CHENNAI: Kundrathur, near Chennai, is one of those rare places where there are historic temples for many deities. There are shrines for Shiva and Vishnu here, but the most famous temple in Kundrathur is dedicated to Muruga. This place takes its name from the Tamil word kundru which means ‘hill’. Perched on a small hill here, with 84 steps leading to the top, is a temple for Subramanya Swami. Arunagirinathar, the great devotee of Muruga has sung in praise of this deity in his Thirupugazh.
According to the sthala puranam or the tradition associated with the orgin of this temple, Muruga stayed here during his travels from Thiruporur (located on the Old Mamallapuram Road), where he destroyed demons, to Thiruttani (near Arakonam). Both Thiruporur and Thiruttani are home to famous Muruga temples, the latter being one of the aruppadai veedu or six important Muruga temples in Tamil Nadu.
The Kundrathur Subramanya Swami temple has some rare features. The main shrine and deity face north towards Thirutani. It is believed to be the only Muruga temple in Tamil Nadu facing north. Subramanya is flanked by his consorts, Valli and Deivayanai. A unique aspect is that the principal idol can be seen with only one of the two goddesses at a time. If the devotee stands on one side, only Subramanya and Valli can be seen. When viewed from another side, the main idol can be viewed with only Deivayanai. A 17th century Tamil epigraph mentions that several shrines and idols here were donated by Sokka Bhupa, who was probably a Nayak king of Madurai.
(The writer is a historian who focuses on templearchitecture)