On the face of it, Chennai might look like any other modern city. But, when you start exploring this place, it might not take you long to realize that this is a city with its roots established firm and deep in ancient culture. To understand the rich cultural legacy of Tamil Nadu, a visit to its temples is a must. No matter which part of the state you are visiting, you will find several beautiful temples built in the traditional Dravidian style of architecture. Chennai is home to some of the most popular South Indian temples. A visit to these temples in Chennai is not only recommended for religious and spiritual travelers, but also for every history, culture, and architecture enthusiast traveling to the city.
Arulmigu Kapaleeswarar Temple
Situated in the traditional neighborhood of Mylapore, Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the most beautiful old temples in Chennai. The elaborately sculpted facade of this towering temple and its bright colors take your breath away at first sight. A tall gopuram stands at each of the temple’s two entrances and a huge water tank lies beside it.
The present-day temple was rebuilt in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar Kings when the original temple dating back to the 7th century was destroyed either by the Portuguese or by sea erosion.
Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are worshiped here in the form of Arulmigu Kapleeshwar and Karpagambal. The legend goes that Goddess Parvati, in the form of a peahen, worshiped Shivalingam under the old Punnai tree located on the premises of this temple and this legend explains why this place is called Mylapore, meaning the land of peafowls. You can also see a small shrine under the Punnai tree. Most travelers take a flight to Chennai in March to attend the grand 12-day Bhramotsavam celebrations at Kapaleeswarar Temple.
Another old temple built in the 8th century during the Pallava times in Chennai history, Parthasarathy Temple finds a mention in ancient Tamil scripts and verses. The name of this temple alludes to Lord Krishna turning a charioteer and guiding Arjuna in the Battle of Kurukshetra. You can worship different avatars of Lord Vishnu, namely Rama, Krishna, Narasimha, and Varaha at this Chennai temple located by the Bay of Bengal coast in Triplicane. Vaishnavites from across the country throng to this temple, which is listed among the 108 Divya Desams (holy shrines dedicated to Vishnu). The detailed sculptures, inscriptions and murals on the temple walls hail several significant events of the Mahabharata War.
As it can be inferred from the name, Ashtalakshmi Temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and her eight forms – Aadilakshmi, Dhanalakshmi, Dhanyalakshmi, Gajalakshmi, Santanalakshmi, Dharyalakshmi, Vidyalakshmi, and Vijayalakshmi. There are separate shrines for all eight avatars, and these along with other shrines dedicated to Vishnu, Ganesha, Anjaneya and other Gods, are spread across four floors.
The darshan of Goddess Lakshmi at this temple is believed to bestow upon the devotees the eight forms of wealth that the eight Laksmi avatars stand for, and hence it is among the most important Chennai temples to visit. This temple constructed in 1976 displays a mix of traditional Dravidian as well as contemporary architecture.
Moreover, the peaceful location of Ashtalakshmi Temple on Eliot’s Beach in Besant Nagar adds to its tranquil aura. The breeze carries with it the sounds of ocean waves inside the temple complex, and this soothing background score can fill you with peace.
Sree Ayyappan-Guruvayurappan Temple
Sree Ayyappan-Guruvayurappan Temple in Mahalingapuram, built in the 1970s, is the first Ayyapan Temple in Chennai city. This temple resembles a traditional Ayyappan Temple in Kerala and its simple architecture – a fusion of Tamil and Kerala styles – sets it apart from the other temples in Chennai. Pooja is also conducted as per Kerala tradition and every evening, deeparadhana is performed. As the pooja rituals and Vedic chants impregnate the atmosphere with spirituality, you are bound to experience something otherworldly. Devotees on pilgrimage to Sabarimala in Kerala make it a point to seek Ayyappan’s blessing at this temple.
The centuries-old Marundheeswarar Temple, Ekambareswarar Temple, Kalikambal Temple, Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple, Vadapalani Andavar Temple, and Arulmigu Ramanatheswarar Temple are the other famous temples in Chennai you can visit during your pilgrimage. Plan your religious tour to India soon and book cheap flight tickets with us!