Historian Chitra Madhavan talks about its magnificent architecture and intricate sculptures

“The Kapaleeswarar Temple is a magnificent specimen of post-Vijayanagara architecture from around 150 years ago,” said Dr. Chithra Madhavan at the Srinivasa Sastri Hall on Wednesday. “It closely follows the Vijayanagara style, but belongs to the Naik period.”

She was delivering the Sri Parthasarathy Mudaliar Memorial Lecture on Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, organised by the South Indian National Association and the Ranade Library.

Dr. Madhavan highlighted the historical pedigree of Mylapore through references made to the area by travellers such as Ptolemy and Marco Polo. She traced its history over the ages as it came under the rule of various empires.

With regard to the temple itself, Dr. Madhavan showcased the magnificent architecture and intricate sculptures carved out of wood, stucco and stone.

The main gopuram was transformed from a passive monolith to a dynamic symbol of our cultural heritage as she shed light on the various mythological characters and stories depicted on it from the bottom to the very top.

“If you stand outside Giri Trading, you can see it all. It’s just that the area is so crowded that we don’t stop and stare at these beautiful things,” she said.

Dr. Madhavan also provided a history of the temple, including its origin. The temple is said to have been originally located on the seashore, but moved to its present location fairly recently due to unknown reasons.

The lecture proved to be a great success with the audience being enthralled by this new perspective of a familiar edifice.

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