I was looking at the list of Carnatic concerts in Chennai some days back, confused as to which ones to attend the coming Sunday. Just then my mom came and said, “Let me help you with your choice. You are not going to any concert but will be coming with us to Nallattoor Anjaneya Temple. It’s your uncle & aunt’s wedding anniversary. The entire family (comprising all the kith and kin in Chennai) is coming and you have no other choice“, demonstrating yet again her ability to simplify decision making by thinking ‘out of the box’
Nallattoor is located near Tiruttani, en-route to Tirupati. We started from Chennai late in the afternoon and came back before midnight the same day. It took us just a little over 2 hours to reach the place by car and just about the same time to come back.
When you travel further beyond Tiruvallur on the Chennai – Tiruvallur – Tiruttani route, there will be a point where the road forks into two. You have to take the branch that goes to the right and immediately take a right turn (yes, one more right turn) as soon as you enter it. There is a sign board here that says the temple is 12 kms away. The road from here was narrow (narrower than the stretch from Tiruvallur) and was not in a good shape when we went. It was however well punctuated with sign boards that will help one find his way to the temple easily.
What to see?
The place is famous for Lord Hanuman’s temple (Shri Veera Mangala Anjaneya Swami temple). And that’s about all you can find here. The temple is located on the banks of the Kushasthala river, which was dry when we went.
It was pitch dark outside and the fireflies (glow worms) that kept hovering presented a pretty sight.
The temple has idols of Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, Hanuman, Ganesha and the navagrahas apart from the centuries old idol of Veera Mangala Anjaneya.
We heard there are other temples in a nearby place called Nemili but didn’t visit the same as it was already getting late for the return trip to Chennai. Tiruttani and Tiruvallur are some other places one can cover if the trip is planned well.
The temple is said to have been first built by Vyasaraya in the 15th century. The present structure was built by M. Chakravarti, Executive Director of Amaravathi Group of Hotels, in the late 90s (if I remember correctly).
The history of the temple, as told to us by the temple priest, is as follows. The details on the temple website however are slightly different from his account. Needless to say, I have no idea what actually happened.
Vyasaraya lived in the 15th century in the Vijayanagara empire and was respected as a guru by the kings of the empire. It seems he was afflicted by some strange disease. He prayed to Lord Hanuman and said he will build as many temples of Hanuman as possible throughout his life if he gets cured. He became healthy immediately and went on to build 754 temples till he lived. The Nallattoor temple is considered the most important one.
Vyasaraya’s men were on their way to Tirupati to build a temple and install the idol there when they had to stop at Nallattoor on their way, to take rest. They kept the idol down but couldn’t lift it when they wanted to proceed to Tirupati. Lord Hanuman is then said to have appeared in Vyasaraya’s dreams and expressed his willingness to have the idol installed there after which a temple was built at that very place in Nallattoor.
Over the years, the temple went to ruins and the idol itself got buried underneath sand and dust. It seems even the locals, over several generations, forgot the existence of the temple there. Suddenly one day Lord Hanuman is said to have appeared in the dreams of both Chakravarti (who was an atheist till that point in time and was in Delhi on a business trip) and his wife ( who was in Chennai then) asking them to renovate the temple. It was then that the idol was taken out and the present form of the temple was built.
There is no road divider for most part of the route. It is advisable to plan the trip so that it is completed during the day time, especially if traveling by bikes. It might also be advisable to carry lots of drinking water along. We didn’t see any petrol pumps, at least on the 12 km stretch off the main road to Nallattoor. The last one I remember seeing on the way to Nallattoor was in Tiruvallur (I could have missed many).