August 8, 2009

Mylai Karaneeswarar Temple, Mylapore, Chennai

Site Name: Karaneeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Mylapore, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
One of seven Sapta Sthana temples of Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai - well connected from the cities/towns all over India

Nearest Airport: Chennai has both national and international airports
How to reach: Easily reachable by road 
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts, and budget hotels are available in Chennai
Restaurants: All options - vegetarian, non-vegetarian, Chinese, South Indian, Gujarati, North Indian, Punjabi,....- you can find everything in Chennai city

I am going to introduce you to an unusual temple in Chennai in this post. All of us know (in fact, including even those who have not been to Chennai) about the famous Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore (a.k.a Mylai). However, only few in Chennai would have been to Karaneeswarar temple in Mylapore area in Chennai.

Mylapore is one of the most happening places in Chennai. You can reach this place easily either through public transport or on your own. Karaneeswarar temple is at a distance of 0.5 km from the famous Kapaleeswarar temple in Mylapore. The temple is located at Bazaar road in the middle stretch of the popular Kutcheri road in Mylapore.

Karaneeswara temple is one of the Sapta Sthana Shiva temples in Mylapore (one of the seven sacred Shiva temples in Mylapore).


 As per the legend, there used to be a young Brahman in Mylapore area, who used to perform poojas to Shiv Linga. Through his penance, he found out that Lord Shiva was the cause of creation, protection and destruction of this universe. Thereafter, he named the Shiv Linga (the main deity of this temple) that he worshiped as Karaneeswara. (Karaneeswara means one who has causes).


This temple belongs to the 12th century CE. However, the current structure has been rebuilt and renovated recently.

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a five tier Raja Gopuram (tower).

The main deities of the temples are Karaneeswara (Shiva Linga) and his consort Porkodi Amman. Both the deities are found in two separate shrines. The bali peetha, flag staff and Nandi are found facing towards the main shrine. The entrance of the main shrine has the small idols of Ganesha and Dandayudhapani (Subramanya).

The exterior wall around the main shrine has Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga as the Koshta (niche) idols. Chandikeshwara is found in the usual place near the image of Brahma.

The following shrines are also found in this temple:
1) Natraj with Sivakami
2) Hanuman
3) Bhairav
4) Arunachaleswarar in the form of big Linga with Unnamulai
5) Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
6) Ganesha called as Sarva Mangala Vinayakar along with his consorts Siddhi and Buddhi
7) Shaneeswarar
8) Navagraha
9) Shrine for all the movable (utsava) idols

The following idols are also found in this temple:
1) Ganesha
2) Nalvar - the four great devotees of Shiva
3) Sekkilar
4) Surya
5) 3-4 Shiv Lingas under the holy tree

The belief is that a visit to this temple would cure you from all your diseases. Come to Mylapore and do visit this temple. The temple is worth visiting for its calm atmosphere.

Happy travelling.


  1. Please pardon me and allow me to express my ignorance about some names and words in Tamil bhoomi . I am unable to understand the word, Kapaleeswarar. How do you add the letters 'ar' after Kapalees(h)war?
    Many times, I don't understand the addition of h to t to many words, such as Geetha instead of Geeta. But, then how do you say Tamil, and not Thamil?
    With warm regards.
    Mangesh Nabar

  2. What is the meaning of Kapaleeswara? pl. enlighten. Very interesting narration!

    1. Rajagopala Sir,
      Well, as all Sanskrit words, this has different meanings on various levels. Though this would take quite a number of posts to even explain properly, I'll try with my minimal intellect and lord's grace to explain it to you.

      As rightly said by Suhasini, the word, "Kapâlîśvara" means the lord who bears Kapâla. Kapâla means a skull used as a cup. There is a famous legend about Śiva plucking off Brahmâ's fifth head with his nail and it being gotten stuck to his hand. He roamed about all over the Universe to get it off his hands and finally did get it off at Avimukta and the place came to be known as Kapâlamocana tîrtha (Sŗshţikhaņďa of Padma Purâņa; of course many other Purâņas speak about this legend as well). This is the background to the name for the lord.
      As far as this temple is concerned, it is said (I haven't yet read this myself so I can't give you the chapter in which this incident occurs) that Brahmâ worshipped Śiva in this placed called Vedapuri (present day Mylapore - later named Mayûrapuri) as Kapâlîśvara (I read somewhere that this is mentioned in Brahmâņďa Purâņa but as I mentioned, I haven't read the Purâņa yet so, I can't tell you where it is in the text, but again, just because I haven't read doesn't mean it doesn't exist in it, so if you happen to read this in the Purâņa I'd be glad to know where it exists in it so that I can look it up in the exact chapter too - reading Sthala Purâņas or legends in Sanskrit is such a pleasure - no translation can beat Vyâsa's own words).
      I know this would give way to further questions but as I said, this topic in itself would take up lots of posts. I've always wanted to start a blog on such topics, but I guess I am not yet favored by lord to do it. I just have a name registered under I hope I start the blog soon.

      About the other meanings of the name, well, I am not experienced/learned enough to explain them. May be if the lord wills to speak through me, I'd be delighted... Let's see...

  3. even though i have visited kapaleeswara r temple many times, i have never visited this temple . my this weekend visit will be to this temple

  4. Good to know this temple.... Only my dad at my home knows this temple.