Kanchipuram Temple is a group of temples located in Tamil Nadu, India. Kanchipuram is famous across the world for 2 reasons – the beautiful hand-woven silk Kanjeevaram sarees and for its numerous temples. Also known by its ancient names Kanchiampathi and Conjeevaram, the city is also referred to as ‘the city of thousand temples’. Out of these temples, the most prominent temples are that belonging to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva.
|Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva
|North East Coast, Tamil Nadu
|The City of Thousand Temples
|The City of Thousand Temples
Location of Kanchipuram Temple:
Kanchipuram is one of the holiest and ancient cities of India. This city is situated on the North-Eastern Coast of Tamil Nadu and is located close to Chennai. The central location is surrounded by Thiruvannamalai in the South, Thiruvallur district in the North, Chengalpattu District in the East and Vellore district in the West.
Kanchipuram is known as the temple city for its endless temples. The city has temples in almost every streets and lane. For this, Kanchi is vividly recognized for the rich Hindu heritage it serves with historical temples created during the reign of Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagar in and around the 6th to 9th Century. The most famous temples are those belonging to Lord Vishnu.
Significance of Kanchipuram Temple:
As per Hindu mythology, a ‘kshetra’ (region) is believed to be sacred ground and a field where god’s power can be felt. If a person visits these places, he/she can attain ‘moksha’ (final salvation). According to the Garuda Puraaan, there are 7 such regions across India. Kanchipuram is one of these cities. The other cities are Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi (Varanasai), Avantika (Ujjain), and Dwarika.
The History of Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram boasts of very rich history. The city has been its origin in Tamil culture between the Sangam period of the 2nd and 3rd century BCE. The city had its mythical origin in the Dravida Kingdom of Mahabharata and is also cited by Kalidasa in the 4th Century. Kanchipuram city had also been referred to in Sangam literature in Tamil dated back then in 300 BCE.
The city has been ruled by rulers from several dynasties. This city was the Pallava capital from the 4th to 9th century CE. With various rulers coming over and going, ruler Vikramaditya II recaptured the reign with inscriptions captured of the same. Kanchi lately became the hometown of famous poets like Bharavi (popularly known for Kiratarjuniya) and famous philosophers like Ramanuja. Still today, Kanchipuram is full of notable inscriptions and around 120 temples created by the deities.
9 Must-Visit Kanchipuram Temples:
As such there are 15 major temples in Kanchipuram. Out of the total, 9 of the most famous temples are:
1. Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple
This is the oldest shrine located west on the banks of the Vedavathi River. The temple was built by the Pallava ruler, Narsimhavarman II (also called Rajasimha). This temple faces the east side in the Kanchipuram city of Tamil Nadu. This temple holds a shrine for the deity of Lord Shiva. For this, the temple has a 16-sided Shivalinga fabricated out of black granite. The temple’s beauty also lasts in the pillars which have sculptures of minor deities. This temple attracts vast tourism, especially during Mahashivratri and is visited by thousands of Hindus.
2. Ekambareswarar Temple
Spread over an area of more than 10 hectares, this is the largest temple of worship in Kanchi. This temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is very popular among devotees as one of the largest 5 shrines of Lord Shiva. This temple was established by the rulers Pallava dynasty between the 4th to 6th centuries CE but went through many modifications done by the Tanjore Nayaks. The temple has major attractions like 1000 lingas made of solitary stones, a 3500 years old mango tree, a hall with 1000 pillars etc. The temple is also recognized for celebrating the famous festival called Panguni Brahmotsavam which is a grand fest celebrated between March and April.
3. Varadaraja Perumal Temple
This temple is the shrine of Lord Vishnu and is followed by Hindus following Vaishnavism. The major noticeable factor here is 108 Divya Desams of Lord Vishnu which were visited by the 12 Alwars. This makes it a sacred Vaishnavite shrine that is visited by many. The Varadaraja Perumal Temple features a hall with 100 pillars of sculptures depicting the Hindu Gods. Popular festivals of this temple include Vaikunda Ekadasi, Vaikasi Brahmmotsavam and Purattasi Navaratri. The 10 fests attract tourists and especially Hindus from all across the world.
4. Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple
This temple is the home to Goddess Kamakshi, who is said to be the reincarnation of Goddess Parvati. (Wife of Lord Shiva and inspiration of love and fertility). The temple is believed to be built for holding the body parts of Goddess Parvati that fell from her corpse in heaven. Her naval is the divinity leading to the construction of this temple.
This temple is also one of the oldest temples built by the Pallava rulers. The temple is rich in its legends and myths, yet the specifications of the sculptures are still unknown. There are stories that link the temple to Adi Shankara and the saints staying in Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, which is a Hindu religious institution run by the same. Kamakshi Amman Temple is the host of the chariot festival held in the month of ‘Masi’ that falls between February and March and is also a hub for the market.
5. Trilokyanatha Temple
This temple is of special significance for the Jains. This temple is for Jainism of Kanchipuram which was created long back by the rulers of the Pallava dynasty. This is because the temple features sculptures of prominent Jain deities and is popular for its wall arts, paintings and sculptures. The temple signifies the Dravidian style of architecture which is the secret for the exquisite look of the temple.
6. Ulagalantha Perumal Temple
Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is also one of the 108 Divya Desams. The temple is among the most important temples of Lord Vishnu and it gets its name from Vaamana, the 5th Avatar of Lord Vishnu. The temple too is one of the divine architecture of the Dravidian style. The temple is a host for more than 12 annual fests grabbing a vast crowd from Tamil. The most popular festivals are ther-vizha and Brahmotsavam.
7. Ashtabujakaram Temple
This temple is among the most beautiful, architectural and historic temples in Kanchipuram. The architecture of the temple takes significance from Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara dynasties. Most importantly, the temple has a pond amidst the four walls which makes it unique. The pond has a mythological story related to Gajendra Moksha. This temple is popular for its 10-day long celebration of the festival of Vaikunta Ekadasi. The festival is among the important ones considered for Vaishnavism. The festival gathers thousands of Hindus for this massive event.
8. Sathyanatheswarar Temple
This temple holds much importance for the Hindus worshipping Lord Shiva. The temple has the deity of Sathyanatheswarar, another form of Lord Shiva. The temple follows Shaiva tradition and is worshipped by many. This temple is the smallest in Kanchipuram and covers an area of just 2,290 sqm. Yet the temple has both historical and religious sentiments attached to it. The temple has a lingam made of granite, which is featured by sanctum sanctorum. This temple is among the important 275 temples of Lord Shiva all around the world.
9. Chitragupta Swamy Temple
Unlike other temples, the main deity at this temple is Chandragupta Swamy, who is believed to assist Yamraj, (god of death) in maintaining an account of the good and bad deeds of human beings. Although small in size, the temple attracts thousands of people because of the mythological fact that, it is here that Chitragupta sits and maintains the account good and bad deeds of human beings. The temple is also adapted from the construction of the Chola dynasty which makes it rich in heritage and culture.
In addition to this, there are countless more beautiful temples that make Kanchipuram the temple city of India.
Best Time to Visit Kanchipuram Temple:
The best time to visit Kanchipuram temples is October to March, because other than these months, Kanchipuram experiences extreme weather. It is extremely humid during summers, which make it difficult for people to travel. While monsoons deal with heavy rainfalls. This rainfall makes it a bit pointless to travel, because although the scenic beauty touches heights, yet most of the areas remain closed. Hereby, winters are said to be the best time in South India for its bearable weather.
Festivals Celebrated In Kanchipuram
- Brahmotsavam: It is a 10-day long festival celebrated at the Varadaraja Temple of Kanchipuram in the month of May. The event involves a bath as a ceremony to pay honour to the two consorts Sridevi and Bhoodevi.
- Naynar Uryavan: This procession is to celebrate the revered memory of 63 Nayanar Saints. In this, the idol of Lord Ekamranath is given a tour in a cart around the city. It is a holy procession in which the entire city is indulged to celebrate.
- Shivratri: Maha Shivratri is celebrated in the late winters as a reason for many mythological beliefs. At Kanchipuram, Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple is decorated and organized for the grand festival in which thousands of people come for celebrating.
- Pongal: This 4-day festival is one of the grandest events of Tamil Nadu. Celebrated in the month of January, Pongal is dedicated to the Sun God and is an event to honour the harvest like sugarcane, turmeric, rice etc.
Other than these festivals, Temple Car Festivals, Pavithrothsavam, Sankara Jayanti etc. are celebrated to make the city full of festivities the whole year.
How to Reach Kanchipuram Temple?
Kanchipuram can be reached from Chennai with the roads by covering a distance of 75 km. The bus service is easily available.
It can be reached through trains of Chennai Central railway station and Arakkonam railway station.
The Chennai International Airport is the closest to reach Kanchipuram district. This is just a drive of 2 hours away from the temple.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kanchipuram Temple
Q. 1: What are Kanchipuram Temples famous for?
Ans: Kanchipuram is known as the temple city for countless mandirs residing in the city. Out of 108 holy temples of Lord Vishnu, 15 are present in Kanchipuram which attracts countless tourists.
Q. 2: Which time period is the best to visit Kanchipuram?
Ans: The best time to visit Kanchipuram is between the months of October to march because of the moderate climate.
Q. 3: Which city is known as the ‘city of 1000 temples’?
Q. 4: Which are the 7 most holy cities of India?
Ans: The 7 most holy cities in India are Kanchipuram, Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Kashi (Varanasai), Avantika (Ujjain), and Dwarika.
Q. 5: How many temples of Lord Vishnu does Kanchipuram have?
Ans: Kanchipuram has 15 big temples out of the 108 temples of Lord Vishnu across the world.
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