Kanchipuram, Information about Kanchipuram, Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu
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Information about Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram, the Golden City is situated about 70 kms. from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram is also known as the religious capital of South India. Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallavas. Kanchipuram is one of the seven most sacred pilgrimage cities of the Hindus. The other pilgrimage cities are Varanasi, Mathura, Ujjain, Haridwar, Dwaraka and Ayodhya. The special feature of Kanchipuram is that the people here can offer worship to both Lord Shiva and Vishnu. Kanchipuram is also known as the city of thousand temples. Some of the magnificent temples in Kanchipuram of unique architectural beauty bears testimony to its glorious Dravidian heritage. Kanchipuram is also known all over the world for the “Kanjeevaram” silk saris, one of the finest silk saris in the country. The climate of Kanchipuram is tropical with an almost uniform temperature throughout the year.

History of Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram flourished as the capital of the Pallava dynasty. From the 6th to 8th centuries AD, the Pallavas not only built magnificent temples, but also encouraged the tradition of silk weaving and the Bharatanatyam dance. The colonies of weavers can also be seen in the back lanes of the city. The Bharatanatyam dance was performed within the pillared halls of temples by devadasis, the young women who had dedicated themselves to the service of God. After the fall of Pallavas, Kanchipuram was taken over by various dynasties like the Cholas, Chalukyas, the Vijaynagar kings, Muslims and the British. All these empires left their artistic stamps in the elaborate temples built over 12 centuries. Kanchipuram was also a centre of Tamil learning, cultural and religious background for centuries. Shankaracharya, the 6th century saint who traveled all over India to promote Hinduism, also set up an Episcopal seat (Kamakotipeetam) here.

Tourist Attractions in Kanchipuram

The main tourist attractions in Kanchipuram are its temples. Earlier, Kanchipuram was also known as the city of thousand temples, but, today there are only 124 temples in Kanchipuram. Some of the famous temples in Kanchipuram are the Kamakshi Amman Temple, Varadaraja Temple, Kailashanathar Temple, Ekambareshwar Temple, Kumara Kottam, Ulahalanda Perumal Temple. These temples are great examples of massive architecture.

Kamakshi Amman Temple
There are three main cities in India where the Goddess Shakti is worshipped. Among all the cities, Kanchipuram holds the most important place. The Kamakshi Amman temple is the centre of all religious activities in Kanchipuram. This temple is closely controlled by the Shankara Mutt. The main deity of this temple is the goddess Kamakshi. The main tower over the sanctum (Vimanam) of the temple is gold plated. The golden chariot is also the main feature of this temple. The golden chariot is taken in a procession around the temple on Friday evenings around 7.00 p.m. This temple also features an Art Gallery where the pictures depict the history of Sri Adishankaracharya and the Shankara Mutt.

Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram
Kalilashanathar Temple, Kanchipuram

Kailashanathar Temple
Kailashanathar Temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Kailashanathar Temple, also called as the Kailashnatha is one of the oldest structure in Kanchipuram and the finest example of Pallava architecture in South India. This temple was built by the Rajasimha Pallava, the Pallava ruler and was completed by his son, Mahendra Varma Pallava in the 8th century AD. The temple is situated among several low-roofed houses just over 1 km west of the town center. This temple has been elaborately filled with the 64 aspects of Lord Shiva. The temple is unique in its architecture and hence, an architectural wonder. This temple is not visited by people daily, except during the Shivaratri festival, when a large group of people visit the temple.

Ekambareshwar Temple
Ekambareshwar temple is one of the largest temples in Kanchipuram. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and spreads over an area of 12.14 hectares. The temple is considered as one of the most ancient temples in India and has been in existence even before 600 AD. This ancient temple is surrounded by a huge stonewall built in the early 16th century during the rule of Vijayanagar Empire. Ekambareshwar temple was started as a small fane, but has grown over the centuries into a large one with various shrines, mandapams, gopurams and tanks. The entrance Gopuram of the Ekambareswara Temple stands 188 feet high with not less than 10 storeys of intricate sculptures.

Ekambareshwar Temple, Kanchipuram
Varadaraja Temple, Kanchipuram

Varadaraja Temple
The Varadaraja temple is one of the important shrines of Vaishnavites and also known as Hastigiri. This temple is one of the most famous Vaishnavas Divya Desams, located in the Little Kanchipuram. This temple was originally known as Attiyuran. The main deity in the temple is the Lord Varadaraja Perumal in a standing posture facing the west side and here, the lord is also known as Devaraja, Pranatharthihara, Deva Perumal, Athiyooran and Perarulalan. The Varadaraja temple with superb art has a magnificent history, which is associated with Sri Ramanuja, who used to serve here. Many miracles are said to have occurred. It was within his ministry that the temple bacame famous. The Varadarajaswamy Temple is also known for its 100 feet tower and its hall of 96 pillars decorated with interesting sculptures.

Ulahalanda Perumal Temple
Ulahalanda Perumal temple is situated about a half kilometres from the centre of the town near Kamakshi Amman temple. The main deity in the Ulahalanda Perumal temple is the Ulahalanda Perumal in the Vamana form of Lord Vishnu. The Lord Vishnu take this form in order to save the Devtas from the Demon king Mahabali. The image of the deity is about 35 feet high.

Kumara Kottam
Kumara Kottam is located between the Kamakshi and Ekambareshwar temples in Kanchipuram. This temple is a well visited temple with two parikramas and a complete pantheon of gods enshrined in their respective shrines. In the sanctum, the Lord Muruga is in a seated pose. His right arm is in the Abaya pose, the upper hand holds the rosary, the left arm holds the Kamandalam and the lower left arm is on the thigh in Katyavailambita pose. The posture is also known as the Brahma Chattam. The festival idols of Valli, Deivayani are also kept here.

Vellore Fort
The 16th century granite fort surrounded by a deep moat is set in the heart of the town. It was built by Sinna Bommi Nayak, a vassal chieftain under the Vijayanagar kings. The fort is an excellent example of military architecture and has withstood several attacks. A small museum with in the fort showcases objects of historic value, recovered from the region.

Jaina Kanchi or Tiruparuttikunram
The sacred site on the outskirts of the town has a conglomeration of several fine shrines reflecting the rich religious legacy of Kanchipuram. The beautifully painted Varddhman Temple and a smaller temple dedicated to Chandraprabhu are noteworthy.

Vellore is located about 55 kms west of Chennai on the banks of the Palar river. The main attraction of Vellore is its Fort, built in the 13th century which is still in good condition. This fort has seen many bloody battles including a Sepoy Mutiny by Indian soldiers in 1806, a prelude to the Indian War of Independence in 1857. There is an exquisite 14th century Shiva Temple within the fort. This fort was not used till 1981, but this temple is now visited by various pilgrims.

Sholighur (48 kms.)
The temple of Lord Narasimha perched atop a hill is very popular. A large number of devotees visit the shrine during the month of Karthigai.

Jalakanteshwar Temple
This Shiva temple with in the ramparts of the fort is built in the late Vijayanagar style. The temple is noted for its seven storeyed gopuram on the main entrance towards southern side of the outer courtyard. The Kalyanamantapa in the outer courtyard is a master – pieces of architecture.

Arcot (27 kms.)
The historic town is well known for its Nawabs, who resisted the forces of British and the French during the late 18th century. Relics of tombs and Jami Masjid reflects the glory of the bygone era.

Festivals of Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is also referred as the city of festivals. Some of the important festivals celebrated in Kanchipuram are the Brahmotsavam, held in the Varadaraja temple in May; Garuda Sevai, also held in the Varadaraja temple in June; Float festival, also held in Varadaraja temple in February and November; Kamakshi Ammam Festival celebrated in February and Mahashivaratri festival celebrated in Kailashanatha temple in February. The Car Festival is also held at the Kamakshi Amman Temple. The Car Festival is celebrated in the month of February or March. On this occasion, the deities are taken out on elaborately decorated wooden chariots. The fairs, street acrobats and folk theatre is also held during this time. Such type of similar festivals are celebrated by other temples during April and coincide with the Tamil New Year.

How to get here

By Air:
The nearest airport is located in Chennai. 

By Rail:
is connected by train from Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tirupati, and Bangalore. 

By Road:
Kanchipuram is well connected by a network of roads to Chennai, Bangalore and other places.

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