Temples & Other interesting Places
Kancheepuram is one of the 21 places of International Tourism importance in Tamil Nadu. Being a place of great historical and religious importance, the town is visited by a number of domestic and foreign tourists. Its closeness to Chennai metropolis and Mamallapuram adds to the attraction especially for foreign tourists. It also finds a place in the one-day itinerary of the State Tourism Department covering Chennai-Mamallapuram-Kancheepuram. A number of other places of tourist’s are also located around the town.
History of Kancheepuram Temples
The Pallavas ruled between the 6th and 8th century AD over a large portion of Tamil Nadu with Kanchipuram as their base. Their reign was marked by battles with the Chalukyas of the north and the Pandyas of the south. Among the greatest Pallava rulers were Mahendravarman-l and his son Narasimhavarman.Among the famous temples built by the Pallavas are the temples of Kanchipuram, the Kapaliswarar and Parthasarathy temples at Chennai, and last but not the least, the magnificent poetry in rock and stone at Mamallapuram. Kanchi has been described extensively by the Chinese traveller Huan Tsu Ang
The Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya have contributed to this temple. Originally built by the Pallavas, this large Siva temple was later reconstructed by the Chola and Vijaynagara kings. Here Lord Siva is worshipped as Earth or Prithivi, which is 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 which is adorned with beautiful sculptures is one of the tallest temple towers in South India.
Festivals and Services: Six worship services are offered each day in this temple. Colorful festivals such as Ani Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Kritikai (July-Aug), Avani Moolam (Aug – Sep), Navaratri (Sep-October), Kartikai Deepam (Nov-Dec), Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb), Panguni Uthiram (Mar-Apr), Chitra Pournami (Apr-May) and Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) mark the temple’s annual calendar.
Kamakshi Amman Temple
The Kamakshi Amman temple at Kanchipuram is an ancient one and is associated with Aadi Sankaracharya of the 1st millennium.
The temple covers an area of about 5 acres, and the sanctum is crowned with a gold plated vimanam. A Sri Chakram has been installed in front of the image and worship is offered to it. It is believed that Kamakshi was originally a Ugra Swaroopini, and that Aadi Sankaracharya, upon establishing the Sri Chakra, personified her as the Shanta Swaroopini. It is believed that during the days of Adi Sankara, the presence of the Ugra Swaroopini was felt outside the temple precincts, and that Sankaracharya had requested her not to leave the temple complex. Symbolic of this, the festival image of Kamakshi, takes leave from Sankaracharya, at his shrine in the inner prakaram, each time she is taken out in procession.
Kanchipuram is the seat of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham established by Adi Sankaracharya. It is believed that Sankaracharya attained samadhi at Kanchipuram,
Festivals: Four worship services are offered each day. The annual festival is celebrated in the month of Maasi. The silver chariot festival falls on the 7th day. Other festivals include Navaratri, Aadi and Aippasi Pooram, Sankara Jayanthi and Vasanta Utsavam in Vaikasi.
The ancient temple enshrining Subramanyar at Kanchipuram has been revered by the hymns of Arunagirinathar. It is located in between the Kamakshi and Ekambreswarar temples in the town of Kanchipuram. Kumara Kottam is a well visited temple with two prakarams and a complete pantheon of parivara devatas enshrined in their respective shrines. The Kartikai asterism each month attracts large crowds. Six worship services are carried out each day here. The annual festival is celebrated here in the month of Vaikasi.
This Pallava temple was constructed in the 8th century and has an attractive panel depicting Shiva and Parvathi in the midst of one of their innumerable dance competitions. The architecture of this temple resembles the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple was built by the Vijaynagar kings and the presiding deity is Devarajaswamy. The 100-pillared hall of this temple proves the mastery of the sculptors of Vijayanagara in fine artists
Varadaraja Perumaal temple is located in Vishnu Kanchi, or the little Kanchi. This temple is also an important religious center, and is one of the well visited temples in Tamilnadu.
Festivals: Four worship services are carried out each day here.. The annual Bhramotsavam is celebrated in the month of Vaikasi, while the Adhyayanotsavam is celebrated in the month of Margazhi. The Garuda Sevai and the Chariot festival during the Bhramotsavam draw thousands of pilgrims. During Chitra Pournami and Pongal, the deity is taken out to neighboring areas.
Ulagalanda Perumaal temple
This Divya Desam is the well known Ulagalanda Perumaal temple in Periya Kanchipuram. This temple occupies an area of about 60000 sq feet. It has two prakarams and a three tiered rajagopuram. The Nagatheertham tank is located across from the temple. Inscriptions from the Chola period are seen here. Parimelazhakar, who wrote a commentary on Tirukkural was a priest here, and an image of him riding a horse is seen in the temple.
Festivals: Two worship services are carried out each day here. The annual Bhramotsavam is celebrated in the month of Thai.
Kanchipuram is the birth place of Dr. C.N. Annadurai, the scholar statesman, affectionately called Anna – The Elder Brother – by the general public. His ancestral house located here has been converted into a memorial.