Well, few years back I did a college project of mine in Kapaleeshwarar Kovil/Koil. It turned out to be one of my favorite projects, till date.
It was fun to do that project. A whole month I almost lived in that temple. Every day morning till evening, I would be in that temple, including some time in the ‘Nadai mooduthal’ (noon) period. And also in all the Madaveedhi (the 4 streets that surround the temple). It was strange, yet after a couple of days I got very much used to be surrounded by people who peep into my sketch book.
Ok… Surprise, this blogpost about Kapaleeshewar Temple would have only those sketches I did there and not the photographs as I usually put up. This project was so well loved by my faculties and was as a reference for my juniors too.
History and Legends:
History and Legends:
Now, how did this place got to known as Mylapore? The legend connected with the temple goes thus: Once in Mount Kailash where lord Siva was giving Gyananopadesam (Holy teaching) about the Poonool (sacred thread) to goddess Parvathi / Umadevi. She was distracted by the beauty of a peacock, dancing beside. Lord got angry and cursed her to be born as a Mayil (peocock). When she pleaded for pardon, Siva said he would join her when Peacock worshipped a sivalingam. After a long period penance, the peacock found a sivalingam under a punnai tree and worshipped the lord offering flowers it carried in its beak. The lord appeared before her and divine couple reunited.
Another story goes that, there were many peacocks here and this place was an Eden filled with the joyous sound of peacocks. Peacock is ‘Mayil’ in tamil and joyous screams is called ‘Aarparithal’, and place is ‘Oor’. Hence it’s Mayil+aarparithal+oor - Mylapore.
The Lord Shiva here is called Kapaleeshwarar. Wondering why is it so.? Legend says that Lord Shiva plucked one of the 5 heads of Brahma in his anger. So Shiva was cursed with Bramhahathi Dhosham and the skull stuck to his palm. This curse was gotten rid off, after Shiva used that skull as an ascetic vessel and took alms. Skull is Kapalam in Tamil and hence the Siva here is called Kapaleeshwara. Another version for the meaning of name as follows: at Pralaya (dissolution of the cosmos) Siva alone exists and none with him. With ascetics bowl of a skull (kapalam) in his hand and he starts creation again out of his grace. So Kapaleeshwarar.
The name of Goddess Karpagambal means that she grants all the wishes of her devotees just as the celestial tree – Karpaga Vrusksham, which grants everything asked for in heaven.
The original location of the 8th Century Pallava temple was where the Santhome Basilica stands today, along the east coast. The present location is 1 km to the west of the original location. The original sea shore Kapaleshwara temple is said to have been destructed in 1561. The new temple at its present site, about one km to the west, was built about three hundred years ago. Till date epitaphs dating back to 1250 A.D are found by archeologists near Santhome Basilica.
Within the temple:
The main entrance is the Eastern entrance, and the look of the 125feet tall Raja Gopuram itself awe inspired me. And as I entered I came face to face with “Naradhana Ganapathy” – an unusual dancing posture of Ganapathy/Vinayakar. After praying him, I took a circumambulation in clockwise direction as it is usually done. Next to Ganapathy I worshipped Annanalaiyar Unnamulai Annai Shrine. To the left is the Goshala and Anna Danam hall. As I proceeded, I reached the Mandapam.
To the left of the Mandapam are the shrines of Palani Andavar & Vayilar Nayanar. I gained a straight view of the Navarathri Mandapam where kolu is kept during Navarathri.
As my Circumambulation proceeded I worshipped, “Singaravelar”. Again on proceeding I reach the Western Gopuram of the temple. I had a view of the dwaja sthamb, palipeetam and the Nandi Vahana of Shiva.
Then I entered the Sanctum Sancturum of Kapaleeshwarar. Lord Shiva here is in a Lingam form like in all other South Indian Shiva temples. I had a hearty prayer to make my project be a successful one and then I circumambulated his sanctum sanctorum. In the circumambulation passage the moorthi’s (statues) of Singaravelar, Natarajar, Arupethumoovar – 63 saints, Durga Lakshmi, Saraswathi, Veera Badhar, Nalvar, Annamalayar, Dakshinamoorthy, Selva Ganapathy and Somaskandha are present. Finally I took a deep look of Him and came out of the shrine.
Then I entered the Sanctum Sanctorium of Karpagambigai. Worshipping her I circumambulated her shrine. Only the palliyarai (restroom) of Kapaleeshwarar Kaipagaribgai in the passage. Then I came out & precede my outer circumambulation.
To the southern side of the western gopuram is the shrine of Arunagiri nathar & to the northern side is Poompavai.
Now moving futher again in the outer Pradakshina – circumambulation, is the shrine of Punnai vana nathar, where Umadevi is depicted as a peacock worshipping linga, near it is the punnai tree – the Sthala Vruksham. Its believed that circumambulating the tree makes our wishes come true. Of course, it is tied up with several wishing strings and cradles.
Then the shrine of Saniswara is located. After worshipping & circumambulating his shrine, I proceeded to the shrine of Sundareswarar to the right. The Navagraha shrine is his neighbour. After circumambulating the navaragha shrine I proceeded to the Jagadeeshwara shrine and completed my pradakrishna.
As usual I took a few deep breathes, sitting in the temple ground and let my mind, body and soul filled with relaxation and peace.
Outside the Western Gopuram of the temple is the Temple tank with a neerazhi mandapam in the middle is on the western side. It is believed to have been built by Mayillai Muthaippa Mudaliar in the 16th century. The brimming tank with lotus blooms and several thousands of fishes is such a soul pleasing sight. There are a few stories regarding this tank as well.
There are a few stories regarding this tank as well.
The architechture of this temple is called ‘Kshetram Sareena Presthaaram’ i.e this temple is designed like the structure of human body. That is each architechtural part of the temple, denotes a human body part.
Ok... Guess this is going too long… This would be continued in my next post as Part-II… Come back soon...