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Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Mint Street - Sreeman Alluri Venkatadri Mutt

Few decades ago – marriages were elaborate rituals, family conglomerations – though they used to be conducted in small choultries with little facilities, families assembled together, stayed overnight and were happy in company of their cousins and relatives.  Many such small marriage halls have gone out – its brick and mortar  falling to hammer.    There were  so many Marriage choultries in and around old Chennai area in the busy congested streets of Sowcarpet  

                       From NSC Bose Road, Flower bazaar PS to Elephant gate area, there are so many narrow lanes and bylanes in what is known as Sowcarpet, a sprawling neighbourhood, far different than the other parts of North Madras.   Now the  Pookkadai [flower bazaar] nearer Kothawalchavadi [once the vegetable hub]  -  have all  since shifted to Koyambedu – there still exist many flower sellers in Badrian Street selling marigold, rose, jasmine….. in strands or in kgs.  Walking inside narrow streets would by itself be an experience – there would be so much fragrance around.

This is no post on History, marriage, marriage choultires, vegetables, winding lanes but of the many beautiful ancient temples that still exist in Sowcarpet area – though not many devotees visit them all.  Of the many temples in that area which one could walk and have darshan attending marriage in those choultries would include :  Chennai Pattinam Kovil (Perumal Kovil and Sivan kovil adjoining), Kandha Kottam, Ekambareswarar, Bairagi Mutt Balaji temple, Kalikambal temple, Chenna Malleeswarar, Pavazhakkaran theru Krishnar Kovil, many famous pillaiyar temples,  Sri Varadharaja Manavala Mamunigal temple  .. .. and recently had darshan at a couple of temples more –  recently had posted on the  beautiful Sri Ranganathar Temple in an obscure Mulla Sahib street running parallel to Mint St at one place.. .. and today, a century old Mutt on Mint Street housing beautiful Sree Ramar temple.

Understand that the ‘sowcar’   comes from the Hindi word sahukaar, merchant or native banker, which now refers to a money-lender.  Though its earliest inhabitants were diamond and silk merchants, marwaris, Rajasthanis and other North Indians arrived later and settled here.  Of the many winding lanes, designated as Streets - Mint Street,  is one of the oldest and longest thoroughfares stretching from Park Town near the Central Station to Vallalarnagar terminus, at Washermanpet.  This area had many washers and bleachers employed by the East India Company for its cloth business, settled here.  In mid 1800s,   East India Company moved its coin making facility to this street. Later this became the Government Press which still functions. Next to the Press stood Crown Talkies, one of the city’s earliest cinema theatres.   

The great culture of our Nation is intertwined with grandeur temples, Sages, saints and scholars.  They were blessed with unique wisdom and embroidered with different modes of approach to divinity. Some resorted to learning and realization, some through penances and there were diverse schools of philosophical pursuit.  Among these thrived devotional music, keerthanas and bhjans.    They encapsulated the purport and purpose of scriptural learning and ritual labour in their simple, sweet and soul-stirring compositions, which were impulsive outpourings of craving and grace.  In this musico-spiritual lineage, there have been many  like  Meera, Sant Tukkaram, Annamacharya, Thiagaraja Swamy, Bhadrachala Ramadoss and more.   Akin to  musical trinity of Thiyaga brahmam, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Sastri,  - Talappakkam Annamacharya, Bhadrachalam Ramadasa and Alluri Venkatadri Swami lived their lives singing beautiful keerthanas on Lord Rama & Krishna.

Alluri Sri Venkatadri Swami  was born as Venkatadri, to the blessed couple Sri Venkaiyya and Srimathi Venkamma in year 1806  at a village called Alluru in the Jajuru Paradala taluk of Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh. Sri Venkatadri Swamy had a strong yearning to uplift simple and suffering community by influence of his compassion, divine love and holy music.  He  went to Bhadrachala and stayed for five years immersing himself in Hari Nama Sankeerthan. The collective auspiciousness of divine abode, sacred Godavari and devout association inspired Swami to inscribe one crore Rama namas and shower numerous keerthans in glory of Rama.   He proceeded to Thirumala, on the Bagulasapthami day of the month of Chithra in the year of Dharana (1824) and engrossed himself in floral service for a few years, along with his Divyanama Sankeerthans.  By divine grace, he was summoned to Thirukachi to serve  Devaraja perumal  - it is stated that one day he was bitten by a snake while gathering flowers; yet  he calmly went with a smiling face to the Sannidhi of Sri Devaraja and sang Keerthans like 'Kaapaadaraa Nannu' and finally fainted, was saved by the Divine.

From his early pushpa kainkarya (floral services), he expanded to sandalwood paste, boiled milk and the like.   It is stated that he undertook renovations including Vilakkoli perumal sannathi mantapam.   He visited Thiruvallikkeni divyadesam,  took bath in Kairavani and sang 'Parthasarathy pada bhajana cheyave manasa' offering it to the Lord Parthasarathy.  He was instrumental in the glorious offering to Lord Devathirajar, diamond studded crown  designated as  'Sri Venkatadri kondai’.   He lived a simple austere life taking us sanyasa – his memorial is   established on the banks of Aalavandhar Padithurai of Cauvery.  

In the congested Mint Street, now stands this ‘Allur Venkatadri Swami Mutt’ dating back to 12.2.1898 - housing beautiful Sree Ramar sannathi, Ramar padam, Chakrathazhwar sannathi and Hanumar sannathi.  Recently had the fortune of worshipping here and here are some photos taken by me. 

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan
Mamandur Veeravalli Srinivasan Sampathkumar
21st July 2021. 


  1. Wonderful Thanks
    Adiyen Srinivasa dasan

  2. My mom used to take me to this temple during my childhood days in 1970s. You brought back my golden memories. Thanks for sharing. May Lord Rama bless you