Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Sivan Temple (Chennai - 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 Dhenupuriswarar Temple.
Today Madambakkam Sivan Temple of Dhenupurishwarar is one of the famous temples of Chennai, especially because of the sculpture of God Sarabeswarar present here. Read on for all the details.

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Architecture

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar 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 here in Madambakkam. 
One day a shepherd, noticed that a cow from his herd, was regularly pouring its own milk on a particular spot in the grazing land. That cow was indeed Kapila Maharishi. Looking at the milk getting wasted, the shepherd, hit the cow. Unable to withstand the cow 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.
The shepherd got scared and brought the rest of the villagers. At that 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 moksham (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 Dhenupureeswarar (Dhenu + Puri + Ishwarar). Its a Sanskrit terminology which means, the Lord Shiva 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 Tamil. This part of the temple i.e., just behind the sanctum sanctorum has several, several inscriptions. The temple has only one entrance in the east, unlike the 4 entrances in 4 directions seen in most temples. Also, this temple has no Gopuram (the tower over entrance) at all.

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Tank Theertham

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Sculptures

Images of God Sarabeswarar Photos Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple

To the south is the temple pond called Kapila Theertham. It was in a horrible condition earlier with absolutely no maintenance, a couple decades back when I was a little girl. But now, ever since the temple has been taken under the Archaeological Survey of India, the temple and the tank have been maintained spic n span. 
Here's a small story of mine - Long, long ago, once upon a time, when I was just a toddler, around 4-5 years old, I slipped into this tank I was playing at the tank steps and as usual the last step was slippery  because of the moss and algae formation 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 very 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 God Sarabeswarar. Special prayers are held every Sunday evening to Sharabeswarar / Sharabha moorthy / Sharabeshwaramurti. 
Other shrines here are for Navagraha, Lord Ganesha, Valampuri Ganesha etc. On a corner of the circumambulation passage was a small hidden chamber. I used to see this a few decades ago when the temple was being renovated and replenished for maintenance. However this has been closed now.

Above is the God Sarabeswarar photo of the pillar relief sculpture. He's a reincarnation, a form of Lord Shiva. He is quite an angry God and God Sarabeswarar Story is something! The legend goes that, when Lord Vishnu reincarnated in the Narasimha Avatar, after killing Hiranya Kasipu his anger didn't subside and he went on a destructive mode. So Lord Shiva assumed the form of Sarabeswarar to control Narasimhar. However later on Lord Vishnu again took the form of Gandabherunda Pakshi to control Sarabeswarar. The thing is, it was all created in the middle ages when Shaivism & Vaishnavism were trying to get the better of each other and created Sarabha murti and Gandabherunda. 

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.

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Pillar relief Sculptures

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Pillar relief Sculptures

Sarabeswarar Temple Chennai Kanchipuram

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, inscriptions, architectural & sculptural beauty, everything together. So, I haven'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 pin-code! This temple falls under the pin-code 600126 (a brand new pin-code broken away from 600073). This temple is the essence, the heritage and the importance of this pin-code. 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!!!

On Google Maps: Madambakkam Sivan Temple
From Tambaram: 6.5km via Camproad, Rajakilpakkam, Kozhipannai, Madambakkam Sivan Koil (Frequent Bus Services available)
From Tambaram: 7.2km via Camproad, Bharat Engg College, Kozhipannai, Madambakkam Sivan Koil
From Velachery: 16km via Pallikaranai, Medavakkam, Rajakilpakkam, Kozhipannai, Madambakkam Sivan Koil

Nearest Railway Station: Tambaram (exit at Tambaram East (towards MCC))
Nearest Bus Stop: Madambakkam Sivan Koil (served by bus routes 51G, 105)

There are no hotels in Madambakkam. The nearest place for hotels at all price points are Tambaram Hotels like Henkala Hotel Tambaram, Oyo Rooms Tambaram and many more.

Ph. No. of temple Priest, Manikandan Kurukkal: +91 98849 32192
Ph. No. of temple Priest, Guru Kurukkal: +91 94441 23873

6:00AM to 12:00Noon; 4:00PM to 8:30PM
Special prayers for God Sarabeswarar happen on Sunday evenings at 4:30PM. 

Madambakkam Dhenupureeswarar Temple Arulmigu God Sarabeswarar Temple Story Images Photos


An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands


  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!!!


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