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Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
Kapaleeshwarar Temple, Mylapore
Mylapore is located in Chennai
Coordinates: 13°02′01″N 80°16′07″E / 13.0336°N 80.2687°E / 13.0336; 80.2687Coordinates: 13°02′01″N 80°16′07″E / 13.0336°N 80.2687°E / 13.0336; 80.2687
Country India
State Tamil Nadu
District Chennai District
Metro Chennai
Ward 147
Talukas Mylapore
 • Body CMDA
 • Official Tamil
Time zone IST (UTC+5:30)
PIN 600 004
Vehicle registration TN-06
Lok Sabha constituency South Chennai
Vidhan Sabha constituency Mylapore[1][2]
Planning agency CMDA

Mylapore (Mayilāppūr) is a cultural hub and neighborhood in the southern part of the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. Mylapore is also called Thirumayilai.

Mylapore is one of the oldest residential parts of the city. It is connected to other parts of city by road and the MRTS system. San Thome Basilica in Mylapore houses the tomb of Thomas the Apostle.[3] It is known for its tree-lined avenues, the seventh-century Kapaleeshwarar Temple, katcheri season and Ramakrishna Math. Mylapore is regarded as the birthplace of Tamil poet and saint Thiruvalluvar,[4] one of the icons of Tamil literature.


The word Mylapore is derived from Mayil arparikum oor, which means "Land of the peacock scream".[5] Historically, peacocks have been known to thrive in the area, which is evident from the Several Statues in the Kapaleeshwarar Temple Towers (Gopuram in Tamil) which was built by Tuluva dynasty in (1491–1570 CE) and also in the emblem of the Portuguese-built Santhome Church which was built on demolishing the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple. Thirugnanasambandar also mentioned about Mayil (Peacock in English) in his songs in Tevaram


Mylapore is located a few kilometres to the south of the British-built Chennai city. It lies between Triplicane and Teynampet in the west then across to the coast in the east. It is bounded by Royapettah to the north. Its southern frontier corresponds roughly with that of the River Adyar. It extends for around 4 km from north to south and 2 km from east to west.


The population of Mylapore is estimated to be around 150,000 to 300,000.[6] It has long been a site of cultural importance for Brahmins, which can be attributed to Mylapore's early role as a temple center. Smartha Brahmins, a subsect, were one of the first people to settle in this township.[7] More accurate statistics are not available as Mylapore is not a separate township by itself, but a part of Chennai city. The different neighborhoods within Mylapore have been distributed among the different wards of the Chennai Corporation.


Mylapore is said[by whom?] to be one of the oldest town in the world. Thiruvalluvar the celebrated author of Thirukkural, the famous ethical treatise, lived in Mylapore nearly 2,000 years ago. The Saivite Saints of the 7th Century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about the Shrine in their hymns. The town of Mylapore predates British rule by several centuries. It was historically known as Vedapuri. As the available historical and archaeological evidence shows, it could well be the oldest part of Chennai, with written records of early settlements going back to the first century BC. It was known for its ancient port with a flourishing trade with the Roman Empire, receiving gold in exchange for its products like pepper and fine cloth. Ptolemy had recorded in the 2nd century AD that the port of Mylapore was known to the Greeks and the Romans. Mention has been made of the early settlement of Santhome(currently known) by Arab travelers and merchants of the 9th and 10th centuries AD. Marco Polo visited the place in the late 13th century, and the Portuguese settled around Santhome(currently known) in the early 16th century where they demolished the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple and built the San Thome Church.[8]

Mylapore was occupied by the Portuguese in 1523, who established the viceroyalty of "São Tomé de Meliapor" or "Saint Thomas of Mylapore." Portuguese rule lasted until 1749, except for a brief interregnum between 1662 and 1687, when the town was occupied by the French. Portuguese demolished the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple along the seashore and built San Thome church.

After 1749, the town fell into the hands of the British East India Company, who took possession of the settlement in the name of Muhammad Ali Khan Wallajah, the Nawab of Arcot.[9] In that same year, Mylapore was incorporated into the administration of the Presidency of Madras. The settlement known as "Luz" developed during this period. The name finds its origins from the 'Nossa Senhora Da Luz' (Our Lady of Light) church built by the Portuguese in 1516 AD. This church is one of the oldest standing Christian structures in all of Tamil Nadu.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries the town became the commercial and intellectual hub of Madras city and home to British-educated lawyers and statesmen.[10][11][12] Some of the luminaries based in Mylapore included Sir V. Bhashyam Aiyangar, Sir S. Subramania Iyer, Sir T. Madhava Rao, Eardley Norton, Sir P. S. Sivaswami Iyer, Pennathur Subramania Iyer, V. Krishnaswamy Iyer, Sir C. P. Ramaswami Iyer, H Bhimasena Rau, C S Rama Rao Sahib, Subanthore Vasudeva Rao, CR Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and the civil engineer C R Narayana Rao. Subanthore Vasudeva Rao's descendants still reside in his 100-year-old house near Kapaleeswarar Temple, Mylapore.

In recent times, increasing commercialization has changed the look of the area. Today, Mylapore is known for its residential colonies, temples, shopping malls, music halls and sabhas, along with old 19th century style residential buildings and houses.

Notable personalities[edit]

The Tamil sage of the Sangam Period Thiruvalluvar, author of the Tamil work Thirukkural, is said to have been born in Mylapore.[13] The temple dedicated to Thiruvalluvar is one of the major attractions of the area.

Pey Azhwar one of the twelve azhwar saints of South India, was, according to Hindu legend, found in the lily flower in the pond of the Adi Kesava Perumal Temple in Mylapore in 4203 BCE.[14]

The area is associated with Ptolemy, an noted Egyptian traveller.[15] He is believed to have arrived at Mylapore to find a thriving port city. Marco Polo visited Mylapore; he left a detailed description of the land, the people along with their customs and religion.[16]

A number of Christians regard Mylapore as the original burial site of St. Thomas the Apostle, before his body was moved to Edessa.[17] After Portuguese demolishing the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple,[18] they built San Thome Basilica on this site.[19]


Mylapore contains many educational institutions, including Vivekananda College, Lady Sivaswamy Ayyar Girls Hr.Sec.School St., Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya Senior Sec School, Sir Sivaswami Kalalaya Higher Sec School, Raphael's Girls Hr.Sec.School, Rosary matriculation Higher secondary school, St Bede's Anglo Indian Higher secondary school, Santhome Higher Sec. School, Montfort Academy, [[MCTM Chidambaram Chettyar International IB School] Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed(J.B.A.S) Memorial Matric Hr. Sec.Boys School], Dominic Savio School, St. John's Schools, P. S. Senior Secondary School, Vidya Mandir Secondary School, P.S Higher Secondary School, with the latter being over a hundred years old. India's first digital media college — the Image College of Arts, Animation, and Technology is also based in Mylapore.


Mylapore MRTS station


Mylapore is connected to other parts of the city by MTC buses, with connections including Chennai Central, T. Nagar, Tambaram, Broadway.

List of MTC bus routes covers through in and out of Mylapore

Route Number Start End Via
1 Thiruvottriyur Thiruvanmiyur Broadway, Central, Royapettah, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Adyar
1A Thiruvottriyur Thiruvanmiyur Broadway, Central, Royapettah, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Adyar
1C Ennore Thiruvanmiyur Thiruvottriyur, Broadway, Central, Royapettah, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Adyar
1D Ennore Thiruvanmiyur Broadway, Central, Royapettah, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Adyar
5B T.Nagar Mylapore Mandaveli, Adyar, Saidapet
12C Saligramam Mylapore Vadapalani, Rangarajapuram, Panagal park, Adyar Gate, Mandaveli
M15 Medavakkam Mylapore Mandaveli, Adyar, SRP tools, Velachery, Pallikaranai
M15xt TambaramEast Mylapore Mandaveli, Adyar, SRP tools, Velachery, Pallikaranai, Medavakkam, Camp road
21 Mandaveli Broadway Mylapore, Royapettah, Central RS
21C Kannaki nagar CentralRS Royapettah, Mylapore, Mandaveli, Adyar, SRP tools,
45G Guindy Anna Square SaidapetWest, Mettupalayam, Srinivasa Theater, CIT nagar, Adyar Gate, Mandaveli, Mylapore,

MRTS (Mass Rapid Transit System)[edit]

Thirumyilai Railway Station, on the MRTS network, connects Mylapore to Chennai Beach to the north and Velachery on the south.

Religious importance[edit]

Mylapore is known for its cultural and religious heritage. Mylapore is home to hundreds of temples, churches and mosques. A few of the notable sites are the Kapaleeshwarar Karpagambal temple, AdiKesava Perumal Temple, the San Thome Basilica, and Madhava Perumal temple.

Kapaleeswarar Temple[edit]

The temple was built by Pallava kings in the 7th century. [7] The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The temple exhibits exquisite Dravidian architecture.

The temple tank at dawn

San Thome Basilica[edit]


San Thome Basilica, built over the tomb of Thomas the Apostle, is a Roman Catholic (Latin Rite) minor basilica in Santhome, in the city of Chennai (Madras), India. It was built along the seashore in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers, and rebuilt again with the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893 which still stands. However, St Thomas relics are also supposed to be in Mosul, Iraq. San Thome Basilica is the principal church of the Madras-Mylapore Catholic Archdiocese. In 1956, Pope Pius XII raised the church to the status of a Minor Basilica, and on February 11, 2006, it was declared a national shrine by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. The San Thome Basilica is a pilgrimage center for Christians in India. The church also has an attached museum.[20]

Ramakrishna Math[edit]

Entrance of the Universal Temple

Sri Ramakrishna Mutt, is the oldest center of the Ramakrishna Order in the South India. Sri Ramakrishna is the main deity of the temple. Architecture of the temple is a blend of Hindu, Islamic, Buddhist, Rajput, and Christian styles.

AdiKesava Perumal Temple[edit]

Mylapore is known for the AdiKesava Perumal Temple constructed in honor of Keshava or Lord Vishnu, a principal God in the Hindu pantheon and the "Savior" in the Hindu trinity. The temple has an idol of Lord Vishnu accompanied by his celestial consort Goddess Lakshmi. This is the birth place of Peyazhawar. It has sannathis for the thayar Mayuravalli, Chakkarathazhvar,Sri Andal, Sri Rama,& Anjaneya. It is the avathara sthalam(birthplace) of peyazhvar and has a separate sannithi for the azhvar. During the brahmotsavam the utsavar goes in a procession accompanied by Sridevi & Bhudevi in the mada streets and also gives us the chance to see the theppam festival in the centuries old kulam(tank). Every year the Parthasarathy perumal comes to the Kesavaperumal temple & and Kesavaperumal too goes to Triplicane along with Peyazhvar.

Sri Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam/Sri Srinivasar Koil[edit]

Mylapore has the Srinivasar temple near Chitra Kulam in Mylapore, which is administered by the Vedantha Desikar Devasthanam (SVDD)]. It is located beside the Adi Kesava Perumal Temple, which has an imposing gopuram that can be seen from quite a distance.

Luz Church[edit]

Church of Our Lady of Light (Tamil: பிரகாச மாதா ஆலயம்) is a Roman Catholic shrine in Chennai, India. It is commonly called as Luz Church by the locals, which derives from the Portuguese name Nossa Senhora da Luz. Built in 1516 by the Portuguese, it is one of the oldest Churches in the city and its foundation stone marks as one of the oldest European monuments in India. The history of the church dates back to the 16th-century legend of safe arrival to land by missionaries. The church is located very near to the Santhome Basilica, where Apostle Thomas is believed to be buried.

Although at the time the church was built, the locality was a thick forest, now it is part of a bustling metropolitan area. This 16th-century European-architecture building consists of patterns of Gothic arches and Baroque ornamentation. The feast of Our Lady of Light is celebrated on the 15 August every year. On 15 August, 2010, Church of Our Lady of Light was declared Shrine of Our Lady of Light by A. M. Chinnappa, Archbishop of Madras-Mylapore.

Other temples[edit]

A temple for Thiruvalluvar in Mylapore

Some of the prominent temples in the area include:

  • NavaShakti Vinayaka temple, near Luz
  • Veera Anjaneyar Temple, near Luz
  • Anjaneyar Temple, Alamelumangapuram
  • Madhava Perumal Temple
  • MundakaKanni Amman temple
  • Kolavizhi Amman temple
  • Vaaleeswarar Temple
  • Velleeswarar Temple (Near Kapaleeswarar temple)
  • Virupaaksheeshwarar Temple
  • Malleshwarar Temple
  • Kaaraneeshwarar temple
  • Veerabadra Swami temple — This temple has a separate shrine dedicated to Lord Sarabeshwara
  • Apparswamy temple — Appar attained samadhi here
  • Shirdi Sai temple
  • Nandalala temple, Dr. Ranga Road — The temple's main deity, krishna, is made out of touch stone
  • Thiruvalluvar Temple
  • Sangalneer Pillayar Kovil


Convention of the Mylai Tamizh Sangam, early 1900s
Mylapore Fine Arts Club

Mylapore is regarded by many as the cultural hub of the city. Mylapore is the home of music sabhas (cultural organizations) and musicians. December is often set aside as the Music Season when regular and continuous kutcheris are organized by the Sabhas in Mylapore. There are performances by Carnatic Music vocalists and artists during this period. The Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in Mylapore is the oldest Sabha (Assembly) in Tamil Nadu. The Madras Music Academy in the north of the district is an important nucleus of art events in the city. Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan Auditorium conducts cultural events. The Mylapore Fine Arts located near Nageshwara Rao Park is another Sabha.

Nageshwara Rao Garden is known for its play area, shrubs and cultural events.

The Mylapore Times, a weekly neighbourhood newspaper, covers issues relating to the neighbourhood of Mylapore.


There are a number of shops and exhibition halls in Mylapore. Nilgiris 1905 is the most prominent departmental store in Mylapore. There are halls such as Sankara Hall, where book fairs and handloom and art exhibitions are held. Khadims is a footwear store, located on Venkatesha Agraharam Road. Most parts of the Marina beach are located within Mylapore.

The Chennai Citi Centre shopping mall has a multiplex, a food court and many shops.

Mylapore is known for its classical dance accessories. Costumes, jewellery and other dance accessories can be found near the Kapaleeswar Temple.


Nageswara Rao Park, a four acre park, is located on Luz Church Road in Mylapore. The park is open to the public from 5am to 8pm and is a popular place for morning walks.

Localities in Mylapore[edit]

Temple Tank in Mylapore

Some of the noted localities in Mylapore include

Places of importance in Mylapore[edit]


The Mylapore assembly constituency is part of Chennai South (Lok Sabha constituency).[21]

Location in context[edit]


  1. ^ Partywise Comparison Since in Assembly Elections since 1977
  2. ^ Profile of candidates who contested 2006 Assembly Elections from Mylapore constituency[dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ Kanakasabhai (1997). The Tamils Eighteen Hundred Years Ago. Asian Education Service. p. 138. ISBN 81-206-0150-5. 
  5. ^ Saints, Goddesses and Kings By Susan Bayly
  6. ^ Voter population of Mylapore Legislative Assembly constituency
  7. ^ a b Womanhood in the Making By Mary Elizabeth Hancock, Mary Hancock
  8. ^ "Structure of Chennai". Chapter 1. CMDA. Retrieved 24 Feb 2013. 
  9. ^ A brief history of Chennai, From the official website of the Corporation of Chennai
  10. ^ PALATHOPE -- A Lawyer's Enclave Part I by Ashwin Prabhu, Mylapore Social History Project
  11. ^ PALATHOPE -- A Lawyer's Enclave Part II by Ashwin Prabhu, Mylapore Social History Project
  12. ^ Madras Rediscovered by S.Muthiah
  13. ^ Biography of Thiruvalluvar by Swami Sivananda
  14. ^ Ayyar, P. V. Jagadisa (1991). South Indian shrines: illustrated. New Delhi: Asian Educational Services. p. 539. ISBN 81-206-0151-3. 
  15. ^ Ptolemy mentions Mylapore as Mylarphon and describes it as a 'rich, vast and grand land'[dead link]
  16. ^ The Travels of Marco Polo by Henry Yule, Vol 2, Book 3, Chapters XVII and XVIII, Project Gutenberg
  17. ^ "St Thomas Christians" Catholic Encyclopedia ( . nd. web. accessed FEB 19, 2010.
  18. ^ " History of mylapore". . nd. web. accessed JUL 9,2014.
  19. ^ "Basilica of the National Shrine of St.Thomas". . nd. web. accessed FEB 19, 2010.
  20. ^ "Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas". Retrieved 20 February 2010. 
  21. ^ "List of Parliamentary and Assembly Constituencies" (PDF). Tamil Nadu. Election Commission of India. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 

External links[edit]

See also[edit]