Kanchipuram(75 kms from Chennai) is one of the seven holy cities in the country, and a visit is believed to bestow salvation. Kanchipuram once had over a thousand temples. Today, there are more than a hundred extant, and all are worth a visit. Kanchipuram also has some notable churches and mosques.
Ancient Kanchipuram is the city of thousand temples and is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus. This city is also known as Kanchi. There now remain about 126 temples in Kanchi and a few more in its outskirts. The city was the capital of the early Cholas and it was the Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries.
Kanchipuram is a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Saivite Hindus. Apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. The weavers of Kanchi have settled in the temple town more than 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation as the producers of the best silk and cotton sarees in the country. Woven from pure mulberry silk, these sarees woven in dazzling colours are embellished with fine gold thread (zari) and are available in every imaginable design and variety. This makes the choice of selection quite challenging for the buyer.
Temple festivals are held throughout the year and apart from the temple car or the ratha festivals are held in January, April and May. There are other days when the idols are taken out in procession on their respective vahanas or vehicles.
Originally built by the Pallavas, this large Shiva temple was later reconstructed by the Chola and Vijaynagara kings. Here, Lord Shiva is worshipped as Earth or Prithvi, one of the five elements. The dimensions of this temple are reflected in its 20-acre spread and its tall south gopuram, which soars to a height of 58.5m.
The eleven-storey structure that is adorned with beautiful sculptures is one of the tallest temple towers in South India. Childless couples revere the ancient mango tree in the courtyard. They faithfully string small cradles to the branches of the tree with the hope that their desire for an offspring will be fulfilled.
Also in the temple, there is a small panel depicting the story that tells of the temple's existence. Parvathi incurred Shiva's wrath when she made the mistake of playing a mischievous prank on him by covering his eyes for a second. Hindering Siva's vision for that one second led to years of darkness for the mortals, Shiva bade her to perform penance to obtain his forgiveness.It is believed that the temple was built on the spot where the lord forgave her.
Kamakshi Amman Temple
This is an important shakthisthalam, known as parabrahmaroonpini. The main deity is seated on brahma, vishnu, rudra, eswara and sadasiva. The Cholas built the temple in its present from in the 12th century A.D. The temple has beautiful gopurams, pillars, mandapams and tanks.
Raja Simha, the father of Mahendravarman built this ancient temple in 81th Century A.D and later completed it. It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower, a pillared hall and vestibule, enclosed by a wall. The temple is famous for exquisite carvings and attracts devotees and tourists alike. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine, as a compound wall. Fresco style paintings adorn the inner walls of the temple.
Varadaraja Perumal Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the Vijaynagar kings built this temple and the presiding deity is Varadaraja Swamy. The 100-pillared hall of this temple proves the mastery of the sculptors of Vijayanagara. Among the best pieces are the severed halves of a large chain carved out of a single stone and the figures of the God of Love and his consort astride a swan and a parrot respectively.
Vaikunta Perumal Temple
This Vaishnavite temple dates back to the 8th century and was built by Nandivarma Pallava. Battle scenes depicting Pallava valour are carved on the panels surrounding the main prakaram.
Ulagalanda Perumal Temple
Lord Vishnu in his incarnation as the dwarf vamana, subdued the pride of king Mahabali. Jayamkonda Cholan built this temple. There is an awe-inspiring idol of Vishnu that is 35 feet in height.
Ashtabuja Perumal Temple
The remarkable feature of this deity is that it has eight arms. Lord Vishnu is in standing posture, facing west. The temple has ancient stone inscriptions.
This is a mosque built 450 years ago by the Nawab of Arcot near the Ekambareswarar temple. There is another mosque near the Vaikunta Perumal temple. The beauty is that the mosque and the temples share a common tank, true to the spirit of tolerance that India is renowned. Muslims share in the Brahmatvasam festivals of the Varadaraja temple too.
A Britisher named Mclean, in1921, built this church. The brick structure was typically Scottish, with arches and pillars.
The Kanchi Mutt is one of the mutts or peetams established by Adi Sankara, who lived from 788 to 820 AD. It has established a modern centre of learning, which has been given a deemed University status. This is at Enathur,5 kms from Kanchi. The centre has a library with ancient books and palm leaf manuscripts.
This house house is nearly 100 years old. It has an old style veranda, open courtyard, cashbox, furniture,etc. On the way to the Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram we can see this house.