Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Sundara Varadaraja Perumal||Ambal / Thayar:||Anandavalli, Sundaravalli|
|Timing:||6 to 12 & 4 to 8||Parikaram:|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Uthiramerur||District:||Kanchipuram|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Kanchipuram (31 km)||Tiruvallur (75 km)|
|Chennai (94 km)||Vellore (95 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the Mahabharatam, the Pandavas were in exile for thirteen years, including one year incognito. During that time, they visited various places, including many temples, and this place is regarded as one of the temples they visited. It is believed that Vishnu and Lakshmi appeared to them as Sundara Varadaraja Perumal and Anandavalli Thayar, at this place.
The garbhagriham houses Sundara Varadar facing east, who was worshipped by Yudhishtra. He is flanked on the remaining three sides by Achyuta Varadar, Aniruddha Varadar and Kalyana Varadar, who appeared and gave relief to Arjuna, Nakula and Sahadeva, respectively. Thayar appeared to Draupadi. Bhima is said to have worshipped Vaikunta Varadar (see below). The Pandavas, who are said to have lost their wisdom after gambling away their kingdom to Duryodhana and Sakuni, are said to have got back their wisdom after worshipping here.
Across the centuries, the place has been known by various names, including Vellai Vishnugraham (a reference to the fair-skinned Sundara Varadar) in the Pallava period, Rajendra Chola Vinnagaram (named so during the reign of Rajendra Chola I), and Vijayakanda Gopala Chaturvedi Managalam. The Lord Himself goes by other names including Vellaimurti Embiran, Rajendra Chola Vinnagara Azhvar, and Sokka Perumal.
Worshipping Kalyana Varadar here is said to help resolve delayed marriages.
Inscriptions in the temple indicate that the original masonry construction was in the time of the Pallava king Nandivarman II, in the middle of the 8th century. After the temple was built, he gifted the entire village to the Vaishnavite community. Some experts regard that this temple’s design is modelled loosely on the Vaikunta Perumal temple in Kanchipuram. Uthiramerur has come under the rule of a long line of dynasties, including the Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagara dynasty and the Nayaks. Many of these rulers have conducted expansions and renovations to the temple, and also made various contributions and endowments which are also recorded in the inscriptions in the temple.
It is said that in ancient times, this temple was built by Takshaka, the celestial architect, who conceived the idea of Vishnu in three forms (nindra kolam, amarndha kolam, and kidandha / sayana kolam) on three levels, which is embedded in the Vaikhanasa agama.
At the lower level is Sundara Varadaraja Perumal, as is the separate sannidhi for Thayar. A narrow flight of stairs leads to the middle level, where Vaikunta Varada Perumal is seen in a seated posture. Flanking Vishnu here are shrines for Arjuna, Krishna (Parthasarathi) and Yoga Narasimhar. It is unusual to see Arjuna here, so one may regard this as a depiction of Nara-Narayana. Another narrow flight of stairs leads to the top level where Vishnu, as Ananta Padmanabhan or Ranganathar, is depicted resting on Adiseshan, and is flanked by Ganga and Yamuna. Also at this level, are shrines for Siva and Brahma. So not only is the temple on three levels, and features Vishnu in three kolams, but also houses all of the trimurti deities. The Padma Kosha (or Ashtanga) vimanam above depicts Vishnu in nine different forms.
The temple is famous for its architecture made out of sudhai (plaster) and stone. The intricate depictions of murtis, and avataras of Vishnu, are spectacular.
Since there are five Varadar depictions here – Sundara, Vaikunta, Achyuta, Aniruddha and Kalayana Varadars – this is regarded as Pancha Varada Kshetram.
Other information for your visit
The following temples can be covered as part of a trip to Uthiramerur:
- Vaikunta Perumal temple
- Sundara Varadaraja Perumal temple (adjacent to the Balasubramaniar temple)
- Balasubramanian temple (Murugan)
- Kailasanathar temple
- Kadambanathar temple at Kadambar Koil
In December 2020, Uthiramerur became popular for a brief while across India when PM Narendra Modi mentioned the Uthiramerur inscriptions as an example of the grassroots level governance that was practiced in Chola times (called the Kudavolai system), and how that unique principle had been a characteristic feature of governance in India even during ancient times. These inscriptions are housed in the Vaikuntha Perumal temple, which abuts the town bus stand (on the right-hand side of the road, when coming into Uthiramerur from NH45).
Sidelight: [Food] A couple of hundred meters before the Sundara Varadaraja Perumal temple, on the left had side of the road, is a small eatery called Iyer Mess, run by a brahmin family, which serves really tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Aravamudhan Bhattar: 9442311138, 9751035544; Rajagopala Bhattar: 9486369455