Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a sacred saivite shrine of Shiva located in Mylapore, Chennai.The name of the Lord here is Kapaleeshwarar and the name of the Goddess is Karpagambal.Kapaleeshwar means the king of ascetics, who stands with the ascetic's bowl of a skull (kapala) in his hand and he starts the creation again out of his grace. The name of Goddess Karpagambal means the celestial tree 'Karpagam', which grants everything asked for in the Heaven. The concept of Kapaleeshwar as God is the highest in Saivite philosophy.
The legend behind the temple The name Mylapore is derived from the legend that the Goddess Uma (Parvathy) worshipped Shiva in the form of peacock, (Mayil in Tamil) which is why the vernacular name Mylai (Mayilāi) was given to the area that developed around the temple.
Mylapore's ancient past The temple was built around the 7th century CE and is a good example of Dravidian architecture.
Ptolemy, the Greek geographer (Ad 90 - 168) has referred to Mylapore in his books as 'Mailarpha', a well known sea port with a flourishing trade. Saint Thiruvalluvar, the celeberated author of Thirukkural lived here 2000 years ago. The saivate saints of the seventh century ,
Sambandar and Appar have sung about this shrine in their hymns. St.Thomas one of the apostles of Jesus is reported to have visited Mylapore in the 2nd century AD.
Mylapore fell into the hands of Portugese in AD 1566 and the temple suffered demolition. The present temple was rebuilt 300 years ago. There are many fragmentary transcriptions from the old temple still found here in this temple and a few in St. Thomas cathedral.
Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a sacred saivite shrine of Shiva located in Mylapore, Chennai.The name of the Lord here is Kapaleeshwarar and the name of the Goddess is Karpagambal.Kapaleeshwar means the king of ascetics, who stands with the ascetic's bowl of a skull (kapala) in his hand and he starts the creation again out of his grace. The name of the Goddess is Karpagambal which means the celestial tree 'Karpagam', which grants everything asked for in the Heaven. The concept of Kapaleeshwar as God is the highest in Saivite philosophy.
Sanctum sanctorum In the outer courtyard near the 'dwajastambam' there is a bali peedam (altar),where one must stay for a minute and vow to be pure before entering the shrines housing the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Kapaleeshwar and his consort Karpagambal.
The shiva is in the form of Lingam and not in the form of idol. Worshipping the Nandi ( the bull, symbolic of the soul facing the Lord) you enter the sanctum sanctorum.
Important Festivals Float festival ( Tepporsavam)is celeberated during the Tamil month of Thai ( January-February) when the decorated deities are taken in a raft in the temple tank beautifully illuminated with lights. The Brahmotsavam or the Great Festival takes place in the month of Panguni ( March-April) for 10 days. Rishaba vahanam is on the fifth day where the deity is taken in the night on a silver bull. Car festival is on the seventh day and the festival of arupathi moovar ( 63 saints) is on the eigth day. Bhikshathana festival is on the last day, where the idol of shiva comes out with a bowl made of skull. The festival days draw a huge crowd and are a feast to the eyes. The temple ceremonies are performed in accordance with Agamic practices ( rituals) by competent priests/sivacharyas. In the modern metro city , the ancient temple represents the culture and traditions of Tamil Nadu
Temple Timings The temple is open from 5:00 AM till 12 noon and from 4:00 pm till 9:00 pm
During the Dusserha (Navarathri) festival, you can see many vendors selling colorful clay dolls around the temple when traffic becomes a challenge. During the last few days of the Dusserha, you can get the dolls at a bargain. Many wait for these offers.