Trip to Kapaleeshwara Temple will leave one spellbound by the Dravidian style of architecture, historical legends and mythological tales associated with Shiva, Parvati, and Bhramna. The Kapaleeshwarar temple is located at Mylapore in Chennai in the state of Tamil Nadu. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is worshipped in the form of a lingam.
At Kapaleeshwarar temple, Shiva is worshipped along with Goddess Parvati known as Karpagambal. Temple is also known as Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar temple. Kapaleeshwarar temple is connected to ancient mythological literature and the region Mylapore is mentioned in the Puranas. Mylapore derived its name from the Tamil word mayil meaning peacock that links to the tale associated with goddess Parvati. The temple complex is composed of many halls with shrines dedicated to different gods and goddesses other than Shiva and Parvati.
What is the history and legends associated with the Kapaleeshwarar?
Kapaleeshwarar temple is primarily dedicated to Lord Shiva and the temple owes its mention in the Vedas and Puranas. Lord Shiva is one of the three God from the trinity of Brahma-Vishnu-Mahesh. Lord Brahma is the creator of the universe, Lord Vishnu is the preserver of the universe and Lord Mahesh or Shiva is the destroyer of the universe.
There are various legends associated with Shiva in the form of Kapaleeshwarar as well. According to Purana Goddess Parvati once asked Lord Shiva to explain her the meaning of words “Na Ma Shi Va Ya” a popular chant to worship Lord Shiva. Shiva decided to explain to her the meaning and when Shiva started Goddess Parvati got attracted by a peacock who was dancing in front of her. As Parvati lost her attention Shiva became angry and cursed her to turn into Peacock. Parvati started to plead to get relief from the curse. To get relief from curse Shiva told her to go to earth and do penance from there. Parvati performed Penance on earth to please Lord Shiva. Pleased by her Penance Lord Shiva appeared in front of her and released her from her curse and named her as Karpagambal. Later, goddess Parvati requested Shiva named this place as Mayilai which in the present time is known as Mylapore.
According to another legend, Shiva and Brahma had a meeting at the top of Mount Kailash. During the meeting, Lord Brahama did not show respect to Shiva and in anger, Shiva plucked one head (kapalams) of Brahama. Later, in order to please Shiva, Brahma came down to this place Mylapore and installed a lingam and began his prayers. The place came to be known by different names as Mayilaye Kayilai, Kailaye Mayilai, Sukra Puri and Veda Puri that meant a place equal to Kailash. Mylapore then began to be considered as a sacred place with importance no different than Kailash.
Kapaleeshwarar temple is considered sacred from the mythological times. Godess Parvati penanced here. Lord Brahma worshipped here and was able to get back his power as a creator. It is also believed that here Murugan, son of Shiva got his power for destruction of a demon through the spear or Shakti Vel from goddess Parvati. It is also believed that Shukracharya worshipped at Kapaleeshwarar to get back his lost eye. A Saiva saint Vayilar nayanar is known to have attained salvation at this sacred place. Mylapore is also considered as the birthplace of Thiruvalluyar who authored Thirukkural.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the most ancient temples of India as its history can be dated back to the 7th century. Temple is believed to be built under the reign of the Pallava dynasty. Hymns of Nayanars, a group of teachers/poets who were devotees of Shiva, mentioned Kapaleeshwarar temple in their works. The current temple’s most of the part is renovated which is nearly 300 years old, historians believed that the Portuguese destroyed this temple.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the most beautiful ancient temples in Tamilnadu. It depicts the Dravidian style of architecture. There is a colorful Gopurama that is one of the unique features of Dravidian architecture, which includes displaying small idols of gods and goddesses. There are two Gopurams on the east side and on the west side. Shiva lingam found here is swayambhu lingam means it is a self-manifested lingam, it is one of the 64 Swayambhu Lingams present in the world. Apart from main deities Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal, there are idols of other deities as well other idols Somaskandar and Durgai, Palani Andavar, Natana Vinayakar, Vaayilar Nayanar, and Dakshinamurthy. There is another small shrine at the courtyard under the old Punnai tree dedicated to Goddess Parvati in the form of a peahen that reminds the story of Goddess Parvati who worshipped Lord Shiva here in the form of a peacock.
Geographical Co-ordinates of Kapaleeshwarar Temple
- 13.0368° N
- 80.2676° E
How to reach Kapaleeshwarar temple?
Mylapore region where Kapaleeshwarar temple is located is in Chennai city. Chennai being one of the important metropolitan cities of India have good roads, rail, air networks and is well connected to other major cities of the country. Kapaleeshwarar Temple is hardly at a distance of 8 km from Chennai central railway stations and 15 km from Chennai airport. There are various taxis and public bus transport services available from railway station and airport to reach the temple.
How to reach to Kapaleeshwarar temple from Mumbai?
Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Chennai is at a distance of 1350 km from Mumbai. It takes around 22-24 hours by road to reach the temple.
Chennai Central Railway Station is the nearest railway station from Kapaleeshwarar temple. Temple is 8 km away from the railway station. It takes around 25 hours by train to reach Chennai from Mumbai and the 15 minutes from Chennai station to Kapaleeshwarar temple with the help of taxis and autos.
Available trains from Mumbai:-
11043- Mumbai LTT- Madurai Weekly Express
11017- Mumbai LTT Karaikal Weekly Express
11073- Mumbai LTT MGR Chennai central weekly Express
11041 Mumbai CSMT MGR Chennai central Express
11027 Mumbai CSMT MGR Chennai central mail
Chennai Airport is the nearest airport from Mylapore, and is situated at a distance of 15km from Kapaleeshwarar temple. It takes around 2 to 3 hours to reach Chennai from Mumbai by flight. One can use taxi services from the airport to reach the Kapaleeshwarar temple.
How to reach Kapaleeshwarar temple from Delhi?
A distance between Delhi and Mylapore is 2200 km and it takes around 38-40 hours by road to reach Kapaleeshwarar temple.
Chennai Central Railway Station is the nearest railway station from the temple. Temple is 8 km away from the railway station. It takes around 40 hours by train to reach to Chennai from Delhi and 15min from Chennai station to Kapaleeshwarar temple.
Available trains from Delhi:-
12642- Thirukkural SF Express 16032- Andaman Express
12616- Grand Trunk Express
12622- Tamil Nadu Express
22404- New Delhi Puducherry Express
Chennai Airport is the nearest airport from Mylapore, and it is 15 km away. It takes around 3 to 4 hours to reach Chennai from Delhi by flight. One can use taxi services from the airport to reach Kapaleeshwarar temple.
How to reach to Kapaleeshwarar temple from Ahmedabad?
A distance between Ahmedabad and Mylapore is around 1850 km and it takes approximately 30 hours by road to reach to temple.
Chennai central Railway Station is the nearest railway station from temple. Temple is 8km away from railway station. It takes around 25-30 hours by train to reach to Chennai from Ahmedabad and 15min from Chennai station to Kapaleeshwarar temple.
Available trains from Ahmedabad:-
22664- Jodhpur Chennai Egmore weekly Express
12655- Navjeevan SF Express
06052- Ahmedabad MGR Chennai central special fare
19420- Ahmedabad MGR Chennai central Express
22920- Ahmedabad MGR Chennai central Humsafar Express
Chennai Airport is the nearest airport from Mylapore, situated at a distance of 15km from. It takes around 3 hours to reach Chennai from Ahmedabad by flight. One can use taxi services from the airport to reach to temple.
How to reach to Kapaleeshwarar temple from Bangalore?
Kapaleeshwarar temple is not very far from Bangalore. There is a distance of around 350 km between Bangalore and Mylapore it takes around 8-9 hours by road to reach Kapaleeshwarar temple.
The nearest railway station is Chennai Central and is at a distance of 8 km from Kapaleeshwarar Temple. It takes around 8 to 10 hours by train to reach to Chennai from Bangalore and then a fifteen-minute ride from the cab to the temple.
Available trains from Bangalore:
12028- KSR Bengaluru MGR Chennai central Shatabdi Express
12608- Lalbagh SF Express
12610- Mysuru MGR Chennai central Express
12295- Sanghamitra SF Express
12578- Bagmati Express
Chennai Airport is the nearest airport from Mylapore and is situated at a distance of 15km from Kapaleeshwarar temple. It takes 1-1.30 hours to reach Chennai from Bangalore by flight. One can use taxi services from the airport to reach the temple.
What is the timing of Kapaleeshwarar temple?
There are six daily rituals that occur at Kapaleeshwarar Temple at different durations in the entire day.Temple remains open from 5 am to 12 pm in the morning. And then 5 pm to 9 pm in the evening.
Pooja timings at Kapaleeshwarar temple are as follows:
Ko Pooja-05.00 am
Vaikarai Pooja-06.00 am
Kala Sandhi Pooja-08.00 am
Uchi Kala Pooja -12.00 pm
Ardhajama Pooja-09.00 pm
What is the best time to visit Kapaleeshwarar Temple?
Kapaleeshwarar Temple remains open throughout the year. The best time to visit is from October to January when the weather is pleasant. During the months of April- August the weather remains hot and humid.
Many people visit this temple during festivals. During the month of March-April the Bramhotsava takes place. This festival is a sheer joyous experience with devotees from far of places and a large scale celebration.
Panguni Peruvizha, a ten days festival is also celebrated at Kapaleeshwarar Temple in the month of March-April.
Why visit Kapaleeshwarar Temple?
Kapaleeshwarar temple is one of the prominent temples in South India specifically dedicated to lord Shiva. Thousands of devotees of Shiva visit this temple every year to seek blessings that gives them hope to live a good life.
Shiva lingam here is in the form of swayambhu lingam or self-manifested lingum. It is one out of the 64 swayambhu lingam in the world that gives specific importance to Kapaleeshwarar Temple.
Apart from religious importance, Kapaleeshwarar Temple is known for its Dravidian style of architecture which is exquisite and artistic. Colorful idols of gods and goddesses is a treat for eyes and it also instigates curiosity among visitors about the ancient architecture of India. One can feel proud of his or her culture by visiting such an old and excellent piece of architecture. Kapaleeshwarar Temple represents the rich heritage of India.
People living in the surrounding region, their attire, their language, their food displays authentic Tamil culture, which is one of the most ancient cultures of India. By visiting the Kapaleeshwarar Temple one gets closer to the rich and oldest culture of India. One can taste authentic south Indian dishes in the surrounding region.
What are the Places to visit around Kapaleeshwarar Temple?
Apart from Kapaleeshwarar temple, there are many places to visit in the surrounding areas. Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the sapta sthana i.e. seven places dedicated to Lord Shiva at Mylapore, one can visit the other six temples which are- Sri Karaneeswarar Temple, Sri Theerthapaleeswarar Temple, Sri Velleeswarar Temple, Sri Virupaksheeswarar Temple, Sri Valeeswarar Temple, and Sri Malleeswarar Temple. All the seven temples are equally beautiful from the architectural point of view and have deep historic and mythological importance
Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Temple is another equally magnificent temple to visit, situated at a distance of 4.5 kms from the Chennai Central Railway Station. Temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, and it is one of the oldest temples in Chennai. Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Temple is considered as one of the 108 Divya Desams, Divya Desams are 108 temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the temple was renovated during the reign of the Pallava dynasty. For more than 5000 years, Sri Parthasarathy Swamy Temple is regarded as the resting place for pilgrims coming from Thirupathy temple.
Sandesh is from Mumbai and his interests include writing, reading. He is a lover of history. For him, Temple does not only represent religious history but also the socio-political & socio-economical history of a particular place. He is currently working on the epic Ramayana. When he is not engrossed in history, you can find him playing chess, cooking and watching movies.