Have you noticed that ruined Temples have a charm associated with them – Especially, if a Temple is very old? Today, let us look at one such charming, old and ruined Temple in India – Adi-Narayana Perumal Temple, Pulicat, Tamil Nadu. Does the photo below look like the entrance of a Temple? It sure looks like an entrance alright, but Temples here generally have a Gopuram (Tower) on top of the main entrance doors. Looking at the size of the Temple doors of this Temple, the Gopuram should have been quite huge. But no one knows whether the Gopuram was destroyed in a war, or whether the Temple was constructed with a Gopuram at all! If there was no Gopuram from the beginning, this Temple should be quite unique.
However, there is a Gopuram Tower atop the central complex which houses the main deity – God Vishnu. Notice the material used to construct the wall, in the above photo – Doesn’t it look different from normal bricks? That’s because, these walls were constructed using Laterite blocks, not bricks. Laterite blocks, it seems, were available in plenty along the Coromandel (Eastern coast) of India, but not on the Konkan (western coast). That’s one reason why old Temples in this region used them extensively for construction purposes. This particular Temple is believed to have been built during the 13th Century, when this region was under the rule of Vijayanagara Empire.
This photo shows the second shrine inside the Temple complex – Thaayaar Sannidhi. There are three shrines in Total – the other one is Aandal Sannidhi, but it is totally surrounded by bushes. Since this Temple hasn’t been used for centuries, a lot of greenery has grown all over the place. It is on the top of this Thaayaar Sannidhi that they found an inscription in Telugu, giving reference to the period of construction and the King who might have initiated the same (Balavandakulu).
The main (central) shrine has been renovated recently. We were able to go inside this shrine, which contained many pillars (like the ones shown below). It seems, the entire story of Ramayana (the famous Hindu Epic) has been engraved pictorially on the pillars and the roof. I saw one interesting note put up by the trustees of the Temple here, in which they have provided a short history of the Temple. They have also given – hold your breadth – A WEBSITE ADDRESS for this Temple!! I checked, but the link is not working. Nevertheless, I am sure this is the first ruined/unused Temple that has its own web-address/URL 🙂
The town where this Temple is located has a very interesting history. The recorded history goes back up to 8-10th Century when this coastal town was under the Chola Empire. Thereupon, it shifted hands to the Vijayanagara Empire. The Portuguese were the first Europeans to land here, but they were soon defeated by the Dutch who built a large fort (Fort Geldria), here. This town, was in fact, the Dutch Coromandel headquarters for over a century and they even minted Dutch Pulicat coins/currency. Later on, the Dutch were defeated by the English and the strategic location of this town played a major role in identifying and creating the city of Madras/Chennai, which is located 55 KM to the south of Pulicat/Pazhaverkadu.
Can you guess what the below tool could have been used for? To make Shiva Linga! Now look at it again in perspective, you’ll be able to correlate. The entire Temple complex is surrounded by a huge wall (which is still intact), but thick vegetation has covered most of it. The Temple well can also be seen, but there is no water in it right now!
This is a fuller view of the Garuda Sannidhi, which is located right before the main (central) shrine. There are two other structures called Dwajasthamba Peedam and Balipeedam, but I don’t have a proper photo to show you. This Temple is normally locked, but it was specially opened for us as we went there on the Pulicat Day. They do open it occasionally, for performing puja and sometimes also if requested by travelers.
There is a lot of history that still survives in Pulicat, but not much has been done to showcase them to visiting tourists. That makes this place more exciting than a normal tourist place – the possibility of exploration is endless. AARDE (aarde.in) is an NGO which is involved in development of this location and a few months back, they organized the Pulicat Day walk, which I attended. I took these photos during that heritage walk, which was organized quite well.
People do visit this place, but mostly for boating/visiting the islands of the second largest salt-water lagoon in Asia, which is also here. Given the proximity to Chennai, I am sure you can guess why this place could become an important tourist spot in the country, very soon.
About the author:
Rajesh (Destination Infinity) is a Sustainable-Living enthusiast and a Blogger. He has recently published an eBook – ‘Happiness Guide for Tourists Visiting India: 50 Exciting Things To Do‘.