Madambakkam Dhenupurishwarar Temple (Kanchipuram - Tamil Nadu)

This temple is the place I wanted to write about as the first post when I started this blog, coz I had visited this temple, god knows how many times... Somehow, that didn’t happen. So here after more than 100 posts, comes here the post about Madambakkam Dhenupurisharar Temple.

The legend of the temple goes that, once when Kapila Maharishi was doing his regular rigorous prayers and rituals, to attain a holy status, by mistake he held the Siva Lingam by his left hand, rather than the usual right hand. So he couldn’t attain the holy status and as reborn as cow in Madambakkam, as a shepherd. One day the shepherd, noticed that a cow from his herd, was regularly pouring its own milk on a particular spot in the grazing land. It was indeed Kapila Maharishi. Looking at the milk getting wasted, the shepherd, beat the cow. Not able to bear the pain it kicked the ground and ran away. At the very spot where it kicked the ground, blood started to ooze out of the ground.
He got scared and brought the rest of the villagers and at the very place Lord Shiva appeared to them and said that, there is a Swayambu Lingam at the place and the blood oozed out was from the lingam, as it was hurt when the cow kicked. That is why, till date the Shiva Lingam here has a small cut on it. You may request the priest to have a look at it. At the very moment Kapila Maharishi attained holiness and the villagers and the king decided to build a temple here.

This temple was built in 954-971 AD, by Sundara Chozhan who was the 2nd Pranthaka Chozhan.  But only the sanctum sanctorum was built by him. The Lord Shiva here is called Dhenu Purishwarar. Its a Sanskrit terminology which means, the one who was showered by a cow. Later on the Pandya Kings built the shrine for his consort, Goddess Dhenukambal, and also the southern entrance and the Mandapam. Much later, during the Pallava Reign in this region, the Maha Mandapam was built.
An important aspect of this temple, is the architecture. The anterior side of the Vimanam (the tower over sanctum sanctorum) is curved like the back of an elephant. This is not very common and it’s called Gaja Prashtam in Sanskrit and Thoonganai Madam in Tamizh. This part of the temple i.e., just behind the sanctum sanctorum has several, several epitaphs. The temple has only one entrance in the east, unlike the 4 entrances in 4 directions seen usually. Also, this temple has no Gopuram (the tower over entrance) at all.
To the south is the temple pond called Kapila Theertham. It was horrible earlier with absolutely no maintanence. Ever since the temple has been taken under the Archaeological Survey of India, the temple and the tank have been maintained spic n span. Long, long ago, once upon a time, I slipped into this tank, when I was a baby of about 4-5 yrs old. I was playing at the tank steps and as usual the last step was slippery and I slipped!!! It was not an issue, my dad was beside. And as I was falling, my dad caught me and pulled me out. Ever since that I had this aversion towards getting into water, till recently!!!
Apart from the architecture another special feature is the sculptural detail. The pillar reliefs here are just awesome. One of the important pillar reliefs is the Sarabeshwarar. Special prayers are held every Sunday evening to Sarabeshwarar.
Other shrines here are for Navagraha, Lord Ganesha, Valampuri Ganesha etc. On a corner of the circumambulation passage was a small hidden chamber. This was found a few decades ago when the temple was replenished for maintanence. However this has been closed now.
The outer circumambulatory passage is only mud with grass on either sides. It feels so good to walk on this. The feet really feel great.
The garden is also maintained well. The sthala vruksham is Vilva Maram. One this that must be noticed in the garden are the trees in the back side of the temple. There are a couple of big neem trees there and the best part is that they are the home for several owls. One of my visits to this temple was in the evening at about 6 pm when I kept hearing this shrill shrieking sound of a bird. While trying to find which bird was it, I was lucky enough to spot about 4-5 spotted owls. They were so cute and they were waking up as the sun was setting. And I stared at them and they too stared at me. As I moved back and forth their eyes to followed my movement. I think this was the second place where I spotted quite a number of owls together in a place, next to my school.
What more, the temple has a very good parking space too!!! And just opposite to this temple is the 18 Siddhar Temple, and pretty near is the Skandashramam(near Rajakilpakkam) too, which were built less than a decade ago. My regular readers would know, I never visit a temple, just coz. its a temple. I visit it not just for its holiness, but also for its ancientness, history, archaeology, epigraphy, architectural & sculptural beauty, everything together. So somehow, I didn’t visit these yet.

Update 20/06/2016: The Chennai Bloggers Club came up with a fabulous initiative of asking bloggers to come up with a post on a pincode! This temple falls under the pincode 600126 (a brand new pincode broken away from 600073). This temple is the essence, the heritage and the importance of this pincode. Also here is the Madambakkam Lake which was in a very bad shape till recent past but is now, bit by bit, improving. Quite a few youngsters volunteers have come up in recent years to clean up the lake and it gained public glare & media attention when Padmasree Kamal Hassan came here for the clean-up for the Swachch Bharat Campaign on his birthday last year!!!

In Madabakkam near Tambaram in Chennai
From Tambaram: 6.5km via Camproad, Rajakilpakkam, Kozhipannai, Sivan Koil (Regular Share Auto/Bus Services available)
From Tambaram: 7.2km via Camproad, Bharat Engg College, Kozhipannai, Sivan Koil
From Velachery: 16km via Pallikaranai, Medavakkam, Rajakilpakkam, Kozhipannai, Sivan Koil

Nearest Railway Station: Tambaram
Nearest Bus Stop: Madambakkam Sivan Koil
Ph. No. Of temple Priest, Manikandan Kurukkal: +91 98849 32192

P.S: You may also want to read Swami's blog post on the same temple.


An ardent traveler by passion. I am a wanderlust.. Read more about me here.


  1. Well written Bhusha..

  2. This temple is quite near my place and I love visiting this quite often..Nice pictures and very good write up..

  3. Lovely temple!I love the anecdotes you share along with your experience.makes reading all the more fun.

  4. Wonderful shots. Great to know about the history of this temple.

  5. nice photos with info...

  6. Hello,

    lovely photos and a very interesting write up packed with information. Best wishes,Joseph

  7. Hi Friend! So, We, The People who are not in holidays, keep the blogosphere alive... ;)

    Great! Informative! Took notes...

    Blogtrotter Two just crossed Corsica from North to South. Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!!

  8. You are blessed with a wealth of information about temples in South India..its great to read the stories behind certain events or structures and also get a historical insight.

  9. Lucky you that you get to visit Madambakkam Dhenupurisharar Temple often! It's beautiful. Thanks for this informative post.

  10. Nice pics & writeup. At the time of the temple construction the Cholas were having their second innings having routed the Pallavas & Pandyas( the first innings was during Karikala Chola around 1st-3rd century AD)Sundara Chola was the forerunner to the greatest of all Cholas - Raja Raaja Chola & his son Rajendra Chola.
    About falling into the tank I had similar experience on two occasions - Once @ 5 years(in Kerala) and again @ 10 years at Powai Lake Bombay. Thanks to good samaritans I was saved.Thereafter I too developed great fear of water.

    We had a great swimming pool at St.Xavier's Patna during my middle to high school years - but the fear of water( hydrophobia ?) prevented me my getting into the pool and learning to swim !

  11. @Ash,
    Thanks Dear.. :)

    @Niranjan Das,
    Thanks sweet heart.. :)

    @Team G Square,
    Thanks to the artistry of all Cholas, Pandyas, and Pallavas is put together!!!!

    Yours is a fabulous write up. Mine is only a travelogue, a diary of the journey.. :)

  12. @Sridharan,
    Oh, that's nice... :)
    Thanks for the appreciation.. :)

    I'm glad you like the style of my writing. Thank you. :)

    @Rajesh, Krishna, Joseph Cheta, GMG,
    Thank you so much.. :)

    @Capt Anup,
    Long Time No C!!! Whr r you??
    Thanks for dropping by again.

    Yes. Indeed I'm lucky to be living in the midst of such archeological marvels.. :)

    @Jose, Bhavesh,
    Thanks dears.. :)

    @Ram Sir,
    Thanks for that info on our history. :)
    Oh My!!! You too fell into pond, oh no!!!


Thanks for visiting...! Why not leave a comment.? And tell your friends..!!!
By commenting you accept to our GDPR Policy.