Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore. Kapali Temple in Chennai, Karpagambal Koil, Madras.

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You are here: Home Tamilnadu Temples Chennai Kapaleeswarar Temple

Kapaleeswarar Koil, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamilnadu, India

Kapaleeswarar temple is located in the bustling metropolis of Chennai in Mylapore. According to the Puranas, Shakti in the form of a peacock or mayil in Tamil worshipped Shiva here and the township that grew around the temple came to be called Mylapore.

History of Kapali Temple, Mylapore, Chennai

Based on the references to the temple hymns of the Nayanmars, it is believed that the original temple was built in the 7th century CE by the Pallava rulers by the seashore. The temple was probably at the location of present-day Santhome Church, but was destroyed by the Portuguese. The present temple was built 300-400 years ago by the Vijayanagar ruler, who based the architecture on the descriptions in the Puranams and the Thevaram.

Architecture of Kapaleeswarar Temple

The Kapaleeshwarar temple is of typical Dravidian architectural style and an excellent example of the vishwakarmas sthapathis as also seen in the Ekambareswarar temple. There are two entrances to the temple marked by the gopuram on either side. The east gopuram is about 40-m high, while the smaller western gopuram faces the tank.


Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar is the presiding deity. Lord Siva or Easwara stands with Kapalam or ascetic's bowl of skull in his hand. There are two legends associated with the etymology of Kapaleeswarar. The first one is that at the time of yuga pralaya (dissolution of cosmos) nothing remains except Lord Easwara with the Kapalam. He starts creation of new yuga from this Kapalam. The second one, according to the Puranas, during the meeting of Brahma and Shiva atop Mount Kailash Brahma failed to show the due respect to Shiva. Angered by this, Shiva plucked of one of Brahma's heads (kapalams). In an act of penance, Brahma came down to the site of Mylapore and installed a Lingam to please Shiva.

Parvati is worshipped at this temple as Karpagambal or goddess of the wish-yielding tree. There is also a peacock and a peahen caged inside the temple, to symbolize the tradition that Karpagambal had come in the form of peahen to pray to Kapaleeshwarar.

Pooja Kaalams

There are four daily pujas: the early morning puja, the day puja, the pradosha kaala puja, and the night puja. During Friday worship, the statue of the goddess Karpagambal is decorated with a kaasu maala, a garland made of gold coins.


This is celebrated in the month of Panguni (March - April). It lasts for 10 days. The idols of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal are decorated with clothes and jewels, are mounted on a vahana (vehicle), and then taken around the temple and its water tank in a pradakshinam. The vahanas at the temple include the bull, elephant, bandicoot, peacock, goat and parrot (adhikaranandi). The golden chariot is a recent addition.

The more important of the individual pradakshinams are the Athigara Nandhi on the third day, the Rishaba Vahanam on the midnight of the fifth day, the real ther itself (about 13 meters in height and pulled by people) on the seventh morning, and the Arupathimoovar festival on the eighth day.

The Arupathimoovar festival is celebrated in order to honor the Saivaite devotees, namely the sixty-three Nayanmars. The idols of the Nayanmars are taken out on a procession in a palanquin that is decorated with ornaments and flowers. The Moovar (three) - Appar, Sundarar, and Thirugyana Sambandar are carried in separate palanquins. A carnival-like atmosphere has evolved around the Arupathimoovar festival. Sweets, savories, buttermilk, juices, and other food are served by devotees to the pilgrims.

The float festival or Theppa Thiruvizha
It takes place in the month of Thai (Jan-Feb). The deities are taken in a decorated raft called "Theppam" in the temple tank. The tank is colorfully illuminated all around.

Navarathiri festival
This is celebrated for nine nights or nava rathiri. It starts the day after ammavasai (newmoon day) in the month of Purattasi (Aug - Sept). Prayers for the first 3 days are for Goddess Paravathi, the next 3 days for Goddess Lakshmi, and the last 3 days for Goddess Saraswathi. On the 10th day Vijayadhasami is celebrated in a grand manner.

Vasanta utsavam
This summer festival takes place in Vaikasi (May-June). Music programmes are arranged during this festival.

Temples in and around Chennai

1. Veera Anjaneya Temple. It is near "thaneer thurai" market in Luz, Mylapore. The temple very popular among the locals.
2. Bhakta Anjaneya Temple at Alamelumangapuram, Mylapore. The modern temple has a 16-ft tall statue of Anjaneya built of monolithic granite stone.
3. The Parthasarathy Temple at Triplicane.
4. Marundeeswarar Temple at Thiruvanmiyur.
5. Pancha Rathas of Mamallapuram.
6. Vadapalani Andavar temple dedicated to Lord Muruga in Vadapalani, Chennai.
7. Sri Balaji Temple at Venkatnarayana Road, T. Nagar.

How to get to Mylapore Kapleeswarar Temple?

By air: Chennai has both domestic and international airports. The airports are well connected to the rest of the city by road. There are taxis available at the airport.

By rail: Chennai Central station and Chennai Egmore station. Mylapore Thirumylai Railway Station is connected by the Metro railway network, MRTS.

By road: Buses connect Mylapore to Chennai Central, T.Nagar, Tambaram and Broadway.

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