make it abundantly clear, there is no connection between the king Mahabali and Mahabalipuram, which is the colloquial name of the place. Mamallapuram has corrupted into Mahabalipuram over time. Mamallapuram is named for Narasimhavarman I, the Pallava king and son of Mahendravarman, whose feats of strength earned him the name Mahamallan / Mamallan.