Chennai for spiritual explorers

7 religious landmarks of Chennai that you cannot miss

It might sound like a cliché if we try to pick the most popular places of worship in Chennai. Because let’s admit it- this southernmost metropolis of India is rich in its cultural and religious heritage. So much so, that at the turn of almost every street you will find a dated yet remarkable temple or a mosque or a church. Each of these religious sites has their own story which they carried through the evolution of the city, while Madras grew into Chennai. So, shuffling through past of Chennai, we picked a few religious sites which attract the most devotees and pilgrims from all over.

Here’s a list of 7 religious landmarks of Chennai that you must pay a visit to.

Kapaleeshwar Temple

Built in the 8th century, this temple in Mylapore is dedicated to Lord Shiva, with his shrine in the form of lingam. Not only is this one of the most sacred temples of the town, but the structure is also of architectural brilliance. Constructed in the classic Dravidian style of architecture, the temple flaunts remarkable Gopurams. And its location on the shore, adds to the divine experience. Plan your travel around Navratri Festival, Theppa Thiruvizha Float Festival, Vasant Ustavam, and Brahmotsavam, to experience the temple in the true festive mood.

Wallajah Mosque

Also called the Triplicane Big Mosque, due to its location, the Wallajah Mosque is one of the prominent Islamic landmarks of Chennai. It was built in 1795, under the patronage of the family of Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, the Nawab of Arcot. The massive granite structure has a huge prayer hall and an expansive front garden, which hosts many religious ceremonies throughout the year.

Parthasarathy temple

One of the most sacred religious sites of the southern capital, the Parthasarathy Temple is thronged by pilgrims from far and wide. An 8th-century temple, this religious site was built by the Pallava Kings. The temple is dedicated to Parthasarathy- another name of Lord Krishna and houses the shrines of five other avatars of Vishnu. Experience ultimate divinity during the annual mirror palanquin floating festival, when the entire place gets immersed in festivities.

Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas

This basilica was built on the tomb of St. Thomas, one of Christ’s apostles. The Basilica of the National Shrine in Chennai is one of the only three such shrines in the world built over the tomb of any of Christ’s apostles. Apart from being a place of worship, the church premise also houses a museum that shares the saint’s stories and his paintings.

Thousand Light mosque

A prominent religious site, the Thousand Light Mosque has also grown to be a prominent place for pilgrims and other tourists. Built in the 1800s, this mosque was initially just a prayer hall which offered a place to the Shia Muslims to meet and pray during Muharram. During those times the hall would be aglow with 1000 lamps. Hence it’s name. Extending across 5 acres of area, the mosque features two tall minarets, five domes, a library, and a burial ground. The walls of the mosque are engraved with inscriptions from Quran. The most eventful time at the Thousand Light mosque is during Muharram, which is religiously celebrated here.   

Christ the King Church

Chennai or rather erstwhile Madras has been an important center of preaching for Christian missionaries in the colonial days. And these Christian centers speak of Chennai’s profound religious heritage. The Christ the King Church is one of the most eminent and revered ones in the city, frequented by the locals and people from neighboring places. The exquisite Gothic structure with stained glass windows and a traditional spire, adds to the hallowed vibes of the place. The church is open to visitors from all over to sit, pray or participate in the colorful and holy festivities.

Vadapalani Murugan Temple

One of the most popular temples of Chennai, the name literally translates to North of Palani Temple. Established about 125 years ago, the temple is recognized as one of the most auspicious places for marriages. The presiding deity of Vadapalani is Lord Muruga. You can also find shrines of other deities like Ganapathy, Meenakshi, Kali, Bhairava (Shiva) and others. This ancient religious site showcases the quintessential Dravidian structure with a Raja Gopuram, an expansive courtyard, and several niches. Join the festivities and religious ceremonies that are conducted frequently, to absorb the divine energy and experience the temple in its true essence.

The Ashtalakshmi Kovil

On the shores of the Elliot Beach in Chennai, stands this colorful, ancient temple. Dedicated to goddess Laksmi and her eight prominent avatars, the Ashtalakshmi Kovil is a sight to behold. The time worn Dravidian architecture with the chromatic artwork, renders an instant positive vibe, as you step onto its threshold. The multi-tiered temple premise has nine separate sanctums with the shrines of Lakshmi and Vishnu in one and her eight forms in the rest. The temple also houses the ten significant avatars of Vishnu, along with deities of Guruvayoorappan, Ganesha, Dhanwanthari and Anjaneyar.