» »Dhenupureeswarar – Journey Towards A 1000-Year-Old Temple

Dhenupureeswarar – Journey Towards A 1000-Year-Old Temple

By Brunda Nagaraj

Tamil Nadu boasts of a lot of ancient temples and one such temple is the Dhenupureeswarar Temple. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god, Lord Shiva, with a legend going back to almost 1000 years. The temple is located in a residential locality of Madambakkam near Tambaram. From Chennai, the temple is at a distance of 30.3 km and can be reached in an hour.

Madambakkam was a residence to a lot of scholars and was known by the name Chaturvedimangalam during the olden days.

Dhenupureeswarar Temple

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Legend Of Dhenupureeswarar Temple

The history of this temple dates back to 957-970 CE. Kapila, a sage who was cursed to be born as a cow, is said to have attained liberation in this place. It is said that the sage offered prayers to Lord Shiva using his left hand, which resulted in a curse and he therefore took birth as a cow. Sage Kapila continued to pray to Lord Shiva by pouring milk on the buried Shiva Linga during his birth as a cow.

On seeing the cow wasting the milk, the cowherd punished the cow, but the same continued every single day until one day the cow, unable to bear the pain, began to run. The hoof of the cow hit the surface of the Lingam that was buried and it started to bleed.

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On seeing this, the cowherd panicked and sought forgiveness from Lord Shiva. The Lord appeared and blessed sage Kapila and liberated him from his birth as a cow and also forgave the cowherd.


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Apparently, the then ruler of the land dreamt of this occurrence and ordered his folks to unearth the Shiva Linga and called it Dhenupureeswarar.

"Dhenu" refers to cow and since sage Kapila attained liberation by the blessings of Lord Shiva, the Lord here is known by the name of Dhenupureeswarar.

About The Deities In This Temple

The presiding deity is Lord Shiva, known as Dhenupureeswarar, who is a self-manifested one at this temple. His consort goddess Parvathi is known by the name of Dhenukambal. While the main idol faces the East, the idol of the goddess Parvathi is installed in a separate sanctum that faces South.

Architectural Details Of The Dhenupureeswarar Temple

Built during the reign of the Chola rule, the temple is a perfect example of a magnificent Dravidian architectural style. Like other temples in Tamil Nadu, the construct of the sanctum is semi-circular in nature, resembling the back of a sleeping elephant, unlike other Hindu shrines which are normally square or rectangular.


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The temple of Dhenupureeswarar was built during the rule of Parantaka Chola II, father of Raja Raja Chola I, during whose reign the spectacular Brihadeeswarar Temple was also constructed in Thanjavur. A line about this temple has been recorded in one of the works of a 15th century Tamil poet named Arunagirinathar.

The temple has massive pillars and beautiful Mandapams. One of the pillars in the temple has the carvings of sage Kapila holding the Shiva Lingam in his left hand.

There is a huge tank in the temple premises that is always filled with fresh water.


PC : Booradleyp1

The temple has inscriptions and sculptures belonging to the era of the Vijayanagara Empire, which has been preserved by the ASI (Archaeological Survey Of India) Department.

The temple has undergone various renovations during the reign of Cheras, Pallavas and the Vijayanagara rulers.

Festivals And Fairs At The Dhenupureeswarar Temple

The temple attracts a lot of devotees during Shivaratri and Navaratri; and the temple also follows a lot of other religious pujas like Pradosham and Panguni Uttiram.


PC : Booradleyp1

How To Reach The Dhenupureeswarar Temple

The temple is at a distance of 3 km from the Tambaram-Valachery road and a lot of buses ply from this point to the temple.

Temple Timings

The temple is open to the devotees from 6 AM to 12:30 PM during the day and from 5 PM to 8:30 PM in the evenings.

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