CHENNAI: Cheyyur located off the East Coast Road about 80 km from Chennai, has a temple for Muruga, worshipped as Kandaswamy. The other two famous temples for Kandaswamy are in Thirupporur (OMR) and George Town, Chennai. The ardent devotee of Muruga, Arunagirinathar, visited Cheyyur in the 15th century AD and composed Tamil verses in praise of this deity in his  Thirupugazh.

Outside the main entrance to the Kandaswamy temple are a number of weatherworn pillars without a roof, indicative of a big mandapa here once upon a time. An image of Ganesha is seen on entering the temple’s doorway. In the main sanctum, Kandaswamy, with four hands, two of which hold the weapons Shakti and Vajra, stands flanked by his consorts. His vahana (mount), the peacock in stone is behind him, while two more peacocks are seen in front, one in the mandapa and another near the flag post (dvajastambham).

The outer walls of the central sanctum have five niches with the idols of the different aspects of Muruga. They are Skanda in a dance pose (Nritta Skanda), Brahma Sasta, Bala Skanda, Sivagurunathar and Pulindan with a bow and arrow. Muruga’s consorts, Valli and Deivayanai are seen in two shrines in the premises. A mandapa of wood called Vadya Mandapa was once located in front of the main sanctum, sadly not seen now. It was used for Nadaswaram recitals and other music performances.

 

This temple is known for the 27 nakshatras and for the 27 Vetals, one for each star. These Vetals are believed to be the Ganas or the followers of Shiva who assisted Skanda in fighting a demon called Surapadman.