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A nice compilation of the histories of temples at IIT Madras.


  • 1Brief look at the history of temples in IIT Madras

    campusArun Ayyar, Harish Ganapathy, Hemanth C

    Alumnus of Department of Electrical Engg., Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai-600036.Email: arun.ayyar@gmail.com

    Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engg., Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai-600036Email: agriniharish@gmail.com

    Department of Electrical Engg., Indian Institute of Technology Madras, Chennai-600036Email: hemanthdreamz@gmail.com

    27-February-2014, Vijaya Varsha Maha Shivaratri.


    Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IITM) was commissioned in 1957. A part of the land for establishment of IITM was

    transferred by the Raj bhavan. The land on which the existing hostel zone is located belonged to the then Taramani village.

    Some of the erstwhile Taramani villagers and their families still reside in the area outside the existing Taramani gate of IITM.

    There are three temples in the IITM campus, namely (i) Sri Jalakantheswara temple on the Delhi Avenue (ii) Sri Peeliamman

    Temple on the Delhi Avenue near the stadium (iii) Sri Varasidhdhi Vinayaka Temple behind Taramani Guest House. The

    Taramani villagers used to worship the deities in these temples before the establishment of IITM. However, no written material

    is available with the temples regarding their history during the pre-IITM period.

    To reconstruct the history of these temples, informal interviews were conducted with the people connected to the area before

    and during the establishment of IITM. In order to gain the archaeological view point we sought the help of Dr. Nagaswamy,

    a renowned archaeologist and epigraphist. He served as the Director of Archaeology of Tamil Nadu state Government for 22

    years. This document is a summary of the findings of this exercise.


    The Jalakantheswara temple is located near the main gate of IITM on the Delhi Avenue. The main deity in this temple

    is Lord Shiva worshipped in name of Sri Jalakantheswara along with his consort Devi Katyayani. Prior to the establishment

    (a) Sri Jalakantheswara (b) Devi Katyayani

    Fig. 1. Photographs of Sri Jalakantheswara and Devi Katyayani

    of IITM, the Shiva linga was present under a mandapam with thatched roof near the IITM lake area and was inspiring even

    by its size. Residents of the nearby villages offered daily worship to the Shiva lingam. During the establishment of IITM,

    the residents of IITM then approached Mahaperiyavaa (Kanchi Kamakoti Peethadhipathi Jagadguru Sri Chandrasekharendra

  • 2Saraswathi Swamiji) about the procedure to be followed for worshipping the linga. He told them to construct a temple and

    continue the puja.

    When the question of naming the Lord came, He told them that there was no need to give a new name to the lingam

    since it had been previously worshipped by Appaya Deekshitar. Appaya Deekshitar (1520-1593) was an Advaita Vedanta

    scholar who composed the famous Margabandhu Stotram and Atmarpana stuti. Mahaperiyavaa told that the lingam had been

    previously worshipped as Jalakantheswara. He also directed them to check the documents available in the nearby Raj Bhavan

    for further details. According to the information furnished by the Controller of Raj Bhavan area in 1959, the precincts of the

    temple once formed the route from an ancient place of worship in Vedashreni (present Velachery) to Thiruvanmiyur and had

    been frequented by great saints including Appaya Deekshitar. During a recent visit to Kanchipuram, Balaperiyavaa (Kanchi

    Kamakoti Peethadhipathi Jagadguru Sri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamiji) mentioned that the then king performed the

    Shastiabdapurthi (60th birthday) of Appaya Deekshitar in the temple where the Jalakantheshwara lingam had been present.

    The construction of the current Jalakantheswara temple started around 1962 and got over by 1965. The vimana Kalasam

    of Sri Jalakantheswara is about 300 kg. The first kumbhabhishekam of the Sri Jalakantheswara temple was performed on

    18th June, 1965 in the holy presence of Puduperiyavaa (Kanchi Kamakoti Peethadhipathi Jagadguru Sri Jayendra Saraswati

    Swamiji). Sringeri Sharada Peethadhipati Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Swamiji visited the temple on 7th November, 1965, while

    Mahaperiyavaa himself visited the temple on 20th February, 1966. Based on the information available, the lingam is at least

    400 years old.

    In the souvenir printed for the Sri Jalakantheswara temple kumbhabhishekam in 1986 the following text is present:

    The story of the lingam, summarized from the reading of the Kakabujander Nadi which was with the Raj Bhavan authorities

    is as follows:

    There was a Gandharva Kumaran by name of Vanavilangan. While he was passing through the sky, he spotted

    a lovely lake with a charming swan on it. He attempted to capture and take the swan away but as the swan was

    goddess Kali herself, she cursed Vanavilangan that he would become a stone. The gandharva kumaran accepted

    the punishment but prayed to the Goddess for redemption. The Goddess relented and commanded him to build a

    temple and perform penance as a stone, until he was redeemed by the touch of holy feet of Thrikala Gnanis and saints.

    Comforted by this blessing of the Goddess, he built a temple where goddess rested and established a shivalingam at

    the foot of which he lays as a stone for ages, until he regained his original form. The lingam was shifted as years

    passed, and once a king (hunter) attained salvation by spotting it. Finally a Brahmin Yogi with great efforts lifted

    the lingam and planted at the bank of the lake, where it was subsequently found in 1959. The nadi describes the

    shivalingam as a composite whole, fusing Lord Jalakantheswara and Devi Katyayani as one cognate expression of

    universal peace, prosperity and glory.

    The following photographs in Fig.2 and Fig. 3 were taken from souvenir printed during kumbhabhishekam of Sri Jalakan-

    theswara temple conducted in 1986. We have included the other photographs in the Photo Gallery section at the end.

    Fig. 2. Kumbhabhishekam to Jalakantheswara temple vimanam in presence of Puduperiyavaa. The vimana kalasam is about 300 kg. Also seen in photographProf Krishnamurty.

  • 3Fig. 3. Jagadguru Sri Abhinava Vidyatheertha Swamiji of Sringeri Sharada peetham visiting Sri Jalakantheswara temple on 07-Nov-1965. Also seen inphotograph Prof Krishnamurty.

    Fig. 4. Mahaperiyavaa visiting visiting Sri Jalakantheswara temple on 20-Feb-1966. Also seen in photograph Prof Krishnamurty, Sri Y. S. Ramaswamy andSri T. R. Rajagopal. (Courtesy IITM Heritage center)


    This temple is located on the Delhi avenue near the stadium. The main deity in this temple is Goddess Durga Peeliamman

    who was worshipped as the grama devata/ yellai amman (the protecting goddess of the village) by the people of the Taramani

    village. Before the establishment of IITM, there was small Devi idol which the villagers used to worship. The villagers of

    Taramani worshipped Durga Peeliamman as a benevolent goddess as opposed to the usual fierce form associated with any yellai

    amman. The vigrahas of Peeliamman and Vinayaka (present in the Vinayaka temple) have been worshipped by the villagers

    for many generations.

    Fig. 5. Sri Durga Peeliamman temple

    Fig. 6. Photograph of Sri Durga Peeliamman

  • 5The people mentioned an interesting ritual which persons with health problems used to undertake once they were cured

    of the disease after praying to Goddess Peeliamman. The ritual was called Kodaikalyanam. The afflicted person would

    take a shakthi karagam (pot filled with water) on their head and go around the boundaries of other villages which were near

    Taramani. The journey would start from Sri Durga Peeliamman temple and go through Thiruvanmiyur, Kottivakkam, Perungudi,

    Narayanapuram, Puzhidivakkam , Velachery, etc. villages and finally end at Sri Durga Peeliamman temple. The person would

    visit the grama devata temples of each of these villages before returning back to Sri Durga Peeliamman temple. It was believed

    Fig. 7. Sketch of route possibly taken for the Kodaikalyanam ritual

    that if a person with health problem would pray that they would perform this ritual then it would cure the person of their

    health problems. A sketch of the possible route using Google maps is shown in Fig. 7. The exact route taken in those days

    would be different from the one shown since we could not locate the grama devata temples of the respective villages.


    Sri Varasidhdhi Vinayaka temple is situated in the hostel zone behind Taramani Guest house. The main deity in this temple

    is the Varsidhdhi Vinayaka. The temple also houses two Shiva lingas.

    A. Sri Varasidhdhi Vinayaka

    The erstwhile Taramani villagers say that the Vinayaka murti has been present in its current place since a long time. In fact

    one of the persons we spoke to said, Yen paten nukku paten kalatule irundu iruku. (The Ganesha murti has been there since

    the time of my grandfathers grandfather). This easily makes it at least 200 years old.

    Fig. 8. Vigraha of Sri Varasidhdhi Vinayaka

    B. Bhajana Matam and Tulasi Maadam

    The people we spoke to mentioned that there was also a matam with a Mahavishnu photo next to the Vinayaka murti where

    the villagers used to conduct bhajans in the month of Margazhi (Dec-15 to Jan-15). There was also a tulasi maadam, which

    can be seen even now. As of today, the bhaj