Chennai, the coastal city carrying the blend of traditions and modernity in its lap is the 'Detroit of India'. The city is the favourite abode of spirituality. Number of shrines–dargahs, temples and churches–are sufficient to verify the fact. One such noble shrine is the Vadapalani Temple situated near the Andavar Koil Street at Vadapalani in Chennai. The word 'Vadapalani' literally means North Palani, a region in Chennai. Located at the heart of the city, the temple is a renowned place of utmost faith as well as an important tourists' destination. The prime deity of the Vadapalani Temple is Lord Velayudha (Muruga); however, deities of other demigods including Ganapathi, Kaliamman, Kuthuvar, Meenakshi Amman, Vinayaga, Virabhadra and Visalakshmi etc are also present in the temple. The daily rituals of offering prayers to the almighty begin early in the morning at 5:00 AM while the last puja of the day takes place at 9:00 PM.
The institutionalisation of this ancient temple dates back to 125 years. According to the Sthalapurana, initially, Annaswami Tambiran, a worshipper of Muruga deity worshipped a painted picture of the deity in a humble thatched roof shed with his bare offerings at the same place where the existing giant structure lies. The worshipped God bestowed him with the divine power that whatever he uttered in his trance, held true. The worshipper soon became popular in the region with the title 'Arulvak'. After his death, the legacy was maintained by his friend and other residents. Sooner, the thatched roof shed where the initial worshipping was conducted, turned into the great Muruga shrine with the name Vadapalani Dandayudhapani Temple. It was the effort of many humanist philanthropists, notable contributor being Kripananda Variyar, that the small hut metamorphosed into a tremendous spiritual abode.
The temple is embraced with various sannidhis in a large number of courtyards. The doorway warmly welcomes its visitors with a rajagopuram on which the image exhibiting the legends of Skanda Purana is embossed. There is a large tank, called the Temple Tank just in front of the temple. The eastern wall of the temple rising to the height of 40.8 metres adorns 108 splendid gestures of Bharatnatyam, the classical dance form of Tamil Nadu. The temple has a large hall used for conducting marriage ceremonies before the Muruga deity on the pious land of the temple. This is another reason for the popularity of the temple among the inhabitants of the city. The place of utmost faith, this temple is emerging as a premier place for performing the rituals of marriages. Interestingly, the temple witnesses as much as seven thousand marriages a year. Other than marriages, the complex is also a point for the celebration of the Skanda Sashti and Panguni Utthiram.
Here is the famous Vadalpani temple of Chennai striving to give you a clear picture of the socio-religious culture of the city Chennai.