Chennai: Semmenchery Srinivasa Perumal Temple, located on Old Mahabalipuram Road (OMR) is a temple of historical signifance as it is said to have been built more than 1,000 years ago, during the Pallava period.
The old temple, dedicated to Srinivasa Perumal, is also known as Kurai Theerkum Govindan Temple, for it is believed that worshipping the deity here will help people overcome problems in their life. So, it continues to attract many devotees.
Speaking about the temple and its history, the temple priest, who wished to remain anonymous, says, “More than 1,000 years ago, it is said there lived a maharishi called Sownakar who was also a staunch devotee of Lord Mahavishnu. While he was on way to worship Sthala Sayana Perumal in Thiru Kadal Mallai Divya Desam (now known as Mahabalipuram), he reached Serumanancheri. Impressed by the lush green surroundings, he changed his mind and wished to have a Perumal temple here. So, he started to do penance. It is said Lord Mahavishnu appeared before him and granted his wish. Several years later, knowing this history, the temple is believed to have been constructed by the Pallavas,” he says.
On how the God got the name Kurai Theerkum Govindan, he says, “It is believed that once there was severe drought in this region and Narasimha Pallava, who was the ruler at the time, prayed to the Lord for rain and within a few days it poured. Also, once a blind devotee, to get eyesight was in a severe penance by standing in the temple tank and it is believed that he got his eyesight back. So, from then on, the temple got its name and even today it is a prarthana sthalam, especially for unmarried people and childless couples,” adds the priest.
Upon entering the main mandapam, a 16-pillared mandapam that has various sculptures carved on the pillars leads the devotee to the main sanctum.
Inside the sanctum, Srinivasa Perumal is the main deity, facing east. He has four hands with his upper right and left hands holding the Shanku and Chakra. His lower right hand is abhaya hastha and His lower left hand is varada hastha. The deity is flanked by His consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi. Opposite to the lord is a small shrine for Garuda.
Behind the main sanctum, on the left side, there is a separate sanctum for Thayar – Goddess Alarmel Mangai. On the right side of the main sanctum, at the back is Sri Chakkarathazhvar shrine. One can find Yoga Narasimha on the reverse side of Sri Chakkrathazhvar.
Adjacent to it is another shrine dedicated to Lord Krishna. Here the deity is seen in dancing posture above the snake Kalinga and He bears the name Kalinga Narthanar.
On the right side, just adjacent to the main sanctum is a separate shrine for Andal. Opposite to it, facing east, is the Ramar shrine and in front of that is the Anjaneyar sanctum, facing west.
Near the Andal shrine is the temple’s sthala vriksham, which is a fig tree – athi maram. Also in the temple, adjacent to the madapalli is a stone that has sculptures of Lord Shiva, Mahalakshmi and Lord Ganesha, which is believed to be more than 1,000 years old.
Some of the festivals celebrated by the temple are Puratasi and Margazhi Utsavam, during which a ten-day festival will be conducted with special poojas performed to the deity.
Apart from that, special thirumanjanmam is performed during Sri Rama Navami, Krishna Jayanthi and Hanumath Jayanthi to the deities.
The temple, in a dilapidated condition till 2007, has been renovated with support from devotees. “Devotees formed a trust and they raised funds to renovate the temple. The work started in 2007 and samprokshanam was performed in 2009,” says the priest.
The temple is open on all days – except Saturdays – from 7 am to 10 am and 5 pm to 8 pm. On Saturdays, it is open from 6.30 am to 11.30 am and 5 pm to 8.30 pm.