Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple, Tamil Nadu, India

The Mylapore neighbourhood is one of Chennai’s most characterful and traditional; it predated colonial Madras by several centuries. The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is Chennai’s most active and impressive temple, believed to have been built after the Portuguese destroyed the seaside original in 1566. It displays the main architectural elements of many a Tamil Nadu temple – a rainbow-coloured gopuram (gateway tower), pillared mandapas (pavilions), and a huge tank – and is dedicated to the state’s most popular deity, Shiva.

Legend tells that in an angry fit Shiva turned his consort Parvati into a peacock, and commanded her to worship him here to regain her normal form. Parvati supposedly did so at a spot just outside the northeast corner of the temple’s central block, where a shrine commemorates the event. Hence the name Mylapore, or ‘town of peacocks’.

The temple’s colourful Brahmotsavam festival (in March/April) sees the deities paraded around Mylapore’s streets.

Visit India Epic India Route © Monika Newbound

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