Situated at a distance of 80 km from Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram is known as the religious capital of South India. It was the capital of the Pallava rulers and they built many monuments in the region which stand proudly even today. Chola and Vijayanagar rulers also built majestic temples in Kanchipuram and hence you can find thousands of temples here, most of which are ancient and built hundreds of years ago. What is most amazing about the temples in Kanchipuram is their amazing architecture. Here are five of the most amazing temples in Kanchipuram:
1. Kamakshi Amman Temple
Kamakshi Amman temple is spread across an area of 5 acres, and it is one of the oldest temples in India as it was built during the 14 century by Chola rulers. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi and is worshiped in the form of a chakra or wheel. It is also one of the Shakti Peeths in the country. The temple has an imposing structure with four entrances. The sculptures and the gallery of the temple are mesmerizing. The idol of the Goddess is unique and not to be found in any other temple. It has the Goddess seated in Padmasan and holds a sugarcane bow in one hand, a lasso in another, a goad and flowers in other hands. It is one of the most sacred temples not just in South India but in the entire country.
2. Ekambareswarar Temple
Dedicated to lord Shiva, the Ekambareswarar temple is believed to have been built thousands of years ago as it finds mention in many ancient texts. The temple has undergone many renovations since it was first built. The present temple was built by king Krishnadevaraya of the Vijayanagar empire. The temple is situated in a complex that spreads around 40 acres of land. The entrance tower of the temple is known as the Raja Gopuram and is 57 m tall. Another unique feature of the temple is the Aayiram Kaal Mandapam which means the hallway with thousand pillars. The inner walls of the temple have images of Shiva Lingams. Another major attraction of the temple is a mango tree which is believed to be 3, 500 years old.
3. Kailasanathar Temple
Located at Putleri Street in Kanchipuram, Kailasanathar temple dedicated to lord Shiva was built by the Pallava rulers in the 7th century. The main attraction of the temple is the beautiful and majestic vimana, over the sanctum. The temple’s architecture is spectacular and is proof of the skills of the artisans of that era. It is built of sandstone and is the biggest such structure in the world. The foundation of the temple is made from granite though. To do the pradakshina (circumlocution) of the temple, one has to climb seven stairs and then crawl through a narrow way. A huge Nandi statue stands in front of the temple. There are also 58 smaller temples within the temple complex.
4. Karchapeswarar Temple
Karchapeswarar temple is believed that it was the Pallava rulers who constructed the temple but it was later renovated by Vijaynagar rulers. It is a unique temple because the idol is of a tortoise. It is believed that lord Vishnu worshiped Shiva in the form of a tortoise. The temple architecture is amazing with its intricate carvings and the typical ancient architecture.
5. Sathyanatheswarar Temple
Spread across an area of 22,500 sq feet, the Sathyanatheswarar temple is situated in the Thirukalimedu town in Kanchipuram and is dedicated to lord Shiva. The temple finds mention in Tevaram, ancient Tamil literature. The three-tiered entrance tower is the main attraction of the temple. There are two courtyards and a lotus tank. The idol is a Shiva Lingam in granite and it is believed that it is a swayambhu (self-manifested) idol. There are three annual temple festivals celebrated in the month of December-January, October-November and February-March.
Visiting the temples of Kanchipuram is a divine experience as these temples represent the times when Gods’ presence could be felt by pure souls. Also, the magnificent architecture and the traditional rituals followed by the temple takes you to the utmost spiritual experience that is something devotees should experience at least once in their life time. The temples surrounded by natural beauty are a sight to behold at all times.