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Kapaleeshwarar Temple

A Hindu Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, Kapaleeshwarar Temple is located in Mylapore, Chennai. The temple houses numerous shrines, with Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal being the most prominent. Built in the 7th century CE by the pallavas, the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple was constructed where Santhome Church is currently located in Chennai. However, the original temple was demolished by the Portuguese, and the present temple was built in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar Kings.

Temple Details
The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is of Dravidian architectural style, with beautiful gopurams embellishing the street on which the temple sits. The temple has two entrances marked by large Gopurams on either side. The east gopuram is about 40 m high, while the smaller western gopuram faces the sacred tank.

The vahanas or the vehicles of the temple include the bull, Adhikaranandi, elephant, bandicoot, peacock, goat and parrot, while a golden chariot is a recent addition. The idols of the gods and goddesses are beautifully seated on the vahanas. A peacock and a peahen is also caged inside the temple that symbolises the tradition that deity Karpagambal had come in the form of peahen to plead to Kapaleeshwarar.

The temple also houses inscriptions dating back to the 12th century. The 12ft high gopuram of the temple was built during 1906 with stucco figures adorning it. The temple complex also houses many halls and has six daily rituals at various times from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Temple Festivals
The traditional brahmotsavam (annual festival) is celebrated in the Tamil Month of Panguni, and the entire neighbourhood comes alive. The festival starts with flag hoisting, and concludes with the Tirukkalyanam (Marriage of Kapaleeswarar & Karpagambal). During the festival, the idols of Kapaleeshwarar and Karpagambal are decorated with jewelries, and new clothes, and are mounted on a vahana. The same process is repeated with different vahanas over the next nine days.

The Arubathimooval festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni is the most prominent festival in the temple.

Another famous festival of the temple is the float festival or Theppa Thiruvizha that takes place in the month of Thai (Jan-Feb). The deities are taken in a decorated raft called “Theppam” in the temple tank, which is colourfully illuminated all around.

Another popular festival here is the Navarathiri Festival which is celebrated for nine nights or nava rathiri. The festival starts the day after ammavasai (newmoon day) in the month of Purattasi (Aug - Sept). For the first 3 days, the prayers are for Goddess Parvathi, the next 3 days are for Goddess Lakshmi, and the last 3 days are dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. On the 10th day, Vijayadhasami is celebrated in a grand manner.

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