Temples: Chennai

1.Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore
2.Parthasarathy Temple in Triplicane
3.Pazhani Andavar Temple in Vadapalani


Kapaleeswarar temple is situated in Mylapore a suburb of Chennai. The main deity, Lord Shiva, is worshipped as Kapaleeswarar and the Goddess as Katpahavalli. Mention of this temple in the old devotional hymns by Hindu ‘Nayanmars’ who lived during the 7th century is evident that this temple had been in existence for more than a thousand years. Some scholars cast doubt as to the age of the present building as the architecture and the images in this temple point to a period of about 300 years ago. They believe that the original temple had been in the Santhome area near the sea as recent archaeological excavations in that area point to the presence of a temple during that period. However, this temple has become very famous and attracts thousands of devotees especially during festival days.

The Temple

The entrance ‘gopuram’ rises magnificently to a height of about 120 feet with a profusion of sculptured images depicting incidents from the various ‘puranic’ legends. There is a large tank in front of the temple. The outer courtyard is adorned with the bronze images of the 63 ‘nayanmar’ (saivite saints).


There are many legends associated with this temple. Once Goddess Parvathi was distracted during her daily ritual by a beautiful peacock dancing at a distance. Lord Shiva in order to make her realise the importance of total devotion turned her into a pea-hen and sent her to the earth. The pea-hen arrived at this temple and started a penance in order to prove her devotion. After a long and severe penance the Lord took her back into his fold. As Goddess Parvathy was living in this place as a pea-hen, the place came to be known as ‘Mayil-puri’ which was later anglicised to Mylapore.

Kapaleeswarar Koil

There was a great devotee of Lord Shiva by the name of Sivanesa Chettiar in Mylapore. One day his beloved daughter was bitten by a cobra and died. Sivanesa Chettiar was heart broken. After the cremation of the body he collected the ashes and kept them in an urn in his house. When Thirugnana Sambanthar visited this temple in the course of his pilgrimage he heard about the sadness that befell the devotee of Lord Shiva. He asked the father to bring the urn of ashes to him. When he sprinkled some water from the temple tank onto the urn everybody was amazed to see the daughter walking into the room alive.


Situated in the Triplicane area of Chennai, this temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu who is worshipped as Lord Venkatakrishnar. He is seen with His consort Rukmani on His right and His brother Sri Balaraman on His left. Sri Parthasarathy is installed as a processional deity with his consorts Sri Devi and Bhoo Devi on either side.

Sri Parthasarathy Koil


Sri Parthasarathy is so called because he was the charioteer (sarathy) for Arjunan (Parththan) during the great Krushetra war described in the Mahabaratha epic. Lord Krishna undertook not to take part in the war but agreed to be the charioteer to Arjuna. From the opposing side Bishma, in order to break Krishna’s undertaking, shot arrows at his face. Devotees believe that the marks on the face of the idol in this temple are the wounds sustained in that war. Krishna after the war came here to rest next to a beautiful pond full of ‘alli’ flowers thus giving this place the Tamil name ‘Thiru-alli-kerny’.


There are festivals conducted throughout the year. The important festivals are; the Brahmotsavam in the month of Ciththirai (April/May); Thiruaadipooram held for 10 days in the month of Aadi (July/August); and in the month of Markazhi (Dec./Jan.) the festival called Neerattu Utsavam culminating with Thirukkalyanam.

There are shrines of other deities within the temple compound. Sri Narahsimha and Sri Varaha are installed in a separate shrine with Sri Ranganatha as the main deity. Sri Rama with his brothers and His consort Seetha are installed in another shrine. Sri Hanumar can be seen facing the shrine of Sri Rama. Sri Andal can be seen in another shrine. The Azhwars and Archaryas of the Vaishnavite tradition are given pride of place in this temple.


The temple at Vadapalani is dedicated to Lord Subramanya and the deity is worshipped as Pazhani Andavar. A picture of Lord Subrahmanya was brought here from Palani that became a very potent divinity, thus acquiring the name Vadapalani. Vadapalani lies in the northern part of Chennai.


There was a devotee of Lord Subramanya by the name of Annaswamy Nayagar. During a visit to Palani he saw a beautiful picture of Lord Subramanya displayed in one of the shops. He wanted the picture very badly but did not have enough money to buy it. Lord Subramanya appeared in the shopkeeper’s dream and directed him to give the picture to Annaswamy Nayagar. Annaswamy Nayagar was ecstatic to receive the picture which he brought to his home in Chennai.

He installed this picture in his house and prayed to Lord Subramanya with this picture as the icon. Slowly he started to exhibit special powers. He was able to predict the future and exhibited psychic powers by recounting events that happened in his absence or in a distant place. Thus he quickly gained an enormous following of disciples. After his death one of his disciples and a devotee of Lord Subramanya by the name of Ratnavel Chettiar took over the task of continuing the work of Annaswamy Nayagar. He converted the house into a shrine and ministered to the devotees. After Ratnavel Chettiar one Bagyalinga Tambiran took over the task of maintaining the temple and the daily worships. It was during his tenure that the present temple was built. The tombs of all these three can be seen near the temple.

There are two other prominent temples in Chennai dedicated to Lord Shiva, one in Thiruvanmiyoor – the presiding deity is worshipped as Thiagamoorthy; and the other at Thiruvottiyoor.