|Hridayaaleeswarar Temple entrance|
Poosalar was a poor devotee of Shiva who sat under an "Iluppai" tree in Tiruninravur chanting the name of the Lord all the time. He was called Poosalar because his body was always covered with Sacred Ash (Poosudhal means to apply in Tamil). For several hours in a day, he used to sit in a trance, lost to the material world, thinking about his Lord and chanting his name. People took pity on him, and offered him food and money for survival.
|Inside the temple|
Around the same time, the Pallava King Rajasimha was building the Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram. A magnificient exhibition of Pallava architecture, and a unique temple paralleled to no other, rose up exquisitely.
|Kailasanatha Temple in Kanchipuram|
Having built such an architectural wonder, he consulted with famous astrologers of his land, and fixed the date for the consecration of his temple. That night, King Rajasimha, went to bed a satisfied man. Lord Shiva, appeared in his dream. The King was ecstatic. He prayed to the Lord and thanked him and invited him to attend the consecration. The Lord smiled and said " I cannot do so on that day, as I have already committed to my devotee Poosalar of Tiruninravur that I would attend the consecration of the temple he has built. Please choose another day and I will be there". With these words, he disappeared.
|The statue of King Rajasimha at the temple|
When he finally did, the King introduced himself, and asked him about the temple he had built, and expressed his desire to attend the consecration. Tears of joy rolled down the eyes of Poosalar. He could not believe that Lord Shiva had accepted the temple he had built in his heart and chosen to attend the consecration of the same, over the magnificient structure built by the King. With uncontrollable tears, he narrated the entire story.
The King stood still, listening to Poosalar. Tears rolled down his eyes, realising the nobility of Poosalar's actions, his love and devotion for the Lord that had won him recognition from none other than the Almighty.
He swore to construct the temple for Poosalar just the way he had imagined it to be. The King placed a magnificient Shiva Linga in the Sanctum Sanctorum along with an idol of Poosalar beside it, and called the Lord Hridayaaleeswara (Hridaya + Aalaya + Eswara) meaning the Lord of the Heart Temple.
|The backside of the Sanctum Sanctorum shaped like a|
Sleeping Elephant (Thoongaanai Maadam)
There are shrines for all the 63 nayanmars in several temples, but none of them, I think are privileged to share the same Sanctum Sanctorum as the Lord. Poosalar has this unique privilege which makes the Hridayaaleeswara temple so special. Anyone visiting the shrine is able to worship the Lord and his worthy devotee together.
The Goddess here is called Maragathambigai. She looks at you with a kind smile that melts your heart.