Apart from its historicity, this temple assumes added significance because of its location at the birthplace of Mudaliyandan.
Birthplace of Sri Mudaliyandan
Situated off the ever-busy Poonamallee high road is the calm and quiet village of Nazharethpettai which is home to a not frequently — visited ancient vishnu temple dedicated to HARITHA VAARANA PERUMAL (known in tamil as PACCHAI VAARANA PERUMAL). Nazarethpettai, onceknown as Purushamangalam and also as Dharmapuri kshetram is well-known as the birthplace of the famous sri vaishnava aacharyan, Sri MUDALIYANDAN. Mudaliyandan, also known as Dasarathi, was the son of anantha dishitar and nachiyaramma, who was a sister of the illustrious Swami Ramanujar. He was born in the year 1027 A.D. after his parents were blessed by Lord Rama enshrined in the Eri katha ramar temple in Tiruninravur. He, along with Kurathazhvan, was a prominent disciple of Swami Ramanuja and rendered yeoman services to his teacher. He was one of the seventy-four Simhasanaadhipathi s and is believed to have lived for hundred and five years till 1132 A.D.
The sthala-purana of this temple is connected to an interesting and well-known episode in the Mahabharatha. When the pandavas found it difficult to defeat the famous preceptor dhrona who was fighting for the kauravas, they hatched a plot. Aware of his great affection for his son ashwatthama, bhima killed an elephant (kunjara) named ashvatthama and told dhrona that ashwatthama was dead. When dhrona wanted to confirm this statement with yudisthra (dharmaputra) who was known never to utter a lie, the latter declared that aswathamma was dead, but added in a very low voice that it was the elephant. Dhrona, then bent on giving up his life, was easily beheaded by dhristadyumna. It was to expiate the sin of having uttered a lie that the repentant dharmaputra, after praying to narada performed an elaborate yaga at this place. Out of the sacrificial fire, appeared Lord Krishna in the form of a green elephant, HARITA VAARANA (HARITA in SANSKRIT meaning green and VAARANA meaning elephant) or PACCHAI VAARANA and blessed yudhistira. Accepting the prayers of Yudishtra, the Lord remained here and even now is gracing as Sri Pacchai Vaarana Perumal.
(The Lord and elephant are comparable: like elephant, the Lord makes people to see repeatedly; Like elephant, the Lord also can not be contolled by others; like elephant’s movement is restricted by the mahout, He restricts Himself as the Bhakta desires; Like elephant carrying the chain for tieing it, the Lord also hands over Bhakti to devotee to be bound!)
The main shrine of this east-facing vishnu temple in nazarethpettai enshrines the four-armed PACCHAI VAARANA PERUMAL, the presiding deity of this temple. Sri Moolavar is in sitting pose, with left leg folded and right leg stretched. Right hand is showing abhaya and left arm is inahvahana [welcoming] mudra under the DHARMAKOTI VIMANA. Sri Utsavar is in statnding pose. The Lord graces with Four arms, the right ones are holding the discus and showing abhaya, while the left arms are holding conch and pointing to His divine feet. He graces along with Sri Sridevi and Sri Bhudevi.The handsome utsava vigraha Of perumal and ubhaya nachiyar are seen in front along with those of aandal and sudarsana. The pillared passage leading to this shrine houses the stone and metal images of Garudan, Vishvakshenar, Ramanujar and many of the azhvar-s. In front of this shrine is a large mandapa which has a sanctum for Garudan facing the main shrine. It is in this pillared pavilion that the numerous mounts (vahana-s) of the Deity such as Garuda, horse and elephant, which are in an excellent condition, are kept. Of particular importance in this temple is a separate sannidhi for Mudaliyandan situated near this mandapa. This sanctum which faces south, has the stone moolavar and metal utsava images of this famous preceptor seen here with folded palms (anjali hasta). There is also a tiny sanctum for manavala maamunigal in front of the Mudaliyandan shrine facing EAST.
The shrine for Goddess Lakshmi worshipped here as AMRITAVALLI THAYAR is situated to the right of the main shrine and the sannidhi dedicated to ANDAL is also seen in this prakara. There is a mandapa in front of the thayar sanctum supported by very slender, beautiful pillars which reveal the exquisite craftsmanship of the master-artisans of the ancient tamil.
The architectural features of this clean and well- maintained single-prakara temple of moderate proportions bespeak workmanship of chola and vijayanagara periods, an era of unsurpassed architectural grandeur in south india. This temple has a five-tiergopura over the eastern entrance and to its right is the sanctum for Rama seen with Sita and Lakshmana beside Him and also small and 4 captivating utsava vigraha-s. Immediately in front of the gopura on the outside is a mandapa standing on four pillars, a product of the vijayanagara age. Situated diagonally opposite the temple is a very large temple tank known as DHARMA PUSHKARINI, now sadly in an extremely dilapidated condition.
Among the festivals conducted in this temple, the Brahmostavam starting from uttiram nakshatram in the month of panguni and the Thirunakshatram (birth star) festival of Mudaliyandan are celebrated with great pomp for ten days in CHITTIRAI. These of the important ones. The Pavitrostavam is held in this shrine in the month of appasi. The ritiuals in this temple are done according to the tenets of the vaikhanasa aagamam.
Route : It is situated between Thirumazhisai and Poovirundavalli [Poonamalle]. 10 kilometers north of Chennai