Friday, November 2, 2018

Kalikambal Temple, George Town – The Temple

Kalikambal Temple, George Town – The Temple
The temple has two entrances. The east facing entrance is located in Thambu Chetti Street, which is used by most of the people. The west facing entrance is located in Armenian Street. Both the entrances have towers, with lot of stucco images depicting the Goddess in different forms. The temple towers are constructed in the 1980s and they are not very old structures. The south facing entrance leads into the innermost prakaram (enclosure) with the sanctum facing west. To its right is the shrine of Kamateswarar (Shiva).

Mother is called as Kalikambal / Kamakshi. She is also known as Neithal Nila Kamakshi / Chennamman / Kottai Amman (Kottai means fort in Tamil). She is housed in the sanctum facing west. She is found with four arms and in the sitting posture. Kalikambal sits in an Artha padmasana pose holding pasa and angusam. At her foot is the Ardha Meru said to have been consecrated by Sri Adi Sankara. It is also believed that a fierce form of Goddess was held in worship earlier and that this form was replaced with the Shanta Swaroopa (calm posture) form of Goddess Kamakshi.

The entrance of the sanctum has two big images of Dwarapalikas. (They are named as Jaya and Vijaya). The sanctum is surrounded by a cluster of sub-shrines. The enclosure that contains this sanctum and the other sub-shrines has the south facing entrance. The flag staff with Trishul and bali peetha are situated facing outside this enclosure and they face towards the direction of the sanctum. Brahma Vidya, Saraswathi, Vaishnavi, Maheswari and Lakshmi are found as the niche images around the sanctum.

Presiding Deity is called as Kamateswarar. He is housed in the sanctum in the form of small Shiva Linga. Presiding Deity is in a small sanctum compared to Mother and regular poojas are mainly for Mother only. Sanctum is located to the right side of the Kalikambal Shrine. Nandi is found facing towards Shiva Linga. The small prakara around this shrine has very small bas relief niche images of Ganesha, Dhakshinamoorthi, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga. Chandikeswarar is also found in his usual location.

The enclosure which contains the sanctums of Kamateswarar and Kalikambal as well as the inner prakara has few more minor shrines such as Lord Subramanya with his consorts Valli and Devasena, Arunachaleswarar with his consort Unnamalai, Brahmendra Swamigal (Utsava Idol) and Navagraha. The idols of Ganesha, Subramanya, Shiva Linga, Nagas, Surya, Chandra and Bhairava are also located in this enclosure.

There is also a shrine for Ganesha along with his consorts Siddhi and Buddhi in the prakaram. To the backside of the sanctum, there is a big east facing mandapam. The bronze idol of Periya Nayaki with Saraswathi and Lakshmi on her either sides is found in this mandapam. The Utsava deity of Kalikambal is called as Periya Nayaki. This Shrine looks like a separate temple with sanctum and Arthamandapam.

There is a shrine for Vada Kathirkama Murugan in the Temple premises. Lord Subramanya looking like northerner holding a sheaf of grain. It is to be noted that the famous cine song Ullam Uruguthaya was written by Sri Andava Pichi in the year 1952 from this place. In the outer prakara, in a separate sub-shrine, eight-armed big image of Veerabhadra and four-armed Kali are found. It is not usual to find Bhadra and Kali together in a single shrine in and around Chennai.

There is a large shrine to Natarajar (dancing Shiva) and Sivakami (Parvathi) in the north-east corner of the outer prakaram. This shrine celebrates special events twice a year, once during Arudra Dharisanam (December-January, the day of Siva’s cosmic dance) and again during the annual Brahmotsavam. This shrine also serves as the Alankara mandapam (decorational hall) where the festival image of Kalikambal is exhibited during the annual Brahmotsavam.

The temple is administered by Vishwakarma community. According to them, the supreme deity is Virat Vishwakarma / Virat Vishwa Brahma. Virata Vishwa Brahmam, as per some beliefs, is believed to be the supreme God who created even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The big idol of Virat Vishwa Brahma with five heads and ten arms is found in a separate shrine. As per Vishwakarmas, his consort is Gayatri. She is also found in small sub-shrine nearby.

The very big stucco idols of Dhakshinamoorthi and Prathyangira Devi seated on lion are new additions to this temple. They can be seen on the right side at east side entrance mandapam. Ganesh and Naga Subramanya are located at the entrance of the east facing mandapam in the outer prakaram. There is a shrine for Utsava Idol of Lord Shanmuga with his consorts Valli and Deivanai in the outer prakaram.

There is a unique sculpture of Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar sitting cross-legged, with some palm leaves in his hand in the temple premises. The Kalikambal temple also has a rare painting and a sculpture showing Goddess Kali blessing Chatrapati Shivaji. It is said that Shivaji visited the temple in the year 1677 and offered prayers to the deity. There are sculptures of the famous Tamil poet, Subramanya Bharathiyar and the great Guru/philosopher Adi Shankaracharya worshipping the goddess in the temple premises.

Yagasala (fire ritual) can be seen at northwestern corner of the outer prakaram. The Kinni Ther - a chariot lined with metal cymbals is unique to this temple, and the Kinni Ther procession in the month of Vaikasi attracts large crowds. It is said that the original location of this temple was closer to the sea shore and that it was relocated to its present location during the period of British rule in India.

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