Tamil Nadu is the land of amazing temples which enthral locals and visitors alike. You will find over three hundred temples in Chennai, the Capital of Tamil Nadu, of which some are really famous for their architectural beauty, cultural significance and historical importance.
The temples are strictly dedicated to either Shaivism (worship of Lord Shiva and his extended family) or Vaishnavism (worship of Lord Vishnu and his wife, Lakshmi) but usually, most people visit both temples with equal devotion and fervour. Let’s find out more about temples around Chennai and pilgrimage sites nearby.
Temples Around Chennai
1. Kapaleeswarar Temple
Head to Vinayaka Nagar Colony in Mylapore for this temple to Shiva, as Kapaleeswarar with Karpagambal for his consort, built originally in the 7th Century by Pallava kings. The temple is an important cultural centre in the city and draws many visitors including budding artists who sing or dance for the God here.
2. Ashtalakshmi Temple
Head to Elliot’s Beach in Adyar, Chennai to worship at the Ashtalakshmi temple. Hinduism worships the Goddess of Lakshmi for wealth, in her eight different forms, namely offspring, success, prosperity, wealth, courage, bravery, knowledge and food, as one would need all these aspects to be healthy, to have a good life.
This beautifully designed temple enables one to worship at the different sanctums, each of which is dedicated to one aspect of the Goddess.
3. Kalikambal Temple
Located in the old George Town part of Chennai, or Parry’s Corner, this temple to Goddess Kali was originally near the seashore but was relocated circa 1640 AD.
It is believed that the famous Maratha warrior Shivaji worshipped here incognito in 1667 and that the angry (Roudra) form of the Goddess which was worshipped earlier was replaced by the idol of Goddess Kamakshi as the calm and composed (Shanti swaroopini).
Location: George Town
4. Marundeeswarar Temple
Located on the beach at Thiruvanmiyur in Chennai, this Temple was patronised by the Chola Kings in the 11th century. Marundhu in Tamil translates to medicine.
The God here is Marundeeswarar is credited with having imparted an extensive knowledge of the medicinal properties of various Herbs and plants to Sage Agastya.
5. Sri Chenna Kesavapperumal Temple
Chenna Kesava Perumal temple is located in Sowcarpet in the George Town area of Chennai. This is a very old temple which holds the distinction of being one of the few temples in India, built with the aid from the British East India Company.
There’s a theory that the city of Chennai is named after this God.
6. ISKCON Temple
Located off the East Coast Road at Sholinganallur, this temple built by the International Society for Krishna Consciousness upholds the aesthetic values of all such temple and provides a great ambience for the worship of Krishna.
This gorgeous temple is built on 5 levels in an area of over one and half acres. Inaugurated in April 2012, this temple is built according to Vastu Shastra and is inspired by Pallava and Kalinga styles of temple architecture.
7. Varasiddhi Vinayagar Temple
This famous temple in the Besant Nagar area of Chennai was built at the current site in 1979, though the original temple was actually located opposite this place. The temple is a major cultural centre where the poor are regularly fed and pujas are held on various auspicious occasions.
The temple also has an auditorium where many musical and cultural programs are held on a regular basis.
Location: Besant Nagar
8. Nandeeswarar Temple, Adambakkam
This beautiful temple is located in Adambakkam, close to the St. Thomas Mount suburban railway station. Also known as Sivan temple to the locals, the temple has Sri Nandeeswarar as the main deity and Gomathi or Aavudai Nayagi as the Goddess.
The temple houses shrines to Vinayaka, Nagadevathai, Vishnu, Subramanyar, Bhairavar, Brahma, Durga, Sandikeswarar and the Navagrahas.
9. Kumaran Kundram
This 40-year old temple at Chrompet in Chennai is dedicated to Lord Murugan or Kumaraswamy/ Kumaran. Built on top of a hillock, the temple has the deity facing north, requiring devotees to climb 80 steps to reach the temple. You will also find shrines here for Vinayagar, Shiva, Sarabheswara, Ambal and the Navagrahas.
10. Sri Prasanna Venkata Narasimha Perumal Temple
Sri Prasanna Venkata Narasimha Perumal Temple at Saidapet in Chennai, dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, is constructed in the 15th Century during the rule of Vijayanagar Kings and may have elements dating back by over a thousand years.
Flanked on either side by his consorts, Sridevi and Bhudevi, the deity here is visited by Shri Parthasarathy Perumal from his temple in Triplicane, every year in February during the Thotta Utsavam festival.
11. Ayyappan Temple
Guruvayur in Kerala is famous for the worship of Lord Ayyappan, in whose worship many people from South India follow a specified lifestyle for 40 days, which culminates in a journey to Guruvayur for the Makaravilakku during Makar Sankranti.
During this period of penance, they hold a lot of religious gatherings, for which there is a need for a temple like this. The Ayyappan temple in Mahalingapuram fulfils that need.
12. Ramanadheswarar Temple, Porur
This beautiful temple to Ramanatheswarar at Porur dates its history back to the days of the Ramayana, when Ram himself unwittingly found the Shivalinga which is consecrated here. The main temple dates back to 700 AD when a Chola king had the temple constructed here.
This place is also famous as Uttara Rameshwaram (or Rameswaram in the North) and as a Navagraha Sthanam dedicated to the worship of Guru, one of the Navagrahas.
13. Parthasarathy Temple
This temple to Parthasarathy ( Lord Vishnu) is located at Thiruvallikeni or current day’s Triplicane in Chennai.
Dating back to 5000 years or more, it is believed to have been renovated in later times by Pallava kings and is considered to be the oldest temple in the city of Chennai which acted as a resting place for tourists who visited Lord Venkateswara at Tirupati.
14. Sri Balaji Temple
Located on Venkata Narayana Road in T. Nagar, very close to Panagal Park, this beautiful temple to Lord Balaji is run by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) itself in a beautiful manner for the devotees in Chennai.
Carved out of a single stone, the deity is very similar in appearance to the Swayambhu Idol. Don’t miss the small silver idol of Bhoga Srinivasa, loosely bonded to the main idol by a string.
Location: T Nagar
15. Madras Kali Beri
The Madras Kali Bari is similar in construction to the Dakshineswar Kali Temple near Kolkata. The Temple is built by the Hindu Bengalis living in Chennai and it is located around the West Mambalam area of the city.
The temple is famous for the Hindu prayers – known as Bhajans – that are sung there on a daily basis, and also for Kali Puja. The Temple is important for the Bengali diaspora living in Tamil Nadu, and for visitors as well.
Location: West Mambalam
16. Karaneeswarar Temple
This temple at Saidapet to Lord Shiva as Karaneeswarar also worships his wife as Swarnambika or Golden Mother. It also has beautiful idols of Lord Ganesha, Dakshinamurthy, Vishnu, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeshwara.
The temple has a seven-storied gopuram and two prakarams or enclosed precincts.
17. Madhya Kailash
True to its name, this Temple complex is located in the middle of the junction between Rajiv Gandhi Salai, Adyar and Sardar Patel Road.
The shrines to Vinayaka, Shiva, Surya, Devi, Vishnu, Anjaneya and Swarna Bhairavar are famous for the unique craftsmanship and rituals that are performed here which include the propitiation of one’s ancestors including the performance of their last rites.
18. Kasi Vishwanathar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, located around West Mambalam in Chennai. The Temple is named after the Kasi Vishwanathar Temple in Varanasi, a famous holy place in the Indian State of Uttar Pradesh, meant for pilgrimages and other religious activity.
The Kasi Vishwanathar Temple in Chennai is also known as the “Mahabilva Kshetra”.
Location: West Mambalam
19. Raveeswarar Shiva Temple
This famous Shiva temple in Vyasarpadi, close to Perambur in Chennai was built by the Chola Kings. THe temple is popular for its idol of Ravi or the Sun God opposite to Shiva for worship. Ravi is supposed to have sought the help of Lord Shiva to overcome his Brahma dosham here. Devotees come here to seek relief from various illnesses.
20. Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple
There exist six temples across Tamil Nadu that are dedicated to the Hindu God, Murugan. This is mentioned extensively in Tamil Sangam Literature. The Arupadai Veedu Murugan Temple in Chennai is located in Besant Nagar, Chennai.
Unlike many temples located in Chennai or Tamil Nadu, this temple in Besant Nagar is fairly recent in construction.
Location: Besant Nagar
21. Valluvar Kottam
More of a monument than a temple, this glorious construction in the shape of a temple chariot is built in honour of the famous Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar, who wrote the Thirukkural. The architectural beauty of this monuments draws visitors from far and wide. Do look for the saplings planted here by Mother Teresa in 1984.
Temples near Chennai
22. Perumal Temple
40 kilometres from Chennai, we have Sriperumbudur which is the birthplace of the renowned Vaishnava Saint Sri Ramanujar.
This impressive temple to Adi Kesava Perumal with his consorts Sridevi and Bhudevi alaso has a statue in metal, which is the exact replica of Sri Ramanujar who lived for 120 years in the worship of Vishnu at Srirangam.
Distance from Chennai: 40 kilometres
23. Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple
Located 75 kilometres from Chennai, this famous temple can be easily visited on a weekend. The architecture of the temples is enthralling and this capital of the Pallava dynasty has many monuments dating back to 3rd to the 6th century; followed by the Cholas and the Vijayanagar empire.
Distance from Chennai: 74 kilometres
24. Srikalahasthi Temple
This ancient Shiva temple is currently housed in an impressive construction, carved out of the side of a huge hill, in the 10th century.
Located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, this Panchabhoota sthala represents Wind and finds mention in the Skanda Purana, Shiva Purana and the Linga Purana. According to Skanda Purana, Arjuna worshipped Sri Kalahasthiswara at this temple.
Distance from Chennai: 113 kilometres
25. Sri Lakshmi Narayani Golden Temple
If amazed by temples carved out of marble and single stones, visit Sripuram, located 152 kilometres from Chennai, to find a temple gilded with 1500 kgs of pure gold. The deity in this expanse of gold is Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi herself.
At once a jeweller’s and an artist’s paradise, the sprawling temple is shaped like a star. At a distance of 1.8 kilometres from the gates, stands the central figure of Srilakshmi.
Distance from Chennai: 152 kilometres
26. Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam
This temple to Lord Venkateswara, fondly called Balaji by devotees, is one of the most famous temples in India. Millions of devotees visit here in a year, and many make the climb up the seven hills (representing the seven hoods of Adisesha, the snake in which Sri Maha Vishnu rests) to reach the top of the hills at an altitude of 3200 feet.
Distance from Chennai: 155 kilometres
27. Manakkula Vinayagar Kovil
Located at Pondicherry, a French colony at one time, this temple to Lord Vinayagar is considered very powerful as local lore narrates how the French soldiers destroyed the temple and threw the idol into the Bay of Bengal but found it in its original place.
This Ganesha temple is a popular tourist destination and serves as an example of the intricacies of Hindu culture for the uninitiated.
Distance from Chennai: 169 kilometres
28. Kanipakam Vinayaka Temple
Located 175 kilometres from Chennai, this temple to Varasiddhi Vinayaka is a major draw with devotees, who worship the swayambhu idol of Lord Ganesha. The idol emerged out of a well and is said to be growing in size, ever since.
The temple was built in the 11the century by Kulothunga Chola, and further expanded during the Vijayanagar empire.
Distance from Chennai: 175 kilometres
29. Nataraja Temple
Located 217 kilometres from Chennai, at Chidambaram, this temple to Shiva as Nataraja was built in the 11th century by Vikrama Chola. It is one of the most celebrated temples to Nataraja, with a dance hall covered with gold plates.
Chidambaram Temple is one among the Panchabhoota Sthalas signifying Space, while the four elements are Wind at Kalahasthi, Water at Tiruvanaikkaval, Fire at Tiruvannamalai and Earth at Kanchipuram.
Distance from Chennai: 217 kilometres
If you have ever been to Chennai, you would know that this list of temples barely scratches the surface in naming the number of the famous temple in Chennai but we have covered most of the heritage temples which people have known about and worshipped at for centuries.
Do visit as many as possible to enjoy their architectural beauty and absorb the serene piety pervading these temples. Have any questions? Let us know in the comments.