Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tiruvalleswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Jagadambal, Thaaiammai|
|Timing:||6.30 to 12 & 4.30 to 8.30||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Paadal Petra Sthalam (Tondai Naadu)||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Padi||District:||Chennai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Chennai (10 km)||Tiruvallur (38 km)|
|Kanchipuram (75 km)||Vellore (145 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
Also known as Tiruvalithayam, this is one of a handful of Paadal Petra Sthalam temples located in and around metropolitan Chennai. Only three others – at Tiruvotriyur, Mylapore and Tiruvanmiyur – are within the city as such (Tirumullaivoyal and Tiruverkadu are regarded as outside of core Chennai).
Sage Bharadwaja – son of Brhaspati – was born as a sparrow named Valiyan. The bird was quite disappointed with this, and wanted something greater in life, and so it started worshipping Siva at various places. Finally, the sparrow came and worshipped Siva here, and was made the king of birds. The temple is called Vali-thaayam, meaning the place where Valiyan worshipped. [Interestingly, the sthala puranam of the Manathunai Nathar temple at Valivalam in Nagapattinam district – another Paadal Petra Sthalam – also involves a sparrow which worshipped Siva at that temple and became strong enough to fight off other birds. Since that sparrow became strong (valu, in Tamil), and circumambulated the temple (valam), the place is called Valivalam.]
This temple is a Guru parihara sthalam, and there is a sthala puranam behind this. Brhaspati, the guru of the Devas, once fell prey to lust and desire, and as a result, incurred a curse from Menaka the celestial dancer. At the advice of Sage Markandeyar, Guru worshipped Siva here to be rid of the curse.
Brahma had two daughters – Kamali and Valli – who worshipped Siva here. At the Lord’s instructions, they married Vinayakar here! Therefore, unlike at many other temples, Vinayakar here is in a householder, and is worshipped by those seeking to get married. This, coupled with the astrological reckoning that Guru’s benevolence is required for marriage to take place, makes this temple a prarthana sthalam for those seeking to get married.
It may be recalled that Sage Agastyar, after seeing through the plans of the demons Ilvala and Vatapi, overcame them by digesting Vatapi (who was served as food to the sage), and then burned Ilvala to ashes. These events are said to have taken place at nearby Villivakkam (which also has an Agasteeswarar temple; Villivakkam itself is said to derive its name from Ilvala). Agastyar later came to this temple (Tiruvalithayam) to get rid of the sin of killing the demons.
The word “Padi”, which is the name of the area that this temple is located in, is derived from the Tamil word padai, meaning army. During the Chola period, this place used to be an armoury back, which gives it its name.
The original structural temple here is said to have been a brick temple from the 6th or 7th century, which was later renovated by the Cholas in the 10th and 11th century, into a stone temple. Subsequently, the temple has seen renovations and additions, by the Vijayanagara Dynasty. Specifically, inscriptions in the temple and also elsewhere, make references to contributions to the temple made by Raja Raja Chola I.
Several prominent temples in and around Chennai have a Gaja-prishtha vimanam, where the vimanam (structure over the garbhagriham) is shaped like the back (prishtha in Sanskrit) of a seated elephant (gaja). This temple too has such a vimanam, and is a beautiful piece of architecture. The temple also has 4 Teerthams, including the main one named Bharadwaja Teertham, which is said to have been built by sage Bharadwaja.
Because this is a Guru parihara sthalam, Dakshinamurti is given importance here. This is also considered to be a temple of importance to those born in the Bharadwaja gotram.
Other information for your visit
While there are others, this is one of two prominent Guru sthalams in and around Chennai, the other being the Ramanaadeswarar temple at Porur.