Metraleeswar Temple (Kanchi Metrali), Kanchipuram – Legends
Shiva turning west to listen to Sambandar Hymns:
According to legend, Saint Thirugnana Sambandar was singing verses praising Shiva at the nearby site and Shiva was mesmerized by the devotion. The temple deity thus came to be known as Urugeswarar (urugu means mesmerize in Tamil and the image of the Sambandar is located in Urugeswarar temple axially outside the temple facing the Metraleeswar temple with folded hands. As Shiva turned to the West to listen to the songs of Sambandar, the place came to be known as Thirumetrali and the presiding deity came to be known as Metralinathar.
Vishnu desire to have Shiva Linga form:
There is another legend that Lord Vishnu reclining in Milk Ocean had a desire to have the form of Shiva Linga and approached Lord Shiva for the purpose. Shiva pleaded inability. But Vishnu did not give in and began penance on Shiva. Surprised at his determination, Lord Shiva told Vishnu that he could have his wish by performing penance at this place on his Swayambu facing west. Lord Vishnu came to this place, began penance facing east in a standing form after a bath in Vegavathi River.
Shiva appeared to him and informed that he had to continue his penance till Sambandar visits the place and sings praise of him. Tirugnana Sambandar was visiting this place-Mettraliyur – the same time, saw Lord Vishnu standing in penance. The saint thought it was Lord Shiva as he was at the back. Saint began singing in praise of the Lord. Vishnu in penance was moved by the divine melody and began to melt.
When he got the Linga form, His – Vishnu – feet remained. Now too we have the darshan of both Shiva Linga and Vishnu feet at the sanctum sanctorum. As Vishnu began to melt at the singing of the saint, the name came Odha-singing, Urugu-melting, and Easwarar-God –Odhavurugeeswarar. The deity at the Urugeswarar temple was thus originally Vishnu, who was mesmerized by the devotion of Sambandar and changed to Shiva.
108 Rudras performed penance at this place:
It is believed that the 108 Rudras performed penance at this place and hence it is called "Ananda Rudresam" and "Maha Rudresam".