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The first thing you notice if walk on the roads of Chennai, is a small idol of Ganesh at small nooks and corners.  You will also notice that most of the people passing by stand-in reverence for two minutes before the idol and get on with their duties.  Then, there are also bigger pilgrimage centres of ancient times, like Dhenpureeswarar temple, visited by pilgrims from places far and wide.

ganesh on chennai photoPhoto by Prince Roy

Dhenupureeswarar and his Consort


Dhenupureswarar temple, also called Thiripureeswarar temple is located in Tambaram, Chennai.  The temple is dedicated to Hindu God, Lord Shiva.  Goddess Parvathi is called Dhenukambal here.  The temple is more than 1000 old and  was called Madaiyampathi previously.

Some special features of the temple

This temple was built by Parantaka Chola, who had a recurrent dream which instructed him to build the temple.  Additions to the temple were made by the Vijayanagara kings.  This temple attracts the devotees and art enthusiasts in large numbers.  Some of the special features of this temple are:


  • A unique feature of Dhenupureswarar temple is that the Shiv ling is only 2 inches tall. It has a scar resembling the mark of a cow’s rear leg.
  • The Sanctum is in shape of a Gajaprishta meaning back of sleeping elephant, while most Hindu temples are in form of a square or rectangle.
  • Many Chola sculptures abound in the temple premises and are in good condition
  • Well preserved Inscriptions are found on walls that date to the Vijayanagara empire
  • Dhenupureswarar temple is declared as a monument of national importance and the Act “Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains”.
  • The temple has been mentioned in the works of a Great Tamil poet Arunagirinathar.
  • Some of the religious occasions celebrated with fervour are Pradosha, Navarathri and Panguni Uttiram. A boat festival(Teppotsavam) is held in the tank near this temple during Panguni Utiram.
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Dhenupureswarar temple architecture

temple gopuram photoPhoto by varunshiv

This temple has some special sculptures that are based on mythology and not found anywhere else. They reflect the amazing skills of sculptors of those times.

Some of them are

  1. Lord Sarbeshwarar is a part lion, part bird avatar of Lord Shiva. This sculpture has a face of a lion and part human part animal body with eight legs and two wings
  2. Lord Karthikeya has an elephant for a mount instead of the usual Peacock
  3. Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma are seen worshipping Lord Shiva
  4. Lord Shiva is seen with two consorts Ganga and Parvathi
  5. Another sculpture shows him resting on Vasuki, the divine snake
  6. The lord Dakshinamurthy(Shiva in an avatar of a Guru teacher) is seen with his consort here. This is very rare because he is usually seen with sages who are receiving instructions.
  7. A sculpture of Brahma with five faces is also seen in the temple
  8. There is a sculpture of Lord Ganesh holding a Veena
  9. Another sculpture depicts hanuman worshipping Lord Ram and his consort Sita

murugan photoPhoto by seeveeaar

Visit Dhenupureeswara temple for the amazing sculptors.  Elders advice childless couple to pray to Lord Karthikeyan here.  People with stammering problems are given prasad of green pulse to solve their maladies.  People with planetary dispositions can offer Cashewnut garlands and light ghee lamps in coconut and pumpkin shells.

Legends associated with this temple

Sage Kapila is one of the important Rishis of Indian mythology.  He was cursed by Lord Shiva to be born as a cow because he worshipped the Lingam with his left hand.

The name Dhenupureeswarar means the Lord who gave moksha(salvation) to a cow (Dhenu).  The legend goes that the cow would pour milk at a particular spot daily.  When shepherd noticed this, he wanted to punish the cow. He beat the cow’s udder and the cow kicked the lingam underground.  The villagers found a Shivling under the same place.  Lord Shiva appeared in front of the cow and liberated him from his curse.

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How to get there

Dhenupureswarar temple is just 8 km away from Chennai airport.  Of course, it is a bit outside the Chennai city limits, but you can easily access this place by road.  You can also cover another famous hilltop Karthikeya temple nearby called Kumarangundram.

Featured Photo by Tine72

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