- May 21, 2021
🛕 Mallikeswarar Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in George Town area of Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was one of the first Temples to be built in the new settlement; since the construction of Madras city by the British East India Company. Presiding Deity is called as Mallikeswarar / Malleeswarar / Mallikarjunar and Mother is called Brahmarambika.
🛕 This Temple along with Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple is called as Twin Temples of Chennai or Pattinam Temples. This Temple is also called as Chenna Malleeswarar Temple. Chenna Pattanam may be named after these deities. The word ‘chenni’ in Tamil means face, and the temple was regarded as the face of the city. There will always be a good fragrance of jasmine at the Malleeswarar Temple.
🛕 Armagon, which was located at a distance of around 57 kms north of Pulicat, was one of the earliest settlements of East India Company. In February 1626 CE, the factory was set up here. As per the instructions from Thomas Ivie of Bantam, Francis Day, the Chief of the Armagon Factory, undertook a voyage of exploration of new site for setting up factory. He traveled till Pondicherry in his ship. Then, he reached a small village named Madrasapattinam, which was located at about 5 kms north of Santhome.
🛕 In Madrasapattinam, Day met Damal Venkatappa Nayak, who was ruling that region. Venkatappa was the representative of Vijaya Nagara Kings of Chandragiri, who ruled the coastal region between Pulicat and Santhome. His capital was Vandavasi. His father was Chennappa Nayaka / Damal Kumara Chinnappa Nayaka. His dynasty was called as Kalahasthi Rajas. They were originally from Damal village, located north of Kanchipuram.
🛕 There is a theory that the city was named as Chennai after a hamlet called Chenna Pattinam, which was again named after Chennappa Nayaka. On 22nd August 1639 CE, an agreement was signed between Day and Venkatappa, in which the Madrasapattinam village was offered to the British for a period of two years. It enabled the British to build a fort in this village and conduct their trade related activities. Day translated the agreement, which was drafted in Telugu, to English, and sent the same to his higher officials for their approval.
🛕 The higher official in Surat did not know about the exploration conducted by Day. They had assigned a group under the leadership of Andrew Cogan to find out a suitable site for setting up the factory. Cogan became the company agent of Masulipattinam on 3rd September 1639 CE. At the same time, Day had reached Masulipattinum along with the copy of his agreement with Venkatappa. After getting the approval from Surat higher officials, Day and Cogan reached Madrasapattinam on 20th February 1640 CE by two ships called “Eagle” and “Unity”.
🛕 Along with them, an Indian too traveled to Madrasapattinam. His name was Nagappan. He used to produce gun powder for the British. Day and Cogan started constructing the Fort (which was named as St. George Fort later) on 1st March 1640 CE. Beri Thimanna served as the Dubashi for Day and Cogan. It is said that he was instrumental in the purchase of Madrasapattinam village by the British from Nayak. Francis Day, Beri Thimanna and Andrew Cogan can be considered as the founders of Madras/Chennai city.
🛕 There was a temple for Vishnu called as Chenna Kesava Perumal, located in the site where the High Court is located now. It is believed that this temple was referred by Dr. Fryer, who mentioned that he had visited a Pagoda in 1673 CE. In 1710 CE, the Thomas Pitt map also indicates the existence of a great Pagoda in this region. In addition, in a document dated 26th April 1648, it is mentioned that Beri Thimanna presented the Chenna Kesava Perumal temple, which was built by him to a Brahmin named Narayanappa Iyer.
🛕 There is another document dated 13th August 1646 CE, which talks about the temple and the adjoining land given as the gift to the same Narayanappa Iyer by Nagappan. Based on the 1648 dated document, few historians believe that the temple was built by Thimanna in 1640s. However, based on 1646 dated document, the temple was not built by Thimanna. He could have probably renovated the temple but boasted as if it was built by him. This temple is much older and should have been built even before the British landed in Madrasapattinam.
🛕 Chennappa Nayaka might have built this temple and hence it was named as Chenna Kesava. Else, Nayaka was named after this deity of much older temple. In either case, the name of the temple has some connection with the name of the city (Chennai), which cannot be denied. It appears that the Britishers gave much importance to this original temple. Some portion of toll collected in the city was spent for this temple.
🛕 The temple servants wore the badge of East India Company. Even the coins called Pagoda had the stamp of Chenna Kesava imprinted. In December 1758 CE, the French army entered into the unfortified Black town where the majority of native population lived. The French army occupied Chenna Kesava Temple. The siege was lifted in 1759 CE. Now, the Britishers realized that it was not safe to have settlement near St. George Fort. Hence, they moved the settlement further north, which resulted in the formation of Esplanade in-between.
🛕 The temple was also demolished as part of that move. (As per few historians, the temple was demolished in 1757 CE). Reportedly, there was a public outcry after the temple was demolished. In 1762 CE, the East India Company offered an area in Petha Naickenpet, that was equivalent to the area occupied by the original temple. A committee under the leadership of Manali Muthu Krishna Mudaliar, was formed to construct the temple.
🛕 Mudaliar was the last chief merchant of the East India Company. In Ganga Rama Street in Petha Naickenpet, Mudaliar started constructing the temple. The Company compensated the owners of 38 houses which were removed to accommodate the space of around 24,000 sq. feet for the temple. The Company donated 1,173 pagodas. Mudaliar contributed 5,202 pagodas and collected the rest from the public. Totally, around 15,652 pagodas were spent in construction of the temple.
🛕 While constructing Chenna Kesava temple, Mudaliar constructed Chenna Malleeswarar temple also nearby. The four Mada Streets around these two temples were renamed later. The East Mada Street became Devraja Mudali Street, North Mada Street became Netaji Bose Road, West Mada Street became Nainiyappa Naicker Street and the South Mada Street was renamed as Rasappa Chetty Street.
🛕 The twin temples together are referred as Pattinam Temples. Even before the original temple was demolished, due to fear of Hyder Ali’s invasion, it is believed that the Utsava Murti (processional deity) of Chenna Kesava was moved to Thiruneermalai temple. After the temple was demolished and the new temple was constructed, the Utsava deity of Thiruneermalai temple was brought down by mistake. Even today, the Utsava deity from Thiruneermalai is reportedly found in the sanctum of this temple.
🛕 The temples must have still been under construction when Arunachala Kavi (1711-1779) came to Madras to meet Muthukrishna Mudaliar and be rewarded by him. Carnatic Music lovers of course remember Mudaliar for his contribution to the art by bringing the family of Ramaswamy Dikshitar to Madras in 1790. When the Dikshitar children, Muthuswami, Baluswami and Chinnaswami must have come to the city with their parents and sister, all wide eyed at the bustling metropolis, they must have seen the temples in all their glory.
🛕 Muthukrishna Mudaliar died in 1792 and then his son Venkata Krishna (d 1817) became the trustee of the temples. In 1831, a civil suit recognized the grandson, also a Muthukrishna, as the hereditary trustee and the Manali family continues to remain involved with the temples till date.
🛕 An endowment made by Juttur Subramania Chetty, a patron of the 19th century ensured that a nagaswaram player was honoured each year at the Chenna Kesava Perumal temple. During the Periazhwar festival each year in the month of June, the nagaswaram artiste would be invited to come and perform for ten days. He would be expected to take up one raga each evening and perform elaborately on it, finishing off with a Pallavi, a ragamalika and some lighter pieces. All the leading Nagaswaram players of the past like Sembanarkoil Ramasami, Mannargudi Chinna Pakkiri, Sivakolundu and Madura Ponnuswami and of the present like Thiruvidaimarudur Viruswami were recipients of this honour.
🛕 In his biography of TN Rajarathinam Pillai, Tumilan writes that the maestro’s second nagaswaram performance in the city happened in 1917 at the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple during the Periazhwar festival. Rajarathinam Pillai was surprised to find that some of the city’s leading lights preferred to stand outside the temple and hear his performance, Sir S Subramania Iyer being one. On enquiry, he found that they felt that the shrill Timiri Nayanam was best heard from a distance. That is when the maestro thought of switching over to the heavier and deeper Bari and later mastered it. The nagaswaram tradition continues even now at this temple. However, owing the diminishing returns of the original endowment, local nagaswaram artistes are employed during the festival. Big names do not come here anymore.
🛕 The Chenna Malleeswarar Temple had a strong Devadasi tradition and from the appeal filed with the Government on 5th December 1927, protesting against the proposed move to ban the system of dedication to temples, we can see that at least 14 women were attached to this shrine. The senior most was Apithakuchambal and then in descending order of seniority were Rukmini, Rupavathi, Nagamma, Rajamma, Kuppamma, Kanagarathnamma, Nagarathnamma, Kuppamma (jr), Rajamma (jr), MR Thannammal, MR Kamatchiammal, Balambal and Gnanambal. There were evidently songs that were composed specially for Chenna Malleeswarar Swami, for in the Banni Bai Collection, now with the Music Department, Madras University, there is song book titled Chenna Mallikeswarar Swami Padalgal.
🛕 The east facing temple has a big front side mandapam. There are many shops, mostly flower vendors, are located in this mandapam. It should be noted that this temple is located in Flower Bazaar locality. There is no tower for this temple. Instead, a lintel with many stucco images are found at the entrance. There is a passage in the outer prakara that connects the temple with the adjacent Chenna Kesava Temple. The temple tank is located between both the temples. Both the temples share the temple tank as well as the car (Ratha).
🛕 Presiding Deity is called as Mallikeswarar / Malleeswarar / Mallikarjunar. Presiding Deity is housed in the east facing sanctum in the form of big Shiva Linga. Two Ganeshas called as Dwara Ganapathis are found at the entrance of the sanctum. Nandi is found in the Maha Mandapam. Another Nandi idol is found along with the flagstaff and bali peetha in the outer courtyard.
🛕 Ganesha, Dhakshinamoorthi, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are the niche idols located around the sanctum walls, Chandikeswara is found in his usual location. The sanctum 2 tier vimana is of rectangular shape with 3 kalasams on the top is unique. Mother is called Brahmarambika. The Goddess is found in a separate east facing shrine, located in the outer prakara. The vimana has few interesting stucco images.
🛕 There are Shrines of Maha Ganapati, Tatpurusha Linga, Agora Linga, Vamadeva Linga, Kasi Linga, Bala Murugan, Nataraja with his consort Sivakami (Utsava), Bhikshatana (Utsava) and Somaskanda (Utsava) in the inner prakara around the sanctum, Also, Bronze idols of Nalvar, Two Ganeshas, 63 Nayanmars, Ishana Linga and Sekkizhar are also located in this prakara. Navagraha is also found in the same prakara.
🛕 There are shrines of Siva Surya, Prasanna Vinayaka, Lord Subramanya with his consorts Valli and Devasena (Utsava), Bhairava, Adi Shankara and Ramalinga in the outer prakaram. There is a small mandapam located in the north-east corner of the outer prakara. The pillars in this mandapam are full of beautiful sculptures. Ganesha idol is located within this mandapam.
🛕 The temple remains open from 07.00 AM to 12.00 Noon and 05.00 PM to 08.30 PM.
🛕 Malleeswarar Temple celebrates its annual festival for 10 days in August. Chithirai Festivals, Aadi Pooram, Avani Moolam, Aipasi Annabishekam, Karthikai Deepam, Margazhi Thiruvathirai, Thai Pongal, Thai Theertham Festival, Maasi Mahasivarathri and Panguni Uthiram are festivals celebrated here.
🛕 This Temple is situated at Devaraja Mudali Street close to the Pookkadai Police Station Area in George Town Area. The Temple is located at about 250 meters from Flower Market Bus Stop, 500 meters from Broadway Bus Stop, 500 meters from Ratan Bazar Bus Stop, 1 Km from Chennai Fort Railway Station, 1 Km from Parrys Corner Bus Stop, 2 Kms from Chennai Beach Railway Station, 3 Kms from Basin Bridge Junction, 2 Kms from Mannady Metro Station, 1.5 Kms from Chennai Central Railway Station, 3 Kms from Egmore Railway Station, 12 Kms from Koyambedu Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminus and 20 Kms from Chennai Airport. The Temple is located very close to the Chennai Central Railway Station. You can proceed on foot to this Temple from the station. From other parts of the city, you can take a Cabs, Auto Rickshaw, Bus, Local Trains and Metro Trains to reach the Temple.
85, Devarajamuthali Street,
Park Town, Chennai – 600 003,
Phone: +91 44 2535 3793,