Origins and antiquity of Marundheeswarar temple corroborated by inscriptions in other temples

Updated by admin on Friday, October 23, 2015 11:31 PM IST

Chennai: Marundeeswarar Temple (Tamil: மருந்தீஸ்வரர் ஆலயம்) is a temple dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva, located in Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai adjacent to the beach of Bay of Bengal. It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where two of the most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Appar and Thirugnanasambandar have glorified the temple with their verses during the 7th-8th century. The temple was widely expanded by Chola kings during the 11th century. The temple has two seven tiered gateway towers, a huge tank, with the overall temple area covering 1 acre. The Marundeeswarar temple has been a place of curative worship for people with diseases. The latest consecration of the temple after renovation, was performed in May 2008. The temple is administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.


Lord Marundeeswarar is known so because he imparted sage Agastya on curative properties of various herbs and plants. Since then the Marundeeswarar temple has been a place of worship for people with diseases and various problems with their health. It is said that even sage Valmiki, who wrote The Ramayana, came here to The Marundeeswarar temple to worship The Lord. Sage Valmiki was said to be blessed here. After this incident, this place was to be known as Thiruvalmikiyur, the name gradually changed to Thiruvanmiyur. There is a place in Thiruvanmiyur called Valmiki Nagar in his honour. There is also a temple built for Sage Valmiki in the middle of the East Coast Road, very close to the Marundeeswarar temple. The lingam for which Lord Hanuman performed pooja, The lingam (meenakshi sundareswarar) that cured the curse of Lord Indra, the Lingam for which Saint Bharadwaja performed pooja are present here. Markandeyar performed a penance and prayed to Lord Shiva here. Lord Brahma is believed to have conducted a festival here for Lord Shiva.


The road starting from Marundeeswarar temple, now called ECR was an important route during the Chola period and was known as Vadagaperuvazhi, connecting the kingdom to places in Thanjavur and Andhra Pradesh. Inscriptions can be found in the shrine of Tripurasundari Amman dating back to the 11th century during the period of Rajendra Chola. The origins and antiquity of this temple is corroborated by the inscriptions found in other temples in the city namely Kapaleeswarar Temple, Virupaksheeswarar Temple and Thiruvidandai which bear testimony to Tiruvanmiyur's existence. New life was injected into this ancient worshipping place, first in the year 1903 and then in the 1970s. This temple along with the Kapaleeswarar Temple and the Thiruvottiyur Thyagarajaswamy Temple form the famous Trinity Sea Shore temples of Thondai Mandalam.

The Temple

The temple has two entrances, one from East Coast Road and the other from West Tank Street both adorned by 5-tiered gopuram (gateway tower). The Entrance from the West Tank Street has got three gates whereas the entrance from the East Coast Road has only one gate. The temple occupies an area of about 1 acre - numerous images adorn the pillars of the temple, while stucco figures adorn the gopurams. The mandapam (hall) housing the Somaskanda form of Shiva has 36 massive pillars adorned with carvings. Devasriyan mantapam inside the temple conducts shaiva sidhantha lectures every day between 7 p.m and 8.30 p.m.

The Shrines

The temple has smaller Shrines for Lord Ganesha, Lord Murugan, there is a shrine for 3 Ganeshas who control all the time periods. Adjacent to this a vedagama padasalai is situated. A thirumurai mandapam was set up where thirumurais are sung daily for over a decade. The temple has the idols of Lord Shiva in his three forms, Lord Theyagaraja, Lord Marundeeswarar, and Lord Nataraja. Lord Nataraja is Lord Shiva in his dancing form. Lord Theyagaraja and Lord Nataraja are the forms of Lord Shiva in which he is not in the Lingam form. The last shrine is for Lord Marundeeswarar's consort, Goddess Thirupurasundari, who is actually Goddess Parvati. The samadhi of Pamban Swamigal is also found near the shrine.

Inside Shiva shrine

Inside the Shiva shrine, Ganesha is situated in the SE corner. Moving clockwise from there we can see statues of 4 saiva samaya kuravar gaja laksmi skanda with his consorts, arunagirinathar and veerabahu; (ne) utsavamurthis nataraja 108 shiv lingas bhairava(nw), Arunachaleswarar and other lingas surya ganesha (sw) 63 nayanmars in the east–west axis.

The Deities

The Primary deity, the Marundeeswarar Lingam is said to be naturally formed and not sculpted by anyone. This formation is known as svayambhu or Idumbu in Tamil. In the Mahamandapam where The deity resides, there are 108 lingams, and the replicas of the five lingams of the five elements. The divine cow Kamadhenu is believed to deliver milk to the lingam daily and hence the lingam is white. Another name for the lingam is 'Paalvannanathar' (in Tamil, 'Paal' means milk, 'Vanna' means colour). And hence, Paalvannanathar means 'one whose colour is that of milk'. Other names of the Lord here are Oushadheeswarar, Marundheesar, Vedapureeswarar.in the goshta there are statues of durga, brahma sri maha vishnu, dakshinamurty, ganesha. An unique feature of this temple is the presence of two chanigeswaras. Some say the second statue may represent Appaya Dikshitar who visited this temple. The Goddess or Ambal is known as Thirupurasundari, Chokkanayagi and Sundaranayagi. There is palliarai, shrine for sukravara amman etc. in the devi shrine.

Carvings in pillars

In the Thegaraya mandapam, there are carvings of Valmiki, Kannappar, Palani Andavar, Hanuman, Kamadhenu etc. In the shiva shrine, there are sculptures of swastic etc. In the outer prahar of the devi shrine, there are carvings of Dakshinamurthy, Shanmuga sitting on an elephant, Sarabadeva, Narasimha, Vishnu, Kamakshi tapas avtars of vishnu etc. In the inner prahaar, there are sculptures of Hanuman, Durga etc.

Literary Mention

The temple is revered in the verses of Tevaram, the 7th century saivite canonical work by the two saint poets namely, Appar and Sambandhar.

"கரையு லாங்கட லிற்பொலி சங்கம்வெள் ளிப்பிவன்
றிரையு லாங்கழி மீனுக ளுந்திரு வான்மியூர்
உரையு லாம்பொரு ளாயுல காளுடை யீர்சொலீர்
வரையு லாமட மாதுட னாகிய மாண்பதே."
translating to

"Tiruvāṉmiyūr where the fish leap in the back water where the strong waves move about, taking from the sea which moves towards the shore the shining conches, and white oysters. Lord who rules over the world, being the meaning of the words please tell me about the dignity of having a beautiful lady who wanders in the mountain.".
Another verse explains the devotion towards the goddess of the temple as

"விரையார் கொன்றையினாய் விடமுண்ட மிடற்றினனே
உரையார் பல்புகழா யுமைநங்கையொர் பங்குடையாய்
திரையார் தெண்கடல்சூழ் திருவான்மி யூருறையும்
அரையா வுன்னையல்லா லடையாதென தாதரவே."
translating to

"Sivaṉ who wears koṉṟai flowers abundant in fragrance!
who has neck which consumed the poison!
who has many forms of fame which are spoken by devotees!
who has Umai;
a lady of distinction, as a half!
the King who dwells in tiruvāṉmiyūr, surrounded by the clear sea full of waves.
my love will not reach other gods except you".
Arunagirinathar has visited this temple and has sung praises of Subramanya here.

In News

It came as a surprise that the builders of the ECR (East Coast Road) had even considered demolition of the temple of Sage Valmiki lying opposite to the Marundeeswarar temple in order to complete the project (of building the ECR). The Madras High Court then directed that the temple be in its place and not to disturb it.

The Kumbhabhishekham (coronation after renovation) of the temple was performed on 23 May 2008. The construction of the Rajagopuram on the eastern side of temple started 45 years ago, but was completed only before the function following the Government issued orders for completing it at a cost of Rs 45 lakh. Rs 1 crore was spent for improving infrastructure at the temple, which included construction of additional compound wall, Annadanakudam, office complex and amenities for devotees.


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