Kapaleeshwarar Temple

Kapaleeshwarar Temple
Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a Hindu temple situated in Mylapore (Tirumayilai) in Chennai, India. It is one of the oldest Saiva places of pilgrimage in Chennai (Paramasivanandam, 1981).

It is said that once this temple was near the seashore (Paramasivanandam, 1981). However, after that old temple near the seashore fell in the hands of the Portuguese during the 16th and 17th centuries A.D., the temple was built at the present location about three centuries years ago (Kamath, 2000; Paramasivanandam, 1981). The remnants of the old temple are said to have been seen immersed in the sea 100 years ago (Paramasivanandam, 1981).
The temple as it stands today is said to have been erected during the time of the Nawabs and the Vijayanagar rulers are credited with having built it (Kamath, 2000; Paramasivanandam, 1981). Some fragmentary inscriptions from the old temple near the seashore are said to have been found in the present temple and in St. Thomas Cathedral.
It is believed that Tiruvalluvar, the author of the Thirukkural [a classic written in the post-Sangam era (c. 500 A.D.)] was born here (Paramasivanandam, 1981). According to a popular legend, a girl named Poombavai had been brought to the life back from her ashes by the saint Tirugnanasambandar at this place in the 7th century A.D. (Paramasivanandam, 1981). The Lord Siva of this place is mentioned in hymns sung by Nayanasrs (a group of 63 saints living in Tamil Nadu during the 3rd to 8th centuries A.D.) such as Tirugnanasambandar, Tirunavukarasar and Sundarar (Paramasivanandam, 1981). As Uma (or Parvati) is said to have worshipped the Lord Siva in the figure of a peacock, this place was started to known as Mayilapuri, Maylapore or Mayilai (Paramasivanandam, 1981). It is said that Lord Vishnu worshipped the Lord Siva here and received his blessings (Paramasivanandam, 1981). Also, Lord Muruga had been gifted with his Vel after worshipping Kapaleeswara (Paramasivanandam, 1981).
The temple
The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is considered one of the two oldest and important shrines in Chennai (Paramasivanandam, 1981). Its sanctum (Sannadhi) contains a Lingam, the symbol of Siva. Normally the sanctum faces the east in all Hindu temples but in this temple, it has been position towards the west (Paramasivanandam, 1981). Around the Praharas, the images of 63 Nayanars, Sandeeswara, Dakshinamurthy and Lingothpava have been placed. A sculpture that depicting Uma worshipping Lord Siva is found in the north courtyard of the temple (Ayyar, 1920). In the south courtyard is a shrine dedicated to Vayelar Nayanar, one of the 63 saints. A sculptured representation of the story of Poombavi is found in a shrine in the west courtyard of the temple (Ayyar, 1920).

1) Kapaleeswarar1 by Nsmohan is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

1) Ayyar, P.V.J., 1920. South Indian shrines: illustrated. The Madras Times Printing and Publishing Co. Ltd. pp.18-20.
2) Kamath, R., 2000. Chennai. Orient Blackswan. ISBN 978-81-250-1378-5. pp.28-30.
3) Paramasivanandam, A.M., 1981. Ancient temples of Tamilnadu. Tamil Kalai Publishing House. pp.26-30.
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This page was last updated on 22 August 2021

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