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Timings : 5:30 AM - 12:00 PM & 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Time Required : 1-2 hours

Entry Fee : No entry fee

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Parthasarathy Temple, Chennai Overview

Parthasarathy Temple, located in Triplicane area of Chennai, is a structure more than 1000 years old, standing in the heart of the bustling city. Dedicated to different avatars of Lord Vishnu within the many shrines of the temple, it attracts thousands of Vaishanvite followers from all across the country. The temple gets its name from the charioteer version of Lord Krishna when he drove the vehicle of Arjuna in the war. Parthasarathy Temple is classified as one of the 108 Divya Desams or holy shrines dedicated to Vishnu, as mentioned in the canonical Tamil literature penned down by the Alvar saints of the 6th-9th century, known as Divya Prabandha.

The temple houses five different forms of Vishnu - Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha and Krishna. In Tamil, they have different names for these. There are numerous additional shrines as well, enclosed within the 8th-century Dravidian architecture. Chennai is a popular city for the followers of Vishnu to carry out a pilgrimage to because of the many temples devoted to that faith. Parthasarathy temple is one of the oldest among them, and also one of the most popular. The number of legends that are associated with the structure and its historical past is fascinating, and the stories are interesting as well.

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Legend of Parthasarathy Temple

There are numerous mythological stories and references related to Parthasarathy temple. One of the popular stories is that the Saptarshi, or the seven celestial sages from the Hindu mythology used to worship the five deities of this temple. The deity of Parthasarathy inside the temple also has a legend of its own and is referred to in the great epic Mahabharata. The name comes from the Sanskrit words 'partha' which is the other name of Arjuna and 'sarthi' which means a charioteer. Since Krishna was the charioteer of Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war of Mahabharata, he was called Parthasarathy. The deity of the lord has scar marks in the face, which is a hat tip to the injuries Krishna sustained during the fight of Arjuna and Bhishma.

There is yet another legend, involving King Sumati and sage Atreya. The sage was looking for a place to do his meditation and Vedavyas sent him to this place, which was called Brindaranya Kshetram, along with the idol of Parthasarathy form of Krishna. This is also where King Sumati was doing his penance to see the Parthasarathy image of the lord. Upon the arrival of the sage, his desire was met, and he established a shrine here to worship the Lord.

Parthasarathy Temple History

The Parthasarathy Temple is one of the oldest architectural structures in Chennai. Originally built in the 8th century CE by the Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman I, it was later on extended and renovated by the Vijayanagara kings in around the 15th century. There are inscriptions inside the temple that talk about the contributions of both the dynasties. The temple is also mentioned with much glorification in the Divya Prabandha, and the ancient Tamil canon works on Vaishnavism. These were written by the Alwar saints between the 6th and 9th century. It is said that earlier in the days, the pilgrims coming down from the legendary Tirupati temple to take a bath in the sea on the days of Solar or Lunar eclipse used to break journey here and rest.

Architecture of Parthasarathy Temple

The Parthasarathy temple follows typical Dravidian architecture, complete with gopurams (gate towers) and mandapas (halls) with intricate carvings and stucco figures. The structure has five main deities over and above the main Parthasarathy shrine - Sri Ranganatha, Sri Rama, Sri Gajendra Varadaraja, Sri Narasimha and Sri Vedavalli Thayar. There is an additional shrine which deserves mention – the shrine of Andal. She was the only female saint among the group of 12 Vaishnavite Alwars.

The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Parthasarathy or Sri Venkatakrishna Swamy, surrounded by his consort Rukmani, his brother Balaram, friend Satyaki, son Prathymnan and grandson Anirudhan. Together the five warriors make the Pancha Veera and conform to many stories from Mahabharata or the Vaishnav canonical works. The temple has a holy tank, which is said to be the birthplace of Goddess Mahalaxmi, Vishnu's consort. The locals believe that the tank was built upon 5 sacred wells, which consisted of holy water. The masi theppam festival or float festival is conducted in this tank.

Parthasarathy Temple Festivals

The Parthasarathy temple follows the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite faith and thus follows the rules of vaikanasa aagama. In the month of Chittirai, it celebrates the Brahmotsavam festival with grandeur. This falls around April to May in the English calendar. In the same month, the Udayavar Uthsavam is also celebrated in a big way. The month of Vaigasi is for the Sri Varadarajar uthsavam, Sri Nammalwar uthsavam (vaigasi-visagam) and Vasanthothsavam, while in the month of Aani, during June - July, Sri Narasimha is worshipped with very much vigour. There are also festivals for Ramanuja during April – May and Manavalamamunigal during October - November. Pilgrims also visit the temples on the Marghazi festival of Vaikunta Ekadasi and the Masi Theppam (floating) festival.

Parthasarathy Temple Pooja Timings

Parthasarathy Temple Annadhanam

The temple conducts moral classes for children on Sundays and food donation or annadhanam every day for a 100 people. The donor can choose which day they wish to conduct their annadhanam.

How To Reach Parthasarathy Temple

The nearest bus stop to the temple is the Triplicane or Vivekanandar Illam bus stand. More than a dozen buses cover that route from various parts of Chennai. The MRTS is a great idea to cut through the traffic and reach there fast. Tiruvallikeni MRTS station is only a few metres away from the temple, and so is the Chennai Railway Station.

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