About Kanchi or Kanchipuram Tourist Places Or Places to Visit in Kanchipuram
Kanchipuram is one of the great mythological cites and "Nakareshu Kanchi" is a popular saying in Sanskrit that means " Kanchipuram is the best city". It was the capital of the Cholas. Even during the Pallaval and the northern capital of the Cholas. Even during the Vijayanagar period, it was an important centre. It was also a centre of learning and a centre for Buddhists and Jains in early time. The Chinese traveler Hieun-Tsang who has visited Kanchipuram praises its glory and painfully notes the declining trend of Buddhism in his accounts. It is also a world famous centre for silk weaving. Kanchi Pattu 'the silk of Kanchi' is cherished by one and all and one can really see silk looms in action and find out how beautiful sarees are made. It is a temple city and innumerable ancient temples could be seen at every turning. A selective list of most important temples are given here. The whole city is divided into Siva Kanchi, Vishnu Kanchi and Jain Kanchi.
Popularly known as the Golden City it is considered the second holiest city in India next only to Varanasi. Nagareshu Kanchi is the oldy saying. It means that among the cities, Kanchi is the greatest. Reputed to possess once upon a time more than a thousand temples it was famous as the city of temples. At present, only a few of them have survived the ravages of time and invasions.
It was a centre for leaning of Tamil culture and religious background for centuries. Adi Shankaracharya, Appar, Siruthundar and the great Bhikku Bodhidharma lived and worked here. The Kamakshi Peetham was established here by Shankara. Kanchipuram is said to have inspired he builders of rock temples at Badami and Ellora.
It is considered under three division Shaiva kanchi, Vishnu Kanchi and Jaina Kanchi based on the dominant faith of each sect. At present, there are about a hundred temples built during the time of various periods, which provide ample opportunity for the study of temple architecture in South India.
Today, Kanchipuram possesses all the amenities of modern life. For generations, it has been famous for weaving silk. It has gained reputation for Kanchi Silk sarees for luster, durability, contrasting color and superb finish.
About Kanchipuram City
It is 75km away from Chennai and well connected by a network of good roads. Frequent bus services are available from Kanchipuram to Chennai, Bangalore and other places. There is a Railway Station. Nearby Airport: Chennai Tirisulam Airport. Rail Link from Chennai Via Chengalpattu upto Arakkonam. Road link to all major cities.
Since time immemorial Kancheepuram, the city of thousand temples ha been hailed as one of Hinduism's seven most sacred cities and a centre of learning, culture, and philosophy. Adi Sankaracharya established his Episcopal seat, Kamakotipeetam here. The temple town of Kancheepuram, also called Kanchi I famous for its exquisite woven silk saris with threads of gold.
Kancheepuram history can be traced back to the time of the Cholas in the 2-Century and it was the capital of the Pallava dynasty from six to 8-centuries. The temples of Kanchi with their unique architectural beauty bear eloquent testimony to its glorious Dravidian heritage, which continued to flourish under successive regimes. Chinese records describe Kancheepuram as an important trading centre and evidence suggest that it was linked to the Romans through trade in the early years of the Christian era. Today its numerous shrines and silk shops attract both pilgrims and tourists.
Kancheepuram, 75km southwest of Chennai is easily accessible on road trhough the frequent bus service. Road to Trichy (270km), Vellore (70km), Tiruvannamalai (112km), and Puducherry (113km) also connect t. On train route from Egmore Station at Chennai, Chengalpattu or Chengalpet is the railhead for Kancheepuram. However, bus is a more convenient route to Kancheepuram.
All of Kanchipuram’s roads lead to goparums, the unmistakable temple gateways that tower over you as you prepare to enter the sacred shrines. This 2,000-year-old city of “a thousand temples”—also called Kanchi—features on many travel itineraries, and is best seen as a day trip out of Chennai. With a rich heritage, it’s famous as a seat of both Shaivaite and Vaishnavite devotion and for exquisite silk saris. It was here that the Dravidian style really had its roots, and the sheer profusion of temples makes this an ideal place to get a feel for how South Indian temple architecture has developed over the centuries. The oldest structure in town is Kailasnath Temple (Putleri St.; 1.5km/3⁄4 mile out of the town center; daily 6am–12:30pm and 4–8:30pm), entered via a small gateway. Built by the same Pallava king responsible for Mamallapuram’s Shore Temple, Kailasnath shows signs of evolution from its seaside forebear; it’s also less overwhelming than many of the more grandiose Tamil temples.
The 57m (180-ft.) white goparum marking the entrance to the 9th-century Shaivite Ekambareswara Temple (Puthupalayam St.; 6am–12:30pm and 4–8pm; non-Hindus not allowed in sanctum) was added as late as the 16th century. Through a passageway, visitors enter a courtyard and the “thousand-pillared” hall (though the number of pillars has dwindled significantly over the years). Within the temple, a mango tree believed to be 2,500 years old apparently yields four different varieties of the fruit. Legend has it that it was here Shiva and Parvati were married, and that Parvati fashioned a lingam (phallic symbol) of earth, one of the five sacred Hindu elements. As a test of her devotion, Shiva sent a flood through the town that destroyed everything in its path except the lingam, which she protected from the deluge with her body. Be on the lookout for touts who will aggressively try to get a donation out of you at this temple. Dedicated to the Shakti cult, which celebrates creation’s female aspect, the 14thcentury Kamakshi Amman Temple (Mangadu; daily 6am–12:30pm and 4–8:30pm) was built by the Cholas. Apparently, the tank there is so sacred that demons sent to bathe were cleansed of their malevolent ways. Other worthwhile temples include Vaikunta Perumal Temple and Varadaraja Temple, both of which are dedicated to Vishnu.
From time immemorial it has been hailed as one of the holy cities of India. Buddhism, Jainism, Saivism and Vaishnavism thrived here. It was the northern capital of the Cholas, the main capital of the Pallavas and even during the Vijayanagar period, it was an important centre. The Pallava architecture flourished here and the temples of this city are living monuments of them. It is at present the head-quarters of Kanchipuram district and the Collector's office is located here.
Kanchipuram silk sarees are known all over the world. Beautiful high grade pure mulberry silk of various hues are women into sarees by traditionally trained weavers reputed for texture, lustre, durability and fine finish. These sarees are exported to foreign countries. About 5000families are engaged in this industry. Sarees are available at loom prices here and through cooperative societies.
Places of Interest in Kanchipuram District
About Kanchipuram Temples
The 7-century, Kailasanatha Temle retaining all the 32vastupada devatas and with the third largest lingam enshrined in its sanctum has 58 smaller shrines situated around it which forms the temple perimeter. About a km from the bus stand, the Ekambareswarar Temple has a 57m high gopuram, one of the tallest in South India and a huge prithivilingam, one of the pancha lingams of South India. One of the three holiest places of Shakti, the imposing Kamakshi Amman Temple, built in 14th century is dedicated to the goddess Parvati in her guise as Kamakshi the presiding deity of Kanch, one who accedes to all requests. Dedicated to Vishnu, the 7-century Vaikunta Perumal Temple has figures of Vishnu depicted in each in sitting, standing and reclining postures enshrined in the three levels of the main temple. The hundred-pillared hall of the Varadaraja Perumal Temple or Devarajaswami Temple is renowned for its exquisite sculptures.
Other places of religious importance include the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, associated with life of Sankaracharya and the Kandakottam Sri Subramanya Swami Temple depicting some skandha posture of Lord Shiva, seated with Parvati to his left and the son, Lord Subramanya between them. The Jaina Kanchi or Thiruparukundram, just south west of the town on the banks of Palar River has two temples, of the Jain tirthankars built in 9-century, Vardhamana Temple with a grand image of Bhawan ahaveer and several fresco paintings and other, the smaller Chandraprabha Temple.
A temple built by Jayamkonda Chola, Ulagalanda Perumal Temple, 1000 year old Pardavudhootha Perumal Temple and the temples of Ashtabhuja Perumal and Yadhothakara Perumal are also noteworthy.
Also worth a visit is the Anna Memorial commemorating the political leader C.M. Annadurai, the most popular former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu who was born here. The Sakunthala Jagannathan Museum of Folk Art near Ekambareswarar Temple houses some wall paintings, sculptures, and household collections from the landowners of Damal. It is worthwhile to visit the Weavers Service Centre where you can see how the lustrous silk saris of Kanchipuram are weaved. More than five thousand families are engaged in this industry through various cooperative societies.
5km from Kanchipuram Enathur has a university for advanced learning in rustic rural setting. It houses library with ancient books and palm leaf manuscripts.
Tiruttani (42km is one of the six abode of Lord Subramanya. The hilltop temple is supposedly the place where the Lord Married Valli one of his two consorts. The Karthigai Festival in December here is celebrated with great fervor. This is also the birthplace of Dr. Radhakrishna, the former president of India and a renowned educationist.
28km from Kancheepuram is an ancient Shiva Temple at Uthirameur that contains inscriptions about village administration of those days.
An ancient Shiva temple renovated by the Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar kings. The main tower at the entrance is 57m high rishing in eight storeys, being one of the most massive of its kind. The shrine has a big Shiva Linga called Prithvi Linga, one of the Pancha lingas representing the aspect of earth. The Linga is made out of Sand, and as such there is no Abjishekam done with water; instead it is worshipped only with the sacred Bilva leaves. It has a magnificent thousand pillared hall with a superb sculpture and architecture. The temple has five spacious corridors where a number of idols of Shaiva saints are installed. The 2500 year old mango tree inside the temple has four branches, each is said to yield different varieties of mango fruit.
A thousand year old temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built by Rajasimha and is son Mahendra in the 8th century. It is noted for its architecture and sculptures. It is an improvement to the style of the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram.
Kamakshi Amman Temple
This is one of the three holy places of Shakti worship in India, the others being Madurai and Varanasi. Dedicated to goddess Kamakshi, or Parvai, it has an imposing structure. The temple was built by Cholas during the 14th century. It is said that Shankaracharya has installed the Sri Chakra at the feet of the Devi. an ancient Mutt belonging to the order of Shankaracharya popularly known as Kamakoti Mutt is a famous institution in this place venerated by devotees. A pontiff guides the affairs of this institution.
Very near the Kamakshi temple is another temple dedicated to Shiva built by the Pallavas and renovated by the Cholas. This is a temple, which has some special architectural features and sculpture and as such attracts some archaeologists and historians.
Varadaraja Swamy Temple
Located in Vishnu Kanchi, this temple is a massive and impressive edifice. Also known as the Devarajaswamy Temple, it is dedicated to Vishnu as Varadaraja. The shrine is on an elephant shaped huge rock called Hastagiri. There are two lofty towers facing east and west. The hundred-pillar hall constructed here during the Vijayanagar period is noted for its exquisite sculptures. The ornamental rings carved out of a single block of stone in the form of a chain adorn the corners of the hall. It is a dexterous feature of sculptural art. This temple is noted for its costly jewellery of diamonds and precious stones presented by the kings of various dynasties including one from the British.
Tourist Places Near Kanchipuram
Thirupparuthrikunram is about 5km. This a superb known as Jaina Kanchi located across the river. There are a few ancient temples of the 18th century having the idols of Jain Tirthankaras and other sculptural art. The main pavilion has some exquisite paintings on the ceilings depicting the scenes from the lives of the Jain monks. The temples depict a variety of towers encompassing the complete range of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar style of temple art.
Enathur is about 5km. A village with rustic and rural setting where the famous Kanchi Kamakoti Shankara Mutt has set up a University for Advanced learning. A fine library with rare manuscripts of various subjects are preserved here. In front of the main entrance to the University, a huge statue of Adi Shankara, 20m high, is put up. Hundreds of students, pilgrims and scholars frequent this place.
Tiruttani is about 42km. This is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya, popularly called Muruga. Situated on a hill top, the temple can be approached by a flight of 365 steps cut in stone. There is also a motorable ghat road of the hill. Tiruttani is said to be the place where Lord Muruga married Valli, one of his two consorts. The Kartigai festival in December is celebrated with great fervor when the place attracts thousands of devotees. This small town is also the birthplace of Dr. Radhakrishnan, philosopher statesman and former President of India.
Tiruvalangadu is about 30km. Situated very close to Arakkonam, this temple has been sanctified by the legend that Lord shiva is said to have danced to please the famous woman saint Karaikal Ammayar. Hence it is considered as one of the five important shrines associated with Nataraja.
Uttiramerur is about 30km. Located on the road leading to Vedanthangal, this place is widely known for the numerous inscriptions found on the walls of the ancient Shiva temple. They throw considerable light on the political and administrative system of the Chola period in the 10th century.
Kanchi is connected by rail as well as by an excellent road system. Very good lodging facilities are available in the town. State buses and private vans operate to various places of interest at frequent intervals. Taxi and autorickshaw can also be hired for local transport.
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