Sowmya Damodara Perumal Temple-The Beautiful God with Beautiful Name - Villivakkam Chennai
Lord Vishnu has various names. Vishnu Sahashranama Counts Thousand Names of the Lord.While Vishnu is known by several different names, these 12 - Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudhana, Thiruvikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Rishikesava, Padmanabha and Damodaran - are particularly sacred ones. THE LAST of Lord Narayana's 12 names mentioned in the "Dwadasa Nama Stotra" is Damodaran.
The word Damodara is elaborately explained in Vaishnava philosophies. In short, it means that Lord can be controlled by pure love. During the childhood of Krishnavatara, He was terribly mischievous boy and Mother Yasodha could not bring Him to order. The Leela's of Krishna as a Kid are so sweet to listen snd cherish. To control the Little Krishna, Yashoda bound Him by a rope, yet he moved with the rope in between two trees, broke them and granted salvation to the two Sons of Kubera - Nalkuber and Manigreev. They were cursed by Saint Narada to turn out as trees who later were liberated By Damodara.
The scar of the rope stayed on His waist deeply showing His willingness to be bound by a mothers love. Damam in Sanskrit and Thambu in Tamil mean rope. Udharam means belly. The rope scar is around the belly, hence Damodara.
Soumya means ever smiling and looking handsome. Hence, the name Soumya Damodara. There are very few temples in the country for the Lord with Damodara name and probably Sowmya Damodara Perumal Temple is the only temple worshipping the Lord Krishna with this name.
About the Temple
Sowmya Damodara Perumal Kovil : One of the ancient temples in Chennai, said to be in existence for well over 650 years. Some sources say the temple is 1000 years old. All the old temples of Chennai have Four Mada Streets running around the temple. Similarly this well laid temple also have the same. The temple is a fine specimen of Pallava Style of Architecture.
With a beautiful tank on its left (which is today a picture of neglect as it is now being used as a dumping ground), the temple looks majestic. The area the temple and the tank is around 1.35 acres (as measured with Google Maps).
Swami Damodaran’s Moolavar thirumaeni has a scar in the stomach which is due to the rope tide by Yasodha. Lot’s of devotees who pray for Puthrabaakyam had realized the true blessings of Swamy Damodaran.
The idols of Nammazhvar and Ramanujar are seen on either of the sanctum sanctorum. The Goddess in the temple is known as Amirthvalli Thayar and she is housed in a separate shrine to the right of the sanctum sanctorum. We can’t explain the kindness of this Thayar in simple words. There are shrines for Rama and Krishna, Andal, Anjaneya and Azhwars.
The mandapams leading to the Thayar and Andal shrines have beautifully carved images. Interestingly huge fishes are found engraved on the ceilings. It is in the four- pillared madamandapam outside the temple where all festivals begin.
The temple celebrates somany festivals that Festivals such as Chithra Pournami, Rama Navami, Gajendra Moksham, Pavithrotsavam, Krishna Jayanthi, Navarathri, as well as the Brahmotsavam in the Vaikasi month and Pahal Pathu and Raappathu in the Margazhi month are celebrated.
The temple is located in busy locality of Northern Chennai - Villivakkam. The Temple is near by the Villivakkam bus stand and near another equally important and equally old Agastheeswarar temple. These two nearby temples are connected by same legend. And also it might have been the attempt of then rulers to maintain harmony between Vaishnavas and Shaivas.
Phone no: 044 26173306; 26170456
-walk into the adjacent lane of Selvam Sweet Stall
-Walk for a few minutes, you're in front of Damodara Perumal now.
The nearest Local station is the Villivakkam Local station. Lot of trains ply from Chennai central to Avadi and other palces via villivakkam.
- Get down at Villivakkam Railway Station.
-Ask for RPF Police station exit. Walk nearer to the Auto stand and enter into the small adjacent lane.
-Catch the straight road from there, walk for approximately 4-5 minutes.
-you'll be able to see the Kovil Gopuram now.
Legend & History
During the Wedding of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvathi in Mount Kailas, Sage Agasthya was in south performing Shiva Puja in this place.
Two demons, Ilvalan and Vatapi, who were born to Sage Dhurva and Aswamukhi, tortured the entire world and killed many innocent people especially brahmins. One of the demons used to take the shape of a fruit and the other used to offer it to some innocent passer-by and after he consumed it, the demon would come out by tearing his stomach.
It was left to Sage Agasthya to kill these demons with his mystic powers. One day the brothers tried the same trick with Agasthya. Agasthya consumed the fruit and simply rubbed his stomach saying Vathapi JeerNo bhava; literally may Vathapi be digested, while the other demon tries to bring his brother to life, but in vain. Maharishi Agastya plainly informed the demon that his brother has been digested and could no longer be brought back to life, and eventually bringing their treachery to end.
It was here that the slaying of the demons took place and as a result the place came to be known as "Konnur" in times of yore. And the main road connecting various places in chennai is named Konnur High Road passes near the temple. It got the name of Villivakkam much later. As Agasthya killed them with his penance power and incurred the Brahmmahati dosha-a sin caused by killing others, good or bad.
Sage Agastiya wished Shiva and Vishnu to provide darshan at this place. Hence, at the Shiva temple, he is seen as Agastheeswarar. At the Vishnu temple, the Lord is seen as Sowmya Damodaran.
It is quite surprising to hear that British Governers had sponsored some festivals of the temples. Thier agents used to take part in the festivals. And one of their Hindu representatives was honoured in the temple.
The serene surroundings of the temple is sure to soothe your spirit. Whenever you are in chennai and really don't know what to do - don't hesitate to visit the temple.
Sources of Information -
Book - Temples of Chennai by B.Vijayalakshmi
Official Website - www.sowmyadamodaraperumal.tnhrce.in
Other websites- Greenmsg