The Veeraraghava Swami temple in Thiruvallur, is one among the 108 Divya Desams and has been praised in the Tamil hymns of Thirumazhisai Azhvar and Thirumangai Azhvar. It is one among the twenty two Divya Desams located in the ancient territorial subdivision of Tondaimandalam roughly comprising present-day north Tamil Nadu. According to the temple tradition, Vedanta Desika, the illustrious Srivaishnava preceptor and philosopherhas composed a Sanskrit poem named Kim Grihesha Stuti about this sacred place.
Markandeya Puranam provides many details regarding this temple. The original names of this place were Punyavrata Kshetram and Veeksharanya Kshetram. It was also called Thiru Evvul which in course of time changed to Thiruvallur. The name Thiru Evvul is in connection with the temple tradition according to which Salihotra Muni visited this sacred place, bathed in the temple tank on Thai Amavasai day and performed penance. He offered the food, which he was to eat after his penance, to an hungry old man who visited him. This incident happened for two years in succession. The elderly person, after eating, wanting to rest, asked the sage for the right place (evvul) for him to rest. Salihotra Maharishi offered his hermitage and the visitor stretched himself with His head towards the south and feet pointing northwards. He revealed himself to be Lord Narayana. It is believed that those who have a bath in the temple tank and worship Veeraraghava Swami will be free of all diseases and miseries.
A tall archway which can be seen from a distance greets the visitor to the temple. On proceeding further down the road leading to the temple, the visitor sees an old mandapam with tall monolithic granite pillars studded with carvings of various deities like Krishna and Vira Hanuman and immediately in front, a newer mandapa leading to the tall five-tier gopuram. The main deity of this temple, Veeraraghava Swami also known as Evvul Kidandhan and Vaidya Veeraraghavan is enshrined under the Vijayakoti Vimanam. He is seen lying on the serpent Adisesha and hence this posture is called by the Sanskrit term Bhujangasayanam or Seshasayanam (reclining on the snake). The left hand of the God is bent at the elbow and stretched upwards towards Brahma who emanates from Perumal's navel. The right hand is stretched outwards and rests near the head of Salihotra Muni who is seen in a kneeling posture with palms pressed in supplication. Perumal wears only checked clothes as Salihotra Maharishi had originally offered this to the God as a bark garment.
Goddess Lakshmi here, enshrined in a separate sanctum in the prakaram of this temple is worshipped as Kanakavalli Thayar and also as Vasumathi Thayar. Numerous other sanctums are seen inside the temple-complex for Yoga Narasimha, Sudarshana, Anantazhvan, Santhana Gopalan, Garuda, Rama, Andal, Lakshmi Narayana, Vishvaksena and Venugopala, as also those for the Azhvars and Acharyas like Thirukkachi Nambi, Ramanujacharya and Vedanta Desika. On the road perpendicular to the temple is a shrine for the peerless devotee, Anjaneya, while near the gopuram one can see a sanctum for Sri Adi Van Satakopan, the first Jeeyar of the Ahobila Math.
The very large temple tank on the south side of the temple, covering approximately seven acres, goes by the name Hrith-tapa-nasini Pushkarini which indicates that a bath in this tank absolves people of all sins, including those even occurring in one's mind or heart.
On new moon day, every month, hundreds of people can be seen bathing in this tank and then going to the temple to worship the deity to cure their diseases. On the banks of the pushkarini are two shrines, one for Navaneetha Krishna and another for Bhu Varaha. The Brindavanams of five Jiyars (pontiffs) of the Ahobilam Mutt are also near this tank. The Padhiri (Patali in Sanskrit) tree or trumpet flower tree, with its many medicinal properties and religious connections, has been traditionally held as the sacred tree or sthala vriksham of this temple.
A few Tamil inscriptions have been discovered in various parts of this temple which testify to its antiquity. The earliest of these was found etched on a step leading to the tank and belongs to the 9th century A.D. Pallava period. It records an endowment for burning a sacred lamp and for feeding a person who cleaned the temple. On one of the stones of the west wall of the mahamandapa is an epigraph of Rajendra Chola I of the 11th century while another Chola record, discovered on the south wall of the central shrine refers to a gift of land for conducting festivals to the deity Pallirundarulina Emberuman of Thiruvevuli. A few other fragmentary Chola inscriptions appear to record gift for repairs and also for a festival in the month of Vaikasi by a devotee.
Several inscriptions of the Vijayanagara era and later times too have also been found here. One of these, found on the inner eastern wall of the Vahana Mandapa, dated 1630 A.D., belonging to the reign of Vira Venkata Raya II mentions that Vira Raghava Satakopa Jeeyar, who was the thirteenth pontiff of the Ahobila Math, who presided over this institution from 1630 to 1675 gifted gold to this temple, the interest from which was for celebrating certain festivals for Veeraraghava Swami and Thayar. Other donations by the pontiffs of the Ahobila Math are also recorded in inscriptions of the Vijayanagara epoch. It is interesting to note that the royal emblem of the imperial house of Vijayanagar - that of a boar with a sword in front and the sun and moon above- is clearly sculpted on one of the walls in this temple.
The renovation of the rajagopuram, vimanams, mandapams, prakarams and other shrines were undertaken in 2014-15 on a large scale and the Maha Samprokshanam of the Veeraraghavaswamy temple was held on June 7, 2015, between 5.15 a.m. and 6.15 a.m. under the personal supervision of Sri Azhagiasingar of Sri Ahobila Math.
Numerous festivals are celebrated in this temple where the codes of the Pancharatra Agama are followed.
Two Brahmotsavams are held here, each for ten days- one in the month of Thai
(mid-January to mid-February) and the other in Chittirai (mid-April to mid-May).
Two Theppotsavams, (float-festivals), each for three days- one in Ani
(mid-June to mid-July) and another in Masi (mid-February to mid-March), both starting from new moon day.