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CHENNAI: Kundrathur, which is home to many famous historic temples, also has some shrines which are not well-known. One of these is a Shiva temple dedicated to Kandazhishwarar, closely associated with Seikkizhar, author of the Tamil work, Periya Puranam.

The main sanctum enshrines a huge Lingam with a square base (Linga Pitha or Avudaiyar) which is unusual. Although there is a small entrance to this temple on the east and a large one on the west, the most used entrance is on the south side. The name of Goddess Parvati is Nahai Mukha Valli. A rare aspect of this deity is that the left foot is placed ahead of the right foot. The top portion (vimana) of the sanctum is oval in shape, called in technical parlance as Gajaprishta (meaning back of an elephant in Sanskrit). Many sanctums are located in the outer circumambulatory passage (prakaram) such as Ganesha, Valishvarar with Balambika, Surya, the sixty-three Nayanmars (important devotees of Shiva) and Navagraha. Bhairava, an important aspect of Shiva, is worshipped in three forms here. Near the central sanctum is a mandapa with Chola pillars, but the flooring has been modernised.

The earliest inscription is dated 1267 A D and belongs to a brave Pallava chieftain named Kopperunjinga. Interestingly, some of the inscriptions here record donations to other temples. An epigraph of the Chola times mentions a gift of cows by a doctor to another Shiva temple in this town. A record of the illustrious Vijayanagara Emperor Krishnadeva Raya, dated 1509 AD. registers a donation to a temple in Kanchipuram.

(The writer is a historian who  focuses on templearchitecture)