The Temples of Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is a town that is located 70 – 80 KM to the West of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is one of the earliest and oldest towns of South India and finds a mention in Tamil literature, as early as 500 BC. Kanchipuram became famous during the Pallava dynasty (6th Century CE) as this town was their capital.

Ekambaranadar Temple Gopuram in Kanchipuram
Ekambaranadar Temple Gopuram in Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is also known as the ‘land of thousand temples’ as more than 1000 temples were present in this town at some point of time. Of course, the number is much lesser now but the town still has significant number of temples, which should be more than any other region.

Pillars in Ekambaranadhar Temple Hall, Kanchipuram
Pillars in Ekambaranadhar Temple Hall, Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram remained an important town starting from the Pallava dynasty, followed by the Chola dynasty and then the Vijayanagara empire. The importance of this town declined during the Mughal empire and the subsequent British rule. All the Kings belonging to various dynasties have made important contributions to the building of this Temple town.

Ekambaranadhar Temple Pond
Ekambaranadhar Temple Pond

Kanchipuram is famous for its innumerable Temples and also Silk Saree’s. ‘Kanchi Pattu’ or Kanchipuram Silk Saree’s are a brand in itself. Many of the Temples located here were built initially during the Pallava dynasty and then they were renovated/ rebuilt by various other Kings who came in the centuries that followed.

Kamakshiamman Temple Kanchipuram
Kamakshiamman Temple Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram has many famous Temples and since I keep visiting this town quite often, I happened to visit four of them – Kamakshiamman Temple (God Parvathi), Ekambaranadhar Temple (God Shiva), Varadaraja Perumal Temple & Ulagalandha Perumal Temple (God Vishnu – Perumal).

Ulagalanda Perumal Temple Kanchipuram
Ulagalanda Perumal Temple

The Gopuram Tower of Ekambaranadhar Temple is one of the highest in this town and it extends to a height of 57 meters. Though the Temple had been in existence for a long time, this Gopuram was built in the 16th Century by the Vijayanagara Kings. It seems there is a Mango tree in this Temple that is believed to be 3500 years old and yields four different varieties of mangoes.

Varadaraja Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram
Varadaraja Perumal Temple

The Ekambaranadhar Shiva Temple is one of the Pancha Bootha Sthalams and it signifies the ‘Earth’ element. The Tiruvannamalai Temple written about earlier, is another one which signifies ‘Fire’ element. There are three more temples that signify sky, water and wind in other places. There is a 1000 Pillar hall in Ekambaranadhar Temple and a 100 Pillar Hall in the Varadaraja Perumal Temple.

Varadaraja Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram
Varadaraja Perumal Temple

The Varadaraja Perumal Temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams, sacred temples for Vaishnavites. This temple was initially built in the 11th Century by Chola Kings, and later on developed by other Kings. There are various gold plated lizard inscriptions in this temple. Kamakshiamman Temple is considered to be the main temple in Kanchipuram and Ulagalanda Perumal Temple has a huge statue of God Vishnu depicted lying down on the five headed snake in Kailasam.

Nataraja Statue in Ekambaranadar Temple, Kanchipuram
Nataraja Statue in Ekambaranadar Temple

Kanchipuram is well connected from Chennai and it is located close to the Chennai – Bangalore highway, around 75 KM from Chennai. There are regular buses that go from the Koyambedu bus terminus and also from T.Nagar (AC Volvo). If people are ready to spend some time and explore, Kanchipuram offers a treasure trove of sculptures through its innumerable temples, which date back over a period of many centuries.

Destination Infinity

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8 Replies to “The Temples of Kanchipuram”

  1. Wow… tat was a very well explored and well written post… and I didnt know that Kanchipuram is close from Chennai…. Would def like to go there… thank you for this post DI.. 🙂

  2. Very good narration of the temples, D.I. I have visited Kamaakshi amman and Ekambareshwarar temple, but long long back!

    I have heard about the mango tree! Thanks for the information you have given here.

    Recently I had been to Vaikom, Kerala! Vaikom Shiva temple is nearly like a small town….very huge and spacious. Not much unique architecture though, like Tamilnadu temples. It was clean everywhere and no preferential treatment for anyone, which I liked very much! The Archakas also were very sincere in whatever they were doing. They never glanced at the people at all. Full concentration in their job! Very good experience.

  3. i hv gone to shiva temple – one among the five temples associated with the five elements

    very huge temple should say..
    another huge temple i remember is Rameshwaram

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