Do You Know Chennai has 274 Known Shiva Temples

There are many temples around Chennai which have been very popular in old times but lost out with age. These temples carry our history known and unknown.  Temples are part of  our heritage and majority of Tamilnadu is synonymous with temples and devotion be it chidambaram, kanchipuram, Madurai, Thanjavur to name a few.  It will be good if we contribute our little to  repair, renovate and upkeep the existing ones instead of building new ones. It is our duty to make sure the temples left for us by our great saints and ancestors are maintained well and continue to exist for our  future generations.

On this auspicious day of Maha Shivratri, we are covering 3 of the ancient temples with rich history patronized by our kings around Chennai.


This temple, one of the 274 Shiva temples, is located near Chennai. Goddess Parvathi came here as Kamadhenu (cow) with her brother Lord Vishnu and poured milk on the Shivalingam made of Maragatha stone to do the Shiva worship.

The great saint poet Thrugnasambandar stayed here for 6 months on his way to Thrirukazhugu Kundram and converted this temple into a brick structure (earlier one was wooden one) which in turn converted to granite structure by chola kings.

There is a small Vinayagar temple just outside the temple. In the outer praharam there is an shrine for  Valampuri vinayahar and Shrines for Brahmaandeswar in the form a lingam and Brahmaandeswari are present in the east praharam. Nearby is the Balipeetam, west facing Nandhi and three trees Neem, Vilvam and Arasu bound together. The sthala vruksham is Vilvam. Here is the entrance to the main shrine to Lord Shiva who is facing east. In the east praharam there is a shrine for Lord Subramanyar facing south and in the South praharam, there is a snake pit that looks like a Vinayahar.

The Goddess is called Govarthanambihai (Go means cow) since she came as Kamadhenu, poured milk on the lingam and did the worship of Lord Shiva. The main deity is made of Maragatha stone and is shining beautifully and is called Idaichura nathar or Gnanapureeswarar.

In the inner praharam there are shrines for the Nalvar, Sthala Ganapathy, Lord Subramanyar with his consorts, Chandikeswarar, Kala Bairavar, Dwara Ganapathy MuthukumaraSwamy and Sun God are present; also Brahma, Maha Vishnu (Goddess Paravathi came here with her brother Maha Vishnu to worship Lord Shiva), Durga are present as Koshta moorthies.


This temple is located at about 55 km from Adayar(Chennai) via Thirupporur in the Thirupporur-Chenglepat route on the way to Sembakkam and at 7 km in Chengalpet – Tiruporur road.

It is 18 km from Thirupporur and 9 km from Chenglepet. After Sembakkam, we have to go further towards Chenglepet and at about 6 kms from Sembakkam, there is a road going to Guduvanchery on the right. Go straight further towards Chenglepet for another 6 km, this temple comes up.

Distance to the temple:

Adayar to Thirupporur – 36 km

Thirupporur to Thiru Idaichuram – 18 Km

Ilambayam Kottur

Arambapuri is one of the 274 Shiva temples, where the presiding deity is called Arambeswarar. The Lord was worshipped by celestial dancers, called “Arambair”. Rambha, Urvasi and Menaka were relieved of the curse that rendered them deformed of some kind and lose their beauty and charm. Thus the Lord is called Arambeswarar.

 The temple story also says that Chandran, to get rid of Daksha’s curse, bathed in the temple tank and worshipped the deity with the fragrant jasmine. The sthala vriksam here is the jasmine creeper. The tank is known as Chandrapushkarani.

Those who have moon in a weaker position in their horoscopes are advised to visit the place. Chandran rules the heart, the mind and the brain. It is recommended that those who wish to have the blessings of Ilambaiyam Kottur Chandrasekara must perform prayers to him at least on Monday (Somavara).

‘Enathurai Thanathurai’

Thirugnana Sambandar has sung a ‘Thevaram’ of 10 stanzas about the ‘Thaiva Nayageswarar’ in this temple. Lord Shiva explained that he was the cause for whatever Thirugnana Sambandar says. Thus the words of Sambandar are those of Lord Shiva himself.

The Yoga Dakshinamoorthy idol in this temple is a wonderful work of art. He sits under the Kallala (banyan) tree, with his hair open. He has positioned the famous ‘chin muthra’ on his chest and has a ‘Yoga Pattam’ (a belt like thing) between His right leg and hip. Specifically signifying the importance of Atma Gnyanam, His left hand is on the thigh, the rear arms holding the Trisulam and japamala. His right leg is folded to strike the posture of yoga mudra with the left foot stamping ‘Muyalagan’.

Those who worship him on Pournami (Full Moon day), are blessed with knowledge, wisdom and peace of mind.

Ilambayam Kottur (now known as Elumiyam Kottur) is situated between Koovam and Thakkolam towns – 40 kms from Poonamalee near Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is 2,000 years old. Worship is offered six times a day.


Thirukkachur Sri Oushadheeswarar temple is in a small village called Thirukkachur situated about 3 kms from Singaperumal Koil. This village lies on the west side of Singaperumal Koil off the GST Road. There is a small hillock in this village called Oushadhagiri. At the foot hill, there is this stunning, ancient temple for Lord Shiva called Sri Oushadheeswarar.

 Girivalam is very popular here. Devotees undertake Girivalam on Pournami (full moon) days and Tuesdays praying the Lord, to get cured of their illness. Sundaramurthy Naayanaar, who had visited this village and composed hymns on Sri Kachabeswarar, has sung 2 hymns in praise of Sri Oushadheeswarar too.

This temple was built by Kulothunga Chozha. The main deity is Lord Shiva called as Sri Oushadheeswarar (in Sanskrit ‘oushadha’ means medicine) also called Marundheeswarar and Goddess Andhaka Nivarani Ambaal (also called Sri Irul Neekki Ambaal). This temple is also called as Malai Koil by the villagers. It is said that this hill is rich in herbs containing very rare and precious herbs all over.

The entrance of this temple is facing south. There is no Rajagopuram for this temple. Soon after the entrance, there is a stone pillared Mandapam on which wonderful ancient carvings of Lingothbavar, Kamakshi, Pattinathaar, Dhandaayudhapaani etc, are seen.

The temple story is that, as per the direction of Lord Indra, Aswini Devas came to this place to find some rare herbs and worshipped Lord Shiva here. It is also said that Sage Agasthiyar worshipped Lord Marundheeswarar both at Thiruvaanmiyur and Thirukkachur and enriched his knowledge on Herbal Medicines.

Another unique feature of this temple is the deity Sri Marundheeswarar here is facing west. The outer praakaram is huge and has Dwajasthambha and Nandhi facing east towards the sanctum.

The people believe that the soil of this place itself is medicinal and would cure one from ailments. There is a small pit near Dwajasthambha filled with mud. This mud is considered sacred and medicinal, which devotees apply on their forehead like Vibhuthi.

There is a separate shrine for Sri Andhaka Nivarani Ambaal, where She is in standing posture. Sri Brahma, Sri Durgai, Sri Sandigeswarar and Sri Bhairavar are seen on the praakaram around the sanctum. Sri Sandigeswarar here is seen with 4 heads which is not seen in many temples. He is called Chathurmuga Sandigeswarar. Sri Dhakshinamurthy is present facing south.

There is an ancient well at the north eastern side of this temple. This serves as the Theertham for this temple and is called ‘Oushadha Theertham’. This water too is believed to have medicinal properties. The Sthala Viruksham for this temple is Palaa Maram (Jack tree).

There are two more Sivan temples here:

1. Thyagaraja Swamy Temple.

This is a temple, where Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Siva in the form of a turtle. It is depicted in the extreme left pillar of the natchathira mandapam.

2. Irandhitteeshwarar temple

As Lord Shiva collected alms and fed Sundarar he is also called Virundhitta Easwarar. It’s not actually a temple. There is a single Siva Linga near a water tank. According to mythology, Sundaramurthy Naayanaar had been to Tirukazhukundram. After that he wanted to worship Marundeeshwarar temple atop the hill in Tirukkachchur. When he reached this place, he got very tired and was hungry. He sat down. At that time, Lord Siva appeared as a brahmin and went to the village asking everyone for biksha. After that, he gave that food to Sundaramurthy Naayanaar. A Siva Lingam is there at the place where Lord Siva fed Sundaramurthy Naayanaar. Since Lord Siva’s footsteps are spread over the village it is considered to be very holy.


This ancient Shiva temple is at about 6 kms from Maraimalai Nagar and 2 kms from Singaperumal koil towards West. Tirukkachur is 4 kms from Maraimalai Nagar railway station. When you are coming from Chennai,  go all the way till ford factory, take a U turn and then turn at the second left. You will reach a railway gate adjacent to Maraimalai Nagar railway station. Keep going straight for another 4 kms and you will reach the Thygaraja Swamy Temple.

Posted on February 20, 2012, in Heritage of Chennai and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

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