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The Endearing Landmark Of Mylapore: Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple

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Published: Thursday, June 15, 2017, 12:30 [IST]
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Located in Mylapore, in Chennai, is the well-known temple of Kapaleeswarar dedicated to Lord Shiva and Karpagambal who is none other than his consort Parvathi. The temple is a fine example of Dravidian architecture, which is said to be built around the 7th century.

The temple has numerous shrines apart from the main shrines of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal. Along with the various shrines, there are also many halls across the temple complex. The present structure is built by the Vijayanagara rulers who belonged to the Tuluva Dynasty.

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple Of Mylapore

PC: Niranjan Ramesh

Being built in a typical Dravidian style of architecture, the gopuram which stands tall and overpowers the street, is a testimonial of the artisans. The temple has two entrances, wherein each has a gopuram to de-mark the same. The east gopuram is about 40 m high and the western one is smaller and faces the temple tank.

Best Time To Visit The Temple

The temple can be visited throughout the year; however, if you wish to catch the glimpse of how grand the annual temple festival would be, then you must visit this temple during the period of mid-March to mid-April.

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple Of Mylapore

PC: Simply CVR

History Of The Shrine

A common belief is that the temple was built in the 7th century, by the then ruling Pallava rulers. According to the hymns composed by the Nayanmars, who were group of 63 saints (the devotees of Lord Shiva), the temple was in a place by a sea shore in Mylapore.

Historians say that there are discrepancies, which states that the original temple was built on the sea shore, but was destroyed by the Portuguese, and the current structure was built by the Vijayanagara kings in the 16th century by using some of the remains of the old structure.

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple Of Mylapore

PC: Vinoth Chandar

Legends Associated With The Temple

The name of the shrine comes from two words; Kapalam which means 'head' and eeshwarar, which is a common term used for 'lord Shiva'. As per the Puranas, when Brahma went to meet Shiva at Mount Kailash, he did not show respect to Shiva and Shiva is said to have removed one of Brahma's heads.

After undertaking a penance, Brahma is said to have come down to Mylapore and installed a Lingam, in order to please Shiva. The place is known by many names such as Sukra Puri, as Sukracharya is believed to have prayed to Lord Shiva here to get back his lost eye. It is also known as Veda puri, as the four Vedas have worshiped Shiva here.

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple Of Mylapore

PC: Vinoth Chandar

Another legend says that, Parvathi wanted to know the full meaning of the Panchakshara mantra "Na Ma Shi Va Ya" and the importance of the holy ash, for which she approached Lord Shiva for the same. As Shiva was teaching her, Parvathi is said to have got attracted by the beauty of a dancing peacock, which angered him and in turn cursed her to become a peacock.

In order to regain her original form, she was advised to go to earth and perform a penance. The goddess meditated and Shiva appeared before her and released her from the curse and named her as Karpagavali. Also, an interesting thing about this temple is that the Shiva Lingam in the temple is believed to be a self-manifested one.

Sri Kapaleeswarar Temple Of Mylapore

PC: Vinoth Chandar

Timings Of The Shrine

The temple opens at 5:00 AM in the morning and closes at 12:00 PM, and reopens at 4:00 PM in the evening to close at 9:00 PM for the day.

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