Kapaleeshwara (Lord Shiva) Temple, Mylapore

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A famous Hindu temple in Chennai.

The legend goes like this. Lord Shiva had cut one of the head of Lord Brahma, when he misbehaved with Lord Shiva. Bereaved, Lord Brahma prayed to Lord Shiva at Mylapore; pleased with the devotion of Lord Brhama, Lord Shiva restored the head to him.

Meanwhile, as he had cut the head of Lord Brahma, Lord Shiva got afflicted with Brahmahatya sin. So, he came to the earth and became a mendicant to alleviate the sin. On earth, he used to beg for his meal by using the skull (Kapala) of Lord Brahma as the bowl.
As Lord Shiva came to the earth with the Kapala he became Kapaleeshwar.

The temple has an equally famous Goddess Parvati shrine. Here she is known Karpagambal.

The legend goes like this; one day, when Lord Shiva was in a serious conversation with Goddess Parvati (his wife), she got distracted on seeing a peacock incidentally. Lord Shiva got annoyed and cursed Parvati to become a peacock on earth.

Parvati came to Mylapore as a peacock; worshipped Lord Shiva and relieved herself from the curse. The name Mylapore seems to have derived from this legend. Karpagam is a divine tree in heaven which bestows whatever that is prayed for. Thus Karpagambal is believed to fulfill the wishes of her devotee.

Lord Subramanya Shrine in the temple is also important. Tradition holds that he received the Vel (spear) – his weapon from the Goddess Parvati at this spot.

This temple of Lord Shiva was an important centre of Saivaite movement. Many of the 63 Nayanmars had sung in praise of Lord at this temple. The Arupathimoovar festival, which attracts a large crowd on the 8th day of Brahmotsav of this temple, proves this tradition. During this festival, idols of all the 63 Nayanmars are taken along with Lord Shiva and Parvati.

The present temple dates back to the 16 nth century. Many believe, originally the temple stood at the spot where Santhome Cathedral now stands, on the seashore. The Portuguese rulers vandalized the original temple. So it got shifted to the present spot by the initiative of the Vijayanagar rulers in the 16 nth century.

The famous Ramakrishna Ashram of Ramakrishna Mission founded by Swami Vivekanand is also nearby.

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