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The Varadharaja Perumal temple is a Hindu pilgrimage shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu-the Preserver and protector of the Universe. It is located in the holy city of Kanchipuram in the state of Tamilnadu in South India. This temple is considered one of the 108 Divya Desams (holy abodes) of Lord Vishnu and believed to have been visited by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars. The temple is surrounded by several famous Vishnu temples and many Hindu saints have frequented the shrine. It is popularly known as the Perumal Koil and is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites. Millions of devotees from all over the world visit the shrine to have a Darshan of the deity and obtain his blessings.
Though the temple is believed to have existed from days of yore, its exact origin is buried in the mists of time. Its recent history indicates that it was built by the Chola kings in 1053 A.D and expanded by King Kulluthunga Chola 1 and later by Vikra Chola during 1075 – 1135 A.D. it was later renovated by the Vijayanagar kings in the 12th century A. D. It was under danger of a Mughal invasion in 1688 and the main deity was sent to Tiruchirapalli but later brought back. Robert Clive participated in the Garuda Seva festival during colonial times and presented the deity with a valuable necklace. This is now called Clive Maharkandi and adorns the deity once a year. The administration of the temple is now under the command of the Hindu Religious and Endowment Department of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
Lord Brahma is believed to have performed a yagna here along with his consorts Gayatri and Savitri. But in doing so, he is said to have ignored Goddess Saraswathi who was enraged and taking the form of a river, tried to stop the ritual. Brahma requested Vishnu to lie down and block the waters from interfering with his yagna. After the completion of the rituals, Lord Vishnu emerged from the sacrificial fire dazzling with the brilliance of a thousand suns.
The original image of Lord Varadharaja was made of Attimaram and this ancient wooden image is kept in a silver casket immersed in water. This wooden image is removed from the water and worshipped for 10 days once in forty years. The temple is famous for its spirituality and ancient history. It is built on 23 acres of land and surrounded by several prominent temples of various deities. A significant feature of the temple is the beautifully engraved lizards plated with pure gold. The temple lies inside three grand circles and has a magnificent hall of 100 pillars. The presiding deity is a 10 feet tall Idol made of granite in a standing posture The Lord is self-manifested (Swayambhu) and not installed by any human or divine being. The priests of the temple are believed to be the direct descendants of Yagya Valkier and their lineage harks back to ancient times.
The temple is a masterpiece of Dravidian architecture and reflects the craftsmanship of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis. The temple houses not less than 32 shrines, 19 Vimanam, 389 pillared posts and several sacred tanks. A striking feature of the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted out of a single stone. The 100 pillared hall inside the premises features several sculptures depicting scenes from the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Many people throng the temple on festive occasions just to get a glimpse of the Kodai (Umbrella) which is truly a sight to behold. Brahmotsavam in Vaigasi which falls in May/June is a major occasion of celebration in the temple and people from far and near make a beeline for the temple during these auspicious periods. The Garuda Vahanam and the Ther festival (Chariot) are also celebrated with great fervor with thousands of people in attendance. Chitra Pournami and Pongal witness a huge turnout of people in the temple and the Float festival in February is also a prominent occasion for celebration.
Worshipping here is said to dispel departed spirits who linger on earth and crave for liberation. People suffering from chronic ailments also get relief from pain and hardships. Lord Varadharaja Perumal controls all the riches and its distribution and whoever worships him is blessed with health, wealth and prosperity. The Lord also removes anxiety and fear from the minds of his devotes and grants them peace and happiness.
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Kancheepuram is a district in the South Indian State of Tamilnadu and a prominent religious center. It is known as the Temple city and also world famous for its silk saris which are in great demand throughout the world.
By Flight: The nearest Airport is located in the Metropolitan city of Chennai, approximately 70 kilometres from Kancheepuram. One can catch a taxi from the Airport to reach Kancheepuram.
By Rail: Kancheepuram has a railway station and is well linked to all major cities of India with trains plying frequently at regular intervals. Taxis, buses and auto rickshaws are available outside the station.
By Bus: There are regular buses plying from major cities of the country to Kancheepuram.
Local Transport: The Temple is easily accessible by taxis, local buses and autorickshaws.