Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is a major metropolitan as well as cosmopolitan city that is situated on the Coromandel Coast. It is one of the most important cities in south India as well as in the country in terms of commerce, culture, education as well as economics. In fact, Chennai is popularly known as the cultural capital of South India.
Chennai stands out in its ethnicity that is so unique that it is often a desired destination for tourism. Tourists throng the various hill stations, beaches, temples and wildlife here. Those who travel here are left mesmerised by its timeless beauty. Here is a guide to the top 5 temples that travellers should visit in Chennai.
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The Parthasarathy Temple in Chennai is dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna and is located in Triplicane. The temple is believed to have been built in the 8th century and has been mentioned in glorifying terms in the works of the Alvar saints. The word Parthasarthy is a Sanskrit word that means the ‘Charioteer of Arjuna'. Lord Krishna played the part of Arjuna's charioteer during the epic battle of Mahabharata. Within the temple are housed the different avatars of Lord Vishnu; Krishna, Narasimha, Rama and Varaha. There are separate entrances for the shrines of Lord Rama and Lord Narasimha. The temple is famous as being the oldest structure in Chennai. Many tourists throng to the temple because of this reason. Besides this, the temple is also famous for the beautiful and intricate carvings on the towers and pillars of the temple.
The entrance of the temple.
Photo Courtesy: Roberta Romero
Kapaleeshwar Temple is located in Mylapore, a suburb near Chennai. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati. Goddess Parvati is worshipped at the temple in the form of Karpagambal or ‘Goddess of Wish Yielding Tree'. The temple gets its name from two words, 'Kapalam' meaning 'head' and 'Eeshwarar' which is another way of calling Lord Shiva. It is believed that the temple was built sometime during the 7th century by the Pallava Kings. The architecture of the temple is reminiscent of the Dravidian style and design.
A cover of clouds over the Kapaleeshwar Temple.
Photo Courtesy: Nagesh Jayaraman
The Navagraha Temples are nine temples that are located in the outskirts of Chennai. These nine temples are dedicated to 'Navagrahams' or the nine planets. The temples were built so as to facilitate the worship of the nine planets in Chennai, instead of people travelling all the way to Kumbakonam to worship the Navagrahas. All the nine temples were built during the Chola period and their style and architecture is truly inspirational. Although all temples have equal importance but a few have been neglected over the years and stand in a bad shape today. There are some temples that have been well-cared for and still look new despite the passage of time! The presiding deity at the nine temples is Lord Shiva, though he is worshipped by different names at the various temples.
The Ashtalakshmi Temple in Chennai is dedicated to eight Hindu Goddesses who are all believed to be the secondary manifestations of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. The goddess is also the consort of Lord Vishnu. The temple lies on the shores of the Besant Nagar Beach and has four levels. The idols of the eight goddesses have been placed at different levels of the temple. The worship of the goddesses starts from level two where shrines of Goddess Mahalakshmi and Mahavishnu are established. On the third floor is the shrine of Santha Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi and Gajalakshmi. The fourth floor has only one shrine, that of Goddess Dhanalakshmi. The first floor houses the shrines of Aadilakshmi, Dharyalakshmi and Dhaanyalakshmi.
Devotees at the temple.
Photo Courtesy: Sudharsun.j
The Kalikambal Temple in Chennai is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Kalikambal who is also revered as Goddess Kamakshi in some parts of India. The present day Kalikambal Temple was built in 1640 A.D. after the original temple was destroyed. The site of the original temple was near the shore, and it is believed that Portuguese invaders brought down the temple. According to a local legend, one of the fiercest forms of Goddess Kamakshi was worshipped at the temple. This form of the goddess was believed to be very aggressive and powerful and was later replaced by her less aggressive and more peaceful form of Goddess Kalikambal. This avatar of Goddess Kamakshi is considered ‘shanta swaroopa' or peace loving.
The gopuram of Kalikambal Temple.
Photo Courtesy: Rasnaboy