Adikesava Perumal Temple, Sriperumpudur – The Temple
The temple is built in Dravidian architecture occupies around 1.5 acres (0.61 ha) and has two precincts. It is located in Sriperumpudur, a suburb in Chennai, the capital of the Indian state of Tamilnadu. The temple has a rectangular plan surrounded by 10 ft. (3.0 m) high walls, pierced by a seven-tier gopuram, the gateway tower. The presiding deity is housed in the sanctum and is an image made of granite seen in standing posture. The shrine of Garuda facing Adi Kesava, the vahana of Vishnu, is located axial to the central shrine. The central shrine is approached through a worship hall and a narrow Ardha mandapam.
The flag post is located behind the shrine of Garuda, axial to the central shrine and the gateway tower. There are images of Azhwars in the worship hall on both sides and the shrine of Yathirajavalli is located on in the second precinct. The gold plated hall in front of the shrine of Ramanuja was endowed by the Maharaja of Mysore. There are no separate Sorgavasal, the sacred entrance way opened during the Vaikunta Ekadasi festival. There is a Bhoodakal hall where the festive images of the presiding deity and is consort are housed during the festival.
Sri Aadhikesava Perumal with his consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi in standing posture facing east and Goddess Ethiraja Valli Thayar (Ranga Nachiyar) in separate shrines. She does not move out of the temple Complex her Utsavams are done inside the temple Complex. There is an idol of Ramanujar here which was embraced by Ramanujar himself. At the time of eye opening ceremony of Ramanujar’s idol here, Ramanujar was preaching at Srirangam and it is said that at that instant, blood oozed out from both real-life Ramanujar (at Srirangam) and the idol here. Other deities like Rama, Andal, Udayavar, Desikan, and Alavandar are there. Theertham of this Temple is Anantha Saras.
It is the Avathara Sthalam of Sri Ramanujar. The Avathara Rahasyam of Ramanuja is known to world through the Adhi Kesava Perumal. This is the only temple where Goddess Lakshmi has a name derived from the name of a devotee of the Lord. She is considered to be a varaprasathi, (one who grants all wishes).The east-facing temple has a golden vimana (dome over the sanctum) with Sri Ramanuja’s image etched on it. This is the first golden vimana and was installed in 1912. To the right of the sanctum is the shrine of Saint Ramanuja, the philosopher-teacher of Vaishnavism.
The Dwajasthambam is the first thing that you see as you enter Ramanuja Swamy Temple. On the right is the Kudraikal Mandapam (horse-leg hall) and next to it is the Thanga (gold) Mandapam that has a grand entrance leading to the shrine of Acharya Ramanuja. As you come out of this shrine, you can see the shrine of Sri Adhi Kesava Perumal along with Sridevi and Bhoodevi. Opposite this shrine is that of Garuda Alwar, the vehicle of Vishnu. To the left of the Perumal Sannidhi (Vishnu’s shrine) is Andal.
The Golden Mandapam stands majestically in front of Sri Ramanuja shrine built by the Maharaja of Mysore. There are four Kalasas representing the four Vedas with Lord Paravasudeva Perumal, Sri Ranganathar under the Kalasas. Still below are Namperumal with Sridevi and Bhoodevi, Garuda the eagle vehicle of Lord Vishnu and Dwarapalakas. The Mandapam looks like a separate temple by itself within a temple.
Outside the main shrines there is a small prakaram (enclosure) and in the corner is the Sannidhi shared by Nammalvar with his chief disciple, Madhurakavi Alwar and Nathamunigal. As you go around the prakaram, in the northeast corner is a beautiful painting at the spot where Manavala Mamunigal delivered his discourse, Sri Bhashya Kalakshepam. Devotees pay their respects by prostrating here. Nearby is a pillar with a small bronze icon on it. The shrine of Thirukkachi Nambigal, Pillailokacharya is also in this area.
There are three Ramanuja idols, the first in Melkottai in Tirunarayanapuram in Karnataka, the second in Sri Rangam in Tiruchi and the third in this temple at Sriperumpudur. These are called Than Uganda Thirumeni – that which are liked by the Acharya. These idols were made by his disciples as suggested by him. The Acharya embraced these idols and infused his power into them. Hence, these idols are known as Than Uganda Thirumeni. These idols were made when Sri Ramanuja was 120 years old. The ear, hip bones are so realistically sculpted resembling his age.
To the right at a lower level, is the Gayathri Mandapam which was built by Swami Nigamantha Maha Desikan contains the image of Goddess Yathirajanatha Valli Thayar. The prakaram surrounding this shrine has murals of 108 Divya Desha which is sacred to Vaishnavaites. Other interesting features of the Ramanuja Swamy Temple, Sriperumpudur are the Ramar Sannidhi (shrine), Ouyali Seva Mandapam (leisure hall), Kannadi Mandapam (mirror chamber) Yaga Salai and the shrine of Vishnu as Venugopalan, the flute playing Krishna. In front of temple there are the 16 pillars and 4 pillared mandapams and opposite this, the 100-pillared mandapam.
Many of the pillars are embellished with Yazhi, the mythological animal. The birth place of Ramanuja is situated here and next to it are shrines for his chief disciples Koorath Alwar and Manavala Mamunigal. As you walk along the four walls surrounding Ramanuja Swamy Temple there is a lovely little shrine to Lord Krishna. At the back of the temple is the water body called Anantha Sarasu or Pushkarini.