Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 20, February 1-15, 2024
Once by the shore along San Thome, and now in Mylapore,the Kapaleeshwarar stands as a testament to the city’s rich cultural and religious heritage. While its origins and cause of relocation remain a subject of debate, there’s no denying its existence dating back to the 7th century, with mentions in the works of Nayanmars.
Around 300 years ago, the temple underwent a significant relocation to its current premises, becoming one of the most celebrated temples in the city. The architectural marvel, admired by visitors today, didn’t emerge overnight. Instead, it evolved over time, with different leaders overseeing the construction of various shrines. Notable contributors include Nattu Muthiappa Mudali, Kumarappa Mudali, and Kasi Mudali.
The temple’s grandeur extends beyond its sacred halls to a vast tank used for rituals. Interestingly, the connection with royalty persists, the land for the tank was a donation by the Nawab of Arcot. The chariot, a masterpiece in itself, was made under Pammal Subbaraya Mudali, who lavishly spent for temple festivals, even gifting precious vessels. He is said to have spent 20 to 30 thousand pagodas for the same.
The version of the chariot we see now is still the highlight in the annual procession through the four Mada streets around the temple. The chariot, intricately designed, creates an atmosphere like no other. The Margazhi season adds an extra layer of auspiciousness, with kutcheries filling every nook and corner, blending the divine with the artistic.
For visitors, the inner view of the gopuram is a captivating experience and my personal favourite, revealing perfect layers and intricate details. As depicted in the sketch above, the temple exudes a captivating charm. The surroundings come alive with culture and life, especially during the early mornings, making it an ideal time to immerse oneself in the temple’s spiritual aura.
In conclusion, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple seamlessly weaves history, architecture, religion and culture into the urban fabric of Madras.