Basic information about the temple
|Moolavar:||Tiruvetteeswarar||Ambal / Thayar:||Shenbagambigai|
|Timing:||6 to 11 & 5 to 9||Parikaram:|
|Temple group:||Vaippu Sthalam||–|
|Sung by:||Temple set:|
|City / town:||Triplicane||District:||Chennai|
|Maps from (click):||Current location||Chennai (3 km)||Tiruvallur (51 km)|
|Kanchipuram (83 km)||Vellore (156 km)|
Sthala puranam and temple information
In the Tevaram pathigams of Appar, the name Vedeechuram finds mention. This temple is one of many that lay claim to being the Vedeechuram in question, and therefore is possibly a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam.
Inthe Mahabharatam, Arjuna went on a pilgrimage, with the goal of obtaining the Pasupatastram from Siva. He noticed a boar and sought to claim it by firing an arrow upon it, but found a hunter whose arrow was also embedded in the pig. Not knowing the hunter’s real identity as Siva, Arjun ended up fighting Him. At the end, after the hunter won, He showed his true form. Arjuna received the weapon, and continued on his pilgrimage, and came to this place, where he found a swayambhu Lingam. Upon close examination, he noticed a gash on the Lingam, and instantly, his encounter with Siva as a hunter flashed in his mind’s eye. Arjuna installed the Lingam and worshipped it. Since the Lingam had a cut (vettu in Tamil), Siva is named Tiru-Vettu-Eeswarar.
Kannappa Nayanar – who is normally associated with Kalahasti – is believed to be the rebirth of Arjuna, as penance for having wounded Siva in their battle in the Mahabharatam episode. So, the Nayanar gets importance here during the temple festival, and is also taken around in procession, on the day of the Mrigaseersha nakshatram in the Tamil month of Thai (January-February).
This is also a temple for Rahu and Ketu and for overcoming their malevolent effects. During the churning of the ocean, Swarnabhanu – one of the asuras – crept into the line of the Devas. However, he was identified by Suryan and Chandran, and as punishment, Vishnu (in the form of Mohini) hit the asura on the head with the serving spoon. But because the asura had partaken of amritam by then, he survived. His head detached from his body, and joined with the body and head of a snake respectively, becoming Rahu and Ketu, whom are depicted on bas-reliefs inside the temple, and appear to be swallowing the sun and the moon (causing eclipses).
According to one puranam, Lakshmi worshipped Siva here in order to be wed to Vishnu. She is depicted performing Siva puja here. Lakshmi and Saraswati are also enshrined together, in another shrine.
Murugan also receives prominence at this temple, with special pujas on the day of Sashti (6th day from the new and full moon days). Given His association with the number 6, puja is conducted with 6 types of flowers, 6 neivedyams and 6 fruits, by 6 priests who perform a special “Shatru Samhara Trisadha” puja for Murugan here. The Skanda Sashti Kavacham and the Kandar Anubhuti hymns are also inscribed on the temple walls in granite.
It is possible that this temple was lost to history and antiquity, before being rediscovered in the 18th century. According to one version (which may seem incongruent in terms of timelines), this temple (or a portion of it) was located when the area was being cleared up during the building of the Chepauk Palace, for the Nawab of Arcot, sometime in the mid-1700s. The Nawab of Arcot and their family have a long association with Hindu temples (including the Kapaleeswarar temple), and it is no different here, where the family has contributed to the development and upkeep of this temple. As a consequence, even today, milk for the daily neivedyam is often provided by the Muslim community, for whom the Triplicane area of Chennai is a mainstay.
If this is regarded as a Tevaram Vaippu Sthalam, the original temple must have existed in the 7th century, possibly earlier. There are certainly some accounts of a temple having existed here in the 7th century, in which case this is likely a Pallava temple. However, the structural temple we see today is reckoned to be approximately 500-600 years old. This used to be a forested area at one time. The present-day structure is dated to a renovation in the 1700s – a cow was seen pouring its milk on a particular spot near the temple tank. Upon digging there, the locals found a Lingam with a scar on it, which was installed, and the temple built around it.
Interestingly, the temple has three dhwajasthambams – one each for Siva, Parvati and Murugan. The murti of Shenbagambigai Amman is believed to have been found in the temple’s tank, the Shenbaga Teertham, which She is named for. An interesting observance here is the Ardhajama puja in the evenings. Normally, Siva’s feet are symbolically taken into the palliyarai (bed chamber) for the night. However, here, a separate murti of Siva is taken entirely, not just the feet. Staying on the Lord’s feet – Yoga Dakshinamurti here is seen with one foot pressed to the ground, as He blesses devotees.
Other Information for your visit
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