Singa Perumal Kovil is one of the famous Lord Narasimha temples, situated 8 KM from Chennai on way to Chengleput district in Tamilnadu. It is believed to have been constructed before 1500 to 1800 years during the period of Pallava Rulers. This is a beautiful rock cut out temple and established inside a cave. Even the deity has been carved out of the rock inside the cave. The greatness of the deity in this temple has been that Lord Narasimha manifested during Pradhosha Kala and therefore though this is a Vaishnavite temple, the important ritual Thirumanjanam (which is called holy bath) is performed during Pradhosha kala. Pradhosha kala pooja is attributed to Lord Shiva’s worship. Thirumanjanam is nothing but Abishekam only. The Abishekam is the term used by Saivite to the ritual of giving holy bath to the deities with Saivite formalities while the Vaishnavites call the holy bath or Abishekam as Thirumanjanam.
The Lord who is called Padalathri Narasimha sculpted in sitting posture has three eyes and display abaya mudran by right hand while the left hand remains rested on his lap. The other two hands are holding a Conch and a disc. Contrary to all other temples where Lord Narasimha is seen seated keeping his left leg over his right leg that remains hanging, in Singa Perumal Kovil the Lord facing East is seen sitting with folded right leg kept over the left leg which is hanging. Padalathri means Reddish hill and therefore the deity carved out inside the reddish hill has derived the name Lord Padalathri Narasimha. The temple history is associated with the famous story of Prahalada Charithra who was slain by Lord Narasimha.
As per Prahalada Charithra, Lord Narasimha manifested by break opening a pillar in the palace of Demon King Hiranyakasipu and killed the demon king. While some pundits say that the entire events occurred in the present temple site of Singa Perumal Kovil which was then a dense forest, some other pundits believe that it occurred elsewhere and Lord manifested in the present temple site at the request of Maharishi Jabali who was in penance in the then forest area of Singa Perumal Kovil. When the sage realized that Lord Narasimha vanquished the demon King, he prayed for the darshan of Lord Vishnu in the same fierceful form of Lord Narasimha and then bless one and all sitting there in a temple. Pleased with his penance and prayer, the Lord appeared before him in the same fierce form and stayed there blessing the devotees and thus this temple reportedly came up.
The unique feature of the temple is Lord Narasimha who reveals the divine principle that Hari and Hara (Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu) are one and the same and are not different manifestations. As per our puranas and other texts only Lord Shiva has three eyes and no other deity exists with this feature. However by appearing with three eyes in this temple which is exclusive feature of Lord Shiva, Lord Narasimha in Singa Perumal Kovil re establishes the truth that both he and Lord Shiva are one and the same.
Some folklores also tell us that Lord Vishnu explained this fact to Maharishi Narad Muni when the Maharishi sought clarification from the Lord on this aspect. Compared to India, such folk lores are many in Sri Lanka where centuries ago worship of Lord Shiva was very high and historically important temples were established in certain parts of that country backed up with interesting mythological stories even though some of them have been destroyed by the invaders later. Though the temples were destroyed, the faith and mythological lores which got floated by generations could not be wiped out. This folk lore is one amongst them.
After the episode involving Trinities as to who amongst them was the greatest ended, sometime later Sage Narada Muni went to Lord Shiva seeking clarification whether it was true that both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu were one and the same manifestations? Maharishi Narad Muni asked him ‘Oh, Lord, kindly clear my doubt which is haunting me for a long. It was rule of creation that Lord Brahma was meant for creation, Lord Vishnu for protection of those created and you for destroying the evils from the creation. It is stated that at the dawn of last yuga called Kali yuga when the domination of evil forces will become uncontrollable, Lord Vishnu would take Kalki avatar to destroy the evils. Overriding your role of destruction, then why should Lord Vishnu manifest in different avatars to destroy the evil forces where as the act of destruction is yours. Does it then imply that both of you are same? Lord Shiva gave a smile and asked Maharishi Narada Muni to go to Lord Vishnu and seek clarification from him.
Maharishi Narada Muni quickly rushed to Lord Vishnu and posed the same question. Lord Vishnu cleared his doubt saying ‘Be not confused Narada, me and Lord Shiva are not different and one and the same manifestations of Lord Paramathman who in the form of Siva Sakthi created the universe and every one of the divine forces. This is the reason why Paramathman appears with three faces over his body two of which represents me and lord Brahma. It is true that Lord Brahma was created for creation, me to protect the created and Lord Shiva to destroy the evils in creations. Not only we two, all other divine forces that exists in the universe are mirage images of Paramathman only. In order to protect the creation, the evils need to be destroyed whenever and wherever they surface. Unfortunately it has been ordained that some evil forces could be destroyed only when some divine manifest a new avatar with distinct features, which hereto did not exist which was the protection that covered the boons those evils may have received. In the male group of divines, I was destined by Paramathman to take new avatars to complete the task whenever new evil forces emerged. Since I am not vested with the power to destroy, whenever I take a new avatar to perform the task of destruction as ordained, Lord Shiva transfers the power to me to accomplish the task of destruction and thus without him I do not exist in the avatars that I take. Though every divine force has been created to perform certain task, we act as per the script given to us in the cosmic drama and many times our acts may appear outwardly quite different, some even contradictory with each other in ideology and acts. But remember that all of us indeed belong to the single point of power centre which is Paramathman from where we have emerged as his/her mirror image. Therefore get your illusion removed’
The entire temple and the deity has been constructed from a single rock of the mountain. As the presiding deity is inside the cave on the hill, the devotee has to go round the hill in clockwise direction called Pradakshana using the small steps provided there if they want to perform circumambulation of the temple.
The name of the Goddess in this temple is Sri Ahobila Valli Thaayaar. The twelve Alwars too have been enshrined as presiding as well as procession deities. Procession deity of Prahladha Varadha appears with consorts Sridevi and Bhoo devi in standing posture under the Pranavakoti Vimana (Vimana generally represents the tower above the Garbhagriha or Sanctum sanctum in a Hindu temple).
There is a most sacred wish tree called Azhinjal behind the temple with powerful effects. Those awaiting marriage, seeking children and excellence in education etc offer worship to this wish tree by applying sandal, kumkum and light up lamps with ghee for fulfillment of their wish. Either prior to worship or after worship, people tie a small piece of thread taken out from their clothes on the branches of this tree. By doing so the devotees believe that their wishes will be granted.
The temple is open from 7.00 in the morning till 12 noon and again from 4.30 in the evening till 8.30 in the night.