Astounding facts of Varadaraja Perumal temple, Kanchipuram

Stone chain, varadaraja Perumal temple, kanchi. Places to visit in Tamil Nadu
Kanchipuram. Varadaraja Perumal Temple Complex. Indtravel
Varadharaja Perumal Temple complex is in Kanchipuram of Tamil Nadu, S. India  and the holy town has as many as 18 Vishnu Divyadesam  temples. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, it is one of the important  Divya Desam shrines (108 temples of Vishnu) believed to have been visited and patronized by the 12 Vaishnava  Tamil poet/saints -Azhwars. Sri. Ramanuja, a great exponent of VisishtAdvaita philosophy is believed to have resided in this temple. Among the Divya Desams, Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal temple is known as the ‘Perumal Koil’ and is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites.  

Fascinating facts:

01. This temple is one of hugeVishnu temples like Srirangam Ranganathar temple in Tamil Nadu, covering an area of 23-acre (93,000 m2) of prime land.

02.  It was first built in 1053 AD by the great Chola rulers and later
 Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola were instrumental in expanding the temple. The 14th century Chola rulers, later, built the gopurams - towers and the huge walls.

03. The belief has been that Nadivarman was the first builder of this temple.

04. Innumerable Hindu temple came under attack during the reign of the 17th century Mogul ruler Aurangazeb, a well-known tyrannical ruler and  a Hindu bigot. Anticipating trouble in 1688,  the main idol of Perumal was secretly shifted to Udayarpalayam, (now in Tiruchirapalli District). The main idol was brought back to Kanchi only in 1710  once the threat of Muslim invasion had ceased and normalcy was restored. 

04. The Temple  records are not clear about the role of  Gen. Todarmal in bringing the lord's idol from Udayarpalayam. However, the chieftain of that village was not happy about taking the idol back to Kanchi. Paramahamsa Parivajakacharya Attan Jeer took the initiative and brought the idols back to Sri Varadaraja perumal temple, Kanchipuam.

05. The temple has a rare possession of  a Maharkandi - costly  necklace which is  adorned  by the deity during special temple festivals. It is purported to be a gift from Robert Clive of the East India company,  who laid the foundation for the British Empire.   The temple records fail to mention the first name. Clive chose the occasion of  the Garuda seva festival  to present the valuable necklace, now termed Clive's Maharagundi, to the Hindu deity. It was a good gesture on the part of the young British Officer. It is likely that the donor  could be Robert Clive's son  Edward Clive who was the Governor of  the Madras Presidency (1799-1805).That who was the donor of the Maharagundi is a controversial one. Anyway, the credit goes to the Clive's family and his descendants.
Kanchi Varadarajar and his consort. ePuja
06. The Nayak rulers Achutaraya and Vira Narasingaraya Saluva Nayaka endowed many villages to the temple to maintain it, according to inscriptions dated 1532CE (record of 1919).

07. In the 13th century - vide inscriptions in the temple, the Hoysala rulers, gifted a crown to the presiding deity. 

08. This huge temple has three outer corridors (prakarams) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram.
Varadaraja Perumal temple, Kanchipuram./
09. Within the temple complex  there are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams 
(towers), and 389 ornate  pillars, supporting various mandaps - halls. Many pillars have the lion type yali sculptures that are common in many Hindu temples of Tamil Nadu. 
 pillars with Yali images.Varadaraja Perumal temple, Kanchi.
!0. Like many Hindu temples, some sacred tanks (integral parts of the temple)  are located outside the complex.

11. The west facing main Garbagraha/sanctum  can be  accessed via a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered Rajagopuram (main gateway tower). Its height is less than the East tower and it is a rare temple design in which the Rajagopuram is smaller than the other one.
Huge stone chain  Varadaraja temple, Kanchi. ,Divine Traveller
12. Among the fascinating wonders of this temple is the most astonishing huge stone chain. It is simply an architectural and artistic masterpiece entirely made of a single stone  with a series of rings strung together  without breaking the continuity.

13. A big hall mandap has the support of 100 ornate pillars; here one can see various episodes from the Ramayana and Mahabaratha beautifully carved in the stones. It is a masterpiece contribution from the rulers of Vijayanagara.

14. The presiding deity is a 10 ft (3.0 m) tall idol made of granite in standing posture, while Thayar (goddess) is a 4 ft (1.2 m) stone image in sitting posture
15. Yet another unique feature in this temple  is the presence of a huge wooden image of Perumal (Vishnu) made of fig wood (in Tamil Athi maram), besides the main stone image. The wooden image is belived be in a silver box and is in the temple water tank {Anaandasaras). It  is taken out every 40 years after water is pumped out. After cleaning and other rituals, the wooden image is is kept  for darshan for a particulat period and after that it is kept under water  till the next periodic cleaning.
Peumal Kovil, Knchi.Huge  temple umrella.

16. Yet another unique aspect about this temple is its  popular huge umbrella used on the festival days. 

17. Vedanta Desika, an equally revered saint like  Ramanuja, attracted by the divine grace of the lord, patronized this temple in his literary works. 

18. Among the Carnatic music trinity, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar(18th century) composed compositions on the temple festivals. Thirumangai Alvar, Bhoothathalvar  and Peyalvar sang devotional hymns in praise of the lord.

18. Goddess Perundevi Thayar is in the third prakara and the worship tradition here has been that the devotees must pray to the goddess first before offering prayer or puja to the main deity.  

19. The Thulabara Mandapa  was built in1532 by the Vijayanagara ruler Achutaraya. It consists of four  small halls and here  the offering like rice, etc., equal to the body weight of the devotee(s) is made to the deity. In the days of yore, rulers used to make gold and silver as thulaparam offering (equal to weight of the body) to the temple as an expression of gratitude to the god. 

20. The seven prakaras/corridors are called Pradakshina Padha, Hastagiri Pradakshana, Madapalli Pragara, Alavandar Pragara and Azhwar Thiruveedhi. One could see a lot of shrines in the Alavandar Pragara.

21.The temple car festival here is famous and the temple car was a gift from Sri. Krishnadeva Raya in 1517 CE. 

22. The temple has 16th century paintings of the Vijayanagar kings and they need periodic maintenance. Like many Vaishnava temples, there is a shrine for Chakratazhwar on the eastern side of the temple tank. There are seven festival idols (Urchavar) of Sudarshana depicted within the same Chakra. 

23. The shrine has two different images and hence has two entrances. There are two entrances to the shrine as the two images are considered to be separate. The shrine is said to have been built during the reign of Kulothunga III in 1191 CE by Ilavazhagan Kalingarayan of Nettur as seen from the inscriptions in the temple.

The administration  of the temple is under the Hindu Religious and Charitable  Endowment (HR & CE) of the Government of Tamil Nadu.