Adi Narayana Perumal Temple, Pulicat, Thiruvallur
Adi Narayana Perumal Temple is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located at Pulicat in Ponneri Taluk in Thiruvallur District of Tamilnadu. The Temple is a marvel of laterite blocks, and is famous for its Ramayana miniature sculptures.
From the third century BCE, Pulicat was under the early Cholas, Pandyas, Sangam Cheras, Pallavas and then under the medieval Cholas. Geographer Ptolemy’s records of ancient ports include mentions of Podouke (now Pulicat). When it came under the Vijayanagar Kingdom between the 14th and 17th Centuries, Pulicat was called Anandarayan Pattinam, and Krishnadevaraya changed it to Pazhaverkadu. It was during this time that the Adi Narayana Perumal Temple was built.
Pazhaverkadu was also known as Pralaya Kaveri and Mallapatnam as per the 16th century Telugu stone inscription found above the entrance of the Goddess shrine. This temple has been built by a Telugu man called Balavandakulu. By all accounts, the temple was popular with the villagers and till 1988 a priest used to come from Ponneri and Laksharchanas, Navaratri puja and other pujas were conducted regularly. The last samprokshanam was in 1979.
The original temple was a magnificent structure, typical of the great temples of south India. The entrance is striking and even though the gopuram is missing, the main entrance with the walls on either side looks like an entrance of a fort. The Temple has been built by Balavandakulu, a Telugu, as per the Telugu inscription found at the Thayar shrine in the complex.
The most striking feature and may be the first of its kind seen in Tamilnadu is that the whole temple is built using Laterite only. The roofs are made up of stone. The Vimanam are mixture of limestone and bricks. There is a small mandapam with Garuda facing the main shrine at the entrance; inside are exquisite Murtis of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita. The Rama image is broken, with the bow and arrow missing.
There was once a separate sannidhi for Rama to the right of the main sannidhi, which has now collapsed. The mandapam leading to the temple has beautiful carvings of dancers and the Dasavathara. On one pillar has a relief of a monkey eating a jackfruit; above is a panel of four monkeys juxtaposed to look like a single monkey. There are rich carvings of mermaids, man-beasts, man with several heads.
Presiding Deity is called as Adi Narayana Perumal. He is flanked by Sridevi and Bhudevi. The utsavars had been removed to a newly built Varadaraja temple for safety. The Lord in this temple is seen in standing posture, with Sankhu and chakra in his upper hands. His lower right hand is Abhaya hasta and the lower left-hand rests on his thigh.
Outside the sannidhi is a small but beautiful idol, whose lower right hand is Varada hasta and whose lower left-hand rests on the thigh. He too is flanked by Sridevi and Bhoodevi. The Thayar and Andal Shrines are separate on either side of the main mandapam. The bali peetam is a beautifully carved structure, with steps leading to the top of the bali peetam from all four sides.
The Temple is called as mini-Angkor Vat, because it has intricately carved Ramayana scenes on its roof cross-beams, close to the ceilings, the figures not taller than 8 inches. The miniature engravings that run across the supporting beams in the ardha mandapa, depicting in detail, the story of Ramayana. This is still intact. Apart from this, the smaller mandapa before the main shrine and two small shrines on the side still remain in their original form, though dilapidated. The temple staircase had intricate carvings, which are no longer noticeable.
The temple is rich in heritage and artistic value, but lacks care and maintenance. It has only two acres of land in Thaangalperumpalam, a village that is a few miles away but its produce is insufficient for the maintenance of the temple. There is a Subramanya Swamy temple which is some 150 years old built by some Chettiars in nearby area, and also a 10th century Chola period temple is located in the nearby Koviladi island.
The Church is located at about 550 meters from Pazhaverkadu Bus Stop, 1 Km from Pulicat Bus Stand, 9 Kms from Thirupalaivanam, 10 Kms from Karungali, 20 Kms from Ponneri, 20 Kms from Ponneri Railway Station, 74 Kms from Thiruvallur, 70 Kms from Chennai Airport and 55 Kms from Chennai. Town buses are frequently available from Ponneri and Red Hills.