Famous Temples in Chennai - A Glimpse Into The Tamilian Culture

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List of Chennai Temples

Chennai or popularly known as Madras is most commonly associated in India with the Tamil film industry, its distinct food and music. The capital city of the Southern state of Tamil Nadu has a rich culture which attracts millions of tourists every year, both from India and abroad. This metropolitan city is also one of the 50 most visited cities in the world. Whether it is for its culture, healthcare facilities or its flourishing economy, Chennai is a city that people cannot seem to resist.

In Chennai, the old and the new complement each other, existing side by side. Here tradition can be found in food, music and its architecture. Housing the UNESCO Heritage Site of Mahabalipuram, Chennai is also home to many temples which are hundreds of years old. These temples are more than just places of worship, housing certain deities, but are a gateway to understanding the people of Chennai and their culture. A visit to this smart city is incomplete without paying a visit to the temples of Chennai. Here is a list of 20 most popular and significant temples of Chennai.

Here is the list of 20 Famous Temples in Chennai - A Glimpse Into The Tamilian Culture

1. Kapaleeswarar Temple

Situated in the Southern part of Chennai in Mylapore, Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of Chennai's most known temples. It is a Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva and the Goddess Parvati or Karpagambal, as called in the local language. This origins of this temple can be traced back to 7th Century AD during the reign of the Pallava Dynasty. The mention of Mylapore can be found in the Puranas and the Greek geographer, Claudius Ptolemy, although under a different name. During the months of March and April, the temple premises are crowded with visitors for the ten days Panguni Peruvizha festival, especially on the last day of Arupathimoovar, which is an entire festival in itself. Apart from this, daily pujas also take place in the temple six times a day.

Timings:  5:30 AM to 9:00 PM

2. Chennakesava Perumal Temple

Situated in Chennai's historical George Town area, Chennakesava Perumal Temple is one of the oldest temples of Chennai. It was the first temple to be built in this vicinity in the 1700s and served as a separation between the Fort St. George, a British East India Company settlement and the rest of the town. The temple stands as a Hindu temple devoted to Chennakesava Perumal, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple has beautifully carved pillars and doorways and sculptures honouring Manali Saravana Mudaliyar and Manali Krishnaswami Mudaliar and their service towards the temple. As per the local legends, Chennai is supposedly named after this temple. Daily poojas take place in the temple, three times a day, the morning pooja of Kaalasandhi, afternoon pooja of Uchikkala And the evening pooja of Saayaraksha. 

Timings: 5:00 AM to 8:00 PM

3. Kalikambal Temple

Kalikambal is another one of Chennai's most famous temples. It is situated in Thambu Chetty Street in George Town, although previously it was located on the seashore and shifted here in the 17th century during the British Raj. This temple is devoted to Hindu Goddess Kamakshi, a form of Parvati and Lord Kamateswarar and is visited by many locals. One can also find some local deities inside the temple and a shrine dedicated to Navagrahas, the nine planets in Hindu mythology. As per historical records, the Maratha warrior king, Shivaji paid his respects at this temple in the 1600s. The temple is believed to be constructed by the Viswakarma clan. The temple remains very crowded during the month of Vaikasi, or the month of April as per the Tamil calendar and the festivals of Navratri and Vasant Navratri. Apart from this, daily poojas also take place in the temple premises, four times a day.

Timings: 6:00 to 1:00 PM, 3:00 PM to 8:00 PM

4. Parthasarathy Temple, Chennai

Located in Triplicane, on the coast of the Bay of Bengal, the origins of the Parthasarathy Temple can be traced back to the 8th century. It was constructed by Narasimhavarman I of the Pallava Dynasty, making it one of the oldest temples of Chennai. The name of the temple, Parthasarathy, translates to "the charioteer", which is a reference to the role of Krishna as a charioteer and a guide to Arjuna in the Mahabharata. The temple first finds mentions in the 6th to 9th-century Tamil verses, Divya Prabandha by Alvar poet cum saints which are dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has idols of different avatars of Lord Vishnu like Krishna, Rama, Narasimha and Lord Vishnu is worshipped here as the Supreme God. The walls of the temples have inscriptions about the Pallavas, Cholas and sculptures and murals in accordance with the Vaishnavite Hindu temples.

Timings: 6:00 AM to 8:00 PM. Closed Sundays

5. Marundeeswarar Temple

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Marundeeswarar Temple is situated in Thiruvanmiyur neighbourhood of Chennai and is a haven for people suffering from illnesses. As per the legends, Lord Marundeeswarar taught sage Agastya about medicinal herbs and plants, after whom the temple is named. It is even believed that Valmiki, the sage who wrote the Ramayana also visited the premises to pay his respects. The primary deity in this temple is Lord Shiva in the form of Marundeeswar, but one can find shrines dedicated to Lord Ganesha, Shiva's consort Goddess Thirupurasundari or Parvati and Shiva's various avatars. It can be traced back to the 7th to 8th century and was majorly expanded by the Cholas in the 11the century. The locals flock to this temple for its prasadam, a mixture of ash, water, milk, which is believed to have healing qualities. The temple is worth a visit during the festivals of Shivratri, Skanda Sashti and Vinayaka Chaturthi, and the festival of Panguni Uttiram during the middle of March.

Timings: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM

6. Ekambaranathar Temple

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Ekambareswarar Temple is another temple in the George Town area. It is not popular among tourists and goes unnoticed in the busy Mint Street area of Chennai. The origins of the temple can be traced back to the 1680s when it was constructed by the chief merchant of British East India Company, Alanganatha Pillai. Lord Shiva or Lord Ekambareswarar is the primary deity of this temple, representing one of the five primary elements in Hindu mythology of Earth. The temple houses various sculptures, shrines and idols of different deities like Lord Ganesha, Hanuman, Shiva in his various forms, etc. and an Arasa tree which is almost 300 years old. The temple remains brimming with activity throughout the year celebrating one or other festival. The year begins with the Chithirai Festival during April which is the first month of Tamil calendar, Chithirai and is followed by months during which different deities are worshipped subsequently. Daily poojas, five times a day are also conducted in the temple as per the Kaarana Nagama Pooja System.

Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM, 4:00 PM to 8:30 PM

7. Sri Vadapalani Andavar Temple

Vadapalani Andar Temple, located in the neighbourhood of Vadapalani is a significant pilgrimage site in Chennai. The temple is dedicated to Hindu Lord Muruga, accessible by many other names, the god of war and who is the son of Parvati and Shiva. Inside the temple, you can find many deities like Lord Shiva, Kali, Bhairava, among others. The temple is a popular site for marriage ceremonies and is the most popular site of worship for Lord Murugan in Chennai. While visiting the temple, if you look close enough you can spot scenes from the Skanda Purana and gestures from the form of Bharatnatyam on the entrance and towers. Like many other temples of Chennai, festivities start at this temple from the month of Chithirai, and subsequently, significant celebrations take place during Navrathiri, Brahmothsavam, Theppam Festival, etc. Apart from this, daily poojas also attract a big crowd, especially the Artha Sama Pooja on Tuesdays and Fridays night. 

Timings: 6:00 AM to 1:00 PM, 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM

8. Ashtalakshmi Temple

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Located in Besant Nagar, on Eliot's beach, the origins of the Ashtalakshmi Temple can be traced back to the 1970s. As it is evident from the name, this temple is dedicated to goddess Lakshmi. The structure of the temple has different levels and separate shrines for each avatar. You can also find shrines of other deities like Ganesha, ten incarnations of Vishnu, Dhanwanthari, Anjaneyar, etc. This temple is the only temple dedicated to Mahalakshmi and since its renovation is a sight worth seeing, attracting tourists as well as locals. The seaside location and the gushing waves further add to the beauty of this temple. Daily poojas take place at least six times a day in the temple. The festivals of Navratri, the annual Pavitra Ursavam, Pongal, Gokulastami, and the festival of Deepavali are celebrated with all glory in the temple premises. 

Timings: 6:30 AM to 12:00 PM, 6:00 PM to 9:00 PM

9. Mahalingapuram Sree Ayyappan Temple

Dedicated to the Hindu god of growth and an avatar of Lord Vishnu, Ayyappan, this temple in Chennai is the first of its kind in the city. The temple was constructed in 1974 after a need was felt for the same due to the devotion of those who visited Sabarimala during the seasons of Mandalam - makaravilakku to conduct the ritual of Ayyappan Vilakku. Now, devotees flock to this temple to worship Lord Ayyappan, especially those on a pilgrimage to Sabarimala in Kerala. The temple also hosts daily Annadanam for the poor and needy, and the annual ceremony of Bhagavatha Sapthaham, which attracts many devotees. Some ceremony or the other takes place in the temple premises throughout the year, accompanied by the daily poojas. 

Timings: 4:00 AM to 11:00 PM, 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM

10. Karaneeswarar Temple

Karaneeswarar Temple is an ancient temple in the Saidapet area of Chennai and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Today, you can find a rank inside the temple premises which is known as Gopathi Saras and is believed to have magical powers which can cure illnesses if one take a dip in its waters on a full moon night. The temple has shrines of deities like Lord Ganesha, Lord Karthikeya, Lord Surya and Goddess Swarnambika, but the main shrine if of Lord Karaneeswarar. There is also a garden inside the temple. The temple witnesses vast amounts of the crowd on the Pradosham days, the annual festival of Chithirai Thiruvizha and the ten days long Brahmotsavam, which is accompanied by daily sermons. It also remains illuminated during the festival of Shivratri. Also, you can witness the daily poojas which take place five times a day, whenever you visit this temple. 

Timings: 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM

11. Kandakottam Temple

Kandakottam Temple is one of Chennai's most popular temples and one of the most visited temples, by locals and tourists. The temple is situated in George Town and is dedicated to the Hindu god of war and the son of Parvati, Lord Murugan. It is centuries old, being constructed in the 1670s. Since its inception, the temple structure has been rebuilt and renovated, and you can find this history of the temple in the inscriptions on the temple walls. The temple has shrines of other deities as well. The temple does charity work as well for the sick by providing free medicine and for the needy by offering facilities like education, co-curricular activities like dance etc. The temple hosts various annual festival in different months of the year like Aani Festival in May-June, Navratri in the September-October, Pongal in December-January, Thai Poosam, Panguni Uthiram, etc. Daily poojas, six times a day take place in the temple but also on every Thursday, a special song is sung accompanied by Jothi Darshanam. 

Timings: 6:00 AM to 12:30 PM, 4:00 PM to 9:45 PM

12. Thirumalai Thirupathi Devasthanam Temple

Thirumalai Thirupathi Devasthanam Temple is located next to the Swami Pushkarini Lake in T Nagar area and is dedicated to the Lord Venkatachalapathi or Lord Venkateswara, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. It is a very popular Vaishnavite temple and one of the most visited temples of Chennai but remains especially crowded on the weekends, i.e. Saturdays and Sundays. The temple has fantastic architecture, having a beautiful exterior of gopurams. Every day in the temple is started in the morning pooja at 3 AM and ended with the Ekanta Seva at 8 PM. 

Timings: 5:00 AM to 2:00 PM, 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM

13. Shri Chandraprabhu Jain Naya Mandir

Shri Chandraprabhu Jain Naya Mandir is a beautiful white Jain temple that stands out in the Sowcarpet area of Chennai. This temple is unlike other Hindu temples of Chennai, constructed in the Dravidian style of architecture and its complete white exteriors make it easy to spot as well. This temple is a very popular temple, visited by locals and tourists. Its style of architecture resembles the Dilwara temples of Rajasthan and has beautiful carvings on pillars made from limestone, marbles, and soapstone. 

Timings: 6:00 AM - 1:00 PM, 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM

14. Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple in the Mylapore area of Chennai and comes under the Shirdi Charitable Trust Organisation. The temple was constructed in 1952 by Narasimha Swami, a devotee of Sai Baba and the founder of the All India Samaj. It also houses the headquarters of the All India Sai Samaj, an organisation founded decades ago and devoted to spreading the teachings of Sai Baba. Being one of the two shrines dedicated to the Shirdi Sai Baba, it is a significant temple in Chennai. As you enter the temple, you will find a pristine white idol of Sai Baba, but there are shrines of others deities here as well. The temple was constructed using white marble and today; it houses the tomb of Narasimha Swami. The temple also has a burning flame, which is worshipped by the devotees of Sai Baba on Sundays during the Agni Pooja. This flame is believed to be a part of the original flame lit by Sai Baba in Shirdi. The temple remains overly crowded on Thursdays and the festival of Navratri, Guru Purnima, Ram Navami and also the birth anniversary of the founder Narasimha. 

Timings: 5:45 AM to 2:00 PM & 3:00 PM to 9:00 PM (Everyday except Thursday)

15. Navagraha Temples

In Chennai, there are nine Navagraha Temples which can be traced back to the era of the Chola dynasty in 7th to 11th century. These temples are scattered all over Chennai, mainly in the outskirts. As per Hindu astrology, Navagrahas are nine planets as well as deities- Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn, Neptune, and Uranus. Most of the temples have Lord Shiva as their main deity except one which is dedicated to the Sun God, called Suryanar Kovil in the town of Kumbakonam. There are other deities like goddess Kamakshi, Lord Rama, etc. which are worshipped in these temples. A lot of these Navagraha temples lie neglected but are a significant part of the culture as the concept of Navagrahas was observed among the Tamil people. 

Timings: 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM

16. Kamakshi Amman Temple

Situated in the Mangadu neighbourhood of Chennai, Kamakshi Amman Temple is a beautiful and well-maintained temple. It is devoted to the goddess Parvati or as known in the South, Goddess Kamakshi who embodies nature. The worship of Kamakshi is equated with the worship of women and her ability to procreate and also the worship of nature, love, life and death. Kamakshi Amman temple resembles the architecture of the Chola period. The temple is a remains very crowded especially during the Tamil New Year in the month of Chithirai or Mid April and the month of beginning January at the time of the New Year as per the Gregorian calendar. Five times a day, daily poojas take place in temple and Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are the days assigned for Abhishegam. This temple in Chennai is also has a golden chariot which is taken out every day in the evenings. 

Timings: 5:30 AM to 12:15 PM, 4:00 PM to 8:15 PM

17. Adeeswar Temple

Situated in on the outskirts of Chennai, Adeeswar Temple is a Jain Temple and is one quite popular among the people of Chennai. It is a significant shrine and is dedicated to Rishabhdev who was the first Tirthankara, a saviour and a teacher. There are many legends surrounding the origins of this temple, as per one a devout follower of Rishabhdev and worshipped him at this temple during the first century. Although, as per archaeologists, the temple can be traced back to the Pallava Dynasty and there are inscriptions on the temple walls which back this up. In recent years, this temple has garnered a lot of attention and had thus become a tourist spot. It also resembles the temple in the famous Hindu pilgrimage site of Sabarimala. 

Timings: 6 AM to 8:30 PM

18. Madhya Kailash Temple

Located in South Chennai, close to IIT Chennai, Madhya Kailash Temple is a Hindu temple in Chennai dedicated to Venkata Ananda Vinayakar. The main attraction of the temple is the primary deity and its idol, 'Adhiyantha Prabhu', which is part Lord Ganesha and part Anjaneya or Hanuman. Legend has it that this idol was created when one of the temple officials saw this image in their dream. The temple also houses other deities like Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, and Lord Surya. The temple is also known as Nadukkayilai among the locals. 

Timings: 5:30 AM - 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM

19. Anjaneya Swamy Temple

Located in Chennai's southern neighbourhood of Nanganallur, Anjaneya Swamy temple is dedicated to Hanuman. As per Hindu mythology, Anjaneya is an incarnation of Lord Vishnu who came to be known as Hanuman or the one with the broken chin after he was hit with a weapon by Indra and was brought back to life by Lord Brahma. The temple was constructed in 1989 and has a 32 feet idol of Hanuman which was carved out of a single rock. The temple also has shrines of Ram, Lakshman and Sita and one for Lord Krishna, Rukmani and Satyabhama, Vinayaka, and Naga. It was the brainchild of Sri Maruthi Bhakta Samajam Trust. The temple remains decked up during the festival of Ram Navami, Navratari, Hanumanth Jayanthi, Krishna Jayanthi, and Pavithrotsavam. The temple witnesses crowds during the morning and evening pooja and especially on the weekends. 

Timings: 5:00 A.M to 12:00, 4:30 P.M to 9:00 P.M

20. ISKCON Temple

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ISKCON Temple is a part of the Hare Krishna movement which has devotees worldwide. The temple located on the East Coast Road in Akkarai in South Chennai is the biggest temple dedicated to Radha and Krishna in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple is entirely new as compared to other centuries-old temples of Chennai, being constructed in 2012. The temple houses the idols of Radha and Krishna and Lalitha and Vishaka, the friends, Lord Chaitanya, Baladeva, Subhadra and Lord Jagannath. The temple's main purpose is to shift the focus from the material to the spiritual and it also offers books and discourses on the same. The temple is worthy of a visit especially during the auspicious month of Purushottam (Mid May to Mid June) which occurs once in 2 to 3 years and on its birth anniversary. 

Timings: 7:30 AM - 1:00 PM, 4:00 AM - 9:00 PM

The next time you are in the city of Chennai, do not forget to visit at least some of these most beautiful and significant temples of Chennai.

This post was published by Akshita Rawat

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