Jalakandeswarar Temple is situated inside the Vellore Fort, this temple boasts of a majestic Gopuram (tower). Here Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of “Jalakandeswarar”. The temple is located at sub-ground levels than the temple moat, hence the name Jalakandeswarar. The temple was in closed state for a very long period. The main Deity of the sanctum sanctorium was taken away to a distant location to save Him from being dishonoured by an appraisal. It was brought back to place in 1980 when there was a severe water scarcity. The then Collector was the key man in getting the deity back to location.
A Siva temple that was built at same time the fort was built around 1566. It is a fine specimen of the later Vijayanagar architecture , comprised of the main shrine and closed ambulatory passage around, and the integral mahamantapa, with a northward projecting shub-shrine for Nataraja, containing also several other sub-shrines. The temple has two court yards, one is inner prakara. The structures in the court yard on the outer prakara include the lofty Gopuram on the southern side which is the entry to the temple. The South West corner of outer court yard is the Kalyanamantapa which is the gem of architecture of late Vijanagar style in embellishments and the art motifs of its pillars, ceilings and plinth moldings. It stands as testimony for the architectural workmanship of that period.
Jalakanteswarar or “Siva residing in the water” temple entrance is topped with a fine gopuram with massive wooden gates and studded with bosses of iron like lotus flowers. The best sculpture is found on the left side of the entrance, a porch which contains monolithic pillars of grandeur and delicacy of execution. The temple is adorned with some remarkable sculptures.
The bracket shafts are attached to the pier by a very elegant open work. The bracket shafts are mere monuments in a neglected condition. There are impressive sculptures in the temple particularly outside the swami sannathi and inside the main mandapam. The temple could be entered from the northern side and the sanctum sanctorum is a small low building and at the entrance there are dwarakapalas in blue granite. At the main entrance there are solid pillars, highly sculptured and decorated, supports the upper works.
The shrine is enclosed within an inner line of walls, having a low gopuram at the entrance. The carvings are crude compared with the outer enclosure. Sculpture work on the ceilings and pillars are rich in its characteristics. In the north west corner of the outer prakara there is a well which has a stone door way opening on a point which is usually below water level. The under ground mandapa or Neerazhi Mandapa is said to lead to a subterranean passage leading to the River Palar.
The large impressive Siva temple was built about the same time as the fort in Vijayanagara architecture style and is located on the Northern wall within the fort. The lingam of Lord Shiva gets its name from the natural underground spring upon which it resides, one of the reasons why the moat has nevr dried, no matter how severe a drought. Named after Jalakanteswara, or “Lord Siva residing in the water’, the temple has a Nataraja Siva deity on the northern altar and Siva-lingam on the western altar.