“City of 1000 temples”, “Golden City of Temples”. Kanchipuram has many names to its credit and is one of the oldest city in South India. It underwent many name changes, in ancient times it was called Kanchi, Kachiampathi, and Kanjivaram in different periods. This city of temples was ruled by many dynasties from Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayanagar & Mughals to British. Few temples were incarnated during Pallava dynasty (3rd-9th century) and later extended or added during Cholas & Vijayanagar Dynasty. The city is revered as one of the seven sacred cities in India and is in 2nd place next to Varanasi. The remains of Buddhist stupas reminiscence the presence of Buddhism religion at that time. Jainism is also prevalent here. The majority of spoken language here is Tamil and Telugu.
It is 75km from Chennai and is well-connected by Buses and Train. Regular buses ply from Chennai as well as local train. This is an ideal place for a weekend trip.The city of Kanchipuram is divided into two parts: Big Kanchi and Little Kanchi. The Big Kanchi is named as Shiva Kanchi, which is the larger of the two sides. Little Kanchi is known as Vishnu Kanchi. Major Shiva temples are located in Shiva Kanchi and most Vishnu temples in Vishnu Kanchi.Silk weaving industry is one of the important occupations. Kanchipuram Sarees is one of the popular silk sarees in South India.Kanjeevaram is essentially a silk saree that can well be considered South India’s answer to the more popular Banarasi saree. The art of weaving these sarees goes back around 400 years. They are woven of mulberry silk and are further woven with gold and silver threads and zari to create beautiful patterns. The precision of the fabric, vibrant colors, eye-catching designs, traditional motifs and their varieties attract people from all across the country. Some stories say that Kanchipuram belonged to the Dravida Kingdom, a mythical dynasty mentioned in the epic Mahabharata.In the time of Pallava rule, Kanchipuram became a Centre for Hindu and Buddhist religious learning. A Chinese traveler named Xuanzang visited the city in 640 AD. He also praised the culture, traditions in his works.
Kamakshi Amman Temple:
The presiding deity of this city is Goddess Kamakshi (Incarnation of Paravathi) & is one of the triad temples of Maa Shakti, the other being Madhurai Meenakshi & Kasi Visalakshi. The temple is situated in the heart of the city and is surrounded by many other ancient temples nearby It is noteworthy that the present temple was once a Jain Tara temple until 12th century after which it was gradually converted to Shakti temple. There are few inscriptions which clearly shows that this was once a Jain temple.
There isn’t any entrance fee and the camera can be carried inside the temple but not allowed to take the snap of the sanctum. The gopuram of sanctum sanctorum is gold plated. The whole temple is fortified with a stone wall. Each side has a gate having a temple like structure built as a gateway (common in almost all South Indian temples).It is significant to the Hindu sect of Saivism as one of the temples associated with the five elements, the Pancha Bhoota Stalas, and specifically the element of earth, or Prithvi.The presiding deity is revered in the 7th century Tamil Saiva canonical work, the Tevaram written by Tamil saint poets known as the nayanars and classified as Paadal Petra Sthalam.
Ekambaranatha Shiva Temple:
This Shiva temple is situated near Kamakshi Amman temple. This is the very place where Goddess Paravathi worshipped/performed tapas to marry Lord Shiva. During her tapas, she built a Shiva Lingam out of sand which is still there in the temple sanctum covered by metal/or glass shield. The temple was built by Pallavas and later contributed by Cholas.
Another noteworthy fact of this temple is it has 1008 Shiva Lingam built along the inner wall of the temple. Not all in same shape & size. It is also believed that Sri Rama has worshiped here. (There are total 3 places where Lord Rama offered worship to Lord Shiva) 1. Rameshwaram 2. Kanchipuram 3.Kashi.
Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple:
The Kanchi Kailasanathar temple is the oldest structure in Kanchipuram. It is a Hindu temple in the Dravidian architectural style. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for its historical importance.
The temple was built from 685-705AD by a Rajasimha ruler of the Pallava Dynasty. The low-slung sandstone compound contains a large number of carvings, including many half-animal deities which were popular during the early Dravidian architectural period.
The structure contains 58 small shrines which are dedicated to various forms of Shiva. The temple is one of the most prominent tourist attractions of the city.
All the temples are closed between 12 – 4 pm daily. And surely need more than one day to cover other temples.
Till then- KEEP TRAVELLING. KEEP WANDERING.
Photo Courtesy: Adesh Kumar Rout Photography