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Parthasarathy Temple

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Chennai Parthasarathy Temple

The Parthasarathy temple in Chennai dedicated to Lord Krishna is perhaps one of the oldest temples in the city. Dating back to the 8th century BC, it was built by the Pallavas but was renovated by the Vijaynagar kings in the 16th century. The temple is renowned for its architecture and elaborate stone gopuram.

The Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane is spread over 1.5 acres. Sri Venkata Krishnaswamy is the presiding diety, with a conch in the right hand and the Gnana Mudra pointing to his holy feet. Another name for the diety is Geeta Charya.

The temple also has a separate shrine for Sri Ranganatha reposing on the Adi Sesha (Five headed Snake). The other images in the temple are those of Sri Narasimha and Sri Varaha. The tank of this famous temple is called Karavei. It is said in one Sthala puranam that the temple tank was connected with another tank through a narrow stream of water. The location Thiruvallikeni (Triplicane in English) owes its name to the lily pond in the temple tank. It is probably a compounded word - 'Thiru' meaning 'Sri' in Sanskrit and sacred or special in English and 'Alli' meaning lily and 'Keni' meaning a well or water course. Stone inscriptions found in this temple indicate the history of the temple. Thiruvallikeni, Mylapore and Thirvanmiyur probably came long before Chennapatna - the present Madras or Chennai. The temples in the above three places were built before Christ. It was certain that these temples were extended, renovated and rebuilt by kings from several dynasties - Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagaram.

Thirumangai Alwar writes in Nalayira Divya Prabandam that 'the place where this fabled Temple for Vishnu stood was always dark owing to the dense canopy of fragrant forest, so enchanting owing to the graceful movement of the Peacock who swayed to the caressing winds emanating from the beach nearby'. This ancient temple finds reference in ancient Vaishnavite works of Alwar saints. You will find idols of the 12 Alwars inside the precincts of the temple. It is one of the 108 sacred centers of the Vaishnavites.

Vishnu Sahasranaama a vedic chant written by Shri Veda Vyasa can be heard echoing through this temple - invoking thousand names of God Vishnu to remove all obstructions. (the first stanza is given below):

Om Suklambaradharam Vishnum Sashivarnam Chaturbhujam
Prasannavadanam Dhyayat Sarvavignopasantaye ...

Vaikunta Ekadashi is celebrated by the recital of the 4000 poems known as the 'Tamil Vedam', in praise of the Lord. There are special prayers on Saturdays in the month of Purattasi.

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Parthasarathy Temple