Kalikambal Temple, Chennai, India
A historical temple on which the city was named –
Kalikambal Temple, which is located in the Northern Chennai of South India, might not be known to many. But, it is surprising to know that this is one of the few temples of ancient Chennai city, and even the city is supposed to have derived its name from this temple deity.
Kalikambal, the presiding deity of the temple, was once known as “Neithal Nila Kamakshi”, “Chennamman” and “Kottai Amman” (Kottai means fort in Tamil)
The area where the temple is located got the name “Chenna Pattinam” or “Chennai Kuppam” on accout of this. The British East India Company bought Chennaikuppam, Madras Kuppam and Vadavarukuppam in 1639 AD. In Madras Kuppam aka Madrasa Pattinam, the company built a fort (the St. George Fort of current Chennai located near beach).
As the original temple of Kalikambal was located inside the fort area, the company wanted to shift the temple from the Fort area for security reasons. Thus, the idol was shifted to Thambu Chetty Street of today’s George Town area, and a new temple was constructed there in 1640 AD.
It is believed that a fierce ugra form of the goddess was held in worship earlier, and it was replaced with the Shanta Swaroopa (calm) form of Kamakshi aka Kalikambal. At the foot of the goddess is present the Arthameru, which is believed to have been installed by Aadi Shankaracharya. As Shankaracharya lived around 2500 years ego, you can as well imagine how ancient this goddess would be. It is also believed that saints such as Vyasa, Arasar, Agastya, Angreesa, and Varuna have worshiped the goddess. The god of wealth, Kuberan is believed to have worshiped the deity who is said to have bestowed with wealth and prosperity.
In 1667, the great Maratha ruler Shivaji visited this temple and worshiped the goddess. The great Tamil poet, Subramanya Bharathiar, when he was working for Swadesha Mithran, used to visit this temple often. He sung the famous “Yadumaki Ninrai Kali” song on this deity.
Before entering the main shrine of the temple, you will get to visit the utsava idols of Kalikambal along with Saraswathi and Lakshmi, located in a shrine full of mirrors. The presiding deity, Kalikambal aka Kamakshi is alone. The idol is strikingly beautiful and at the foot you can find Arthameru.
Around this main shrine, there is a shrine for Arunachaleswar (Shiva) with Unnamalai, and another shrine for Kamadeswarar with Ambal. Kamadeswarar (a form of Shiva) is another main deity of this temple. This temple itself is called as Kalikambal Kamadeswarar Temple.
Around the main shrine, there are also shrines for Subramanya with Valli-Devasena, Navagraha, and Veera Brahma Sankarar (a guru). You can also find idols of Chandikeswarar, Chandikeswari, Brahma Vidhya, Bhairav, Surya, Chandra, Vaishnavi, Mahalakshmi, Durga, Brahma, Dakshinamurthy, Ganesha, Durga, Subramanyua, Vishnu, and Vinayaka, around the main shrine of Kalikambal.
In the prakara (the corridor surrounding the shrine), there is Subramanya along with his consorts Valli and Devasena. There is another shrine for Ganesha along with his consorts Siddhi and Buddhi. You can also find shrines of Gayathri, Durga, Virata Vishwa Brahmam, and Veerabhadra. Virata Vishwa Brahmam, as per some beliefs, is believed to be the supreme God who created even Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva.
The highlight of Veerabhadra shrine is that there is an idol of Kali also. You can find Veerabhadra and Kali idols together only in few temples. There is a big idol of Pratyangira Devi which has been installed recently. There is also a separate idol for Ganesha located in the prakara.
The temple is located at Thambu Chetty Street, George Town area, in Chennai city of South India. You can reach this place on your own transportation. As the bus stop and railway station are quite far away from this place, you may have to hire an auto rickshaw or cycle rickshaw if you choose public transportation. The distance from the Central Railway Stat ion to this temple is hardly 3.5 kms. Go and visit this historical temple.
Jai Maa Kali.