Tamil Nadu - Temples - Kapaleashwarar Temple

Kapaleashwarar Temple

Kapaleashwarar Temple is an abode of Shiva, located in Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The Pallava Nayanamars built this temple around the 7th century CE. Nayanmars sing hymns in this temple. According to the Puranas, Shakthi worshipped Shiva, in the form of the peacock, which is why the name Mylai was given to the area that developed around the temple, as 'Mayil' means Peacock in Tamil.

The presiding God 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"). Puranas have 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).


The Temple's name is derived from Kapalam(head) and Eeeshwarar an alias of Lord Shiva. The puranas are based on the meeting of Brahma and Shiva a top Mount Kailash. When Brahma failed to show the respect due to Lord Shiva, God Shiva 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.


The age of the temple is the source of much debate. The commonly held view is that the temple was built in the 7th century CE by the ruling Pallavas, based on references to the temple in the hymns of the Nayanmars (which however place it at the shore). It is an example of the beautiful architecture ofPallavas. Further, the architecture of the temple appears to be 300–400 years old. The scholarly view that accounts for the discrepancies is that the original temple was built on the shore at the location of the current Santhome Church but was destroyed by the Portuguese, and the current temple (which is 1-1.5 km from the shore) was built more recently. A small minority of people believe that the original temple was indeed on the beach, but that the sea has receded over centuries. The Vijayanagar Kings rebuilt the temple during the 16th century. The original temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.

About the Temple

Mythology says that PARVATHY DEVI did penance here assuming the form of peacock and so the name 'Mylapore'. The word "Mayil" in Tamil language means "Pea-Cock". Goddess UMA worshiped Lord SHIVA taking the form of Pea-cock under Punnai tree as desired by Lord SIVA. In Brimmanda Puranam this place is mentioned as "Mayurapuri". The word "Mayuram" in sankrit means Pea-Cock.

Arulmigu Karpagambal

Karpagam is the name of holy tree in Heaven. It gives whatever one wants from it. Goddess UMA blesses her sincere devotees with all as they pray for like Karpaga tree. The Goddess of the temple is therefore called KARPAGAMBAL.