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Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple

  12/1, North Mada Street, Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu - 600 004.
  Open from 5.50 a.m to 12.30 p.m and from 4.00 p.m to 9.00 p.m

Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple

About the Temple

Kapaleeswarar temple is a Sivan Temple with the main deity named the Lord Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar and the Goddess is Arulmigu Karpagambal. The temple was built in 7th century by the Pallavas. The Gopuram inside the temple is typical architecture of Dravidian style with two (2) entrances. The east gopuram is about 40m tall and with the west gopuram leading to the sacred pond.

The name Mylapore orginated from the Goddess Uma, who worshipped Siva in the form of a peacock (or mayil in Tamil)

Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple

Temple History

The Kapaleeswarar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva was built around the Seventh Century. The temple stands as a unique example of Dravidian architectural style with its elaborate and intricately carved gopurams, Mandapams and a tank. The temple tank is in the west side, surrounded by four broad streets.

The inscriptions in the premises of the temple date back to 1250 AD. It is believed that the temple was built by the ruling Pallava Dynasty around 8th century AD, but may have been destroyed by the Portuguese and rebuilt by the Vijayanagar Kings of the Tuluva dynasty (1491-1570 CE).

Thalamai, research scholar from Greece visited this place 2000 years ago. He had mentioned the name of this place as malliarpa as this was the habitat of beautiful Peacocks. The peacock uttered sounds like ldquo Arpu in Tamil and the place came to be known as Mayil (peacock). It was called Mayil arpu which later colloquially became Mylapore. Goddess Parvathi is worshiped in the temple and has been incarnated as Goddess Karpagambal or the Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree.

Goddess Uma Performed penance here taking the form of a peacock.

This is the 24th Shiva temple in Thondai Nadu region praised in Thevaram hymns. Great Saivite Saints, Thirugnana Sambandar, Thirunavukarasar, and Sundarar have sung the glory of Lord Kapaleeswarar in their hymns.

According to ancient legends and history, this temple is associated with many divine incidents that reflect how the name mylai came to existence. All the highlight the significance and effectiveness of uttering the words Om Nama Shivaya.

Once, Goddess Uma desired to know the complete interpretation of the five letter mantra Na Ma Shivaya and the splendor of the sacred ash (Vibuthi). Goddess Uma persuaded Shiva to touch teach her. Shiva consented and commenced teaching. However Goddess Uma was distracted by a beautiful peacock and her attention wandered. Siva was infuriated and cursed her to go to sacred Thondai Nadu and perform penance. Goddess Uma worshiped the Shivalinga under the punnai Tree in the temple vicinity. Moved by Goddess Uma utmost devotion, Lord appeared before Her and released Her from the curse and fondly called her Karpagavalli. Goddess Uma requested Lord Shiva to name the place Mylapore and stay back with her to bestow blessings on all the devotes. Accordingly, Mylai became the abode of Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal.

There is another legend associated with Mylai being called Kapaleeswaram. Lord Brahama thought that he was as great and equal to Lord Shiva as he too had five heads. Shiva known for his spontaneous reaction decided to teach Brahma a lesson and cut down his ego. Shiva nipped one head and held the skull in his hand. Kapala in Sanskrit means skull. Therefore Lord Shiva was praised as Kapaleeswarar and the place of worship is called Kapaleeswaram.

The temple was also patronized by the great Tamil saint Thirugnana Sambandar. He sang the first hymn Matita Punnaiangal in praise of Kapaleeswarar and made Myalai famous as a divine worship centre. It was here that Sambandar restored Poompavai to life from the bones and ashes preserved by her father Sivanesar with the fond hope that one day she will come back to life. Poompavai father wanted her daughter to be married to a saint . But she died of snake bite and her father preserved the bones in a pot which he handed over to the child saint when he visited Mylai. Sivansar narrated the painful story and placed the pot before the saint. Sambandar sang (10 verses athigam) with the beginning Mattita Punnai listing the various festivals of Lord Shiva in the first three lines asking how she can miss them. The pot broke to pieces and the pretty Poompavai emerged. Sivanesar asked the saint to accept his daughter. Sambandar told him that he had now became her father as he had given her life again. Poompavai spent the rest of her life alone praying Lord Shiva till she attained salvation.


* Goddess Uma in the guise of Peacock worshiped Lord Shiva
* Lord Muruga got his Sakthivel from Lord Shiva and Mother Uma
* Lord Brahma got back his job of creation after shedding his pride
* Vedas worshiped Lord Kapaleeswarar and hence Mylai is known as Vedapuri
* Sukaran prayed to Lord Shiva here. Hence Mylai is also called Sukarapuri
* Lord Sri Rama stayed here and performed pujas to Lord Shiva with festivals
* In this holy soil, Thirugnana Sambandar restored Poompavai from her ashes and preserved bones.
* Birth place of saint Vaylar, one of the 63 saints
* Birth place of peiazhwar, one of the twelve azhwars,
* Saint Arunagirinathar sang the glory of Lord Singaravelan in Thirupugazh.
* Birth place of great saint and poet Thiruvalluvar whose Thirukural is a classic Tamil Sangam literature consisting of 1330 couplets
* On this holy soil, Saint Sambandhar sang the first piece of literature Muttatta Punnayam.


Temple photos!