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Kapaleeshwar Temple

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Near the San Thome Cathedral in the Tamil Nadu capital of Chennai sits the Kapaleeshwar Temple (spelled Kapaleeshwarar or Kapaleshwar too). The most impressive temple in the city by far, Kapaleeshwar honors the god Shiva with shrines dedicated to many other deities in the South Indian pantheon.

The working temple offers a good example of classical Dravidian architecture, with a stepped pyramid design blanketed in colorful statues of gods, demons, warriors and royalty. The detailing makes the temple exterior busy to the point where you don't quite know where to rest your eyes, but the structure is quite photogenic.

You're likely to see many more devotees than tourists at the temple, so you'll get a realistic insight into what modern temple worship looks like, particularly during the weekly Friday worship services. To avoid the crowds, show up at 6 am when the temple first opens.

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