Metraleeswar Temple (Kanchi Metrali), Kanchipuram – The Temple
Metraleeswarar temple complex has two prakarams (outer courtyard) and a three-tiered Rajagopuram (gateway tower) facing West. There are two presiding deities in two separate sanctum sanctorums. The central shrine faces west and holds the image of Metraleeswarar (Shiva) in the form of lingam made of granite. The temples in Kanchipuram have no separate shrine of Parvathi as it is believed that Kamakshi of Kanchipuram is the common Parvathi shrine for all Shiva temples. But this temple has a separate shrine for Parvathi in the form of Metralinayagi.
The granite images of Nandi (the bull and vehicle of Shiva) and the flagstaff is located axial to the sanctum. As in other Shiva temples of Tamilnadu, the first precinct or the walls around the sanctum of Metraleeswarar has images of Dakshinamurthy (Shiva as the Teacher), Durga (warrior-goddess) and Chandikeswarar (a saint and devotee of Shiva). The temple precinct is surrounded by granite walls. There is a separate shrine for Othu Urugeeswarar which is axial to the main entrance. During the weekly and yearly festivals, Othu Urugeeswarar is given importance over the presiding deity Metraleeswarar.
In the sanctum sanctorum of other presiding Lord Odhavurugeeswarar, we can have the darshan of Lord Shiva and the feet of Lord Vishnu nearby simultaneously ensuring all prosperous life, according to belief. Saint Tirunavukkarasar praises Kancheepuram as a city of boundless education – Kalviyil Karai Illadha Kanchi Ma Nagar. Hence, worshipping Lord Shiva here the devotee is gifted with good education. Though Tirumettraleeswar is the principal deity, the Rajagopuram and the main entrance belongs to Odha Urugeeswarar. The Pradosha puja is dedicated only to Nandhi the bull vehicle of Lord Odha Urugeeswarar.
Sri Vinayaka of the place is praised as Siddhi Vinayaka. Apart from the two prominent lingams, there is another Shivalingam called Mutheeswarar in the Temple. The Sambandar festival is conducted each year here. Festivities pertaining to the Kachabeswarar temple in Kanchipuram are linked with this temple. During Kachabeswarar Urchavam Ambal will be brought to this temple and poojas will be conducted in the mandapam. In Natarajar Saba, Natarajar is painted and the original moortham is kept at Kachabeswarar Temple.
Jesta Devi’s statue is kept in the open ground with Crow, Goat and ghost Sculptures. Old Pallava, Sambuvarayar, Vijaya nagar period Tamil inscriptions are found. These inscriptions give the message of collecting Tax /fund from senkundhars for running the temple. There are also shrines to Ganesha, Subramanya, Kasi Viswanathar, Bhairavar and others. Theertham of this Temple is Vishnu Theertham. Muyalagan, symbol of Ignorance under Lord Dakshinamurthy is on the left of the Lord differently against the right side.
100 Rudras, Seekandar, Veerabadra, Krodhar and Mandalathipathis, all totaling 116, had worshipped Lord in this temple. Saint Gnana Sambandar who sang in praise of the Lord from the end of the street has his shrine there itself. As the saint is also known as Aludaipillayar and Sambanda Pillayar, the place is also named Pillayar Palayam. The place also has a name Pachimalayam.