Hundreds of years ago there was a Chola king who invaded Nellore in Andhra Pradesh and captured it. On his way back he camped in a place called Cholavaram. Being an ardent devotee of Shiva, one day early in the morning he went looking for red lotuses to propitiate Him. But he coudn’t find it anywhere, so searching for lotuses he reaches a small village called Gnayiru. (Gnayiru, literally means Sun) The king found a pond full of red lotuses in this little village. Excited with his find, he spotted a lone lotus flower which stood taller than the rest of the flowers. He was struck by the beauty of the flower and ventured into the pond to pluck it.
But the closer he got to the flower the farther it went. Frustrated with his attempts to pluck it, he threw his sword at the flower. The sword found its mark on a Shiva linga which was being guarded by the lotus. Blood started spurting from the linga and the whole pond turned red. There was a blinding light and noise. Witnessing this spectacle, the king turned blind. His horse ran amuck.
The king repented his action and prayed to Lord Shiva, who in turn appeared in front of the King as Sun and returns his vision. He then tells the King to build a temple for Him. Because He appeared from a flower, the deity in this temple is known as Pushparatheshwara. The King built a beautiful temple on the banks of the pond. The King’s sword which made a mark on the linga is still visible to this day.
Legend also has it that Surya who was estranged from his wife Chayadevi once came to propitiate the Lord in Tiruvannamalai. After his prayers when he was circumambulating the shrine he saw a light which fell on him by way of blessings and moving away. Intrigued, he followed the light till it reached the village of Gnayiru, where it fell on the linga and vanished. Surya was pleased at the happening and prayed to Lord Pushparatheshwara for having blessed him and is said to have returned to his wife.
Since he is said to have bathed in the pond here, it is known as Surya theertham and he has a shrine in the temple. People visit the temple in the hope that they will be cured of eye related disorders.
(Gnayiru is 30kms away from Chennai. It is 13 kms from Red Hills in Chennai. The road is bad according to people who have visited the place. But the temple is worth a visit.)