About a month back I visited a couple of temples on the outskirts of Chennai, Gnayiru Gramam and an hitherto unknown temple near Poondi.  Pushparatheswarar Temple at Gnayiru Gramam is one of the Navagraha temples around Chennai dedicated to Suryan.  The village itself gets its name from Suryan or Sun God, Gnayiru in Tamil means Sun.

Temple Gopuram

Temple Gopuram

I had first visited this temple about 8 years back and it was a balalayam.  It was unknown too. During that visit I had waited for an hour for the temple priest to come after finishing the rituals at another temple in a neighbouring village.  Today, the temple is getting popular.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that the temple has been renovated thanks to the efforts of the local villagers and few other devotees.  It is very well maintained too.  I would say that it is one of the better maintained temples that I have visited.  Work on the temple pond is still on and hopefully it should be ready in about 6 months.  I also found a rare tree here, in fact, the first time I have seen this tree.  Thiruvodu (begging bowl of the sanyasis) is a half of the outer shell of the fruit of these trees.  It is also used by them to drink or eat food from and is believed to prevent viral infections.

Thiruvodu Tree

Thiruvodu Tree

Thiruvodu Tree

Thiruvodu Tree

Thee are a few interesting legends behind this temple.  A Chola King was returning after successfully waging a war on a kingdom in Andhra Pradesh.  He camped at Cholavaram.  He was a staunch Shiva devotee and went in search of lotus to perform his daily pooja.  During his search he saw a pond full of lotuses.  One of the flowers was taller, bigger and more beautiful than the rest.  The King wanted this flower for the pooja and tried to reach the flower.  As the King neared the flower it moved away and was elusive.  After several futile attempts, the King was very angry and threw his sword at the flower.  The sword broke into pieces.  One of the pieces fell on a Lingam which was in the pond.  The pond turned red in no time because of the blood that was oozing from the Lingam.  This scar can still be seen on this Shiva Lingam.  The King fainted there. His horse fled from the scene before fainting.  Lord Shiva then appeared before the King and blessed him.  The King apologized to the Lord.  Lord Shiva asked the King to build a temple for the Lingam that was found in the pond.  The Shiva Lingam is a Swayambhu (self-manifested).  Here, Lord Shiva is known as Pushparatheswarar.  His consort here is Swarnabigai.  The God is also known as Poothereeswarar.  Both the names convey the same meaning; Poo or Pushpam means flower and ratham or ther means chariot.  Since the Lingam was found in Lotus, He got this name. Lotus is the flower that is offered to the God here.

Gnayiru Gramam, Praharam

Gnayiru Gramam, Praharam

Landscaped Praharam

Beautifully Landscaped Praharam

Here is the story on why this place got the name Gnayiru Gramam.  A Chola King was on a Pilgrimage to Kasi and was passing through this village.  He saw the beautiful lotus in the pond and as he tried to pluck the same he was blinded.  He prayed to the Lord that he would build a temple here on his way back from Kasi.  Immediately, his eyesight was restored in one eye. As promised he came to the village on his way back.  Lord Shiva appeared to the King and shone brightly on the lotus as Suryan.  The King then built a temple as instructed by the Lord and got back his eyesight in the other eye as well.  Since then, this place is known as Gnayiru Gramam and came to be known as a Surya Sthalam.  People come here to get themselves cured of eye related ailments.

Temple Tank

Temple Tank

The ancient temple here had shrines for Pushparatheswarar and His Consort Swarnambigai apart from shrines for Karaneeswarar, Kapaleeswarar, Jambukeswarar and Hiranyeswarar.  Inscriptions here suggest that some additions were also made by the Pandyas and Vijayanagar Kings.

In my earlier post on Suryanar Koil near Aduthurai, I had narrated the story behind the Navagrahas being cursed by Lord Brahma, as a result of which Suryan was afflicted with leprosy.  Suryan, during his pilgrimage to get absolved of the curse also visited this village.  He saw a pond filled with lotuses and was enamoured by its beauty.  Some of the lotuses even had a thousand petals.  Surya decided to stay here and offer His prayers to Lord Shiva.  As time passed, one fine day Lord Shiva was pleased with Suryan’s devotion and appeared as a Lingam in one of the lotuses and blessed Suryan.  A grateful Suryan built a temple for Him here.  Since Lord Shiva appeared from a lotus or a flower, He is known as Pushparatheswarar. Lord Shiva also gave Suryan an Akshaya pathram (a bowl which is always full).  Suryan blesses His devotees who pray to Him here with prosperity, good health and happiness.

Dhwaja Sthambam

Dhwaja Sthambam

Sage Agasthiyar, the author of Ādityahṛdayam is believed to have stayed here and worshipped Lord Shiva. Ādityahṛdayam is a sloka recited by Agasthiyar to Lord Rama in the battlefield before the fight with Ravana. The sage teaches Lord Rama the procedure of worshipping Suryan for strength and to gain victory over the enemy. Recting this sloka of about 30 verses everyday is said to be highly beneficial.  Here is a nice link explaining everything about Ādityahṛdayam.

Surya Moola Mantram: Aum hram hrim hraum sah suryaya namah.

Surya Gayathri: om ashwadhwajaaya vidmahae padma hasthaaya dheemahi tanno surya: prachodayaath

The navagraha temples around Chennai are as follows.

  1. Suryan Sthalam – Gnayiru Gramam, Surya Sthalam & Agastheeswarar Kovil, Kolapakkam
  2. Chandran Sthalam – Somanatheswarar Temple, Somangalam
  3. Chevvai Sthalam or Angakaran Sthalam – Vaitheeswaran Kovil, Poonamalee
  4. Budhan Sthalam – Sundareswarar Kovil, Kovur & Karaneeswarar Koil, Saidapet
  5. Guru Sthalam – Ramanatheeswarar Koil, Porur & Thiruvaleeswarar Koil, Padi
  6. Sukran Sthalam – Valleeswarar Kovil, Mylapore, Valleeswarar Kovil, Mangadu
  7. Saneeswaran Sthalam – Agastheeswarar Kovil, Pozhichalur
  8. Rahu Sthalam –  Nageswarar Temple, Kunrathur
  9. Kethu Sthalam – Neelakanteswarar Kovil, Gerugambakkam


Gnayiru Gramam is located at a distance of about 10 Kms from Red Hills (Chenkundram).  There are buses available from Red Hills to Gnayiru Gramam.  Route numbers T 57, 58 A and 58 G ply from High Court to Gnayiru Gramam.

Click here for the map

Travel Base: Chennai.

Temple Timings: 7 AM to 12 Noon & 4 PM to 8 PM (3 PM to 8 PM on Sundays)

Temple Address:

Pushparatheswarar Temple

Gnayiru Gramam

Via Cholavaram

Chennai 600 067

Phone: 044- 29021016, Mobile: +91- 99620-34729.

PS:  After worshipping at this temple, we proceeded towards Poondi to visit Shree Agneeswarar Temple at Neyveli (near Thiruvallur).  The story behind its discovery and the subsequent events are quite interesting.  I came to know about this temple through Raju’s blog.

Here are a couple of photos of this temple from that visit.

Location of this temple – view Map

Shiva Lingam covered by Cement bags

Shiva Lingam covered by Cement bags

Temple under Construction

Temple under Construction

  1. Hi Chitappa,
    I can’t resist to call your site a Temples’ Wiki. One can google for any temple in South India and can find the details here. Keep it going. Best Wishes:)

  2. naresh says:

    please specify the bus number which goes to this temple.

  3. Anand says:

    Dear Sir,

    I want to inform you regaring a temple which recently i had went near Redhills. In the Kolkata high ways while proceeding towards periapalayam in the same high ways a road gets diverted left and it heads to the temple called Siruvapuri. Its a Murugan temple and they had informed that that was the place LAVA and KUSA had fought wiht their father Lord Rama. If you have not been there please visit there. As you have mentioned Gnayiru Gramam is near redhills i thought to remind you.


  4. BASKARAN says:

    hai, now am the archagar of Pushbharada Easwarar Alayam, Gnayuru, Redhillhs.

    my contact No.9176622853.

    with regards

  5. Vanan says:

    Dear Narayanan, I will be in Chennai in August 2011 and would like to visit this temple. Could you tell me how long it might take to reach this temple from my hotel in egmore? I wonder if i would be able to visit the Neyvelli temple as well. 🙂

    Thank you.

    • K Narayanan says:

      If you have your vehicle, you can easily visit both the temples in the morning session itself. If you start early say by 5 or 5.30 am it would take you about an hour or so to reach Gnayiru Gramam which is about 30 Kms from Egmore. Take the NH 5 from Basin Bridge and continue till Red Hills. Ask for directions there. Neyveli is near Poondi reservoir and about 50 Kms from Gnayiru Gramam. It takes around 1 1/2 to cover this distance. If you have enough time you can also visit Sri Veeraraghava Perumal Temple, Tiruvallur and Oondreeswarar Temple, Thiruvenpakkam near Poondi. Thiruvallur is about 45 kms from Egmore.

  6. usha says:

    Dear Shree Narayanan

    Thank you for the detailed & beautiful write up on GnaayiRu Temple.
    My husband and I made a visit to the Temple last morning after reading your blog.. We had wonderful darshan and also witnessed for a while the Sudharsana Homam being done for the Lord Sudharsana and Lord Lakshmi Narasimha in the thatched shed just outside this Temple where one also finds Lord Ganesha and Shree Nagar.
    We were amazed seeing the Thiruvodu tree teeming with the fruits

    Let me also express my gratitude for posting the link of my blog I had written on the Temple at Konerirajapuram.The Lord Vaidyanatha there is our family doctor now. It was very kind of you to mention my blog. .
    Thank you.
    Sincerely yours

    • K Narayanan says:

      Thank You Ms. Usha. When I started the blog I was not sure of how long I would sustain it. Readers & fellow bloggers like you are the source of encouragement to keep going. Thank you once again.

  7. G.RAVIKUMAR says:

    Thank you Mr.Narayanan. You have very perfectly narrated the Gnayiru temple. I am very interesting to see the temple very soon. Thankyou once again.

  8. gkrishna says:


    Good Afternoon am regular reader of blogs about temples but not posted any comment so far. today while surfing your blog got the information about Neyveli agneeswarar and also spoke with Mr.Ramamurthy who has dedicated his life for that temple. My namaskarams and pray god for long and peaceful life for all

    Ganapathi Krishnan

  9. Mohana says:

    It also seems that Sun rays fall on deity for few days at the beginning of Chithirai every year.

  10. M. Venkatesh says:

    Dear Iyya,

    Thanks for your precious time spent in being a informative person for youngsters like us who doesn’t find time to search or even do not have the maturity to learn these eager things towards the Sacred Our Hindu Religion.

    Good work.. keep it up.

    Venkatesh .M

  11. G Ananthapadmanabhan says:

    My memory dates back to 1974-75 I had my NSS student of Guru Nanak college Identified this pace and for about a decade I used to visit that temple 2nd saturday follwing sunday We had a small crowd from Saidapet gathering what ever is our little might performed abisheka and anna danam to all as that village did not have any eating place. we tried our might in publisizing that temple took many people,, it was a great experience and religious ferver . Believe it or not people like K s Krishnamoorthy,vaithy, subramony,-bajans and navaratri time we used to stay in the night -telling every one the date back story of chola raja and his dream and how he donated the land to that temple so on soforth.
    I really feel pleased when i saw in the webside the new look and message on that temple. I am in Bangalore -but visit this second saturday following sunday. If any one see the message send reply inmy mail or call on 09964622218 / 09686247055
    Dr G Ananthapadmanabhan

  12. G Ananthapadmanabhan says:

    If any one of my days in gnayiru temple worship during 1974 to 1984, see this please respond; 14th I shall try to be there. g.ananthapadmanabhan@gmail.com 09964622218 / 9686247055
    G Ananthapadmanabhan former Head, Dept of Economics, Guru Nank college, chennai
    currently Professor,MBA Dept, Cambridge Institute of technology , Bangalore

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