Thiruvottiyur near Chennai is one of the earliest settlements in this area which pre-dates the chennai city itself. This place was called Adipuri, meaning the "ancient town".The legend says that there was a huge flood and devotees prayed to Lord Shiva. He commanded the flood to “Othri Po” (give way) . Thus this place got the name “Tiruvottriyur”. (Thiru + Ottri + Yur).
Any ancient place,will have a Shiva and Vishnu temple in TamilNadu. In the same vein, Shiva here is called Adipureeswarar or Thyaga Raja Swamy”. The Goddess is called Vadivudai Nayaki.
In the shrine of the divine mother, there is a holy rock which is said to have been sanctified by many saints. Huge number of devotees visit this temple on full moon. It is a part of the three temple circuit , popularly known as vadivudai (this temple), kodiyidai (Near Minjur suburb of Chennai), thiruvudai (Thiruvanmiyur Maruntheeswarar temple). Great carnatic musicians like Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar had visited this temple in the 18th century and sang songs on the deities here.
Another great Saint Ramalinga Swamigal also called “Vallalaar” had been visiting this temple daily as a practice. One day, as usual,Vallalaar returned home late at night after completing his darshan of these deities.He returned home late only to find the doors were locked. Though he was very hungry, he had no option but to sleep in the places nearby his house. Vadivudai Amman Herself came fed Vallalaar. This piece of information is briefly described in the life history of Arul Thiru Vallalaar.
Marai Malai Adigal once had a terrible stomach ache which could not be cured by much of the medicines available in those times, came to this Murugan to write “Thiruvottriyur Murugan Mummani Kovai” . After completing the recital of this poem, his stomach ache vanished completely.Arunagirinathar has song on the Lord Murugan here in his Thirupugal.
Another unique feature of this temple is that all 27 stars has a Shiva lingam installed in their names and worshipped. This is the only other temple in the world apart from Thiruvidaimaruthur in Kumbakonam to have this shrine. So people of all Rashis come here and offer their prayers.
This temple also is a treasury of all ancient idols from the nearby temples maintained by the Government. This temple is itself an example of the ancient Pallava Architecture.
The town is also known for the Samadhi of Saint Pattinathar, one of the greatest mystics of TamilNadu. His main disciple was Bhadragiri ( Some say Raja Bhatruhari of Ujjain is the same person).
There is also a Samadhi temple of one the Kanchi Shankaracharya of the 17th century here (61st pontiff of – Sri Maha Devendra Swamigal)