About Perumal Temple
A part of the sacred Trinity along with the Ekambareswarar and the Kamakshi Amman Temples, the Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram, also known as Perumal Koli, is highly sacramental to the practice of Vaishnavism. The temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is of extreme religious importance.
The temple sprawls across a vast 25 acres of land and comprises of 32 shrines along with the shrine to the main deity. The temple has a unique idol of Lord Vishnu made entirely of wood, which is kept enshrined in a silver box and immersed in water. This water is released from the Tank every 40 years.
The main shrine to Lord Vishnu is located atop a small hillock, known as Hastagiri, which is 10 meters high and can be reached by a flight of 24 steps. It has murals of the late Vijayanagara Empire on the ceiling. There is also a shrine to Narasimha on the hillock, which houses the mysterious mask of Narasimha, the origins of which remain unknown till today.
The temple conducts aarti ceremonies in the evening and morning. It also celebrates a number of different festivals, attracting devotees and pilgrims to it over the years. Once every 40 years, the temple conducts a special Pooja and ceremony for Lord Athi Varadaraja Perumal, where the 40 feet tall idol of the Lord made entirely of Athi wood is brought out for the worship of the devotees.Also, the temple has a strictly no littering policy and does not allow photography within the premises.
How to Reach Perumal Temple
The Varadharaja Perumal Temple is not connected to the Yelagiri Bus Stand with public transport. The temple can be reached from the bus stand by a taxi or a private car. The ride between the two places takes around 3 hours.
Best Time to Visit Perumal Temple
The best time to visit the Varadaraja Perumal Temple would be during the winter months, between November to February. During this time, the temperature remains relatively low, and walking the temple premises on foot does not become tiring.
The temple is best visited during the early morning or evening when the aarti takes place. It is also better to avoid visiting the temple during weekends when it is relatively more crowded.
What Not to Miss at Perumal Temple
1. Kamakshi temple: Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Kamakshi, the ultimate form of the goddess Parvati. The inner sanctum houses an idol of the main deity, flanked by the figures of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The main deity is shown seated in the yogic Padmasana. The temple houses several elephants, who are treated as sacred animals here and worshipped every day. The temple also has a Lotus Pond and a Gaja Shed, which houses these elephants.
2. Kanchi Kudil: Located in the heart of Kanchipuram, Kanchi Kudil is a traditional museum born from an ancient heritage home. The museum exhibits pictures, documentation, and detailing on the Kanchipuram way of life across ages. The museum preserves traditional domestic items from Kanchipuram homes, dating back to several centuries. It also houses craft exhibitions and live demos organized by artisans during peak tourist seasons.
3. Thiru Parameswara Vinnagaram: The Thiru Parameswara Vinnagaram is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is known for its splendid Dravidian style of architecture and is one of the 108 Divya Desams across the world. The temple is believed to have been built by the Pallavas as early as 720 CE, with later reconstructions by the Chola and Vijayanagara Kings. It is the second oldest temple in Kanchipuram.
4. Ekambareswarar Temple: The Ekambareswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to the deity Shiva. It is one of the few temples in the country associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoot Stalas, and specifically the element of Prithvi (Earth). In the temple, the idol of the deity is represented as a lingam and is referred to as the Prithvi Lingam. The temple covers 25 acres and is one of the largest temples in India.
5. Kuranganilmuttam: this is a cave temple dedicated to Lord Shiva built during the reign of the Pallava kings. This lesser-known cave shrine is carved entirely out of stone and contains stone engravings of the deities in an underground sanctum.
Other Essential Information About Perumal Temple
- Location: Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu 631501, India
- Timings: The temple remains open on all days of the week. The timing of the temple is :
Architecture of Perumal Temple
Sprawling across a vast 23 acres, Perumal Temple is known for its splendid architecture, which is fashioned after the ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathi style. The temple has three outer precincts, known as Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. In total, the Temple consists of 32 shrines, 389 pillared halls, and several sacred tanks, many of which are located outside the temple.
The main temple tank, Anantha Theertham is a vast structure outside the temple premises . The main sanctum is flanked by a 130 feet tall raja gopuram, which is 7 tiers high. The main idol is designed and placed in such a position that it comes directly in the way of the sun’s rays on the 15th day after Chitra Purnima.
One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is a huge chain stone carved out of a single stone. There is also a 100 pillared hall, which contains stone carvings depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
History of Perumal Temple
The Varadharaja Perumal Temple was built by the Chola Dynasty as early as 1053 and was expanded during the reign of Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola. The inscriptions and the carvings on the walls of the temple make it evident that the Temple has remained under the care of and received donations from several kingships, including the Cholas, Cheras, Kakatiyas, Hoysalas and many more. When a Mughal invasion was apprehended in 1688, the main idol was moved to Udayarpalayam.
An epigraph to the temple dated at 1511 AD records that the famous Dvaita saint, Sri Vyasatirtha, had presented a village and a serpent vehicle to the Perumal Temple in that year and had instituted a festival in honour of the Vijayanagara King Krishnadevaraya. Another record dating back to 1726 AD mentions that another Davita saint by the name of Satyavijaya TIrtha was honoured at the temple with some privileges.
The Thathachariar are the custodians of the Perumal Temple. In retrospect, Tirumalai Nambi’s song, Tirukkurukai Piran Pillan was ordained by Ramanuja himself to propagate the Vishishtadvaita philosophy after himself. He was also chosen as the most competent person to write a commentary on the Thiruvaimozhi.
Places to Eat at Near Perumal Temple
1. Hotel Shiva's Cafe: Located only a short distance away from the temple, this quaint vegetarian hotel serves authentic South Indian food. The cafe is especially known for its tiffin services, specifically its special made filter coffee. Shiva's Cafe is the perfect place to go to for budget-friendly dining options.
2. Agrahara Kitchen: Widely known for the hospitality, Agrahara Kitchen serves homely meals at a pocket-friendly rate. This purely vegetarian restaurant serves Indian as well as typically South Indian delights and it prides in its variety of meals. The restaurant also has casual dining and breakfast options.
3. Hotel Shree Balaji Bhavan: This vegetarian restaurant serves typically Indian delights along with the staple South Indian cuisine. Shree Balaji Bhavan is popular among younger crowds for its pocket-friendly options.
4. Hotel Saravana Bhavan: Serving purely vegetarian dishes, Saravana Bhavan prides in its offer South Indian thalis or meals. The restaurant offers North Indian and vegan options as well and is known for its wide variety of desserts.
Tips for Visiting Perumal Temple:
1. Weekends at the Varadharaja Perumal Temple are extremely crowded. It is best to visit the temple during weekdays.
2. There is parking available near the temple premises at a minimal cost.
3. There is no dress code allotted for visiting the temple. However, it would be advisable to wear conservative clothes, covering the knees and shoulders.
4. Do not litter the temple grounds and keep it clean.
5. Photography is strictly prohibited within the temple premises.