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Kancheepuram is a heavenly experience for the believers in God due to
its large number of temples and religious environment. Temples in Kancheepuram can be broadly divided into Shiva, Vishnu and Jain temples. Varadharaja Perumal Temple is a huge Vishnu temple dedicated to the worship of Lord Vishnu and is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites. Varadharaja Perumal Temple is one of the 108 temples, known as Divya Desams, of Vishnu believed to have been visited by the twelve poet saints. Varadharaja Perumal Temple is also known as Devaraja Swamy temple in Kancheepuram.
History behind Varadharaja Perumal
Varadharaja Perumal temple was built by the Cholas in 1053 AD. In the coming years the structure had many additions like walls, gopurams etc. by the later Chola kings and Vijaynagara rulers. In 1688 when there was a fear of the Mughal invasion the temple deity was moved to another place in the Tiruchirappalli district. Later during the British rule the deity was brought back to its original place. Once a British general Robert Clive visited this temple during a festival and he was so mesmerized by the proceedings that he gifted a valuable necklace which is used in the festivals even today and is named as Clive Maharkandi.
Legend behind Varadharaja Perumal
Legend is that once Lord Brahma performed a yagya to summon Lord Narayana. It is said that a Yagya must be performed with one’s consort. But Lord Brahma started Yagya without Goddess Saraswati which angered her and she took the form of furious river Vegavathi threatening to destroy the yagya. Lord Brahma got afraid and requested Lord Narayana to help him. Lord Narayana lied down across the flowing river. As Goddess Saraswati did not have strength to cross Lord Narayana, she stopped and entered the earth. Later she compromised with Lord Brahma and thus the yagya was performed. At the end of the Yagya Lord Varadaraja appeared from the fire in the most beautiful form carrying five weapons and his consorts Sri Devi and Boodevi. Lord Brahma requested him to place himself permanently in Kancheepuram to which Lord Narayana presided with his consorts.
Another legend states that Lord Indra after getting release from the curse of Lord Saraswati installed the silver and golden lizards which can be seen in the temple even today.
Temple entry timings
The temple is open from 06:00 am to 11:00 a.m and from 04:00 p.m to 08:00 p.m.
Pooja details and timings
Special darshan timings are given below:
Vishwa roupa Darshan – 06:00 am to 07:00 am Free darshan - 07:00 am to 11:00 am and 05:00 pm to 08:00 pm Darshan with Fees – 11:00 am to 12:00 am and 03:30 pm to 05:00 pm Thirumanjana Seva (In Perumal Sannidhi only) – 12:30 am to 02:30 pm Malarangi Seva (Decorated with flowers) – 06:00 pm to 07:00 pm Mansa Seva – 08:00 pm to 08:30 pm
Apart from these there are tickets for Sahasra Namam, Ashtothiram and Dheepa Aarthi
Details of Varadharaja Perumal
Varadharaja Perumal temple is very large spread across 23 acres of land. The temple has two gopurams or entrances. East gopuram and west gopuram. East gopuram is 125 feet in height and the west gopuram is 92.5 feet in height. The temple has three prakarams (outer part of the temple sanctum, corridors) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. There are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams, 389 pillared halls (most having the lion type yali sculpture)and sacred tanks. From these sacred tanks is the holy water drawn to bathe Lord Devarajaswamy.
Varadharaja Perumal temple is located on the top of Hastigiri or Elephant Hill which is about 10 m tall. One has to climb 24 steps to reach the shrine of Lord Varadarajaswamy. The main deity of Lord Varadaraja is in standing posture and facing west in the first prakarma or precinct. The deity of Lord Varadaraja is huge and he it has four hands each holding on to Shankhas, Chakra, Kamal and is decorated with jewels. Apart from the main stone idol there is a recining wooden image of Lord Varadaraja about 40 feet long is preserved in a silver box. Water is pumped out of the silver box every 40 years.
The third prakarma has the shrine of Goddess Perundevi Thayar. It is mandatory for the devotes to visit the shrine of Goddess Perundevi Thayar first before visiting the main deity.
Specialty of Varadharaja Perumal
There are sculptures of two lizards carved on the ceiling of the corridor enclosing the Sanctum. One of the lizards is covered with sheet of Gold and another in Silver. The sculpture of sun and moon can be found behind the lizards. Apart for this Nooru Kaal Mandapam" or 100 Pillar Hall is the most famous architecture. This entire architecture has been carved out of a single rock.
Festivals celebrated in
The annual festival celebrated here is the Brahmotsavam which takes place in the month of March and is celebrated for 10 days. Apart from this other festivals celebrated are garuda vahanam and ther festival (temple chariot). In ther festival Lord Vardarajar is taken out on a chariot once a year in the month of January and Feburary. Huge number of devotees throng the place during festival times.