Varadharaja Perumal Temple or Hastagiri or Attiyuran is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu located in the holy city of Kanchipuram, Tamilnadu, India. It is one of the Divya Desams, the 108 temples of Vishnu believed to have been visited by the 12 poet saints, or Alwars. It is located in part of Kanchipuram called the Vishnu Kanchi that is a home for a lot of famous Vishnu temples, including this one. One of the greatest Hindu scholars of Vaishnava VisishtAdvaita philosophy, Ramanuja is believed to have resided in this temple. The temple along with Ekambareswarar Temple and Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram is called Mumurtivasam (abode of trio). While Srirangam is referred to as ‘ The Koil’ and Tirupathi as the ‘Malai’ among Divya Desams, Kanchipuram Varadaraja Perumal temple is known as the ‘Perumal Koil’. This is one of the most sacred places for Vaishnavites.
There is a belief that the temple was first built by the Pallava king Nandivarman II. Varadharaja Perumal Temple was originally built by the Cholas in 1053 and it was expanded during the reigns of the great Chola kings Kulottunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola. In the 14th century another wall and a gopura was built by the later Chola kings. When a Mughul invasion was expected in 1688, the main image of the deity was sent to Udayarpalayam, now part of Tiruchirapalli District. It was brought back with greater difficulty after the involvement of local perceptor who enlisted the services of general Todarmal. Robert Clive, the British general during the colonial period visited the Garuda seva festival and presented a valuable necklace which is adorned during the special occasion every year. During the war between mughal king Malikapur and Cheran King 'Ravivarman Kulasekaran', The cheran won the battle against kusru khan who is the captain under mughal raj in Kanchepuram with the blessings of Varadharaja Perumal.
The Temple is a huge one on a 23-acre (93,000 sq mt) complex and shows the architectural skills of ancient Vishwakarma Sthapathis in temple architecture and is famous for its holiness and ancient history. The temple has 3 outer precincts (prakaram) namely Azhwar Prakaram, Madai Palli Prakaram and Thiru Malai Prakaram. There are 32 shrines, 19 vimanams, 389 pillared halls and sacred sacred tanks some located outside the complex. The main sanctum faces west and can be entered through a 130 feet tall, 7-tiered rajagopuram. The eastern gopuram is taller than the western gopuram, which is contrasting to large temples where the rajagopuram is the tallest one. One of the most famous architectural pieces in the temple is the huge stone chain sculpted in a single stone.
There is a 100 pillared hall has sculptures depicting Ramayana and Mahabarathastands the masterpiece of Vijayanagara architecture. The shrine of Varadarajaswamy is on a small hillock 10m tall and a fleet of 24 stps, termed "Hasthagiri" and has murals of the late Vijayanagara empire is found on the ceiling. Another significant thing about the temple are beautiful carved lizards and platted with gold, over the sanctum. The vimana over the sanctum of Vradaraja Swami is called Punyakoti Vimanam and the one over Perundevi Thayar shrine is called Kalyana Koti Vimanam. Apart from the main stone idol, the temple has the wooden image of Varadarajaswamy preserved within a silver box in water pumped out every 40 years. There is a shrine of Narasimha on the hillock.
The origin of the mask of Narasimha is mysterious and believed to possess inexplicable powers. In the second precinct downstairs contains four shrines, the important one of which is of Malayala Nachiar (Kerala consort), presumably built during the Chera kings in the early 14th century. The third precinct has the shrine of Goddess Perundevi Thayar - it is customary for devotess to visit the shrine first before visiting the Perumal shrine. There are four small pillared halls identical in strcutre called Thulabara Mandapas built during the 1532 for a ceremony of Achutaraya of the Vijayanagara empire. As Lord Vishnu accepted requests of everyone and gave what they wanted, he came to be called ‘Varadar’(one who gives).
Indra, the king of celestial deities, after getting released from the curse of Goddess Saraswathi, installed the silver and golden lizards who were the witness of the ordeal. Brahma performed a yagna here, which was washed away by the fast flowing river Vegavathi. The temple deity, Vishnu laid himself flat to stay the flow and the yagna was successfully performed. Vishnu emerged with brilliance of thousand Suns as Devarajaswamy and stayed here permananently. As is the case with the association of South Indian temples with a sacred tree, the name of the temple, Attigiri is derived from Atti tree, considered sacred to Vaishnavas.
The temple is famous for its huge umbrella used during festive occasion. During the bhramotsavam (major festival) in Vaigasi (May/June), thousands of people throng the temple and that increases at least by a two-fold during the garuda vahanam and ther festival (temple chariot). On normal days the temple is generally free except for some locals and a few tourists.
There are inscriptions dated 1532 CE (record 544 of 1919) indicating the gift of number of villages made by Achutaraya. Vira Narasingaraya Saluva Nayaka who was directed by Achutaraya broke the royal order by gifting more lands to Ekambaranathar temple than the Varadaraja Swamy temple against the instruction of an equal gift to either of the temples. Achutaraya on hearing this equally distributed the lands to both the temples.