This is the most important temple of Kanchipuram. The entire pastime (original story) revolves around Lord Brahma wanting to serve this deity form of the Lord. Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple is also called as Devaraja Swamy temple. The shrine is on an elephant-shaped rock called Hastigiri. From that time of Satya Yuga, Lord Sri Varadaraja Perumal is one of the most prominent deities on earth, worshiped by great acharyas.
Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu visited Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple during His visit to Kanchipuram in year 1511 A.D. Sri Chaitanya-Charitamrita Madhya lila 9.69-70 mentions: The Lord then visited a holy place known as Vishnu-kanchi. There He saw Laksmi-Narayana deities, and He offered His respects and many prayers to please Them. Vishnu-kanchi is situated about 5 miles away from Kanchipuram. It is here that Lord Varadaraja, another form of Lord Vishnu, resides. There is also a big lake known as Ananta-sarovara. When Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu stayed at Vishnu-kanchi for 2 days, He danced and performed kirtana in ecstasy. When all the people saw Him, they were converted into devotees of Lord Krishna.
Sri Ramanujacarya resided here in Kanchipuram, and he daily worshiped Sri Varadaraja with great love and devotion. We must offer here our prayers of love and devotion because Lord Varadaraja will bestow blessings upon us. We should ask the Absolute Truth Sri Varadaraja, for the highest blessing. The blessing of eternal service to His devotees, the blessing of pure, unalloyed love, unconditional in all circumstances. We should not ask the Absolute Truth for mundane things of this world.
History of Golden and Silver Lizards:
Two disciples of Gautama Rishi used to fill water every day for their Guru. One day, to their surprise, they found a lizard jumping out when they placed the tumbler in front of their Guru. In anger, Rishi cursed them for their carelessness and they instantly turned into lizards. The two disciples stayed here at Kanchipuram as lizards until Indra came to worship Varadaraja Perumal and relieved them from their curse. In memory of this, there is a golden lizard and a silver lizard within the temple hall just outside the Lord Varadarajan main altar.
There are two big gopurams – the eastern gopuram built by Krishnadeva Raya and the western temple tower built by the Pallavas. Temple has beautiful pavilions in the courtyard and a remarkable hundred pillared hall which has sculptures carved on many panels depicting Ramayana, Srimad-Bhagavatam and pastimes of Lord Krishna. Lord Varadharaja Swamy resides in the upper floor.
Beneath the Sannidhi (altar) of Varadaraj, in the ground floor there is a shrine for Yoga Nrsimhadeva. Within the enclosure of the temple is a sacred Pushkarini called Anantha Sarovara.
Apart from the main deity, the temple has the wooden deity of Varadaraja Swamy preserved within a silver box from which water is pumped out every forty years. This wooden deity is the original deity of Varadaraj received by Lord Brahma in the Yajna.
There are two long mandapas under the tank north of the hundred pillar mandapam in the temple, where the forty feet long Athi Varadaraja Perumal in his reclining posture is placed. The wooden deity is brought out for darshan of the devotees once in forty years. Special pujas are offered to Perumal. The temple has a fabulous collection of ancient and precious jewellery presented by the Vijayanagar rulers, Muslim rulers and also the English rulers. There is a very costly necklace presented by Robert Clive of East India Company.