This ancient temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located in the suburb of Chennai called Madambakkam, near Tambaram.This temple is over 1000 years old (956-973 AD), which is said to have been built during the reign of Parantaka Chola II or Sundara Chola, father of Rajaraja Chola 1 (who constructed Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur). The temple is believed to be rebuilt of stone during the reign of Kulothunga Chola1.According to legend, there was a rishi called “Kapila” who was performing penance towards Lord Shiva to attain Mukthi. He had a Shiva Linga for which he was performing pooja everyday.
One day during his pooja, he was holding the Shiva Linga on his left hand and started doing Abhishekam with the milk on his right hand. He was caught with a Dhosha as he held the idol on his left hand, which is a sin, result of which he cannot attain Moksha. Because of the Dhosha, he had to take another birth as a cow and live the entire life praying the God, to attain Moksha. He took birth as a cow in a village (Sitreri) and was gazing near a lake in South of India.
One day, the master of the cow saw the cow pouring its milk on a small stone buried in the ground. He angrily hit the cow for having wasted its milk. Unable to bear the pain, the cow tapped it’s leg on the ground where it hit the stone. The stone started bleeding. The man got frightened and called all the villagers who dug the ground and saw that it’s a Shiva Linga. The master of the cow prayed the God to forgive him.Lord Shiva appeared and said that it was his act for the sake of Kapila Rishi, who was born as the cow. Kapila Rishi also apologized to Lord Shiva for having kicked on the head of the Linga. Lord Shiva forgave him and Kapila attained Moksha.
The people went and informed the king who was coming downside of Sitreri. The king arranged to construct a temple for Lord Shiva there and the God was then known as Sitrerinadhar and Goddess, Nampirattiyar. The place where people met the king downside the lake is today’s Rajakizhpakkam. And the village Sitreri (means small lake) is now called as Madambakkam.The presiding deity is called Lord Dhenupureeswarar (facing the east) and the Goddess, Dhenukambal. Unlike most temples, where the sanctum is either square or rectangle, this is apsidal in shape which is called as Gaja Brishta Vimana (Shaped like elephant’s back) in Sanskrit.
This type of feature is found in few other Chola temples in and around Chennai.Even today we can see a scar on the Shiva Lingam, caused by the Cow (Kapila) while it kicked the ground because of the pain when it was beaten up by its master. Lot of contributions have been made to this temple by Vijayanagara rulers. Many sculptures in the walls of this temple, stand testimony to the subsidies given to this temple in the form of lands, livestock, jewels etc.,
There is a large tank adjacent to this temple filled with water. This also serves as water source for the people living around the temple. Saint Arunagirinathar (15th Century A.D.), has composed a hymn on this temple. This ancient village, now called Madambakkam, was also known as Ulaguyyavanda Chola Chaturvedimangalam in the past.
Festivals like Pradhosham and Panguni Uthiram are celebrated with pomp here.Another rare feature of this temple is, it houses Lord Sarabeswarar on one of the pillars in it. Lord Sarabeswarar is another form of Lord Shiva who took form to bring down the anger and furiousness of Lord Narasimha. Lord Sarabeswarar took the form of Yazhi bird with human body and eagle’s wings having Godess Durga and Godess Maha Prathyangira Devi each of his wings.