Thiruvallikkeni : Gateways of Mukthi – Temples of India

Thiruvallikkeni Parthasarathy Temple is an 8th-century temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, located at Thiruvallikkeni, Chennai, India. This is the oldest temple in the city and has been eulogized in Divya Prabandham songs. It is also among the 108 Divya Desams dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Legend has it that Goddess Vedhavalli, consort of Lord Ranganatha, was born in a Lily flower (‘Alli’ in Tamil) in a pond (‘Keni’) amidst a Tulasi forest (“Brindharanya” – Brinda is Tulasi in Sanskrit). Thus the place got its name, ‘Thiru-alli-keni – Thiruvallikkeni’. It was  built in the 8th century by king Narasimhavarma Pallava I. 


This temple has icons of five forms of Vishnu: Krishna, Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varada, and Ranganatha . The five Deities in the temple are said to have been worshiped by the Saptha Rishis and also sung by Thirumazhisai Azhwar, Peyazhwar and Thirumangai Azhwar. The presiding Deity is Sri Venkatakrishnan. Sri Rukmani and Saatyaki  (his younger brother), are present on his right and left respectively. His elder brother Balarama is seen on the right side of Rukmani and His son Pradyumna and his grandson Aniruddha are also seen. Together, they are called the five warriors (Pancha Veeras). True to his role of a charioteer, he sports a mustache and carries a conch in his hand.

Sri Venkata Krishnan

This is one of the very few shrines dedicated to Krishna as Parthasarathy (charioteer of Arjuna). Tiruvallikkeni is regarded as the Southern Vrindavana. The Utsavar deity is filled with grandeur and one can see marks in the face caused by Bhishma’s arrows during the Mahabharata war. There is a  separate shrine  for Sri Vedhavalli Thayar on the right of the Parthasarathy shrine. Also, there are shrines for Andaal, Hanuman, Azhwaars, Ramanuja, Manavala Mamunigal and Vedanthachariar. The temple pond is called Kairavani.  

1. Sri Parthasarathy

According to Brahmanda purana, King Sumathy prayed Lord Thiruvengata  to give him darshan in the form of the charioteer during the Mahabharata war rendering Geethopadesha. The Lord appeared in his dream and bade him to go to Brindharanya. Meanwhile, Sage Athreya requested his Guru Vedavyasa to show him a place for doing penance. Vedavyasa gave Athreya an idol who had a conch and his left hand pointing to his holy feet signifying Sharanagathi (total surrender). He directed him to the same Brindharanya where king Sumathy was doing penance. Sumathy was pleased with the idol of Sri Parthasarathy Swamy and welcomed Athreya. This is how the main Idol came into being in the temple.

2. Sri Ranganatha

This is oldest shrine in the temple. It is said that Sri Mahalakshmi was born as young girl (Vedhavalli) in Brindharanya and she was brought up by Bhrigu Maharshi. He got her married to Sri Ranganatha, who came as a beautiful prince to Brindharanya, on Suddha Maga Dwadasi. It is said that the Goddess requested Sri Mannadha (Ranganatha) to bless all devotees who worship them on that auspicious day with prosperity and salvation. There are two other deities in that shrine including Sri Narasimha and Sri Varaha facing each other.

3. Lord Narasimha

There is a separate shrine for Sri Thellia Singa Perumal (Sri Narasimha ) facing west, behind Sri Parthasarathy shrine. It is said that the Lord Narasimha appeared to Sage Athri during his penance and at his request took his abode in Brindaranya. Moolavar is Yoga Narasimha and the Uthsavar is worshiped as Azhagiasingar or Thelliasingaperumal. He has a separate flag mast. The Utsavar, has a serene face and appears with Aahwana hastham (beckoning the devotees) and abhaya hastham (protection posture).  People with mental disorders pray before him for restoration of their mental health.

4. Lord Rama

Sri Rama along with his brothers Lakshmana, Bharatha, Satrughna and his consort Maithili gave Darshan to Sage Maduman who did penance here to have His darshan. Sri Rama’s shrine is present in a separate space facing South. The shrine of Sri Hanumar with utsavar is present facing this shrine.

5. Lord Gajendra Varada

Lord Gajendra Varada is said to have been worshiped by Saptharoma Maharishi who wanted to witness the scene when the Lord protected the elephant Gajendra.  Moolavar is seen seated on Garuda wielding the discus and conch. Varada means giver of boons, so devotees pray to Him to get their wishes fulfilled.

The work, “Ramanuja Divya Charithai” states that Sri Asoori Kesava Somayaji,  performed Putrakaameshti Yagam at this temple pond to get a son. The Lord appeared in his dreams and promised he will be born as his son to impart teachings of his Gita for the benefit of mankind. Thus Ramanuja was born who gave us the Bhagavad Gita Bhaashya (commentary on the Bhagavad Gita).

Temple Events

Being the only Divyadesa temple in the centre of the city, there are several festivals that are celebrated with aplomb in Thiruvallikkeni. Theppa Utsavam (Float festival) is held for seven days (three days for Lord Parthasarathy and one each of Sri Narasimhar , Sri Ranganathar , Sri Ramar and Sri Gajendra Varadha) starting  Maasi New Moon day.  The temple has grand brahmotsavams for Sri Parthasarathy during Chittirai (April–May). In the month of Vaigasi, Sri Varadarajar uthsavam, Sri Nammalwar uthsavam (vaigasi-visagam) and Vasanthothsavam are celebrated. Festivities for Lord Narashimha are celebrated during Aani (June–July).  

Thiruvallikkeni Temple Facts

Dhivyadesam No. 60
Dhivyadesam Name Thiru Allikeni
Main Deity Venkata Krishnan, Rukmini, Vedavalli Thayar
Location Chennai,  Tamil Nadu (Thondai Nadu)
Architecture Style Dravidian Style – Pallava
Temple Age 1200 years
Azwars who did Mangalasasanam Thirumazhisai, Peyazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar
Divyaprabandam reference

Peri. T. mozhi : 1068 – 77 (Thirumangai)

Munram T. Vadhanthi – 2297 (Peyazhwar)

Nanmugan T. Vadhanthi – 2416 (Thirumazhai)

Unique Specialties

Only Temple where Lord Krishna sports a moustache.

Five main deities in a single temple. Only Divyadesam within Chennai Proper

Prayers made for 

Well being and Mukthi. Mental clarity from Lord Narasimha (Azhagiya Singar)

Popular Events 

Several. Read Descriptions

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Author Details

Rangarajan has been blogging for over 12 years now on various topics. With Thedal, he becomes one with the universe and he is hoping that his search will help him discover the eternal truth.  Please join him as he traverses through the universe across temples, philosophies and science!

2 thoughts on “Thiruvallikkeni : Gateways of Mukthi – Temples of India”

    1. As far as I know there are only 8 swayambhu moorthys including Srirangam and Tirupati. This one is not one of them.

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