(Last Updated on : 24-01-2009)
Nanganallur is well-known today as one of the growing suburbs of Chennai and home to a very large number of temples. Nevertheless it can be sad that the Nanganallur is mostly famous nowadays only for the presence of a large number of temples. As the historical researches have revealed even during the 8th century A.D., the small place of Nanganallur was existed. It was also chosen by the Pallava monarchs of Kanchipuram as a site for an extensive Vishnu temple. The archaeological surveys have excavated several artifacts, which bear the clear evidence of the fact that this place was the house of a number of sprawling Vishnu temples in the ancient times. These ancient artifacts include a beautiful stone image of Lord Narayana, approximately five and a half feet in height, and are portrayed in typical Pallava style. An image of Goddess Bhu Devi, with a bell, a plate and a lamp is extremely captivating. The metal bell found here with the imposing image of goddess Bhu Devi is a unique one, since the top of the handle contains the images of Sudarsana (the discus of Lord Vishnu) and Panchajanya (His conch) one inlaid within the other. Normally they are found on either side of the top portion of a bell. An inscription in Tamil datable to the 10th century A.D. discovered at this ancient place, has the detailed description of the registration of the gifted land for meeting the expenses of lighting two lamps everyday.
But in the present times the artifacts have undergone several changes. It has been renovated and reconstructed. It is also maintained properly by the temple authorities. Presently this temple is popularly known as the Lakshmi Nrisimha-Navaneeta Krishna temple. In this well -maintained temple, the main sanctum, facing towards the eastward direction, enshrines the imposing image (moola-vigraha) of the principal Deity, Lord Lakshminrisimha. The captivating image of the deity Lakshminrisimha is the chief attraction of the temple. The processional image or the utsava murti is no less fascinating. The utsava murti of the temple enshrines the images of Lord Mahavishnu, which is referred to as Prahlada Varada. The other murtis, which adorned the beautiful main sanctum are those of Lord Pradosha Nrisimha, for whom special worship is performed during every pradosha and Sri Chakrattazhvar (Sudarsana). Also seen here are images of Sri Vishvaksena, Svami Nammazhvar, Sri Ramanuja and Sri Vedanta Desika. An interesting and rare architectural feature of this sanctum is a circular shaped pillar which resembles a stambha from which Lord Nrisimha emerged to protect His child-devotee Prahlada.
The Chakrattazhvar shrine, found on the southern side of the temple, enshrines a very beautiful image of a sixteen-armed Sudarsana holding various weapons, in his sixteen hands . The image of lord Sudarshana in this temple resembles that of the Sudarshana images of Sri Kalamegha Perumal Temple in Tirumoghur. The rear or the back side, as in most images of Sri Chakrattazhvar, is placed the figure of Lord Yoga Nrisimha, in his famous yogic posture and holding the chakra in each of His four arms. The imposing image of the Lord is seen in a seated posture on five-hooded Adisesha. The utsava-vigrahas (processional image) of Sri Sudarsana also represents a sixteen-armed bronze image with the third eye in the middle of His forehead. This utsava murti of Lord Sri Sudarshana is extremely enchanting. This shrine housing the image of Lord Sri Sudarshana is designed like a chariot, circular in shape, with wheels on either side. The vimana is one of the chief interests about the temple and is known as Veda chakra Vimana. Interestingly, the "prayoga chakra' (the discus held by Lord Narayana just prior to release) of an old Pallava Vishnu image which was earlier excavated here, has been installed in front of the Chakrattazhvar shrine, which has enhanced the traditional grandeur of the temple. This exceptional Vishnu image is properly mounted on a small structure, enabling devotees to actually touch it and say their prayers.
Apart from the above mentioned sub shrines, there is another significant sanctum stationed in this temple, which is dedicated to Lord Navaneeta Krishna. Here, the main image holds a ball of butter in His right hand while His left hand holds the conch (sankha). The utsava-vigraha here is that of Lord Venugopala, who is found flanked by His consorts, Rukmini and Satyabhama. The processional image or the utsava vigraha of the Andal shrine, which is at the rear of the main sanctum is kept next to these utsava-murtis and worshipped here. It is interesting to note that the shrine for Lord Krishna is octagonal (eight-sided) in shape. The myths and legends associated with the temple reveal that the octagonal design of the temple has a special significance. According to these stories since He (Lord Krishna) was the eighth child of Vasudev and Devaki, the shrine dedicated to the Lord is octagonal in design. Also erected in this temple is a separate sanctum for Lord Srinivasa, whose image is guarded with the tall dvajastambha. It is venerated as the gift from the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam.
While the shrines of Lord Navaneeta Krishna and Lord Srinivasa are to the right of the main sanctum, there is a sanctum dedicated to Lord Rama to the left. In this consecrated sanctum is worshipped the images of Lord Kodandarama with Sita Devi, Lakshmana and Hanuman. The enchanting utsava image of Lord Rama, with His head slightly tilted to the right and with a gentle smile on his lips, is said to be just like the famous icon of the Lord at Vaduvur. Directly in front of Lord Rama's shrine and inside the prayer-hall is erected a small image of Hanuman. Here the sacred image of Hanuman is called Bhaktakoti Anjaneya. A number of devotees are found to be flocked around the temple complex, as the common belief is that if they Lords are satisfied with the worship, they bestow boons on the followers. The devotees are also permitted to offer and apply dabs of butter on the image, while praying for the fulfillment of their wishes. Just outside the prayer-hall and facing the shrine of Lord Rama is the sacred sanctum dedicated to Sanjeevi Anjaneya with His right hand held aloft.
A significant feature of the temple is that there is also a separate sanctum, which is dedicated to the Azhvars, who are venerated as god by the devotees. The images of all the Azhvars are seen in this temple in a neat row in a separate cubicle on the southern side, just behind Sri Chakrattazhvar sanctum. The sanctum for the Azhvars is extremely fascinating, which also enhanced the picturesque view of the temple. A small sanctum for the great preceptor Sri Ramanuja is located behind the Sanjeevi Anjaneya sannidhi, while the one for Sri Vedanta Desika is seen in front of the Sudarsana shrine and facing Sri Ramanuja's shrine.
Lakshmi Nrisimha Navaneeta Krishna Temple has many antique sculptural pieces, which enhanced the scenic beauty of the temple precincts. There is a beautiful circular chamber of mirrors (kannadi arai) arranged in an unusual way, which attached a charming view to the shine. The decorated images of the Lord are taken on special occasions near these mirrors. Inside the chamber there are erected four pillars carrying the image of Lord Nrisimha. Throughout the entire length of the wall there are a series of mirrors reflecting the images. Apart from these, pictures of the deities of 108 Divya Desams adorn the walls. The paintings of the walls are outstanding and depicting the thirty pasurams of the Tiruppavai. Pictures of some Divya Desams are found on the external wall, thus making the chamber really a 'House of Art'. The inner chamber is fitted with strategically placed, large-sized mirrors, which give the viewer a multi-reflection of the images of the deities placed within.
Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha Navaneeta temple apart from being a sacrosanct is also the specimen of the architectural skill of the contemporary artists. As a whole the temple is a symbol of antiquity.
Festivals of Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha Narasimha Temple
: The festivals observed in Sri Lakshmi Nrisimha Narasimha temple reflect the cultural greatness of the temple. Moreover it points to the traditionality and antiquity of the temple. The festivals observed in the temple also have the aroma of its ancient culture