If you have lived in India, you have definitely heard the word Kanchipuram being thrown around in conversations. The female gender has a great propensity to use that word because of the famous Kanchipuram sarees that come from the town. That however is another tale and we shall get into it in another blog post. While we were planning our road trip through Tamil Nadu, we found that Kanchipuram would make a great stop. Our main agenda was to see how the saree weaving is done first hand. The half an hour pit stop however became a 3 hour stop as we wandered through the Kanchipuram temples. Yes! There are many and we covered just a few. Without much ado let me take you through the ones that we visited.
OUR GUIDE THROUGH THE KANCHIPURAM TEMPLES
Our guide Puranjyoti stopped for a pose.
Our first stop was the Kanchi Kailasanathar temple in Kanchipuram. Initially that was the only temple that we were going to visit. Then we happened to meet a cheerful man named Paranjyoti. He offered to be our guide for INR 100. Since we already had a car, it was a mere mater of driving from temple to temple while he offered insights into the history and the architecture of the Kanchipuram temples.
THE KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE
The oldest of the Kanchipuram temples that we visited.
The Kanchi Kailasanathar temple is oldest of the Kanchipuram temples. It is a Hindu temple that is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The walls of the temple are covered with ornate carvings. We were surprised at how well these carvings appeared to have been preserved. The Pandit of the temple however informed us that the preservation of the temple was difficult because it had been plastered over during the British era. This had covered numerous paintings that were part of the temple’s charm.
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If you look at the pillars closely, you will notice why they inspire the Kanchipuram weavers.
The Ekambareswarar Temple is probably the largest temple complex among the Kanchipuram temples. It covers over 25 acres of land and is said to be one of the largest in India. The Ekambareswarar temple has smaller areas where people worship in different corners of its structure. Tall pillars are laced with intricate designs which are said to be the inspiration for the Kanchipuram sarees. The Ekambareswarar Temple dates back to the 9th century and was built during the Chola dynasty. This temple too was dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva.
A brief view of the temple.
We did not get a chance to enter this temple but our guide Paranjyoti told us that the Karchapeswarar temple is famous because it has a thousand identical pillars inside it. From the outside, this Kanchipuram temple certainly looked magnificent. We couldn’t really determine why we were not allowed to go in but from what we understood it was because there were ongoing renovations.
SRI VARADHARAJA PERUMAL TEMPLE
The Sri Varadharaja Perumal temple is another one of the old Kanchipuram temples that can be found in the city. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and I guess that is how the suburb gets the name Vishnu Kanchi. The temple was built by the Cholas in 1053 and is believed to be one of the temples that Vishnu visited. That makes it very popular among his devotees.
KANCHI KAMAKSHI AMBAL DEVASTHANAM
A lot of the devotees flocked to worship at the temple.
We did a quick walk around the Kanchi Kamakshi Ambal Devasthanam. This Kanchipuram temple is dedicated to Kamakshi who is said to be a form of the Hindu Goddess Parvati. The temple was beautiful and it had a lot of work that was done in gold which glittered in the sunlight.
There are numerous temples that are present in Kanchipuram. In fact, Kanchipuram is one of the temple cities in India and people frequently go there as a form of pilgrimage. It is amazing how much you can learn as you travel. Despite being Indians, our knowledge about this famous town was limited to the handloom sarees that are produced there. It definitely felt good to get out and explore. Have you been to Kanchipuram? Which temples did you visit? Let us know in the comments below.