Mylapore, one of the oldest areas of Chennai, has numerous temples for Siva and Vishnu. However, not many are aware of an ancient temple for Goddess Kolavizhi Amman here. The main entrance to the temple, with a modern arch, faces north leading to a spacious circumambulatory space (prakaram) with a large mandapam, through which devotees reach the principal sanctum. In this prakaram, close to the mandapam, are the trishulam (trident), bali-pitham and a small four-pillar mandapam for the lion (simha), the vehicle (vahana) of Goddess Kolavizhi Amman.
The main sanctum enshrines a large stucco (sudhai in Tamil) image of eight-armed Bhadrakali holding the head of a demon, kettle-drum (damaru), knife (asi), trident (trishula), shield (charma), elephant-goad (ankusha), bell (ghanta) and a skull-bowl (kapala). She is seated on a pedestal (pitha) with one leg upon it and the other placed in front on a demon. In front of Bhadrakali is a stone image of Kolavizhi Amman.
According to the tradition of this temple, Goddess Bhadrakali was once a fierce deity and Adi Sankara, the famous Advaita preceptor, quelled her ferocity by consecrating an image of Kolavizhi Amman here. Since Bhadrakali is a stucco deity, abhisekam is not performed; instead anointment with oil (tailakapu) is done. Kolavizhi Amman has four hands and holds the damaru, noose (pasha), trishula and kapala. It is for Kolavizhi Amman that abhisekam is done. The processional images of Kolavizhi Amman, Kali and Siva-Parvati are worshipped immediately in front.
Numerous festivals are celebrated here. There is a close association between this temple and the well-known Kapaleeshwarar (Siva) temple in Mylapore. In the Tamil month of Panguni, the Grama Devata Thiruvizha (festival for the village Goddess Kolavizhi Amman) is held and subsequently, the famous Brahmotsavam (annual festival) of the Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore begins.
During this Brahmotsavam, it is Kolavizhi Amman who proceeds first, and then only does Vinayaka (who leads most other festivals), go out in procession. During the Poo-Chorial festival on the full-moon (pournami), the karagam goes from the Kapaleeshwarar temple to the Kolavizhi Amman temple with devotees bringing pots of milk.
The sacred trees of this temple are the pipal and neem intertwined.