'Where the ancient coexists with the modern' would be the best phrase to describe
the manner in which the Kapaleeswarar Temple (Tirumayilai Shivastalam) fits into the life
of Chennai, the sprawling meteropolis. The recently built Rapid Transport System, proudly
bears the name Tirumayilai, on its station at Mylapore. A well known landmark in the heart
of Mylapore, Chennai this temple is visited by thousands, especially during the famed
'Arupattu Moovar' festival in the month of Pisces. The Teppam or float festival in the
large temple tank, and the biweekly Pradosham festival also draw huge crowds here.
Tirumayilai is the most centrally situated Shivastalam of the three in (and around)
Chennai - Tiruvanmyur, Tirumayilai and Tiruvotriyur.
This is the 24th of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of
Parvati (Karpakambal) in the form of a peacock, Mayil is said to have worshipped Shiva (in
a legend similar to that at Mayiladuturai), hence
the name Mylapore. There are several literary works associated with this hoary shrine,
which remains today, a seat of Tamil culture. The Poompaavai Patikam composed by Sambandar
is associated with this temple & he is said to have brought back to life, Poompavai
the daughter of a devotee of Shiva - Sivanesa Chettiar. This event is enacted on the 8th
day of the annual festival in the month of Pankuni (Pisces).
The Temple: The current temple is a modern structure, built based on
the descriptions in the Puranams and the Tevaram; the huge temple tank is the site of the
popular Teppam festival in the month of Thai (Capricorn). The Karpakambal shrine in this
temple attracts huge crowds on Fridays and on all special occasions. Tirumurai
concerts are held regularly here, as are Uzhavaarattiruppanigal in the tradition of Appar.
The Singaravelar shrine is where Subramanyar is said to have been given the Velayudham
(Spear) by his mother - in a legend similar to that at Sikkal..
A towering Rajagopuram with several stucco images adorns the Eastern entrance to this
shrine, where the sanctum faces the West, where the temple tank is located.
Festivals: Six worship services are offered each day here. In terms of a tradition of
festivals and celebrations, Tirumayilai is second to none. More will be said about the
Kapaleeswarar temple in a Templenet special feature on Temple festivals.