Kanchipuram, one of the seven sacred cities in India was the historical capital of the Pallavas. Apart from the Pallava rulers the Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslims and finally the Britishers too ruled this part of Tamilnadu. Tamil language flourished here. It also became the seat of culture and religion for many centuries. This city is the centre of the fine and purely woven silk sarees. Tourists can see umpteen number of temples in Kanchipuram. The city is replete with a number of both salivate and vaishnavaite temples. The famous vaishnavaite temple here is Lord Varadharaja Perumal temples. It is also one of the 108 holiest vaishnavaite temples. It is also one of the (five elements of nature land, water, sky, fire, wind) five scared places of the saivites referring to five elements of nature.
Kanchipuram is ranked among the saptapuris or seven holy cities in ancient India, Kanchipuram is holy cities in ancient India, Kanchipuram is the only one south f Vindhyas. Lauded in Tamil literature, dotted by 1000 temples and home to learned scholars and saints, it was hailed as 'Nagareshu Kanchi' or the 'City of cities'. The capital of the Pallava kingdom and a vibrant centre of culture and trade for centuries, Kanchi controlled oil trade in the region. Every home had a nadumuttram or open courtyard where harvested rainwater was diverted into mills for oil extraction. The city's glorious weaving tradition of exquisite handwoven Kan jeevaram silks and cotton saris continues to this day in every street and alley.
Explore the Area
When a city has 1000 temples, it's important to know what to see. Kanchiuram is spread around two clusters Big Kanchi (Siva Kanchi), dominated by the Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple in the heart of town surrounded by 108 Shiva shrines, and Little Kanchi (Vishnu Kanchi) to the south-east that spreads around Varadaraja Perumal Temple Kanchi also bears traces of two older quarters Buddha Kanchi and Jain Kanchi, evident in the suburb of Tiruparuttikundram. Most shrines are located in and around the central quadrangle of Raja Street. 28km south is the temple town of Uthiramerur.
Lord shiva is worshipped here in the form of Prithiv Lingam. Another famous shrine here ‘Lord Ekambareswar’ belonging to the saivite sect. The temples are a perfect example of the Dravidian architectural style. Other specialties of Kanchipuram are, this is the place where Adi Shakaracharya planted and developed his centre for religion i.e. the Kamakotipeetam and C.N. Annadurai the former chief Minister of the State, Tamilnadu.
The grand architecture of these ancient temples clearly indicates towards the South Indian style of temple architecture (Dravidian style). The temples of Kanchipuram were built by different dynasties, each enriching and refining the architecture further. The Pallava kings were great lovers of art, architecture and learning. Therefore, it was their reign, under which the first south Indian ancient stone temples were built at Mahabalipuram. The evolution of the south Indian style is clearly visible in the temples at Mahabalipuram. Later, the Cholas, Chalukyas and Vijayanagar rulers ruled Kanchi. All these kings also built many temples and thus taking forward the building activities started by the Pallava dynasty. The later kings built new temples and renovated the old ones. The ancient temples in Kancheepuram belong to the south Indian style of temple architecture. The city of Kancheepuram greets visitors with a cluster of temple shikharas (prominent roofs that surmount the sanctum sanctorum of the temples) and gopurams. There are many elaborately carved temple gateways also, belonging to the typical south Indian style of building temples. It is considered as one of the seven sacred cities of India, Kancheepuram has only 200 temples remaining out of the thousand ancient temples. There are about 650 stone inscriptions in Kancheepuram belonging to different dynasties and different periods. Kancheepuram temples represents the Pallava art, also reflect the creative maturity of Chola, Vijayanagara and Chalukya kings, who decorated these temples with great dexterity.
The Kailasanatha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the oldest temple of Kanchi. It reflects the freshness and simplicity of the early Dravidian style of temple architecture and was built by the Pallava king Rajasimha. It can also be described as the worthy successor of the rock temples at Mahabalipuram, which were also built by the Pallava rulers. The bases of the pillars in the temples at Mahabalipuram have seated lions while at Kancheepuram the confident grimacing lions stand on their hind legs, as if ready to pounce on anyone trying to harm the temple. This temple was constructed in the late seventh century AD and Rajasimha’s son added the front portion later. The eighth century remains of murals within the temple are an indication of the magnificence of the original temple. There are a number of small shrines within this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi (Lord Shiva’s consort) and their sons Ganesh and Murugan.
Sri Ekambaranathar Temple
Sri Ekambarabathar Temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in the city of Kancheepuram, and sprawls in an area of 12 hectares. The origin of this temple goes back to the time of the Pallavas and the Chola rulers extended it later. The great ruler of the Vijayanagar Empire, Krishnadevaraya, built its 59 meter high Gopuram or gateway and massive outer walls in the early 16th century. The highlight of this temple is its thousand pillared mandapam (hall).
Kamakshi Amman Temple
The impressive Kamakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvatahi in the form of Kamakshi or the goddess of Love. The sanctum sanctorum of this temple can be reached by passing through a large mandapam (hall) with ornate pillars.
The huge Devarajaswami temple, built by the rulers of the Vijayanagar kingdom is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, one of the principle Hindu Gods. The temple has an exquisitely sculpted pillared hall. It also has a similar marriage hall, commemorating the celestial wedding of Lord Vishnu with Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. One of the interesting features of this temple is that it has a huge chain carved out from a single piece of stone. The large tank of water within the precincts of the temple also contains a 10 meter high, immersed statue of Lord Vishnu. The water of this tank is drained out every 40 years, so that the statue may be seen.
Vaikuntha Perumal Temple
The Vaikuntha Perumal temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and was built shortly after the construction of the Kailasanatha temple. The covered passages inside the outer walls of this temple are supported by lion pillars, which are representative of the first phase in the architectural evolution of the grand thousand pillared mandapams built later within many of the south Indian temples. The Sculptures within the temple depict the history of the temple, with explanatory details in the then prevailing script. The main shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu is on three different levels and contains the images of Lord Vishnu in standing, sitting and reclining postures.
Kanchipuram is hailed as textile city the place is both handloom as well as machine woven silks sarees. The sarees manufactured here are famous across the globe.
The important tourists spots here are as follows Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Mahabalipuram, Kishkintha, Uthiramerur, Queen’s Land theme park, vedanthangal birds sanctuary and kalpakkam rector research centre.
Kanchipuram is surrounded by a land area of 4,433 square kilometers. As per the census taken in 2001, the population was 28, 77,468 then. The annual downpour is 1,159.8 millimetre. Regarding the climatic condition the temperature goes to a maximum of 36ºC and goes down to about 19ºC.