The Kapaleeshwarar temple, with a seven-tiered Gopuram, is known for magnificent sculptures depicting Puranic incidents. Sri Kapaleeshwarar and Devi Karpagambigai are in separate shrines. Lord Vinayaka and Muruga are in smaller shrines. On the northern corner of the corridor, there is a sculptural representation of the Devi as a peahen. There are sub-shrines for Gnanasambandhar and the merchant girl Poompaavai. The 63 Saivite saints (Nayanmars) are enshrined on the corridors.
Kapaleashwarar temple is dedicated to the Hindu Lord Shiva also known as Adi Bhagwan and his consort.The temple is said to be more than 2000 years old .The Vijayanagara kings rebuilt the temple during the 16th century and
added the majestic 37m gopuram at its gateway after the much older temple was destroyed by the Portuguese.
The presiding deity of this temple is a form of Shiva called Kapaleashwarar. The form of Shiva's wife Parvati at
this temple is called Karpagambal ("goddess of the wish- yielding tree"). Legend has it that
Lord Shiva was once telling Lord Brahma, the Hindu god of creation, about the creation of the three lokas but
Lord Brahma did not agree with what Shiva said. Shiva got angry and plucked out one of Brahma's four heads.
Brahma begged for forgiveness and was asked to perform penance at Mayilai (Mylapore) and then he asked
Lord Shiva to take the name of Kapaleashwarar as Lord Shiva (eswarar) was wearing a necklace of skulls (kapala).