Kandaswamy Temple, Chennai

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Location : At Cheyur Near Madurantakam, Kanchipuram District, Tamil Nadu
Deity Worshipped: Kandaswamy (Lord Muruga)
Dates Back: 11th Century
Shape Of: Tamil Letter Om

The ancient Kandaswamy temple at Cheyur near Madurantakam, Kanchipuram district, dates back to the 11th century. From the road one can only see the Raja Gopuram with the rest of the facade being shops and shops galore; a typical metro temple one can say; indicative of the commercial milieu of the temple trustees.

The temple is built in the shape of Tamil letter "OM". That is to say, the different 'Sannidhis' are situated accordingly. The temple is open in the morning and evening and attracts a large number of devotees from near and far.

People from Chennai and nearby towns throng the temple during Bharani, Krithigai and especially during Adi Krithigai, Thai Krithigai and Vaikasi Visakam. In 1988, the Kumbhabhishekam of this temple was conducted with great devotion, fervour and grandeur.

The Deities
The main deity - Lord Kandhaswamy with his consorts Valli and Deivanai, with his Vel and his pennant; with a mien filled with shanta swaroopam and his abhaya hastam showering grace on his devotees, is a balm to the weary mind. The utsavar, in this temple, is Shri Muthukumaraswami.

Legend Behind The Origin Of The Temple
Lord Muruga when he was a mere child, for sake the world and left Kailas, the abode of his father Lord Shiva, to travel to Palani in a loin cloth to perform a penance of righteous indignation at not being given the mango fruit for which he and his elder brother Lord Ganesh competed.

The action of Lord Muruga was one of great philosophical import and is not to be confused with the urge of mortals to abjure the material. In order to infuse meaning into the day to day material life of samsara, Lord Muruga imparted a profound message to a savant of South India over three centuries ago. The fruit of this message is today enshrined in a remarkable temple found in the heart of Chennai metro's commercial hub; the evening bazaar or the rattan bazaar.

This shrine is none other than the Arulmigu Shri Kandaswamy temple known popularly as Kandha Kottam. Situated in Rasappa Chetty Street, in George Town, the temple is an excellent proof of the congenial togetherness of worship and worldly responsibility, commerce and spirituality.

Over 350 years ago lived a man called "Vellore Marichettiar", who didn't feel inclined to pursue a life of commerce. He didn't want to marry and get caught in the web of samsara and yearned to lead a life of denial and penance. Being an Ayira Vaisya Chettiar, it was his dharma to pursue a commercial vocation but Mari Chettiar was firm in his resolve, till one day God Muruga himself conveyed to him a message that a life of grahastha with love towards a co human being was a divine ordinance.

Mari Chettiar thereafter became a grahastha and an ardent devotee of Lord Muruga. He used to travel by foot every Krithigai to Tirporur to have darshan of Lord Muruga. On one such occasion, when Mari Chettiar was resting under a Neem tree on his way to Tiruporur, Lord Muruga appeared before him in the form of a cobra and indicated to him the presence of His vigraha under the tree.

Mari Chettiar and his friend immediately started digging under the tree and found a stone vigraha of Lord Kandhaswamy. Though the Vigraha was heavy, the lord made it light and enabled his dear devotee to carry it all the way to its present location in Chennai. Pledging his wife's jewels, Mari Chettiar built a temple for the Lord and since that day the community of Ayira Vaisya Chettiars have endowed generously to the extension, upkeep and expansion of this temple. The past years have seen a number of munificent efforts from the devotees in the field of art, culture and education under the aegis of this temple.

A Special Feature
Another significance here is that, Saint Chidambara Swamigal attained his Jeeva Samadhi on the same day of Vaikasi Visakam. So, there will be Guru Puja to the Swamigal in the morning at his Samadhi (which is near the temple) and there will be a procession of the deities (Lord Muruga with His spouses) late in the evening. The Lord will give a special Darshan to the Swamigal whose idol will be brought from his Samadhi.

The philosophical connotation is that Lord Parameswara, in order to destroy the evils, gave life (as the sixth face) to the five elements - Air, Fire, Water, Earth and Space and took the form of Shanmukha. In traditional homes, "Vaikasi Visakam" is celebrated with a special puja (with Sahasranama Archanai - 1,008 names) to Lord Muruga (also spelt Murugan) and Sarkarai Pongal is offered as "Neivedyam" (Prashad). Kanda Sashti Kavacham, Subrahmanya Bhujangam and Shanmukha Kavacham are some of the religious verses that are read with all devotion in some homes. It is the firm belief of devout Tamilians that these Kavachams are real armour to protect us from the evil spirits (and evil-doers, of course).


Air: The nearest airport is at Chennai with both National and International terminals.
Rail:The nearest railway station is at Madurantakam and from the station there are regular buses to the temple.
Road: Cheyur is well connected by road with the important towns and cities within the state. There are regular buses from Chennai and Kanchipuram.


Accommodation is available at the small hotels in Cheyur or Madurantakam. For a comfortable stay tourists can stay at the hotels in Kanchipuram or Chennai.

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