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Life around the Mylapore temple, Chennai

Mylapore is the centre of the Brahmin community in Chennai, T.N. Accoding to the Legend Goddess Parvathi, did penance at Mylapore taking the form of a pea-hen, in order to be wedded to him. The name Mylapore is derived from this legend - "Myil" in Tamil means a peacock. Located here is the Kapaleeswarar temple, one of the most famous temples in Chennai.

The Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar who composed the great Tamil work Thirukkural was born in Mylapore, and the temple is supposed to be the home where he had lived centuries ago. Marco Polo's travels also contain references to Mylapore and to the practices of observing certain unlucky hours everyday, during which all normal activity is suspended.

The apostle St. Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus is supposed to have come to Mylapore. It is to commemorate this that the Portuguese built the San Thome church after destroying the Kapaleeswaraar temple that stood at its place. The present Kapaleeswarar temple was built 300-400 years ago at a different location. Religious services are offered each day, drawing huge crowds of devotees. The temple has two entrances one from the east and another from the west. The main diety Kapaleeswarar, faces west.

A walk around the narrow streets in the area demonstrates that the ancient co-exists with the modern. Surrounding the temple are all manner of shops selling sarees, food stuff, religious requirements such as oil lamps, beetle nut leaves, cocunuts, flowers and even small craftsmen who still ply their craft in the same manner as they used to centuries ago. The priests who conduct the services live a short walk away in traditional homes that have remained unaltered for decades. One can spend many hours exploring the area. The best time to visit is early evening.


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