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Kapaleeshwarar Temple is pulse of Chennai

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  • Kapaleeshwarar Temple is pulse of Chennai

    Rohit Panikker, TNN Aug 30, 2011

    It is believed to be the site where Rama worshipped before setting out on his battle with Raavana, and where Brahma worshipped to be rid of his ego and regain his powers of creation; but the Kapaleeshwarar Temple in Mylapore has played a part that's warranted more importance than being just a mention in popular legend. Standing tall above the skyline of Mylapore, its majestic gopurams have been witness to Chennai's growth from a vast empty space into the sprawling urban metropolis it is today. For actress Janani Iyer, her relationship with this revered piece of architecture extends beyond mere cursory visits over the years, as she reveals from a walk around the temple complex.

    Running her hands over the traditional stonemasonry, the performer is mesmerized by the sights and sounds of the temple. "Imagine this; we're living in the 21st century, but every time you walk into the temple, it feels like you are being whisked away into a different era," the actress exclaims as she stood looking transfixed at the intricate work on the gopuram before she added, "And the architecture ... it's majestic, yet charming, isn't it?"

    For a girl who's born and spent all her life in Chennai, Janani has grown up with the changes the city's been through over the years, but she feels what makes Chennai different is its people and believes that nothing else could symbolize that harmonious co-existence of the urban pace and the spiritual base than Mylapore and its epicentre, the Kapaleeshwarar Temple. "I've travelled quite a bit around south India, and I feel that Chennai is deep-rooted in its tradition. See, this city's expanding as an urban centre each day, and it's an amazing place for anyone to grow up in. But this fast expansion of urban spaces strike a perfect balance with the ideals and traditions that are essentially ours," the actress explains.

    Built in a typical Dravidian style of construction, the original temple complex was mentioned in Thirugnanasambandar's 6th song in the Poompavaipathikam as being located on — what historians argue to be — a site closer to where Santhome Church is today. However, the current construction is believed to be built in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar rulers. "Did you know that the name Mylapore owes its origins to the temple? Legend has it that Shakti worshipped Lord Shiva at this exact location in the form of a peacock, hence the name Mylai from the Tamil word Mayil!" the young actor doles out information from the tales of yore.

    Walking out of the western gate as the setting sun spread its fading rays on the temple tank, it paints a poignant picture. With the temple bells harmoniously chiming along with the vibrant buzz of a thousand people muttering their prayers juxtaposed against the honking and the bustle on the streets of Mylapore, Janani adds as an afterthought, "Nowhere else can you find such a fine balance between the material world and the divine. How can anyone not fall in love with this place?"