Sri Varadaraja perumal temple is a very important one for the vaishnavites among the 108 divya desams. This is the place where Sriman Narayana gave darshan to Brahma, Narada munivar, Brighu munivar, Adiseshan and Gajedran.It is situated in Kanchipuram.
According to the legend , Lord Brahma wanted to get darshan of Sri Narayana posing with his four hands (chatur pujam). An asariri ( voice from the Heaven) said that Brahma must perform 100 aswametha yagam to get Sri Narayana's darshan in the desired form. On hearing this, Brahma became very depressed that performing 100 aswametha yagam will take a longer time and hence have to wait longer to get perumal's darshan. The same asariri then hinted to Brahma that performing one aswametha yagam in Kanchipuram is equivalent to doing 100 aswametha yagams elsewhere. Brahma then went ahead and completed the aswametha yagam in Kanchi. Sri Narayana appeared in the yagam with his four hands and gave darshan to Brahma as desired by him. He became known as Varadarajar ( Varam - wish) as Brahma's wish was granted.
Sri Varadaraja perumal sannidhi is situated under 'punniya kodi' vimanam in a small hillock. Since Iravatham ( Indira's white elephant) in the form of hillock carried Sriman Narayana on his back this place is also called as Athigiri. You have to climb 24 steps to reach the sanctum sanctorum. It is said that the 24 steps conveys the 24 principles of the Gayathri mantra.
As you enter the main sanctum towards the Varadaraja perumal, you may have to go through a small corridor to a room where you can see the a figure of a lizard facing sun and the moon on the ceiling.One story behind this is that Ayodhya's king Sakaran's son Asamanjan and his wife were cursed to become lizards. They were told that visiting Kanchi will give them salavation. They did that and regained their form and attained moksha. It is beleived that whoever touches the lizard will be cured of their ailments. Because of this, people rush here in the congested queue paying Rs 2 as ticket.
Another story is that two disciples of Gauthama muni were cursed to become lizards as they were careless in bringing water which had a dead lizard in the vessel. They repented and the rishi asked them to visit Kanchi and pray to Sri Varadaraja and get releived of their curse. Sri Varadaraja perumal granted them moksham saying that their soul can to Vaikuntam but their bodies can remain in his temple as 'Panchaloka' idol and whoever coming for His darshan can have a darshan of the lizard and they can get releived of their doshas with the Sun and the Moon being the witness.
North of 100 pillar mantapam ( 'nootru kal mandapam') is the Anantha saras , a beautiful pond. There are two mantaps in the pond.
Lord Narayana made of Athi tree (fig tree) and hence known as Athi varathar is kept immersed under one of the four pillared mantapam here in a silver box. This idol is taken out once in 40 years and a grant utsavam ( festival) is celeberated.
After 1979 , the next such seva is expected to be on 2019.
The Temple: Varadharaja Perumal Temple was originally built by the Cholas in 1053 and it was expanded during the reigns of the great Chola kings Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola. When a Mughul invasion was feared in 1688, the main deity was sent to Udayarpalayam, now in Tiruchirapalli District. It was later brought back with greater difficulty . Robert Clive, the British general during the colonial period visited the Garuda seva festival and presented a necklace (now termed Clive Maharkandi) which is adorned during the special occasion every year.
The Temple is constructed on a sprawling 23-acre area and shows the architectural skills of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis in temple architecture . The temple has 3 outer prakarams ( pathways, precincts) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. There are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams, 389 pillared halls with beautifully sculptured pillars.
The main sanctum faces west and can be entered through a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered Rajagopuram . The eastern gopuram is taller than the western gopuram, which is unusual as normally the rajagopurams are the taller ones.One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted in a single stone. There is a 100 pillared hall with sculptures depicting Ramayana and Mahabarathast which are masterpiece works of Vijayanagara architecture.
The Moolavar of this this sthalam is Sri Varadharajar. Other names for the Perumal are Perarulalan, Devathirajan, DevaPerumal. Moolavar in 'Nindra thirukolam' (standing position) facing West.
Prathyaksham for Brighu Muni, Naradhar, Aadhisehsan, Brahma and Gajendran.
Thayar of this sthalam is Perundevi Thaayar.
There are sannidhis for
To the east of the Anandsaras pushkarni is the sannidhi for Chakrathazhwar. The Chakrathazwar here is large and majestic with sixteen arms bearing conch ( sangu) and Chakra.
Yoga Narasimhar is also situated here.
Mangalasasanams The temple is revered by the verses of Tirumangai azhwar , Boodathazhwar, Peiazhwar, Sri Ramanujar, Tirukatchi Nambi and sri Manavala muni
Temple Timings The temple is open from 7:00 AM till 12:00 noon and from 3:30 pm till 8:00 pm
Kanchipuram is around 75 kms from Chennai off the Chennai- Vellore/ Bangalore highway via SriPerumbudur. Kanchipuram is well connected by several bus services from Chennai. There is a railway station in Kanchipuram with a few train services from Chennai in the mornings.