Sundareswarar Temple, Kovur – The Temple
The temple is facing south with a beautiful 7-tiered Rajagopuram. The entire Sannadhi street itself is so beautiful with shady trees and ancient houses. This temple is one among the Navagraha temples of Chennai (or Thondai Mandalam) for Budhan (Mercury). The Rajagopuram has the idols of Ganesha and Murugan at the entrance. Presiding Deity is called as Sundareswarar / Thirumeneeswarar.
Lord Sundareswarar faces east and is a fairly large lingam. Dwarapalas and small idols of Naga Skanda are found at the entrance of the main shrine. The Vimana is Gaja Prashta style vimana. In this temple the lord does not adorn the Nagabaranam as in other Shiva temples he is instead adorned with a mandapam as he is also Lakshmi swaroopan and also Budhan. Here Lakshmi pooja is done for the main Shivalingam and there is no separate Budhan sannidhi.
Ganesha, Dakshina Murti, Lingodhbava, Brahma and Durga are found as the niche idols. Chandikeswara is found in his usual location. The flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are found facing towards the main shrine. It is said that, by worshipping Sri Sundareswarar, one will be cured of many ailments. Mother is called as Soundharaambigai / Thiruvudai Naayagi. The Goddess is found in a separate south facing shrine.
Lord Sundareswarar and Goddess Soundharaambigai are said to be so beautiful here and hence they are called so. The wall of Amman shrine has Indrani, Maheswari, Maha Lakshmi, Brahmi and Durga as the niche images. Chandikeswari is found instead of Chandikeswarar. This is one of the three major Kamakshi sannidhis around Mangadu (here she is Shanta Swaroopi, Tapas Kamakshi in at Mangadu and Adi Kamakshi at Gerugambakkam, the Ketu Kshetram.
Both Presiding Deity and Mother have their sanctums within the same super structure. There is a separate shrine for Karunakara Perumal who is found along with his two consorts. There is another shrine where the Utsava idols of Sekkizhar and Thogai Adiyars are located. Shrines of Ganesha, Surya, Sekkizhar, Naalvar, 63 Nayanmars, Kali, Bhairava and Veerabhadrar can be found in the inner prakaram of the Temple.
Shrines of Valli Devasena Samedha Subramanyar, Ganesha, Saneeswarar and Navagrahams can be found in the outer prakaram of the Temple. The other shrines that are found in the temple include Netra Vinayaka, Somaskanda, Sukravara Amman, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Utsava idols of Murugan with two consorts, Nataraja-Shivakami, Utsava idols of 63 Nayanmars, Muthumari and Ponni Amman. There is a separate shrine where the beautiful Utsava idols such as Ganesha, Chandrasekhar and others are located.
Another rarity of this temple is the Sthala Viruksham called Maha Vilvam tree. The Maha Vilvam of this temple is a very rare one that each stalk of Maha Vilvam has 27 leaves to it. This Maha Vilvam also has many medicinal properties in it. The Theertham for this temple is called Siva Gangai Theertham. This temple also has a beautiful chariot which requires renovation.
The Rajagopuram is also unique as it contains the figures of Thyagaraja being carried on a palanquin and on the right side you can see Rama and Lakshmana at the end of the retinue and on the left we can see the closed door of Tirumala temple. The muscular figure of Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar is easily identifiable. The upper storeys of the gopuram depict several incidents from Thyagaraja life such as his tutelage under Sonti Venkataramanayya, his darshan of Narada and his visit to Tirupati. In the last-named sequence, the sculptor has depicted the doors of the Tirupati temple being closed, whereas legend has it that it was the screen (Thirai) that was drawn preventing Thyagaraja from having darshan.