The Ashtabujakaram or Ashtabuja Perumal Temple is a famous Hindu temple located in Kanchipuram, a city in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a significant pilgrimage destination dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is one of the 108 Divya Desams (sacred abodes of Vishnu) in India. The temple is glorified in the Nalayira Divya Prabandham, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Alvar saints from the 6th–9th centuries CE.
Legend of Ashtabuja Perumal Temple
According to the temple’s regional legend, there was once a dispute between Saraswati, the consort of Brahma, and Lakshmi about their superiority. They went to Indra, the king of the devas, to judge between them. Indra chose Lakshmi as the superior one, which didn’t satisfy Saraswati. She then went to Brahma, who also chose Lakshmi. Saraswati was still unhappy with the decision and decided to stay away from Brahma. Brahma performed severe penance, praying to Vishnu, and performed an ashvamedha yajna. Saraswati tried to disrupt the penance in various ways, but Vishnu interfered in all her attempts. Finally, she sent a ferocious sarpam (snake), and Vishnu took the form of Ashtabhuja Perumal, holding eight different weapons to kill the snake. The snake is represented as Sharbha in the mandapam of this temple.
Another legend associates this temple with Gajendra Moksham, where Vishnu gave liberation to the elephant king, Gajendra. As per the legend, the elephant Gajendra, the rebirth of Indradyumna, used to worship Vishnu with the lotus fetched from the temple tank every day. Once, while picking up lotus, a crocodile caught the leg of Gajendra, who started calling the name of Vishnu for help. Vishnu sent his discus to punish the crocodile and relieve the elephant. The presiding deity is addressed by various names like Adikesava Perumal, Gajendra Varadhan, and Chakradhar.
History of Ashtabuja Perumal Temple
The Ashtabuja Perumal Temple is believed to have been originally built during the Pallava dynasty, who ruled from the late 8th century CE. Later, the temple was renovated and expanded by the Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagara kings. The temple has three inscriptions on its walls, two dating from the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) and one to that of Rajendra Chola (1018-54 CE). The temple has inscriptions from the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1070 – 1120), indicating gifts of land to the temple. There are contributions mentioned in the same inscription indicating contributions from the local people for perpetual lighting of the temple.
Architecture of Ashtabuja Perumal Temple
The Ashtabuja Perumal Temple is constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture and has a small temple with a three-tiered gopuram (gateway tower) and concentric rectangular walls. It is located about 2 km (1.2 mi) away from the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. The temple features a tank in front and is dedicated to the presiding deity Astabhuja Perumal, who faces the west and is depicted with eight hands holding a sword, shield, mace, bow, arrow, lotus, conch, and chakra. Mahalakshmi is also depicted in his chest and he is adorned with a garland made of shaligrama. The temple has a separate shrine for Pushpakavalli Thayar, the consort of Perumal. Before worshipping Perumal, it is customary to first worship Thayar. The complex also includes a shrine for Varaha Perumal, who is depicted in a seated posture under the hoods of two serpents. Other shrines dedicated to Hanuman, the Alvars, Andal, the Sudarshana Chakra, and Sharabha can also be found in the temple. The Gajendra Pushkarani temple tank is located outside the entrance tower. A four-pillared hall called Friday Mandapam is also situated in front of the central shrine.
The temple celebrates three main festivals every year. The annual Bhrammotsavam festival is held during the Tamil month of Chittirai (April-May) and lasts for ten days. The Vaikunta Ekadasi festival, which marks the day of Vishnu’s gate opening, is celebrated in the Tamil month of Margazhi (December-January). The temple also celebrates the Gajendra Moksham festival, which is associated with the legend of Gajendra and is held during the Tamil month of Aadi (July-August).
The Ashtabuja Perumal Temple is open from 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM and from 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Devotees can visit the temple during these hours to offer their prayers and seek the blessings of the presiding deity.
How to Reach
The Ashtabuja Perumal Temple is located in Kanchipuram, which is well-connected to other parts of Tamil Nadu by road and rail. The Ashtabhujakaram temple, situated in Vishnu Kanchi (also known as Chinna Kanchipuram) in Reddypet.
The nearest airport is Chennai International Airport which is about 80 kilometers away.
The nearest railway station is the Kanchipuram Railway Station, which is located about 2.5 km away from the temple.
The temple is located about 2 km from the Kancheepuram bus stand at Tirukachi Nambigal Street in Chinna Kancheepuram.