Brick, Mythology

Gangadeeswarar & Pankajakshi

Gangadeeswarar and Pankajakshi temple is in Gangadeeswarar Koil Street, Purasawalkam. Its about 2000 years old. The legend is it was the place directed by a voice (அசிரீரி) to King Baheeradhan to place the 1008th linga to cure a curse and worship Lord Shiva. It was a spot sung by Sundarar in Thevaram. And the temple well is supposed to never dry up at all.

11 Comments to “Gangadeeswarar & Pankajakshi”

  1. Interesting entrance. I’ve seen such a door in Singapore too. It was very amazing and very colourful. Greetings from Stuttgart.

    Ram : Thanks Steffen, Thanks Stuttgart. Yes the Singapore temple takes the same Tamil Architecture.

  2. Dr A Raman

    Dear RamN
    One of my Madras friends brought Asoka Mitran’s comments (in a differn webpage) to my attention. I wrote a supplement to Asoka Mitran’s comments, as well as to the one which appeared in the same webpage.
    Unfortunately, I could not upload my note in that website.
    Subsequently I found your remarks on Gangadareswara (not Gangadeeswara) temple in Purasawalkam. I thought my note could explain some elements that have not been discussed in your note. A few (minor) errors could be occurring in my note attached below, for which I apologize; I was replying from the information I remembered.
    Hope my note would help people in Purasawalkam to search for factual information, rather than relying on mythology and unsubstantiated stories.
    Best wishes
    A Raman
    Having lived in Adiappa Mudali Street (a by-lane of Lawder’s Gate Road terminating in Vellala Street) all through my childhood and early youth, I enthusiastically read Asoka Mitran’s commentary on the Purasawalkam temple tank.

    Whenever I have returned to Madras, I have, on most occasions, visited Gangãdaréswara Temple. As the subsequent columnist has referred, the temple is certainly better maintained, but Asoka Mitran’s concerns are about the tank, which are of course true. As a student of M Ct M Çidambaram Çettyar Memorial Preparatory School, I have, with profound joy and glee witnessed the annual téppam festival in the temple tank in the late 1950s and early 1960s. With the poor status of the tank, lo, the téppam festival has been given a go by, for the last 4—5 decades.

    Pankajãmbal saméda Gangãdaréswara temple is estimated to be at least 1000 years old. It is said that it was constructed during the time of Kulôtunga Çozha (the II or the III, I cannot recall exactly), who is considered to have brought water from the Ganges and added that into the temple well (note: not the tank), and consecrated the temple to Siva and naming Him as Gangãdaréswara. Unfortunately, no professional historian has verified these claims and established the facts. I certainly remember attending a lecture by Dr R Nagaswamy on temple archaeology and epigraphy in general in the precincts of Gangãdaréswara temple some 30 years ago, but he too never made any specific remark on the history of Gangãdaréswara temple.

    Purasa tree [Tamizh] (Butea frondosa, Leguminosaceae; p(a)lasa [Sanskrit]) is the śtala vrikśa. It is because of this tree the locality gets the name Purasa-p-pãkkam, which over time got corrupted as Purasawalkam. Controversy on the śtala vrikśa of Gangãdaréswara temple exists: some biologists working on the śtala vrikśa theme think that the ‘helicopter plant’ (also referred commonly as the ‘aeroplane’ plant, because the fruits will resemble a plane), biologically known as Hiptage benghalensis (formerly Hiptage madablota) (Malphigiaceae)(Vasantakãla mallikai [Tamizh], Mãdavi latã (Sanskrit; note that madablota is the corruption of Mãdavi latã) is the śtala vrikśa. The last time I visited, I noticed that this woody creeper is struggling in the outer prãkãra. The purasa tree survives adjacent to the well and the shrine dedicated to Mahã Viśnu (Satyanãrãyanã) in the outer prãkãra.

    The trustees claim that Purasawalkam Gangãdaréswara temple is a pãdal-pétra śtalam. One Dévarãm song refers to the Lord of Purasa-puri. Again controversy shrouds this claim. A tiny, but ancient Siva-kśétra exists adjacent to the former Dãsãprakaś Hotel in the Aravãmudu Garden Street (I do not know its current status). Some historians and Tamizh scholars say that the pãdal refers to this Siva-kśétra in the Aravãmudu Garden Street.

    Ram : Thanks Raman, very useful …. also checked out on the Purasa Tree last week ….

  3. Awasthi

    Thank you everyone for the information, i live in puruswakkam and visit the temple atleast twice every week, currently there is renovation work is going on near the tank and while digging an very old Durga Amman idol has been found which they have kept underneath the tree near tank next to ganesha idol………just taught to share the latest development about the tempel

  4. Mohana

    It seems this temple has Purasai tree as sthala virutcham, which is being the tree of Pooram star. As this is in Chennai city, I am very eager to visit as I am pooram.

  5. Prasannna Rajagopalan

    Dear Dr A Raman
    I have been living in Purasawalkam, opposite to hotel Dasaprakash for the last 45 years. The temple in Aravamudan Garden street next and close to Dasaprakash icecream parlour still exists. The god shiva’s name is Arthanareeswarar.
    it is a very very small temple with a separate sannadhi for goddess/ambal and also Lakshmi narayana.
    ,Many people do not know about it, nor is there a crowd.
    My only doubt is could a chola temple be that small?
    All padal petra sthalams are huge as far as I know.

  6. Capt TRajkumar

    Namaskaram to GK Koil, a great auspicious,holy Landmark–in Madras on PH rd.

    I have missed our the Purasai Tree–can ypu please post a photograph with details —
    Am unable to locate the Purasai Tree–Thank you Sir, in advance.

    AT that time I accepted Bilwa (Vilwam) –at entrance as the Sthala Vriksham–

    I study Trees, have planted many in my residential area– now in Greenways Lane , RA Puram and also write on the temple Sthala Vrikshams—
    Blog at
    As Airtel -Google link stopped have not posted new ones for some time —

    The Bilwa tree at Shree Gangadeeshwar temple is a special variety has -larger bilwa fruit and fine leaves (trifoliate). This is seen near entrance itself -near reception seva counter. the Trifoliate Leaf is special to Lord Shiva of Tri-kaal and is used in all Shiva Poojas esp. Bilwa Archana with Bilwa stotram –
    “Eka Bilwa Shiva Arpana”

    NOTE–I also lived on PH Rd from 1951, nearby in what was called Lakshman (Gramani) street) -a dead end street of PH rd. and is adjacent to Abirami street.

    For us Gangadareshwar Koil was a special point and the Tank with lotus growing there; a real landmark as we walked past to on the way to school till1961 and even later till about 1968 . MY wife i fact lived on GK Srreet and the house building is still there (old but still occupied by new Tenants) —
    With Respects
    Capt TR (Retd )

  7. Dear Capt TR,

    I have been fervently looking for a Bilva sapling to plant in my home. I am well aware of its greatness, both in worship and medicine. However, it is extremely rare to find Bilva trees in Singapore. Nurseries don’t have them. I used to have one in my garden, precious little plant but it was constantly plagued by caterpillars. As the plant has divine properties and seen as the Trinity’s embodiment I restrained myself from using pesticide. It came to a point that there were hardly any leaves left, it was then that I decided to use a pesticide. I used it once and my tree died thereafter. 🙁

    Its been two years since and I have been asking around from everyone I know to help me source for one. I am hoping on this trip, I will be blessed to find one. I wonder if the local nurseries in Chennai would have bilva plants? Any idea?

    I am definitely going to see lord shiva at purasai and see if he blesses me with one. 🙂



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: