Located in the bustling Mylapore neighborhood of Chennai, Kapaleeswarar Temple stands as a symbol of devotion and faith for millions of devotees. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, who is worshipped in the form of Kapaleeswarar, and his consort, Parvati, who is worshipped as Karpagambal. The temple is one of the oldest and most revered shrines in the city, and its rich history and vibrant traditions continue to draw devotees from all over the world.

The Origins of Kapaleeswarar Temple

The origins of the Kapaleeswarar Temple can be traced back to the 7th century CE when the Pallava dynasty ruled the region. The temple was originally built as a small shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva, but it was later expanded and renovated by various rulers and dynasties over the centuries. The current structure of the temple is believed to have been built during the 16th century by the Vijayanagara Empire.

Legend has it that the name Kapaleeswarar is derived from the Sanskrit word Kapalam, which means skull. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Shiva once carried the skull of the demon Brahaspati as a reminder of the impermanence of life. It is said that the skull fell at the site where Kapaleeswarar Temple now stands, and Lord Shiva manifested himself as a lingam (a symbol of his presence) to mark the spot.

Architecture and Layout

The architecture of Kapaleeswarar Temple is a blend of various styles, reflecting the temple’s rich history and cultural influences. The temple’s gopuram (tower) is one of the most distinctive features of its architecture. The gopuram is adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures depicting scenes from Hindu mythology, and it stands at an impressive height of 37 meters.

The temple’s layout is designed to reflect the principles of Hindu cosmology. The temple’s main sanctum is located at the center of the complex, surrounded by a series of smaller shrines dedicated to various deities. The temple’s outer courtyard is known as the prakaram, and it is where devotees can offer prayers and perform rituals.

Rituals and Traditions

Kapaleeswarar Temple is known for its vibrant and colorful rituals and traditions, which are an integral part of Hindu worship. One of the most significant rituals at the temple is the Arubathimoovar festival, which is celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April). During the festival, 63 Nayanmars (saints) who were devotees of Lord Shiva are honored with a grand procession.

Another important tradition at Kapaleeswarar Temple is the daily puja (worship) rituals, which are performed by the temple priests. Devotees can participate in the puja and offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Parvati. The temple also offers various sevas (services) such as abhishekam (ritual bath) and archana (offering of flowers and prayers) for devotees.

Devotees also offer various types of offerings and donations to the temple. One of the most popular offerings is the kavadi, which involves carrying a structure made of bamboo and decorated with flowers and peacock feathers on one’s shoulders as a sign of devotion. The temple also receives donations in the form of money, gold, and other valuables, which are used to maintain and renovate the temple.


Kapaleeswarar Temple is more than just a place of worship – it is a symbol of the rich cultural heritage and traditions of Chennai. The temple’s intricate architecture, colorful rituals, and vibrant traditions continue to inspire

devotees and visitors alike, and its spiritual significance draws people from all walks of life. The temple is not only a place for prayer and devotion but also serves as a cultural center where people can learn about the city’s history and traditions.

In addition to its religious significance, Kapaleeswarar Temple is also an important landmark and tourist attraction in Chennai. The temple’s location in the heart of Mylapore makes it easily accessible for visitors, and its rich history and cultural significance make it a must-visit destination for anyone interested in Indian culture and spirituality.

In conclusion, Kapaleeswarar Temple is a shining example of the power of faith and devotion. Its rich history, vibrant traditions, and stunning architecture serve as a testament to the enduring influence of Hinduism and its role in shaping the culture and traditions of Chennai. Whether you are a devotee seeking spiritual fulfillment or a curious traveler exploring the city’s rich cultural heritage, Kapaleeswarar Temple is a must-visit destination that is sure to leave a lasting impression.