It has been awhile that I had explored some of the temples in and around Chennai itself.
This weekend I took some time off to go and visit a couple of wonderful temples on East Coast road close to Thiruvanmiyur with my wife and children.
Firstly, we planned to visit the Pratyankara Devi temple at Sozhiganallur off ECR. The place is about 15 kms from my home and on a Saturday evening we had an easy passage after the City limits, (which is some 4-5 km from my home on the ECR.)
The Road to Sozhiganallur is off to the right from ECR and it is under repairs right now but easily motorable. Soon it will be a wide much needed link passage from ECR to OMR (IT- corridor)
(The Temple is closed only between 2 to 4 pm daily)
The temple itself on a narrow road with a non-descript entrance next to a vast dry field, almost deceiving us into thinking ‘it can’t be much of a temple’.
You are soon taken aback and rocked back to awe-inspiring sights of several statues in this enclosure.
When you set your foot in, at the entrance is the deity Varahi’s temple, where Devi is with the relevant animal face. After praying there and collecting the vibhuti and Kumkumam, you move to the left and are immediately confronted by the rare architecture resembling Tibetan pagoda roofs.
The first one under this structure is a huge moorthi 30 to 40 ft easily of Kali, like a ‘Rundamalini’( wears a garland of monster heads) and as ‘the wild red tongued goddess’ that struck terror in the enemy Rakshasas that she did samhara.
The name plate however said veerabhadrasamy for some reason, I was told by my son who read the inscription next to the door. I was awe struck by this huge wild goddess Moorthi in glorious form blessing the devotees who flock to see such statues here.
Further, you see a homa kundam where regular Amavasya homam is performed.
There you see a standing statue at least 20 feet tall of Agni deva, with 3 legs, and seven hands. A real weird figure this and you bow in reverence.
Then you move on to the Sharabha lingeswara swamy enclosure and then on to Kalabhairava swamy and Gayatri devi’s temples housed in smaller enclosures.
Next in the central enclosure is the Main deity- Pratyankara devi, the lion headed goddess, who it seems is the female counterpart of Narasimha swamy.
The statue of Pratyankara Devi is beautifully carved with clear cut lion facial features and her female body adorned with silks and jewels.
There is a line of people thronging at all peak hours but you get to see the Moorthi the whole time you are in the queue, no matter where you are.
The Lemon and Kumkumam prasadam of the goddess is believed to be a panacea for many cures and she is believed to be a powerful goddess for the ill-fated ones. This recent temple is now on the lips of many Chennaiites and has acquired a quick fame among the Hindu devotees here.
After receiving the Lemon and Kumkumam prasadam one can visit the rest of the smaller temples of Lord Ganesh, Hanuman, Subramanya and a wall painting of Hayagrivar which are clustered around the main deity. My wife and children were very happy and felt blessed here.
Blessed by the divine darshanam of the Goddesses here, we moved out in the taxi to some 5 kms back towards Chennai, to a place called Injambakkam on the ECR, to visit the shirdi saibaba Temple set in a huge garden-like estate.
The place is set far away from the noise and traffic of the ECR and very close to the Injambakkam-Neelankarai beach stretch. It is silent , peaceful and a calm location, well-developed and maintained with the funds of several North Indian devotees as there are Hindi nameboards in front of the several temples here along with Shirdi saibaba’s. There is a Flower stall to one side the ashram like complex where you can purchase flowers for puja.
There are a lot of green tall trees all around and small concrete pathways leading from one temple to the other.
First off you see Vallabha Vinayakar and move on to Lord Dattatreya, the three headed Murthi embodiment of Brahma-Vishnu- Maheswara trio.
You can visit the vast and central Shirdi saibaba temple next and see the holy statue after climbing some 30 odd steps.
There is a benevolent Sai picture calling the devotees with a message “Why Fear when I am here?” and a marble statue decorated with silks and beautifully garlanded of Shirdi baba at the centre. You offer your prayers, garland him (There is an archakar there too) and kneel down at this lotus feet engraved in the marble next to the moorthi and pray for blessings.
After receiving the Vibhuti prasadam, you get down and can settle down for a few moments of peaceful meditation in the vast Central hall there.
Out of the mandir again, you can see the ‘uthi’ enclosure, Shirdi sai Pictures and statues in the next hall and a smaller enclosure of sai as ‘Dwaraka mai’.
You have small enclosures- full of the host of Gods and goddesses ranging from Shivji and parvati, Ram, Sita and Lakhan with Hanuman, Subramanya with Devayani and valli, Maa Durga, Radhe-shyam, Vishnu and navagrahas.
You also see the north Indian version of ‘The Lord of the Ocean’ – Jhulelal ji deity in the opposite enclosure.
It will be then time to leave this calm and serene place with its trees and chirping birds with a heavy heart. We owed to go back as many times as we can to enjoy the serenity and peace more the next times around.