Ashtabujakaram located in Kanchipuram in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu, is dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. Constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture, the temple is glorified in the Divya Prabandha, the early medieval Tamil canon of the Azhwar saints from the 6th–9th centuries AD. It is one of the 108 Divyadesam dedicated to Vishnu, who is worshipped as Ashta Bhuja Perumal and his consort Lakshmi as Alamelumangai.
The temple is believed to have been built by the Pallavas of the late 8th century AD, with later contributions from Medieval Cholas and Vijayanagar kings. The temple has three inscriptions on its walls, two dating from the period of Kulothunga Chola I (1070–1120 CE) and one to that of Rajendra Chola (1018-54 CE). A granite wall surrounds the temple, enclosing all the shrines and two bodies of water. There is a four-tiered rajagopuram, the temple's gateway tower, in the temple.
Six daily rituals and three yearly festivals are held at the temple. The temple is maintained and administered by the Hindu Religious and Endowment Board of the Government of Tamil Nadu.
The temple is a small temple with a tank in front and has three gopurams. The presiding deity of the temple is Astabhuja Perumal, whose image in the central shrine is sported with eight hands. There is a separate shrine for Alamelumangai. The temple also has shrines dedicated to Hanuman, Alwars, Andal, Chakra and Sarabeswara.
As per Hindu legend, once there was an argument between Saraswathi, the consort of Brahma and Lakshmi on superiority. They went to Indra, the king of celestial deities. Indra judged Lakshmi as superior and not satisfied with his argument, Saraswathi went to her husband, Brahma. He also chose Lakshmi to be the superior one. Saraswathi was unhappy with the decision and decided to stay away from Brahma. Brahma did a severe penance praying to Vishnu and did an Aswametha Yagna. Saraswathi was still angry that the yagna, which usually is done along with consorts was done alone by Brahma. She tried to disrupt the penance in various ways, but Vishnu interfered in all her attemptes. After all the demons were killed by Vishnu, who were sent by Saraswati to destroy the yagna(penance) done by Brahma, she finally sent a ferocious Sarpam(snake). Lord Vishnu took the form of Ashtabhuja Perumal holding 8 different weapons to kill the snake. The snake is found on the Vaayu end of the yaaga sala as "Sarabeswaran" in this temple.
Another legend associates this temple to Gajendra moksham given by Vishnu to the elephant king Gajendra. As per the legend, the elephant Gajendra, used to worship Vishnu with the lotus fetched from the temple tank everyday. Once while picking up lotus, a crocodile caught the leg of Gajendra, who started calling the name of Vishnu for help. Vishnu sent his discus to punish the crocodile and relieve the elephant.
- M.S., Ramesh (1993). 108 Vaishnavite Divya Desam Volume 1. Tirupati: Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams.
- Madhavan, Chithra (2007). Vishnu Temples of South India Volume 1 (Tamil Nadu). Chithra Madhavan. ISBN 978-81-908445-0-5.
- R., Dr. Vijayalakshmy (2001). An introduction to religion and Philosophy - Tévarám and Tivviyappirapantam (1st ed.). Chennai: International Institute of Tamil Studies.