Kapaleeshwarar temple

Kapaleeshwarar temple

Name :Mylai Kapaleashwarar Temple
Primary deity :Kapaleashwarar
Location : Mylapore – Chennai

KapaliKarpagambal Mylapore

KapaliKarpagambal Mylapore

Kapaleashwarar temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva also known as Adi Bhagwan of Dravidians ( Arugar, Adinath) and his consort.The temple is said to be more than 2000 years old although this has not been confirmed by any archaeological temple.The Vijayanagara kings rebuilt the temple during the 16th century and added the majestic 37m gopuram at its gateway after the much older temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.
The presiding deity of this temple is a form of Shiva called Kapaleashwarar. The form of Shiva’s wife Parvati at this temple is called Karpagambal (from the Tamil for “goddess of the wish-yielding tree”). Legend has it that Lord Shiva was once telling Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, about the creation of the three lokas but Lord Brahma did not agree with what Shiva said. Shiva got angry and plucked out one of Brahma’s four heads. Brahma begged for forgiveness and was asked to perform penance at Mayilai (Mylapore) and then he asked Lord Shiva to take the name of Kapaleashwarar as Lord Shiva (eswarar) was wearing a necklace of skulls (kapala).


Mylai Kapaleashwarar main entrance

Mylai Kapaleashwarar main entrance

The temple’s name is derived from Kapalam(head) and eeshwarar an alias of Lord Shiva. The story revolves around the meeting of Brahma and Shiva in the Hindu mythology atop Mount Kailash. When Brahma failed to show the respect due to Lord Shiva, the latter plucked of one of his kapalams (heads) and threw it down. In an act of regretful penance, Brahma came down to the present site and installed a statue of Lingam to please Shiva.

East Gopuram at Dawn

Architecturally, the temple is of typical Dravidian style with the gopuram overpowering the street on which the temple sits. There are two entrances to the temple marked by the gopuram on either side. The east gopuram is about 40m high, while the smaller western gopuram faces the sacred tank.


Goddess Karpagambal with Lord Kapaleashwarar
Lord Kapaleashwarar however may not be a mythological deity. From the archaeologist view after scientific analysis nothing conclusive has been found about this temple. Kapaleashwarar god with his name does not exists in any known Hindu mythology or literature, but is siddha tradition,.”Kapalam” meaning skull was considered the place were Shiva resides with Shakthi, so may be the etymology.


The vahanas at the temple include the bull, elephant, bandicoot, peacock, goat and parrot among others, while a golden chariot is a recent addition. The God and the Goddess is seated on the vahana and brought around the temple with the temple band playing music throughout this occasion. Devotees gather around the vahanas and consider it a privilege to lift the God and the Goddess on the vahana.


Mylai Kapaleashwarar Tank

During Friday worship, Goddess Karpagambal will be decorated with “KAASU MAALA” (Garland with Gold Coins). This was contributed by a group of devotees. It is a boon to worship during this seva. Many Scholars have raised songs on Goddess Karpagambal. “KARUNAI DEIVAME KARPAGAME” and “KARPAGAVALLI NIN PORPADHANGAL PIDITHEN” were famous Tamil Songs written by poets praising Goddess Karpagambal. There is a small peacock and peahen cage inside the temple, inorder to remember that Goddess had come in the form of peahen to plead to the Lord.
During Tamil month ‘Aadi’ all the nearby Amman temples like Mundakanni Amman and Kolavizhi Amman celebrate ‘Pongal’ and ‘Paal Kudam’ (Milk Pots) for Abhisheka. It is done traditionally by the women.
During Navarathri, big idols of Poompavai, Sambanthar (Thirugyanasambandar), story is kept in display. Lot of cultural events take place. During summer, a small water tank with a Mandapam in the center is decorated with flowers are kept inside the temple.


There are four daily pujas: the early morning puja, the day puja, the pradosha kaala puja and the night puja.
During the Tamil month of Panguni, the traditional Arupathimoovar festival takes place when the entire neighborhood comes alive with a mela-like atmosphere. In the month of Panguni in the Tamil calendar, corresponding with mid-March to mid-April, the Kapaleashwarar temple celebrates the nine day-long Panguni Peruvizha (Spring festival). This festival involves a therotsavam (Tamil: “ther” – “car/chariot” and “utsavam” – “festival”). Lord KapaleashwararSwamy will be holding a bow, seated in a throne along with his wife Karpagambal. Lord Brahma would be riding the Ther. The Chariot will be decorated with flowers and statues. Huge gathering will be there to pull the Ther.

Arupathimoovar Festivall

This festival is supposed to be celebrated in order to honor the Saivaite Devotees namely Nayanmars who are 63 in numbers. The procession is celebrated by taking Nayanmars in a “Pallaq” which is highly decorated with ornaments and flowers, facing Lord Shiva and Parvati and proceeding further. The Moovar “Appar”, “Sundarar”, “ThirugyanaSambandar” will be carried a unique Pallaq. Goddess Karpagambal and Lord KapaleashwarSwamy will be dressed in beautiful saree decorated with colourful fragance flowers. Lord Ganesha is taken first in the festival followed by Kolavizhi Amman. Kolavizhi Amman will lead the festival because this temple is supposed to be ancient than Kapaleashwar Temple. SingaraVelar Swamy will accompany Lord KapaleashwararSwamy and Karpagambal. Mundakanni Amman will be beautifully decorated with lot of colours and ornaments. People used to keep their kids on the pallaq in order to get blessing from the Goddess. Vairaswamy and Thiruvalluvar will also be participating in this festival.

Huge gathering takes place at Mylapore. Lot of sweets, savouries, juices, buttermilk are served to the pilgrims. At each stage, there is Aarti and offering flowers to the God and Goddess by a small angel flying from top of the decorated shed.