1) Visit to Sembakkam Shiva Temple
The temple is located at 43 kms from Chennai (Adayar) in Thirupporur-Chenglepat/ Guduvancheri route, southwest of Thirupporur at 7 kms from Thirupporur and 20 kms from Chenglepat. If you go from Adayar/Thiruvanmiyur, you have to take the Old Mahabalipuram Road or the now called Rajiv Gandhi Road or the IT Highway and go via Shiolinganallur, Siruseri and Kelambakkam to Thirupporur and after the Thirupporur Murugan temple and the Bus stand, you have to take the road at right (west) towards Chenglepat/ Guduvancheri. There is an arch in the main road from where the temple is about a km inside.
Adayar to Thirupporur – 36 km
Thirupporur to Sembakkam – 7km
- The temple is at the end of an unpolluted calm village in an ideal location for the peace loving spiritual seekers. The temple is a beautiful one with lot of flower plants and trees within and outside the temple. One nice thing in this temple is the colour of the painting. Unlike other temples, the temple is painted in a single colour that is eye-pleasing and gives a soothing effect. Possibly, this could have been done due to insufficient funding but nevertheless it is beautiful and very pleasing.
- Vada Thiruvanaika:
The (Then) Thiruvanaika temple near Srirangam is considered as one of the Pancha pootha (Land, Water, Fire, Air and Space) sthalams of Lord Shiva representing Water. This Sembakamm temple, called Vada Thiruvanaikka also represents Water since the Lord here is present as Jala Swayambu (Swayambu – being present on its own; Jala – water) in the name of Jumbukeswarar as in Then Thiruvanaika and the temple is built on top of a square water ditch. The deity is facing east.
- Goddess Azhahambihai shrine:
It is believed that Lord Shiva gave the power of 72000 crores of Mantras to Goddess Azhahambihai to be given to the devotees. Since the power of it can not be withstood directly by the devotees, it seems that some essence of it fell as Amutha theertham well in front of her shrine. The Goddess is facing south.
In the southeast direction is present the huge and beautiful Naval tree (Black naval fruit) as Sthalavruksham. In Then Thiruvanaikka also Sthalavruksham is the same. It is believed that doing Kundalini Yoga and other yoga/ meditations under this tree is good for one’s spiritual uplift due to the presence of the Siddhars here. Moreover the air from this tree believes to cure many diseases.
There are two theerthams – Ahazhi Theertham in the form of a pond outside the temple in the northwest of the temple and Amutha Theertham in the form of a well inside the temple in front of the Goddess shrine and created by the Goddess Herself. The water for the worship is being taken from this well only.
- Siddhars Samadhi:
Sri Ponnambala Swamigal and Sri Thirumeni linga Swamigal lived in Sembakkam and were called twin Siddhars since they were always seen together. They, along with another Siddhar Sri Periya Chidhambara Swamigal (from Velacheri) used to meet at the Mylapore Chithra Kulam by the mystic act of going from one place to the other without physically going there. The tank was called ‘Siddhar Koodum (meeting) Kulam (pond)’ once and became Chithrakulam later. When Ponnambala Swamigal attained Samadhi, the very next day Thirumeni Linga Swamigal also attained Samadhi. The Samadhi of both of them is present in front of the temple near the Ahazhi Theertham.
Note on Acknowldgement : The legend information here is based on the Sthalapuranam book of the temple which in turn is based on the age old hand written notes of Sri Ponnambala Swamigal.
- Salvation for Vasuki:
When snake Vasuki was used as a rope during the churning of milky ocean, unable to withstand the pressure she spit out poison and Shiva swallowed it to protect everyone. In order to get cleared of that sin Vasuki prayed to Shiva and Shiva answered her that He is present as Jala Swayambu in the water ditch of a naval (fruit) forest which is to the east of the place where Goddess Parvathi came as the kamadhenu (cow) and poured milk on Shiva (Thiru Idai Churam). By worshipping Him (present in water) here, Vasuki will get the salvation for mixing the poison in water (milky ocean) and so did Vasuki. The sculpture depicting this is present in the Jambugeswarar shrine.
- History of Chola king Kochengannan:
When Kochengannan was due for birth, an astrologer informed that if the baby is born late a by few hours, it would rein the whole world. So the mother deliberately delayed the delivery by keeping her legs raised up but died after delivering the baby. Due to this strenuous exercise, the baby was born with red eyes and so was called Chengannan (Chengan means red eyes). Realizing his nature of birth, he became a natural Shiva devotee and later when he was childless, he prayed to Lord Shiva and He told him to make a sacred shivalingam and take it in a ratham (temple car) throughout his regime and wherever the axle of the ratham breaks, install the lingam there and worship to get the boon of a child. So the King did the same and when he neared this place, he became highly excited spiritually and the axle of the ratham broke while crossing the water ditch here. He heard the sacred voice to install the lingam here and thus the King built this temple using mud (bricks) and was blessed with a baby. There is one more Shiva temple at a place called Chenganmal in this region built by Sembian Kochengannan and the deity is called Chenganmaleeswarar. It is located at Northwest of Thiruporur and Chembakkam is located at Southwest of Thirupporur.
- History of King Kandarathitha Cholan:
He ruled only for two years due to his deep interest in spirituality. He converted the mud (brick) construction of this temple into a stone construction in memory of his wife Sembian Madhevi. Inside the temple, in the shrine of Sun God, King Kandarathithan and his wife are present as sculptures in a pillar.
- Down the line, another King Sundara Cholan built the Goddess shrine and named her as Sundarambal and in pure tamil called Azhahambihai (Sundaram means beauty and called Azhahu in tamil)
- There are different versions for the name of the place:
- The name of the place came from the name Sembian Kochengannan
- In memory of Sembian Madhevi, wife of King Kandarathitha Cholan
- When Thirupporur Murugan fought with Demon in air, the siram (head) of the demon was cut and fell in this place and so this is called Sirambaham, Sirambakkam and Sembakkam.
- The place once had 32 streets, 32 Vinayahar temples and 32 ponds but now has about 23 streets, 23 Vinayahar temples and 7 or 8 ponds. Generally temple will be there in the midst of a village/Town but here temple is present in every street and in fact two Vinayahar temples opposite to each other are present in the same street. In addition there are many other temples and thus this place is considered a divinely blessed one with abundant resources of water, fertile land and spiritual people. The Sembakkam people have the special privilege of making the rope for the Flag hoisting ceremony of the Thirupporur Murugan temple during the annual Brahmotsava festival.
- In those days, a sect of sages used to go around for Shiva worship by walk and they apply holy ash all over the body in front of Gurus or Lord Shiva only in holy places and do the worship. They will not do it in any ordinary place. Once they were looking out for such a place in this region and a holy voice directed them here. There is a belief that these sages are worshipping the Lord here daily. The pooja sound is heard during the midnights even now but only to select sacred people.
- Sage Agasthiar also worshipped Shiva here and his Agastheeswarar lingam is present in the temple.
- Ancient and beautiful 8th/9th century Temple built by the Chola kings Kochengaannan, First Paranthagan, Kandarathitan, Sundaran and Vikraman, in that order.
- An ideal environment for a peaceful worship. It is believed that doing Kundalini Yoga and other yoga/meditations under the big and beautiful Sthala vruksha tree here will give a spiritual uplift since Siddhars lived here and they are still visiting the place to do pooja during midnights.
- Considered as the Temple of Water God and called Vada Thiruvanaikka in relation to Then Thiruvanaikka near Srirangam, Trichy
While coming back, in one way I felt a little sad that such a legendary temple is looking deserted now but on the other hand I also felt that some temples like this are desperately needed for today’s stressful life, where one can sit peacefully in meditation and ‘let go off’ everything.
1) S.Nagaraja Gurukkal – 27400117
2) Sri Jambukeswarar Iraipani Mandram,
227/3, 2nd Street, Imayam colony,
Annanagar West Extension,
Date of Visit: 8th Oct 2007
2) Visit to ThiruIdaiChuram Shiva Temple
Located at about 55 km from Adayar(Chennai) via Thirupporur; 18 km from Thirupporur and 9 km from Chenglepat; it is in the same route (Thirupporur-Chenglepat) as Sembakkam. After Sembakkam, we have to go further towards Chenglepat and at about 6 kms from Sembakkam, there is a road going to Guduvanchery on the right. Go straight further towards Chenglepat for another 6 km, this temple comes up. When we went, the road was intermittently good and bad. While going, we started by about 3:40 PM from Adayar and reached by 5 PM and while coming back started by about 6 pm and reached by 8 PM on a working day.
Adayar to Thirupporur – 36 km
Thirupporur to ThiruIdaichuram – 18
This temple, one of the 275 Thevara Padal Petra Sthalams, is in a beautiful surrounding in the midst of hills in a serene village full of greenery and it is neither in a dilapidated state nor in a good shape.
There is a small Vinayagar temple just outside the temple. The ground level of the entrance is slightly down and when we went it was full of water since it was raining as if to wash the legs of the devotees before entering the temple. The temple entrance is south facing with no Rajagopuram and the shrine of Goddess is facing the entrance. So as soon as we enter, we see the south facing Goddess straight.
The outer praharam was wet with the rain water and gave a beautiful look but was also dangerously slippery near the Nandhi. In the outer praharam, first we see Valampuri vinayahar and as we go around, there is lot of coconut trees. Shrines for Brahmaandeswar in the form a lingm 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 sthalavruksham 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
Inside the temple, there is a nice mandapam in front of the Goddess Shrine with many pillars but with no intricate sculpture works. This seems to be a pet temple for Kirubhanandha Variyar and his follower Hotel Saravana bhavan Annachi. He and his employees seem to have contributed significantly to the temple and there is a display board to that effect in the mandapam.
When we are inside the sanctum sanctorum, we can see both the main deity and the Goddess from the same place. If we face the main deity, we can see the Goddess by just turning right. 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.
There is a beautiful inner praharam and we can see the Ahazhi style of the sanctum sanctorum there. Here, the 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.
- 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.
- One of the 275 Thevara Padal petra sthalams; sung by Thirugnana Sambhandar
- The main deity Shiva lingam is made is Maragatha (emerald) stone.
Date of visit: 23rd Oct 2007