Kapaleeswarar temple located in Mylapore locality is the most popular temple in Chennai city of South India. Mylapore city along with this famous temple of Kapaleeswarar, temple tank and various temple festivals/processions is the heritage symbol of Chennai city.
Lord Shiva is the main deity of this temple and he is named as Kapaleeswarar here. The Goddess Parvati named as Karpagambal in this temple took the form of a peacock and worshipped Lord Shiva. Hence, the palce is named as ‘Mayilapur’ (now Myalapore) (the word ‘Mayil’ means peacock in Tamil language, the language spoken in Chennai city).
The original temple of Kapaleeswarar which was built by Pallava kings in the 7th century AD on the seashore was perhaps destroyed by Portuguese. The current temple located in Kutchery Road was probably built by Vijayanagara kings around 400 years back. The temple has the Rajagopuram (tower) facing the east direction and another entrance and small tower facing the famous tank (Theppakulam). Although the temple tower and the main entrance are in the east direction, the main deity Kapaleeswarar is facing th ewest direction. This is one of the few Shiva temples in South India where the deity is facing towards west.
The original temple was associated with the life of Sambandar, one of the popular Shiva devotees and a famous Nayanmar among 63 Nayanmars. He believed to have brought the girl named Poompavai back to life in this site. Another highlight of this architecturally marvelous temple is that this is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams (one of the 275 most popular Shiva temples).
Once you enter into the east facing main entrance of the temple, you can find the shrine of Nardana Vinayak (the dancing Ganesha). The shrine of Annamalai along with his consort Unnamalai is also found adjacent to Ganesha shrine.
The southern corridor of the temple has a big hall (mandap) and a big separate shrine for Subramanya (Muruga) along with his consorts Valli and Devasena.Near the mandap, you can find some small shrines such as Palani Andavar and Vayilar.
The western part of the temple has the west facing shrine of Kapaleeswarar and the south facing shrine of Karpagambal. There is a small tower and a small entrance facing the main shrine. Two small shrines – Karpaga Vinayak and Muruga are found in the entrance. Some of the small shrines such as Arunagiri and Gnanasambanda with Poompavai are found facing the main shrine. Similar to the other South Indian temple architecture, this temple also has the flag staff (dhwajatambha), bali peeth and Nandi idol facing the shrine of Lord Shiva.
The west facing shrine has the main deity Kapaleeswarar in the form of a Shiv Linga idol. There is a small corridor (prakara) surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. In the small corridor, there is a shrine for bronze idols of Singara Vela (Murugan) along with his consorts Valli and Devasena. There is a belief that Lord Subramanya got his weapon (vel – the divine spear) from his mother only in this site. There are shrines for Nataraj-Sivakami and bronze (utsav) idols. The idols of three main Goddesses – Lakshmi, Saraswati and Durga are found in the corridor. A lot more idols such as Linga along with Ambal, Naga, Bhairav, Veerabhadra, Nalvar, few Shiv Lingas, Polla Pillayar (Ganesh), Surya and 63 Nayanmars. The walls surrounding the sanctum sanctorum has the small images of Ganesha, Dakshinamurthy, Lingotbavar, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeswarar.
The south facing Karpagambal shrine has the tall stunningly beautiful idol of the Goddess. The shrine of Karpagambal also houses the small shrine of bronze idol (utsav) of Karpagambal and Somaskanda shrine.
There is a big punnai tree in this temple where the scene depicting peacock (Karpagambal) worshipping Shiv Linga are found in the form of idols.
Few other shrines in the temple include Jagadeeswarar, Navagraha, Saneeswarar and Sundareswarar.
Site Name: Kapaleeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location: Mylapore, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
- The most famous temple of Chennai city
- One of 275 ‘Paadal Petra Sthalam’ temples
- One of the popular temples of Lord Shiva in India
- One of Sapta Sthana temples
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