Known for its cultural heritage, the city of Chennai is a tourist’s delight. From stunning beaches to architectural marvels, no matter what kind of traveller you are, Chennai will keep occupied. Drawing a large number of visitors for both their religious importance and architectural prowess, temples in Chennai are also places you can explore when visiting the city.
Standing as stunning examples of Dravidian architecture, these temples in Chennai not only are spiritual destinations but also hold deep significance historically.
Here are 9 temples in Chennai that deserve to be on your must-visit list
1. Kapaleeshwarar Temple
Set in Mylapore, this temple in Chennai is an ancient marvel that captivates with its Dravidian architecture built around the 7th century CE by the ruling Pallavas. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, here he is worshipped as Kapaleeshwarar, represented by a Lingam. According to the old scriptures Puranas, the goddess Uma worshipped lord Shiva in this temple in Chennai in the form of a peacock known as mayil in Tamil, who is worshipped as Karpagambal (goddess of the wish-yielding tree) here.
The Arupatimuvar festival celebrated during the Tamil month of Panguni as part of the Brahmotsava is the most prominent festival in this temple in Chennai.
2. Parthasarathy Temple
This temple in Chennai goes all the way back to Brahmanda Puranam. Attracting Vaishnavites from all across India, this temple is dedicated to five different avatars of Lord Vishnu- Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha and Krishna. There are multiple stories that revolve around this temple in Chennai, the famous one being that the Saptarishis, the celestial sages used to worship the 5 deities here. The deity of Parthasarthy also has a legend of its own with roots in Mahabharata. The name comes from Partha- Another name for Arjuna and Sarthy meaning charioteer, hence Krishna since he was Arjuna’s charioteer in the great epic Mahabharata.
3. Kandaswamy Temple
Also known as Kalipatti, this temple in Chennai is dedicated to Lord Murugan, and is one of the richest temples in the district. It was built in the 18th century by Katteri Lakshmana Kavundar. The annual Panguni Uthiram festival here draws worshippers seeking blessings and spiritual rejuvenation all across India, also during the Thaipusam Festival in January, a cattle fair is held here.
4. Ashtalakshmi Temple
Lying on the shorelines of Elliot’s beach, the Ashtalakshmi temple in Chennai is dedicated to goddess Lakshmi and her eight primary forms installed in different sanctums at four levels. Apart from Goddess Lakshmi, the temple in Chennai also has idols of Dashavatara, the 10 avatars of Lord Vishnu. The temple, with its coastal backdrop, exudes serenity. Devotees often seek blessings in the calm atmosphere, making it a peaceful retreat by the sea.
5. Vadapalani Murugan Temple
Built around 125 years ago, this temple in Chennai is dedicated to Lord Murugan and stands as a spiritual hub in Vadapalani. It was established at a place where the ardent devotee of Lord Murugan, Annaswamy Naikar worshipped him. The temple has several shrines of Lord Ganesha, Goddess Meenakshi Amman, Lord Shiva, Goddess Kali, Lord Bhairava, Chokkanadar, Dakshniamurti, Chandikeswara and Mahalakshmi. Also, look out for the annual Thaipusam festival that adds a vibrant touch to the spiritual atmosphere in this temple in Chennai.
6. Iskcon Temple, Chennai
Dedicated to Lord Krishna, the Chennai Iskcon Temple is the biggest Radha Krishna temple in Tamil Nadu, standing as a spiritual oasis by the Bay of Bengal. Set in the Injambakkam area, the revered deities also include the Lord’s family like Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga. The images of Rukmini and Satyabhama are also present here. The entrance of the Chennai Iskcon Temple has an illustration of the universe or bhu-mandala on the marble floor making one realize the insignificance of one’s burdens.
7. Puri Jagannath Temple, Chennai
Bringing a touch of Puri's divine splendour to Chennai, the Puri Jagannath Temple Chennai stands as a cultural gem. This temple is dedicated to the divine trinity of Lord Jagannath, Lord Baladeva and Goddess Subhadra and has shrines dedicated to Lord Shiv, Ganesh and Bimala.
The annual rath yatra carried out is the oldest and largest Hindu chariot festival and grandeur of the very next level, descriptions of which can be found in Brahma Purana, Padma Purana, the Skanda Purana, and the Kapila Samhita.
8. Kalikambal Temple
Set in the George Town area, the Chennai Kalikambal Temple is an ancient abode of devotion. Dedicated to Goddess Kalikambal, this temple was originally located closer to the site of the present-day Fort St. George but when the British East India Company built the fort, the temple was relocated to the current site. It is believed that earlier a fierce form of the goddess was worshipped at the Chennai Kalikambal Temple which was then replaced by Shanta Swaroopa form of Goddess Kamakshi by Adi Shankara.
9. Marundeeswarar Temple
Known for its healing and spiritual practices, the Marundeeswarar Temple Chennai is a stunning example of Chola architecture. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this temple in Chennai is also significant historically since it was an important point of Vadagaperuvazhi, now known as the East Coast Road that connected it to other parts of the kingdom.
This temple in Chennai, with the Kapaleeswarar Temple and Thiruvottiyur Thyagarajaswamy Temples, forms what is called the Trinity Sea Shore temples, and attracts a lot of visitors for not only the curative worship but also the style of architecture.