Friday, September 13, 2013
Well, for 'the' bull temple, you will have to go across to Bengaluru, but the thought jumps to mind seeing so many bas-relief Nandis on the wall. This one is however the Kasi Viswanathar temple in West Mambalam.
Like many other temples in the city, this one also claims a centuries-old antiquity, going back to the 1600s. With the Pandyan kings having brought Kasi to the deep south, the Nayaks probably thought they should also have a version here in Madras and so came up this temple. It is said that there was a large grove of bilwa trees around this place - remember, until the early 20th century, most of today's T.Nagar was a waterbody, the Long Tank abutting the Great Choultry Plain - and it is quite likely the presence of the bilwa grove was a fact.
With the temple coming up in the bilwa grove, it was referred to as the 'Maha bilwa kshetram', or Mahabilwam - from which, according to some accounts, the name Mambalam originated!