Friday, September 7, 2018

Kaladipet Kalyana Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Thiruvotriyur – History

Kaladipet Kalyana Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Thiruvotriyur – History
The temple was built in the 18th century CE and it has an interesting story. Historically, Colletpet owes its existence to two men, Joseph Collet who was Governor of Madras from 1717 to 1719 and Veeraraghava, a Brahmin who was rather unfortunately referred to as Virago Brahminy in the East India Company records. Veeraraghava was the son of Venkatapathy, who was the agent of the East India Company at the court of the Nawabs of Golconda. In 1675, Venkatapathy died and his son succeeded him to the post. But he was shortly thereafter dismissed for being ‘unduly close’ to Podala Lingappa, the Governor of Poonamallee who was inimical to British interests. Later Veeraraghava was reinstated and by 1717 or so held the high post of Brahman Writer at the East India Company in Madras. He had to interact frequently with Collet and the two formed a close relationship.
What irritated or intrigued Collet was Veeraraghava’s habit of frequently undertaking a journey to Kanchipuram (some say he went every day in the morning and reported late for duty). On coming to know that this was due to latter’s devotion to Lord Varadaraja Perumal of that town, he berated Veeraraghava for his faith. In jest, he also asked Veeraraghava, who claimed that his mind was ever in Kanchipuram, to tell him what was happening there at that very moment. The devotee immediately replied that he could see the deity being taken around the town in a chariot and that at that precise moment, the wheels had sunk into mud and attempts were being made to extricate them.
Collet made enquiries and found that what Veeraraghava had said was true. Impressed, he decided to bring the Lord to his devotee. He offered to build a temple for Lord Varadaraja close to where Veeraraghava lived. Cloth being the chief business of the East India Company at this time, a number of artisans involved in the trade were settling down near Madras. By the promise of special concessions, Collet encouraged the immigration of weavers and painters (those who printed or drew designs on cloth) to settle in the environs of Thiruvotriyur. By 1718, the new settlement had 104 houses, 10 shops, a temple and contained 489 adult inhabitants.
The temple was referred as Kalyana Varadarajaswami Temple or as the East India Company records referred to it, the Colleana Verdaraja Swaminee Covela. Collet had made good his promise to Veeraraghava. The area was defended by Collet as well from Carnatic Nawabs. In 1717, Nawab Sadatullah Khan of Arcot demanded that the five villages of Thiruvotriyur, Sattangadu, Nungambakkam, Kattupakkam and one more that appears in the records as Vezallawarrow (Valasaravakkam) be made over by the East India Company to his Chief Renter, Ducknaroy (Daya Ram).
Collet refused and a pitched battle was fought near Thiruvotriyur and its environs. The much larger army of the Nawab was defeated by the East India Company army. In 1719, Collet announced his decision to return to England. On 28th December that year, Collet informed the Council at Fort St George that the local inhabitants of the new settlement had desired that the place should be named after him. He also mentioned that the town had a handsome pagoda (temple). The area became Colletpet thereafter and in course of time, the name was corrupted to Kaladipettah.
Today, a legend persists here that as this was an area that Vallalar Ramalinga Swamigal walked over, it became Kaal adi pettah. Veeraraghava lavished money and love on the temple. He was allowed by Collet to collect a small duty on imports and exports for the maintenance of the temple. After his death, his son Kolacherla Papiah Brahminy petitioned the Company that his father had expended his whole estate on the pagoda. The Company settled the management of the temple as a hereditary right on Papiah. Many years later, the temple passed into the hands of the HR&CE Department of the Government.

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