Kapleeswarar Temple in Mylapore

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Mylapore, Chennai Overview

Mylapore is one of the oldest and culturally enriched neighbourhoods, located in the southern part of Chennai. However, the area precedes the birth of Chennai or Madras, as the British named it, by at least some 1500 years. The city had already seen a lot of eventful history pass by even before the British stepped on this land. Mylapore is also very much traditionalist to its core and boasts of many temples, churches and historical monuments. At the same time, it is also stepping up to match the modern world with shopping malls, tree-lined beautified avenues and other attractions to meet the expectations of the urban tourists.

Mylapore has a native name as well. It is called Thirumayilai by the locals, which is taken from a Tamil word meaning "the land of the peacock's scream". It is an undeniable ode to a large number of peacocks which once roamed the land of Mylapore before commercialisation took over. The presence of peacocks is evident from the architectural designs of the Kapaleeswarar Temple or the San Thome Church - two ancient sites of the neighbourhood. Mylapore has its mention in several accounts by writers, poets, explorers and folklores that have roots in the ancient time. From European colonising groups to explorers like Marco Polo to Tamil Saivite poets, there are praises of this old city and its splendour everywhere. A visit to the important sites in Mylapore as well as a look around the neighbourhood itself should be on every traveller's list who is visiting Chennai. In one word, Mylapore can be called the nerve centre of the city.

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Places To Visit in Mylapore

Mylapore is a complete package in itself. If you are visiting Chennai, giving this place a miss will be quite a mistake. It offers some cultural, culinary and spiritual experiences all in one platter.

San Thome Church
Built upon the remains of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve original apostles of Jesus Christ, San Thome Basilica is a must-see attraction in Mylapore. The church pays tribute to the deceased apostle in an underground crypt with a lying figure of the saint within a chapel. There is a museum as well, which displays the spear that took the saint's life back in 72 AD. 

Kapaleeswarar Temple
Kapaleeswarar Temple is by far the most famous cultural landmark of Mylapore area. The shrine of Lord Shiva has an unbelievable base of devotees. The temple exhibits Dravidian architecture and boasts a 40-meter tall Gopuram seen from far away.

Luz Church and Luz Corner
The two places are located at a walking distance of 10-15 minutes. Luz was a settlement developed by the British when they incorporated Mylapore into the Madras Presidency. It is one of the oldest European monuments of India, forming the very first foundations of Christianity in the country. The metropolitan area around it that was later built consists of the Luz Corner shopping district. It is a baroque combination of commercial shops and outlets, as well as quaint stalls and boutiques suitable for some offbeat shopping.

An evening of Katchheri
Mylapore is the centre of Carnatic Music, and one must make a note to experience a katchheri while visiting. Katchheri is a musical concert where experienced and professional singers perform Carnatic music. The events are attended by common people and music connoisseurs alike. December and January host the Madras Music Season, and every Sabha is booked with some katchheri or the other. Get a pass to one of them and enjoy an evening of classical music.

History of Mylapore

The origin story of Mylapore dates back to first century BCE, thus making it one of the oldest parts of South India. Back then the locals called it Vedapuri also. The town thrived upon its maritime trade with the Romans and Greeks, who were at large during that period. Gold was imported to Mylapore in exchange for India's all-time treasures – textiles and spices. Accounts of great explorers and philosophers like Ptolemy and Marco Polo has left behind detailed descriptions of the place and its customs.

In the 7th century Saivite canonical work Tevarama, Mylapore is mentioned several times as the abode to the seven Shiva temples. As a proof to its diverse cultural past, the place is also important to Syrian Christians of India. It does not mean the country Syria, but rather the followers of Saint Thomas who came to India sometime in around 52 AD and established Christianity in the east for the first time. Mylapore had seen Portuguese and Dutch invasions as well before British East India Company took it under their wings in 1749. Under the British rule, the neighborhood grew up to become one of the most sophisticated ones in South India, and home to numerous British-educated statesmen and luminaries.

Restaurants Near Mylapore

Mylapore is very much of an urban area, so you will have no dearth of eating places. The many humble messes of Mylapore are the best place to find the perfect South Indian platter. The full meals will serve at least a dozen items including rice, daal and curries. Many places serve them on traditional banana leaves. Enjoy the authentic filter coffee wherever you can.

How To Reach Mylapore

Mylapore is easy to reach from the Chennai Railway Station via the Royapettah High Road. There are many public bus routes, and abundance of cabs to ferry you to the Mylapore neighbourhood.

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