The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is a famous temple located in the heart of Chennai and it is dedicated to honouring the deity of Lord Shiva, regarded as the Supreme Godhead in the Hindu denomination of Shaivism, one of three that constitute the religion. Lord Shiva represents the element of divine masculine and his divine consort Parvati symbolises the divine feminine, who is also venerated at the temple in the form of the goddess Karpagambal.
Blooming to life in the 7th century, Kapaleeshwarar Temple is an excellent example of the exquisite Dravidian form of architecture that decorates many Hindu temples in India and Sri Lanka, with the impressive 120-foot “gopuram” (ornamental tower) poised over the entry way of the temple as a special highlight. The temple locality is also flanked by a huge tank, which makes for scenic vistas when viewed from afar, especially at sunset or dawn. The silhouette of Kapaleeshwarar is illumined with the sun’s glow, creating an ethereal panorama. Although the original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese, a new one was built around the 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings, restoring Kapaleeshwarar Temple to its former glory.
The site of the shrine is believed to have hosted many miraculous events from Hindu lore and it is imbued with a special aura that adds to the beliefs of the ardent Shaivite devotees who frequently visit the shrine. For instance, the Goddess Um is believed to have visited the temple in the form of a peahen who pleaded for Lord’s Shiva’s blessings and this event is venerated in a shrine nestled beneath a Punnai tree within the sanctuary’s courtyard. In addition, Lord Murugan (the son of Lord Shiva and Lady Parvati) presumably received the “Holy Vel” (the sacred spear used to vanquish evil) from his mother here.
Adding an air of sacred festivity to the temple surrounds are four pujas (religious ceremonies) held four times each day. During special festivals such as the Arupathimoovar, which honours 63 special Shaivaite devotees from lore who attained ultimate salvation, 63 idols that represent the devotees are paraded after the special statues of Lord Kapaleeshwarar and Lady Karpagambal, who are depicted seated on an opulent throne and decorated with precious golden chains and flowers. The chariot bearing the celestial couple is pulled by the devotees who number more than 100,000, who make offerings of fruits, betel leaves, coconut, areca nut, sweet meats and the like and they are in turn blessed by the deities. In celebration, the sanctuary also offers sweets, savouries, buttermilk and juices to all devotees.
Visit the Kapaleeshwarar Temple during your stay here for an intimate glimpse into one of the most powerful figures in Hindu lore and bask in the vibrant celebrations that burst forth in the premises and its environs for a true glimpse into the colourful aspects of Hinduism. Ensure that you first check into one of the fine serviced apartments Chennai has to offer its visitors and the Somerset Greenways Chennai affords the ideal apartment near Chennai CBD. Situated in a central spot that provides easy access to transport, your cultural forays into Chennai are waiting to be embarked on.
Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.