- December 27, 2022
A Vaishnavite Abhimana Sthalam in Semmancheri!
A structure of immense historical and architectural value hitherto undiscovered has been in existence in Chennai City. A Hindu temple is considered as a sacred place in the midst of a profane world; a crossing where devotees can be with the divine reality. When a devotee enters a temple, they leave the world of illusion behind to enter the realm of knowledge, truth and spirituality. A temple also, in a way, a reflection of divine possibilities in human beings.
As per Karna Parampara, there lived a maharishi called Sownakar who was also a staunch devotee of Lord Maha Vishnu. On his way to worship Sthala Sayana Perumal in Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam (now known as Mahabalipuram), Sownaka maharishi reached a village called Serumanancheri, surrounded by beautiful water streams and fertile paddy fields. After completing his daily poojas and rituals with great devotion, Sownaka maharishi wanted to visit Perumal Kovil (temple) and offer prayers. He enquired the villagers about the existence of Perumal Kovil in Serumanancheri. Villagers responded that there was no Perumal Kovil in Serumanancheri. On hearing this, Sownaka maharishi felt very sad and started to do tapas, in a mango farm in the village, towards Lord Maha Vishu.
Impressed with the supreme devotion and divine tapas, Lord Maha Vishnu, along with Sridevi and Budevi, appeared before Sownaka maharishi and blessed him. Sownaka maharishi offered sincere prayers to Lord Maha Vishnu and requested the Lord to be in Serumanancheri village for ever along with Sridevi and Budevi so as to remove the sorrows of his devotees. Lord Maha Vishnu obliged the wish of Sownaka maharishi and continued his presence in Serumanancheri village. This Serumanancheri village is now called as Semmancheri. Lord Srinivasa, as Kurai Theerkum Govindan in this temple, blesses his devotees, removes their sorrows and fulfils their desires as committed by the Lord himself to Sownaka maharishi.
As per Indian History, Semmancheri was part of Tondaimandalam which comprised of erstwhile North Archot, South Arcot and Chengelpet districts of Tamilndau state along with some parts of Andhra Pradesh state. Tondaimandalam was ruled by Pallavas with their headquarters as Kanchipuram and Mahabalipuram as Port City. This temple is believed to have been constructed by Pallavas with renovation undertaken by Nayak Kings and Chettiars. Archeological experts say that the temple in its current form and structure may be 500 years old.
The story goes that once upon a time, there was famine at this place and the Pallava king, Narasimha Pallava, prayed and obtained the blessings of Srinivasa Perumal to help relieve the pains of the people. Pleased with his prayers, Lord Srinivasa is said to have appeared before the king and brought rains to this region. As a result, the belief is that the Lord fulfils the wishes of all devotes who come here and offer prayers, with sincerity, at this temple.
According to archeological experts, this temple should have been constructed between 1500 AD and 1600 AD and its structure is in the pattern of Udupi Renanissance.
The main entrance to the temple as well as the sanctum sanctorium (Garbha-Graha) face east. At the entrance of the temple, a Rajagopuram consisting of 3 tiers welcome the devotees to the temple. This Rajagopuram has wonderful sculptures made as per Agama rules in it. In complete adherence to Vaishanva traditions, we have Balipeedam, Dhvajasthamba and Garuda Sannidhi aligned with Rajagopuram.
The architecture and layout of the temple facilitate goal of worship. Bali means sacrifice, and the devotee prostrates in front of Balipeedam and Dhvajasthambam, which symbolizes the sacrifice of the baser instincts inherent in a human being and the awakening of his divine consciousness.
Srinivasa Perumal is the main deity in this temple and has four hands (Chathurbhuja). His upper right and left hands hold the discuss (Chakra) and conch (Shanka) respectively. His lower right hand is in Abhaya Hastha posture assuring devotees to get rid of all their problems and grant divine happiness. His lower left hand is in Varada Hastha posture granting boons to his devotees. Srinivasa is flanked by His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. All three deities Srinivasa, Sridevi and Bhudevi are all on call pedestals (Padma-peetha). It is believed that originally Srinivasa Perumal deity had Mace(Gada) in his lower left hand and got replaced with the present form as time progressed.
It is common that in many Vaishnava temples, Utsavar Moorthi bears a different name than that of Moolavar. However, in this temple, Utsavar Moorthi is also known as Srinivasa. This is a salient feature of this holy temple. Utsava Moorthi is a bronze status with four hands with Ubaya Nachiyar. There are also bronze Utasava Vigrahas for Goddess Alarmelmangai Thayar and Lord Krishna in Kalinga Narthana posture.
As per Vaishnava traditions, Garuda is facing Moolavar in small sannidhi. Moolavar is guarded by Dwarapalakas (Guards) on either side of the entrance.
A separate shrine is constructed for Azhwar and Acharyas in this temple.
Thayar shrine (sannidhi) is located behind Srinivasa Perumal Sannidhi on the south-western side ( very close to the compound wall adjoining OMR). Thayar is Goddess Alarmel Mangai Thayar and is seen blessing the devotees.
Sri Chakarathazhwar shrine is located on the northwest side of the sanctum. Yoga Narasimha can be seen on the rear side.
Kalinga Narthanar shrine is located to next to Chakrathazhwar shrine. Here, you can see Lord Krishna dancing on the head of the snake Kalinga to protect his devotees.
Sri Aandal shrine is located on the northwest side of the sanctum.
A Ramar shrine is located facing east and opposite to Andal shrine.
A shrine for Abaya Varatha Anjaneya is there very close to the main Rajagopuram. Anjaneya is facing west. Anjaneya has his palms pressed together symbolising his unmatched devotion towards Sriman Narayanan.
On the eastern side of the temple, we have Pushkarini, the holy tank. It is believed that sacred water of this pushkarini has healing powers for vision problems. Devotees who bathe in this tank for 48 days and worship are believed to regain lost vision.
Sthala Viruksham is a holy tree ascribed to the holiness of the temple. Every temple has a Sthala Vriksha associated with it. Sthala Viruksham for this temple is Athi Maram (Fig Tree). This tree is located near the Andal Shrine. Apart from this fig tree, few trees are also maintained inside the temple.
Near the entrance to the central sanctum and quite close to Dwarapalakas is enshrined an exquisite stone image of Lord Kalinga Narthana Krishna about two feet in height.
In front of garbha-graha is a sixteen pillared mandapa decorated with a number of well chiselled sculptures of Lord Kothandarama, Goddess Mahalakshmi, Kurma Avatara and Sri Sanjeevi Anjaneya.
A rare scuplture of Lord Balakrishna crawling forward with the mortar (Ulukhala) to which he was tied and which he dragged through the narrow gap between trees felling them in the process. This is in connection with famous story in Bhagavatha Purana where two celestial beings called Nalakubara and Manigreeva were cursed to be born as trees by Sage Narada. Nalakubara and Manigreeva got rid of their curse when Lord Krishna dragged the mortar between the trees.
Apart from the above, Thirumanjam for all Dieties in the temple can be arranged for Devotees on days requested by them. Devotees can seek the blessings of God by performing Thirumanjanam on important days like birthday, wedding day etc.
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Semmancheri opening on Sunday to Friday at 07.00 AM to 10.00 AM and 05:00 PM to 08:00 PM; and on Saturday: 06.30 AM to 11.30 AM and 05:00 PM to 08.30 PM.
Temple is located in Semmencheri in Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) which is also known as Rajiv Gandhi Salai. Semmancheri is located between Sholinganallur and Siruseri in OMR. Srinivasa Temple Gopuram can be seen on the left side of OMR when you are proceeding towards Siruseri from Sholinganallur. RajaGopuram and other Sannidhi Gopuram can be clearly seen from OMR itself. A clearly visible temple name board is mounted on the Prahara walls of temple and this can be clearly seen from OMR thereby facilitating devotees to easily identify the temple.
In fact, this is the only Vaishnavite temple on the all important IT corridor over a 20 Square KM radius – a sacred and ancient place of worship in a modern setting.
Semmancheri Srinivasa Perumal Temple Contact Number: 98403 88836 / 98400 69650 / 04424410477
Balaji Bhattar: 97908 79760
It is truly a blessing to note that this temple which was in such a dilapidated condition till 2007 has been renovated with excellent support from devotees and philanthropists. As one can see in photos given below, the temple was totally in an abandoned state till 2007..
Arulmigu Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Rajiv Gandhi IT Road, Semmancheri, Chennai, Tamil Nadu 600119.