History & Culture

Hill temple in Chennai city

Entrance to Kumarankundram Murgan Temple. Photo: A. Muralaitharan  

Find a hill, find a temple for Muruga… so goes the adage. Yes, this deity of the Hindu pantheon is fond of high altitudes so much so that all shrines of the Arupadai Veedu are situated on hill tops, the only exception being Tiruchendur. The climb has its own thrill and the summit when reached has its own charm, be it the picturesque Pazhamudir Solai and Palani or the relatively simple Swamimalai.

Thus it was a delight to learn that right on the fringes of Chennai city was a temple for Subramanya, atop Kumaran Kundram, a hill, in Chromepet. The Lord is Swaminatha and the temple is a replica of the original in Thanjavur. Thanks to its location between the southern district and Delhi that has a temple for the deity, it is referred to as Dakshina Swamimalai.

“This is Gnanapitam,” says Narasimhan, one of the trustees. “The place is dotted with schools and other educational institutions. After all Swaminatha played preceptor to his father Siva,” he explains. “Students are regular visitors. You can find them on the steps, engaged in serious study,” he adds.

Shrines for deities

At the base are shrines for Vinayaka, Sri Kaliswari, Idumban and navagraha. The steps, 108 in number, are well-laid. The rugged path that devotees once used runs adjacent. A few steps above is a small temple for Meenakshi-Sundareswarar with niches for Nataraja, Sarabeswara and Chandikeswara. Nataraja has his right foot up in the classic Cosmic dance pose. “This is on the lines of the Madurai Meenakshi temple,” points out Narasimhan.

On top is the shrine of Swaminathaswamy. The Moolavar is a lovely granite idol set in serene surroundings. There is a niche for Durgai. A perennial spring called Kumara Tirtham supplies water meeting the needs of the temple. Beneath the shrine is Dhyana mantapam. Considered pariharasthalam for Chevvai and Ketu, the temple draws a steady stream of devotees, it is said.

The view from top shows Chromepet and its neighbourhood spread out as a vast expanse. Silhoutted in the distance is the gopuram of the Tiruneermalai temple. Also distinctly visible is the Trisula hill. “The deity has the entire family including uncle Narayana around him,” says Dr. Subramaniam, whose Tiruppugazh classes draw a large number of learners, including school children. A medical practitioner, he has dedicated himself to the service of the temple.

“Such people are the wealth of the temple, which does not have rich coffers,” laughs Narasimhan.

Festivals are conducted with great fanfare. Maha Skandasashti is celebrated on the lines of the Tiruchendur temple. Soorasamharam is an elaborate affair, complete with fireworks. The young and old participate with great enthusiasm. Programmes for the entire year are charted out on a huge board at the entrance.

Way back in 1956, when Paramacharya visited Chromepet, looking at the hill, he said a temple for Murugan would come up there. It happened 20 years later. The temple for Siddhi Vinayakar was the first to be built in 1956. While clearing the hill side for a path, a lance (Vael) was found and this inspired the devotees to speed up work. The Swaminathaswamy temple took shape and consecration was performed in 1979. Gradually the hill acquired more shrines and the temple has been expanded and consecration conducted at regular intervals.

At present, the Trust is focusing its energy on the construction of a five-tier Rajagopuram for the temple. “It is long overdue and we are doing our best to gather funds,” say the Trust members. The foundation has been laid and progress of work depends on the availability of money.

The huge Arunagirinathar hall at the foothill is used to conduct weddings and other functions. Music concerts and discourses by eminent lecturers are held round the year to raise funds. The aim is to complete the project within a year and schedule the consecration. “It will happen. Devotees, who have been a great force behind the temple and its activities, will make it happen,” say the trustees.

The Trust can be reached at 22235319, 9710643967/9444178434. Contributions in the form of cheques and demand drafts drawn in favour of Kumaran Kunram Rajagopuram Tiruppani Committee, can be sent to Sri Balasubramaniaswamy temple, Chromepet, Chennai 600044.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 10:11:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/friday-review/history-and-culture/hill-temple-in-chennai-city/article2301891.ece

Next Story