Nestled on the mesmerizing Coromandel Coast of India, Chennai, the vibrant capital of Tamil Nadu, is a city steeped in rich cultural heritage and ancient traditions. Amidst its bustling streets and modern skyline, Chennai hides a treasure trove of architectural marvels that have withstood the test of time—its magnificent temples. These sacred abodes not only serve as places of worship but also stand as living testaments to the city's deep-rooted spirituality and artistic brilliance.
If you are planning on visiting Chennai soon whether for travel or work, consider paying a visit to the famous temples in Chennai. These temples Not only will you be able to get a glimpse into the religious heritage of Chennai and India, but you will also get to witness magnificent architecture and artistry.
In this article, we will share some fascinating anecdotes, historical facts, and architectural insights on some of the famous temples in Chennai. So fasten your seat belts and get ready to go on a virtual tour of temples in Chennai.
Famous Temples In Chennai
Chennai, India is filled with temples that have been standing for centuries. Each of these temples with its stunning architectural style, intriguing myths and legends, and unique religious practices showcases the diversity and grandeur of Chennai's spiritual and cultural landscape. Here are some of the most famous temples in Chennai that you should visit at least once -
Opening Hours: 6 AM-1 PM (Morning) & 4 PM-8 PM (Afternoon)
Location: 12, North Mada Street, Mylapore, Chennai
Major Festival: Theppam Festival
The Kapaleeshwarar Temple is one of the oldest and most famous Shiva temples in Chennai. Built during the 7th century by the Pallava dynasty, this temple features a towering 37-meter gopuram (entrance tower) and intricate stone carvings depicting various mythological scenes and deities. The temple's courtyards and corridors are adorned with colorful frescoes and carvings, depicting stories from Hindu mythology.
The architecture of Kapaleeshwarar Temple showcases the Dravidian style, characterized by intricately carved gopurams (gateway towers), mandapams (halls), and ornate sculptures.
Once inside the temple complex, you’ll feel transported back in time. The ancient stone walls and pillars, covered in artistic depictions of religious figures and events, surround a water tank used for ritual bathing.
In the inner sanctum, you can see the presiding deity of the temple is Lord Kapaleeshwarar, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. Puja ceremonies are performed three times daily to honor the deity.
This Shiva temple in Chennai is renowned for its festivals, with the Arupathimoovar festival being the most popular. This ten-day festival, celebrated in the Tamil month of Panguni (March-April), attracts thousands of devotees who gather to witness the grand processions, music, dance, and religious rituals.
Opening Hours: 5:50 AM - 12:30 PM (Morning) & 4 PM - 9 PM (Evening)
Location: Narayana Krishnaraja Puram, Triplicane, Chennai
Major Festival: Float festival, Brahmotsavam and Vaikunta Ekadasi
The Parthasarathy Temple is one of the oldest and most impressive Chennai temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Built during the 8th century, this temple is renowned for its architectural and historical significance. The temple's name comes from the charioteer of the Pandavas, Lord Krishna, who is believed to have driven Arjuna's chariot in the Mahabharata war. 'Parthasarathy' means the 'charioteer of Partha' (another name for Arjuna).
As you enter through the main gopuram (tower), you'll see the stunning carvings and paintings that decorate the walls and ceilings. The famous temple in Chennai has a traditional Dravidian style with intricately carved pillars, arches, and frescos.
The main shrine houses Lord Vishnu in different poses - sitting, standing, and reclining. The reclining Vishnu is a rare form and a must-see. The temple also has shrines for Lord Krishna and Gajendra (the elephant) that depict famous scenes from Hindu epics.
The Parthasarathy Temple is one of the most famous temples in Chennai with a rich history. In ancient times, it was patronized by rulers of the Pallava, Chola, Vijayanagar, and Arcot dynasties. Many Vaishnavite saints, including the Alwars, have worshiped here.
Opening Hours: 6:30 AM - 12 PM (Morning) & 6 PM - 9 PM (Evening)
Location: Elliot Beach, Besant Nagar, Chennai
Major Festival: Navratri, Deepawali, Pavitra Utsavam, Janmashtami
The Ashtalakshmi Kovil is one of the most famous amman temples in chennai, devoted to the eight forms of the goddess Lakshmi. Located in Besant Nagar, this temple is renowned for its architectural and sculptural beauty.
As the name suggests, the Ashtalakshmi Kovil is dedicated to the eight incarnations of Lakshmi - Aadi Lakshmi, Dhanya Lakshmi, Dhairya Lakshmi, Gaja Lakshmi, Santana Lakshmi, Vijaya Lakshmi, Dhana Lakshmi, and Dhanya Lakshmi. The eight shrines of the temple represent these eight forms of the goddess. The temple also has separate shrines for Lord Vishnu, the consort of Lakshmi, and their son Kama Deva.
The temple is constructed in the traditional Dravidian style, with intricately carved pillars and sculptures. The ‘garbhagriha’ or sanctum sanctorum, houses the idol of Mahalakshmi, the primary deity of the temple. The walls and pillars of the temple depict sculptures of various mythological scenes including Krishna Leela. The temple also has a separate shrine for Navagraha, the nine planets.
Opening Hours: 6:00 AM to 12:00 PM (Morning) & 5:00 PM to 9:00 PM (Evening)
Location: Thambu Chetty St, near DHL Express Courier, Mannady, George Town, Chennai
Major Festival: Vasanta Navaratri, Navaratri (September-October), Maasi Makam festival, Brahmotsavam
The Kalikambal Temple is Goddess Kali, the fierce form of Parvati’s Chennai home. Located in George Town, Chennai, this temple dates back to the 17th century. According to legend, the temple was built in 1640 by the Maratha king Shivaji's general Tanjore Nayaks. The main deities worshiped here are Goddess Kali, also known as Kalikambal, and her consort Lord Shiva.
The temple showcases a mix of Dravidian and colonial architecture. At the entrance, you'll find a majestic Rajagopuram tower with intricately carved figures of deities and depictions of religious events. The temple also has a sacred tree, marble flooring, and massive stone pillars.
Special pujas are held during full moon days, new moon days, Fridays, and Sundays. Navaratri and Kali Puja are major festivals celebrated here with much fanfare. During Navaratri, devotees come to seek the blessings of Goddess Kali by chanting mantras, offering coconuts, and lighting lamps.
Sri Vadapalani Andavar Temple
Opening Hours: 5:30 AM to 9:30 PM
Location: Palani Andavar Koil Street, Vadapalani, Chennai
Major Festival: Vaikasi and Brahmotsavam
The Vadapalani Andavar Temple is one of the most celebrated Murugan shrines in Chennai. Located in Vadapalani, this temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, also known as Karthikeya, the son of Shiva and Parvati.
According to legend, the temple was built in the 17th century. However, the current structure dates back to the 1890s. This is one of the most famous temples in Chennai which is considered very sacred by devotees of Murugan. Many come here to pray for happy and peaceful marriages, children, and the removal of obstacles.
The temple houses several small shrines dedicated to other deities like Vinayagar, Dakshinamoorthy, Lingotbavar, and Navagrahas. However, the presiding deity is Lord Murugan, who is portrayed as a charming youth. He stands holding a vel or spear, his weapon of choice, accompanied by his consorts Valli and Devasena.
Two of the biggest festivals celebrated here are Thaipusam and Panguni Uthiram. During Thaipusam, devotees carry ‘kavadis’, or heavy burdens, as offerings to Lord Murugan. Panguni Uthiram marks the wedding of Murugan with his consort Devasena. On this day, the deities are dressed as bride and groom and taken out in a grand procession.
The temple also has a shrine for the goddess Vadivudai Amman, who is believed to have appeared to a devotee in a dream and requested a temple be built at this location. Due to this, the temple got the name Vadapalani, meaning ‘appeared in a dream’.
Opening Hours: 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Location: W Tank St, Lalitha Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai
Major Festival: Brahmotsavam, Shivaratri, Ganesh Chaturthi and Skanda Sashti
Marundheeswarar Temple, also known as Marundeeswarar or Marutheeswarar Temple, is one of the most famous temples in Chennai located in the city of Thiruvanmiyur in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the oldest temples in the region.
This Shiva temple Chennai is renowned for its association with healing powers and is considered a significant pilgrimage site for devotees seeking relief from various ailments. The name "Marundheeswarar" translates to "Lord of Medicines" in Tamil, highlighting the temple's connection to traditional medicine and healing.
Architecture-wise, Marundheeswarar Temple showcases a Dravidian style of architecture, characterized by towering gopurams (gateway towers) adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings. The temple complex has several shrines dedicated to different deities, including Lord Shiva in the form of Marundheeswarar and his consort, Goddess Thiripurasundari.
One of the prominent features of the temple is the sacred tank, known as "Sooli Theertham," located within the premises. Devotees believe that taking a dip in this tank can cure various ailments and bring about spiritual purification.
Marundheeswarar Temple attracts a large number of visitors, particularly on special occasions like Maha Shivaratri, when devotees gather to offer prayers and seek blessings from Lord Shiva. The temple also serves as a center for cultural and religious activities, hosting festivals and religious ceremonies throughout the year.
Opening Hours: 6:00 AM to 1:30 PM (Morning) & 4:30 PM to 8:00 PM (Evening)
Location: Ekambaranathar Sannathi St, Periya, Kanchipuram (3 hours from Chennai)
Major Festival: Panguni Uthiram
Ekambareswarar Temple, also known as Ekambaranathar Temple, is a historic Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva located in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India. It is one of the Pancha Bhoota Sthalam temples, representing the element of Earth (Prithvi).
This Chennai shiva temple has a rich history dating back over a thousand years and is considered one of the most significant temples in South India. It is believed to have been built and expanded by various dynasties, including the Pallavas, Cholas, and Vijayanagara Empire.
The main deity of the Ekambareswarar Temple is Lord Shiva, worshipped in the form of Ekambareswarar or Ekambaranathar. The presiding deity is represented by a massive lingam, said to be one of the largest in India, known as Prithvi Lingam, symbolizing the element of Earth. The temple complex also houses shrines dedicated to various other deities, including Kamakshi Amman, the goddess consort of Lord Ekambareswarar.
The architecture of the temple is a blend of various dynastic styles, reflecting the contributions made by different ruling dynasties over the centuries. The gopuram (gateway tower) at the entrance is an impressive structure adorned with intricate sculptures and carvings. The temple complex covers a vast area and includes several mandapams (halls), tanks, and smaller shrines.
One of the notable features of the Ekambareswarar Temple is the ancient mango tree, known as the "Asthana Mandapam," located within the temple complex. This mango tree is believed to be over 3,500 years old and is considered sacred. It is said that the tree represents the manifestation of the deity and changes its color with the seasons.
As one of the most famous temples in Chennai, this place attracts a large number of devotees and pilgrims throughout the year, especially during festivals like Maha Shivaratri and the Panguni Uthiram festival. These festivals are celebrated with great enthusiasm and involve elaborate rituals, processions, and special prayers.
Read Also: Top 10 Famous Jain Temple In India
Chennakesava Perumal Temple
Opening Hours: 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM (Morning) & 5.00 pm – 8.30 pm (Evening)
Location: Devaraja Mudali St, Rattan Bazaar, George Town, Chennai
Major Festival: Brahmotsavam
Chennakesava Perumal Temple, also known as Thiru Kovalur Temple, is a renowned Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. If you are in Chennai and searching for Perumal Kovil near me then this temple is the one you should consider visiting. It is one of the 108 Divya Desams, which are the sacred abodes of Lord Vishnu as described in the Vaishnava tradition.
The temple is believed to have been constructed during the Chola dynasty in the 9th century and later expanded by the Vijayanagara Empire. It showcases the architectural style of the Chola period, with intricate carvings and sculptures adorning its walls.
The temple complex is known for its impressive gopurams (gateway towers) and mandapams (halls). The Rajagopuram, the main gateway tower, is particularly noteworthy for its architectural grandeur. The walls of the temple are adorned with intricate carvings depicting various mythological scenes, deities, and celestial beings.
The presiding deity of the Chennakesava Perumal Temple is Lord Chennakesava Perumal, a form of Lord Vishnu. The idol of Lord Chennakesava is depicted in a standing posture, holding various divine weapons and ornaments. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple also houses shrines dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Narasimha.
Chennakesava Perumal Temple is one of the most famous temples in Chennai. It is considered sacred by devotees of Lord Vishnu, who visit the temple to seek the blessings of the presiding deity. The temple hosts several festivals and religious ceremonies throughout the year, with the Brahmotsavam being the most significant celebration. If you are looking for more Perumal temple near me, then you can visit the Prasanna Venkata Narasimha Perumal Temple, which is in Perumal Koil St, Sarathy Nagar, Saidapet, Chennai.
In A Nutshell…
Each of these stunning temples in Chennai - from the magnificent Kapaleeshwarar Temple with its unique architecture, Parthasarathy Temple with its rich history, and the beautiful artistic designs at Ashthalakshmi Temple, to the serene atmosphere at Kalikambal Temple and the sacred tank at Marundheeswarar Temple, has something to offer and a story to tell.
They also provide a glimpse into the rich cultural and spiritual heritage of the city while allowing you to appreciate the artistic and architectural brilliance of the region. So the next time you are in Chennai, don't forget to pay a visit to these famous temples in Chennai.
Have you visited any of these temples? Tell us about your experience in the comments below!