Guide to

Kanchipuram (Kanchi)


Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran

About the Author:

Mr T Sampath Kumaran is a freelance writer. He regularly contributes articles on Management, Business, Ancient Temples and Temple Architecture to many leading Dailies and Magazines. His articles for the young is very popular in “The Young World section” of THE HINDU. He was associated in the production of two Documentary films on Nava Tirupathi Temples, and Tirukkurungudi Temple in Tamilnadu. His books on Hindu Saints, and Temples of Pilgrimage centers have been well received in the religious circle. His book “Guide to Chennai” – a comprehensive Guide – is popular amongst tourists visiting the city.

Preface: Though there are a number of books on Kanchipuram, this is a comprehensive presentation giving details of historical, religious and commercial importance of the City for the benefit of the visitor. While every effort is taken to maintain the authenticity there can be certain areas which are debatable, as references are collected from historical and archaeological findings. Since there have been different versions in the religious scriptures, views differ. The presentation in this book is made with the guidance of learned scholars. I express my thanks to the officials of archaeological, HR&CE and Co-optex departments, Temple officials, Archakars and gurukkals for their support in compiling the information, as well permitting to copy from their records. Tamarapu Sampath Kumaran Contents: History Major Temples Vaishnavite Temples Saivite temples Kanchi Sankara Mutt Commercial importance

Kanchipuram (Kanchi) The existence of Kanchipuram popularly known as Kanchi and Conjeevaram could be traced to the Sangam period. It was the capital of Tondaiman Ilantiriyan, a Tiraiyan chieftain of the Sangam Age, who ruled the Northern Tamil country. Much historical evidence is available of the Pallava and the Chola period. In his travelogue Hieun Tsang, the Chinese traveler refers to the stupa erected by the Mouryan kings in Kanchipuram. Manimekalai the Buddhist nun of the post Sangam period has made references to this city, as one of the important centers for Buddhism. The ancient topography of Kanchipuram is known from the,” perumbanarrupadi”, a work of the Sangam period (Second century AD). Kanchipuram is considered as one of the reputed Mukthishetra. Kanchipuram gained fame after the third century AD, when it became the seat of learning and a prominent Buddhist center. Along with Varanasi, Nalanda, Takshasila and Valabhi, Kanchi was one of the greatest centers of learning during this period. Since many of the Pallava kings belonged

to Jainism, Kanchipuram turned an important landmark in the history of the Jains. The temples of the Jain Tirthankaras in this place were built in the Ninth Century A.D. These temples contain several fresco paintings and a grand image of Bhagwan Mahaveer. A Tamil poem of the second century AD describes the existence of the temples in Kanchi at Kamakottam of the Goddess and at Urakam of Vishnu. The earliest Kamakottam still exists near the present Skanda temple, where a seated Goddess with matted hair holding a noose, goad, and skull is found exhibiting the gestures of fearlessness. Though religious traditions to Tamilnadu may be traced back to prehistoric period little is known about the temples built in this region prior to the seventh and eighth century AD. At that time Kanchipuram was the Capital of Pallavas and many of the temples have the royal foundations bearing the names of the Pallava kings. The city of Kanchipuram is also known as the Temple City of South India (Nearly 1008 temples are referred to have been found in the city and out of these only 200 or so remain now). There are 650 stone inscriptions in Kanchipuram belonging to different dynasties and different periods. There was a famous poet by name Bharavi in the court of King Harshavardhana who praised Kanchi as the best city during that period, in his poem as under. "Pushpeshu Jaathi; Purusheshu Vishnu; Naareeshu Rambha; Nagareshu Kanchi" which means the best among flowers is Lotus, among men Vishnu the Almighty, among women Rambha the dancer in the court of Indra, the lord of Devas, and among the cities Kanchipuram. There is a saying in Tamil, on Kanchi: “Kanchiyil nadai azhagu, vadai azhagu, kudai azhagu” It means the steps of the devotees carrying the deity Sri Varadaraja, the pepper vadai prasadam of the temple, and the temple umbrella are graceful. Fifteen of the temples in Kanchipuram are designated divya desams, or special “divine sites” for Srivaishnavas. These divya desams have been sung in praise by the Azhwars. Kanchipuram is the home of the great saint Ramanujacharya. It is said that, Lord Varadaraja, the presiding deity of Kanchipuram, spoke the basic principles of vishishtadvaita philosophy to Ramanujacharya. through one of his gurus, Kancipurna. It is also the birth place of Vedanta Desika, the most prominent Srivaishnava acharya after Ramanuja. Chanakya who has authored “Artha sastra” (Niti-shastra - civic laws) and a minister of the Maurya Empire, and Parimelazhagar who has written commentary on Tirukkural are said to belong to Kanchipuram. It is recorded that Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, Nityananda Prabhu, and Madhvacharya visited Kanchi. The temples of Kanchipuram were built during different dynasties, each enriching and refining the architecture further. One can clearly see the evolution of the south Indian style of temple architecture (Dravidian style) in these temples. It also had the unique fame of being the centre for education in India during that period. The then rulers patronized Sanskrit literature and supported Buddhism and Jainism, which spread in this region during this period. Positioned at the cross

roads of land and sea trade, the Pallavas mediated culturally and religiously between North and South India as well transmitting Indian civilization into Thailand, Cambodia, Java and Vietnam. The harbour at Mamallapuram encouraged maritime and trade with South East Asian countries. It became the imperial capital of the Pallava rulers from the sixth to eighth century AD. The rulers of the Pallava dynasty were great patrons of art, architecture and learning and under their reign, the first south Indian stone temples were built at Mahabalipuram. The evolution of the south Indian style is clearly visible in the temples at Mahabalipuram. The Pallavas also built a number of temples in Kanchipuram. Subsequent kingdoms of the Cholas, Chalukyas and Vijaynagar rulers continued to carry forward the temple building activities started by the Pallava dynasty. Kanchi, is sacred as one of the three Sakti peetams of India. Kamakshi is said to be goddess Parasakti, having Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati as her eyes. As the Sakthi sthalam, legend has it that Uma (Parvati), in a playful mood, once closed the eyes of Lord Siva with her palms. This caused universal darkness for a while. All the devas, rishis and humans stumbled and were terrified. Lord Siva was angered and He ordained Shakti to be born on earth and remain there to atone for her act. Shakti accordingly was born as Kamakshi in Mangadu and was awaiting the arrival of the Lord, to marry Her, as promised by Him. As this did not happen, she decided to perform a penance. She lit fire on all sides, in five homa kundams leaping tongues of flame and stood on her left toe and went into a divine trance in the kundam at the centre, for ages. Lord Shiva then asked her to go to Kanchipuram, where He said He would marry her. She went to Kanchi where the Lord apprared before her and married her. Mangadu is situated close to Kanchipuram. People congregate in thousands to this temple for a darshan of the presiding deity, Kamakshi, installed by Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi, the paramacharya of Kanchi. It is believed that Parvati, in Her hurry to leave for Kanchi to join Lord Siva, did not put off the fire that She had lit. When Adi Shankara came to Mangadu, as part of his pilgrimage all over India, the people of Mangadu and its vicinity who could not bear the heat requested him to help them by putting off the heat emanating from the Homa kundams.

Adi Sankara installed the “Ardha-Meru Sri Chakra” and thus nullified the heat. The Sri Chakra established by him has the shape of a koorma (tortoise) as its base. There are three steps over the base and a 16 petalled lotus and a yantra have been installed over the steps. The Sri Chakra has 43 triangles, representing 43 devatas.

Since it is made of eight different herbs, abishekam is not performed to the Sri Chakra. Puja is performed with sandal paste etc., along with kunkuma archana. The Sri Chakra established by Adi Shankara is the speciality of Mangadu.

Entrance to Mangadu temple
Even after the establishment of Sri Chakra, people were afraid of going to the temple, because of the awe-inspiring posture of Kamakshi in penance, standing on fire on her left toe, installed in the sanctum sanctorum known as Adi Kamakshi. This idol was later consecrated in a separate structure, to the left of the temple, by His Holiness Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswathi. He installed in its place an idol of Kamakshi holding a parrot in one hand and sugarcane in the other.

There are four major temples in Kanchipuram.


The Kailashnatha temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is the oldest temple of Kanchi. It reflects the freshness and simplicity of the early Dravidian style of temple architecture and was built by the Pallava king Rayasimha. It can also be described as the worthy successor of the rock temples at Mahabalipuram, which were also built by the Pallava rulers. The bases of the pillars in the temples at Mahabalipuram have seated lions while at Kancheepuram the lions stand on their hind legs. This temple was constructed in the late seventh century AD and Rayasimha's son added the front portion later. The eighth century remains of murals within the temple are an indication of the magnificence of the original temple. The temple is built of red sandstone and has innumerable carvings of Pallava art, of which the Urdhva Tandava dance of Siva and the laughing face of Parvati are worth seeing. There are a number of small shrines within this temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and their sons Ganesh and Murugan (Subramanya)

Ekambareswara Temple.
Sri Ekambaranathar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest temples in the city of Kanchipuram, and sprawls in an area of 12 hectares. The origin of this temple goes back to the time of the Pallavas and the Chola rulers extended it later. The great ruler of the Vijaynagar Empire, Krishnadevaraya, built its 59 meter high Gopuram or gateway and massive outer walls in the early 16th century. The highlight of this temple is its thousand-pillared mandapam. This is one of the most revered temples to Siva located in Kanchipuram, and also one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the element of earth – Prithvi Lingam.

The presiding deity is Ekambara Nathar, Ekambreswarar and the Ambal Elavar Kuzhali, Kamakshi. The great saivite saints Sambandar, Appar and Sundarar composed the Pathigams, (hymns) in praise of the Lord. Legend has it that Parvati worshipped Siva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam, improvised out of sand, under a mango tree. When the neighboring Vegavati River overflowed and threatened to engulf the Siva Lingam, Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam to protect it from being destroyed. By the touch of Parvati,

Siva materialized in person and married her. It is in this context Siva is referred to as 'Tazhuva kkuzhainthaar' in Tamil.

The mango tree in the temple, which is still green, is believed to be 3500 years old, and is considered to be the embodiment of the four Vedas, and as evidence the tree is said to bear fruits of four different tastes in each season. The Saint poet Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is said to have recovered sight of his left eye, upon offering worship at this shrine. The great texts, Tiruvacakam, Tirukkovaiyaar, Kanchipuranam, Manimekalai speak the glory of Kanchi city

Kamakshi Amman Temple
The impressive Kamakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati in the form of Kamakshi or the goddess of Love. The sanctum sanctorum of this temple can be reached by passing through a large mandapam (hall) with ornate pillars.

The worship of Goddess in the Kamakottam sanctum follows the “Sowbhagya chintamani system Shakta Agama” as revealed by Sage Durvasa. The rites in the sanctum are addressed to the Srichakra yantra in front of the Goddess image and this yantra is believed to have been installed by Sri Adi sankara. The sanctum sanctorum faces southeast in the centre of Gayatri Mandapam. The tradition says that there was a delightful grove of Champaka trees around the main temple now known as Gayatri Mandaparn.

Varadarajaswami Temple
The huge Varadarajaswami temple also called Devarajaswami temple, Hastagiri and Attiyuram built by the rulers of the Vijaynagar kingdom is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple has an exquisitely sculpted pillared hall. It also has a similar marriage hall, commemorating the celestial wedding of Lord Vishnu with Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. One of the interesting features of this temple is that it has a huge chain carved out from a single piece of stone. Inside the temple tank, there is an idol of 10 meter high statue of Vishnu, made of wood of a "Fig" tree. This idol is taken out once in 40 years for worship. In 14th century another Prakaram and a gopura (Tower), huge and beautifully carved, was built by the later Chola kings. This temple is one of the 108 Divya desam. Lord Varadharaja Swamy resides in the upper prakaram. Beneath the sannidhi there is a shrine for Lord Narasimha. There is a separate Shrine for Perundevi Thayaar. Sudarshanaazhwar's Shrine is near the temple tank and it is in the outer prakaram. The Legend is that Lord Brahma worshipped Lord Varadharaja Swamy in Krita Yuga, Gajendra in Treta Yuga, Brihaspati in Dvapara Yuga and Ananta Shesha in Kali Yuga. It is believed that Airavata, the elephant of Indra in the form of a hill bears the image of Lord Varadharaja Swamy. The wonders and the greatness of this temple and the Lord Sri Varadaraja, who is also in other forms in the nearby temples in the Kanchipuram, are very much elaborated in the sacred text called "Sri Hastigiri Mahatmayam". Garuda Seva, in this temple is considered to be one of the important festivals attracting a very large crowd of devotees. Bhoothathazhwar, Peyazhwar, Thirumangai Azhwar have composed many paasurams in praise of Lord Varadharajaswamy. Vedanta Desika has composed lots of scripts praising the Lord. Thirukkachi Nambi, a noted devotee in this temple, and one of the acharya of Sri Ramanuja, is believed to have served the Lord here with Tiru Aalavattam (fan) daily. It seems the Lord used to speak to him regularly.

One of the ornaments decorating Lord Varadaraja, even at the present time, is called the Clive necklace. Robert Clive, the British governor of Madras during the 1700s, presented this necklace in appreciation to Varadaraja deity after his victory with the Muslim Nawab of Arcot. On the way to Arcot, Clive stopped in Kanchi. due to severe stomach pain, and was laid up for several days. He was worried about the outcome of the impeding battle. The priests gave him holy water and sanctified food, from the temple. Upon taking these he was relieved from the pain. In gratitude, he decided that he would present the Lord the most valuable thing that he would capture from Arcot treasury. The Jewelry presented by Lord Blasé, one of the Governors of the British Empire, adorns the head dress of the deity. Another time, while Lord Varadaraja was being fanned, Clive expressed his doubts about the deity feeling hot. Upon hearing this, the priest fanning the Lord wiped the deity’s face with a small towel and gave it to Clive, who was amazed to find it wet. As per the puranas, since Lord Varadaraja appeared from the sacrificial fire performed by Lord Brahma, it is believed that the Lord acquired the pinkish spots on His face, which is visible on the vigraha. With temples spread over the whole city Kanch is divided as Vishnu Kanchi, comprising the Vaishnavite temples and Siva Kanchi which has the Saivite shrines

Other Vaishnavite Temples in Kanchipuram:
Ashtabhujakaram – Adikesava Perumal temple

This temple of Sri Pushpavalli samedha Ashtabhuja Swami temple is one of the important 108 holy places (divya desams) of Vaishnavites. The Lord here is also known as Adikesava Perumal, Ashtabhujakaran, Ashtabhujanga Swami, Chakradharar and Gajedra Varadan and His Consort is known as Alamelumangai, Pushpavalli Thayar and Padmasini. The temple tank is Gajendra Pushkarani. Apart from Thirumangai Azhwar, Manavala Mamunigal, Vedanta Desikar and Pillaiperumal Iyengar have sung in praise of the Lord here.

The Moolavar image of the Lord has eight arms (Ashtabhujakaram) with weapons such as the bow, arrow, sword, shield, mace, and a lotus, conch, and chakram. The image of Goddess Mahalakshmi is on His right chest and He is seen wearing the huge saligramam garland round his neck.

Tiruttankaa – (Tooppul) – Deepa prakasakar temple
The Moolavar here is Deepaprakasar, also known as Vilakkolipperumaal, Divyaprakasar - in a standing posture. Taayaar here is Maragatavalli. This temple has a 3 tiered rajagopuram and 2 prakarams. There are shrines to Lakshmi Hayagreeva, Aandaal, the Azhwars and Desikacharyar. The story has it that the demons darkened the world in an attempt to disturb the yagna (ritual) conducted by Bhrama. Vishnu is said to have manifested himself as bright light, to enable the yagna to continue unimpeded, hence the name Deepaprakasar. Tiruttankaa is the birthplace of Vedanta Desikar, whose image is enshrined here along with that of Lakshmi Hayagreevar, which he held in worship. Murals depicting the life history of Desikacharyar are seen in the circumambulatory passage in this temple.

Tiruvelukkai – Azagiyasingar temple
The Moolavar here is Azhagiyasingar or Mukunda Nayakar in a standing posture, while the Taayaar is Velukkaivalli or Amritavalli. This temple has a three tiered rajagopuram and a single prakaram. There are also shrines to Aandaal and the Alwars. Legend has it that Narasimhar while in his Hastisaila cave (the Attigiri sanctum hill in the Varadaraja Perumaal temple, has a cave shrine to Narasimhar), manifested himself yet again as Narasimhar, and proceeded westward to banish the asura demons from the vicinity, where he stood in the posture of Yoga Narasimha, in what is known now as Tiruvelukkai. The word Vel means desire; since Narasimha, out of desire for this place, resided here, this shrine is known as Tiruvelukkai. Legend also has it that Bhrigu muni was blessed with a vision of Narasimha at this shrine.

Tiruneeragam – Jagadeeswarar
This Divya shetram is represented by a small shrine in the northern prakaram of Ulagalantha Perumal temple in the temple town of Kanchipuram. The moolavar is Jagadeeswarar. Though there is no moolavar vigraham and it is not known of the exact location of the old temple and the moolavar vigraham,

There is now only a Utasava vigraham. The Thayar is Nilamangaivalli. The Theertham is Akroora Theertham and the Vimanam Jagadeeswara Vimanam.

Tirupaadakam – Pandavadhoota Perumal temple
The moolavar is Pandava Dhootaperumaal, which is an imposing 28 feet image, in a seated form. Thayars Rukmani and Satyabhama are also enshrined. The Theertham is Mathsya Theertham and the Vimanam Bathra Vimanam. As per the sthala purana Vaisampayana was narrating Bhagavatham to Janamejayan, and was referring to Lord Krishna’s visit to Hasthinapuram as Pandava’s Dhoota (Ambassador). Desiring to have the Vishwaroopa darsana they performed Ashwamedhayagam at Kanchi. On completion of the yagam the Lord gave darshan as Pandava Dhoota. There are shrines for Ramanuja and Manavaala Maamuni.

Tirunilaattingal Tundam – Chandrachooda Perumal temple
This Divya shetram is a small shrine within the inner prakaram of Sri Ekambareswarar temple in Kanchipuram. The moolavar is Nilaattingal Tundattan also called Chandra chooda Perumal in a standing posture. The Thayar is Nilaattingal Tundattaayar. The Theertham is Chandra pushkarini and the Vimanam Purushasookta Vimanam. According to the sthala purana, Shiva tested Parvathi’s commitment in performing Tapas by setting fire to the mango tree under which she was seated. Parvathi prayed to her brother Lord Vishnu, who caused waves of nectar to cool down the scorching rays. Lord Vishnu as Vamana continues to stay at this shetram at the request of Parvati. It is also believed that at the request of Lord Vishnu the moon adorning Shiva alleviated the discomfort of heat that emanated during the churning of the milky ocean. Hence the name, Nilaa-tingal tundattan.

Tiru Ooragam – Trivikramar temple
It is also called Ulagalanda perumal koyil. The moolavar is Trivikrama called Ulagalanda perumal and the Thayar Amudhavalli Nachiyar. The Theertham is Naga Theertham and the Vimanam Sarasreekara Vimanam.

According to the sthala purana Bali chakravarthy could not have the darsan of the Lord during Trivikrama Avatharam, as he was under Lord’s foot. Acceding to the request of King Bali Lord Vishnu appeared as Trivikrama at this shetram. The presiding deity is 35 feet high and 24 feet wide. It is also believed that Lord Vishnu is said to have manifested Himslef as Adisesha in a small shrine at Oorakam.

Tiruvegka – Yatotkari perumal temple
The presiding deity is Yatotkaara perumal, also known as Sonnavannam Seida perumal in a reclining posture. (It is a unique posture, of the head to the devotees’ right unlike in other shetrams). The Thayar is Komalavalli Thayar and Saraswathi is also seen in the sanctum. The Theertham is Poikai pushkarini and the Vimanam Veda saara Vimanam. According to the sthala purana the Devas surrendered to the Lord when Vegavathi (Saraswathi River) was forced by Asuras to flood and destroy the yagna of Brahma. Responding to their prayers the Lord lay in the way forming a dam and helped Brahma to complete the yagna. Hence this place gained the name Vegavati anai, which in due course changed to Vegka. Legend also has it that Poikai Azhwar was discovered on a lotus flower in the Poikai pushkarini. It is also believed that Kanikannan, a disciple of Tirumaisaiazhwar was banished from the kingdom by the then ruler of the place. When Tirumaisaiazwar also accompanied his disciple the Lord joined them. Later when the king revoked the order, at the request of Tirumaisaiazhwar the Lord returned to His original shrine. Hence the Lord is called Sonnavannam seidha perumal as He acted as per the request of the Azhwar.

Tirukkarakam – Karunakara perumal temple
This Divya shetram is in the prakaram of Ulagalanda perumal temple in Kanchipuram. The Utsava murthy is Karunakara Perumal. The Thayar is Padmamani Thayar. Details of the original temple, sthala pushkarini are not available, excepting from the pasuram of Tirumangai Azhwar, where in it is mentioned that the moolavar is in a standing posture. The Theertham is Akraya Theertham and the Vimanam Vamana Vimanam.

Tirukaarvanam temple
The Divya shetram is located in the prakaram of Ulagalanda perumal temple in Kanchipuram. Details regarding the original temple, sthala and pushkarani are not available excepting from the pasuram of Tirumangai Azhwar. It is found that the moolavar is Kalvar in a standing posture and the Thayar Kamalavalli also called Taamaraiyaal. The Theertham is Gowrithadakam and the Vimanam Pushkala Vimanam. The Utsava murthi is found at this shetram.

Tirukkalvanoor – Aadi Varaha perumal temple
This Divya shetram is located within the Kamakshi Amman temple in Kanchipuram The moolavar is Aadi Varaha perumal in standing posture and the Thayar Anjilaivalli Nachiyar. The Theertham is Nitya pushkarini and the Vimanam Vamana Vimanam. The legend has it that Parvati standing on one foot meditated upon Siva under a mango tree to be united with him in marriage. She sought the blessings of her brother Lord Vishnu and her prayers were answered. There is another story that Parvarti sighted Lord Vishnu overhearing the conversation between her and Lakshmi, upon which she addressed Him as Kalvan.

Tiruppavalavannam – Paavalavannan temple
There are two shrines of Pachhi Vanna perumal and Pavala Vanna perumal, and both these shrines are considered as one Divya shetram. The moolavar Pavalavannan is in a standing posture and Pachivannan in a seated posture on Adisehsa, also called Paramapada Nathan. The Thayar is Pavalavalli and the Theertham Chakratheertham and the Vimanam Pravaala Vimanam. The legend has it that Brigu Maharshi worshipped at this shrine and had pratyasha darsan.

Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple Tirupputkuzhi
This temple of Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal is one of the 108 Divyadesams where Lord Rama is said to have performed the funeral rites for Jatayu, the giant bird which valiantly fought to prevent Ravana from abducting Sita, the wife of Lord Rama to Lanka. The main deities are Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal and Maragathavalli.

Ramanuja had his initial lessons from Yadavprakasa here. Vedanta desika has sung a hymn Paramartha Sthuthi" in Praise of the Lord. Alwars have rendered hymns on this Kshetra.

Other Saivite Temples in Kanchipuram:

Sri Kacchapeswarar Temple
Although it is believed that this temple was built by the Pallava dynasty, the precise timeframe of the construction of this temple is unknown. This temple is located in the centre of Kanchipuram. This temple is also called "Kaccheeswarar Temple". This stands for Kachi and Eswarar - "Lord of Kanchi". Kachi is another name for Kanchipuram. The main deity in this temple is called Kacchapa Eswarar. "Kacchapam" is Sanskrit for "Turtle". Lord Shiva was worshipped by Lord Vishnu in the form of a Turtle. Hence the name Kacchapeswarar Temple.

Sri Subramanya Swami temple
It was built in its present form around 1915. But, the shrine of Sri Subramanya Swami in Kanchipuram finds a significant place. For Devotees on a pilgrimage trip, this temple is a mandatory place to visit. It gains its significance due to its location. Lord Shiva, in the "Soma Skandha" posture seated with the Goddess Shakthi to his left, and His son Lord Subramanya seated between them. The Kandakottam temple is located, right in between the shrine of Lord Shiva (Sri Ekambaranathar) the shrine of Shakthi (Kamakshi Amman).

Onakanthan Tali temple
This Shivastalam is a small temple, to the West of the Ekambareswarar temple near the Sarvatheertham. Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is closely associated with this shrine. Shiva is said to have been worshipped here by Onan and Kanthan, commanders of Vanasuran

Kachi Anaikthangapadam temple

This is a small shrine located in the North Western part of Kanchipuram. Legends holds that Kubera and Ganapati worshipped Shiva here. The fields in the vicinity are known as 'Aanaiyurittaan Vayal'.

Kachi Nerikaaraikkadu Temple
There are two prakarams and a three tiered Rajagopuram in this temple, and a tank which is known as Indra Theertham and Budha Theertham. Legend has it that Indra the King of the Devas and Budhan worshipped Shiva here. It is believed that sesame oil offered during ablutions are absorbed by the Shivalingam.

Kuranganilmuttam temple
This small shrine in Kanchi is also known as Satyavratam. Vaali worshipped Shiva at the entrance to the temple while a squirrel worshipped from the South and a crow from the North, hence the name Kuranganilmuttam. Hanuman is also believed to have worshipped Shiva here. Images relating to these legends are seen in the temple.

Tirumaakaral temple
This Shivastalam is located at a distance of about 10 miles south of Kanchipuram near Uttiramerur. Shiva is said to have manifested himself as a giant golden lizard to Rajendra Cholan here and in another legend, an Udumbu (giant lizard) is said to have worshipped Shiva in an ant hill. Indra is said to have worshipped Shiva here.

Tiruvothur temple
This Shivastalam is within an hours drive from Kanchipuram and it is known for its association with Sambandar Shiva is said to have revealed the Vedas to the Gods and Rishis from under a banyan tree here. The four palm trees represent the 4 vedas. Sambandar, arriving from Tiruvannamalai is said to have transformed a male palm tree to a female one, responding to the pleas of an anxious devotee. There are several legends connected with Sambandar here. Shiva is said to have appeared as a snake charmer to save Sambandar from the clutches of a snake.

Panankattur temple
Taalapureeswarar and the Ambal Komala Pataambaal. This is a small temple with a 3 tiered gopuram and a prakaram. A gajaprishta vimanam adorns the sanctum. (The image above is that of the gajaprishta vimanam at Tirumazhisai near Tiruvallur also in Tondai Naadu). This temple has been designed to echo the voices of visitors. There are two shrines here, said to have been worshipped by Agasthyar and Pulastiar. (Taalagireeswarar and Kripanatheswarar), bothfacing east. Both the Ambal shrines adjacent to each other face the south. This temple is rich in sculptural wealth

Jain Temples at Tirupparuthikkundram
Kanchipuram is an important landmark in the history of the Jains. Many of the Pallava kings belonged to Jainism.The temples of the Jaina Tirthankaras were built in the Ninth Century A.D. The temples contain several fresco paintings and a grand image of Bhagwan Mahaveer.In addition to its importance to the Hindus, and the Buddhists, Kanchipuram is also an important landmark in the history of the Jains. Many of the Pallava kings belonged to Jainism. Two of the best known ancient Jain Acharyas, Samantabhadra and Akalanka have been associated with Kanchi. Tirupparuthikkundram (Pronounced Tiru-paruthikundram), is a village on the banks of the Palar river, a little off the Pillaiyaar Palayam suburbs of Kanchipuram. In Tirupparuthikkundram stand two great monuments of Kanchipuram's ancient period of Jainism's flourishment. In addition to the existing Siva Kanchi and Vishnu Kanchi, this area can be termed Jina Kanchi. The two temples of the Jaina Tirthankaras were built in the Ninth Century A.D. The temples contain several fresco paintings and a grand image of Bhagwan Mahaveer. Tirthankara "Chandraprabh" an ancient Tirthankara, long before Lord Mahaveer, is the main deity in one of the temples. It is believed that Simha Vishnu and his queen allotted land to the Jains in the 5th Century AD. The Jain commentator Suranandhi had lived there during the 10th Century. Irusappar, a Jain monk, established a musical manram at the place. Rajaraja Cholan and Rajendra Cholan had allotted some land on which the two temples were built. Today, these temples remain mostly inaccessible to the public. They are underpublicised and

unmaintained. These temples are under the charge of the Tamilnadu Archeology department. The main Vimaanam of the first temple is in a damaged state. However local people of the village have taken steps for renovation of the interior structure and preserving the deities and other articles. The second temple is in a highly deteriorated state. The temple has exquisite paintings on the wall, worth seeing. Unfortunately they have faded due to exposure to weather conditions and want of proper maintenance. Very recently the Archaeological department is taking necessary steps to restore them to the original condition.

Chitragupta temple:

This shrine of Chitagupta is in the heart of the City.

Chatur Varga Chinthamani of Hemadri stipulates that Chitragupta should stand to the right of Yama, along with Yama duthas. But here he is bestowed the unique glory of being a Main deity. The Deity is in Sukasana (sitting) pose, one leg bent and the other hanging and resting on a lotus bloom. As if to indicate his functions, he is provided with a stylus in his right hand and a sheaf of cudjan leaves in the left. Apart from his link with Yama, he is also an Adi devata for Kethu, the last of the Navagrahas, who delights in casting a malign influence on the victim. To get release from the clutches of Kethu, and to appease Yama, the Lord of Death, the blessing of Chitragupta are sought


It is believed that Adi Sankara settled in Kanchipuram after establishing four Amnaya mutts in the four corners of India and it is considered as one of the Sankara Peetams established by Sir Adi Sankara. The mutt became influential and famous under the leadership of Shri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati.The Brindavanam of Paramacharya Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswathi is now being worshipped here. The present swamijis are Sri Jayendra Saraswathi and Sri Shankara Vijayendra Saraswathi The followers of Kanchi math claim that this mutt was temporarily shifted to Kumbakonam because of which it was known as Kumbakonam Mutt for sometime, and that later the Mutt shifted back to Kanchipuram Enathur: In a rustic rural setting of this village, Kanchi Sankara Mutt has set up a University for Advanced learning at Enathur. A Library with ancient books, palm leaf manuscripts on various subjects are housed in this University comlex. A 60 feethigh statue of Adi Sankara is put up in the front of the University. Hundreds and thousands of pilgrims and scholars frequent this place regularly.


This is a special prasadam available in the Varadarajaswami temple. It is a huge Idli (Steamed Rice Cake) which is added with spices Kancheepuram Idlis are hot and spicy. These differ from the normal Idlis due to the extra ingredients added usually to make it a little more spicy. The extra ingredients added are whole husked blackgram, Oil, Melted ghee, Whole black pepper, Cumin seeds and Fresh thick curd. These Idlis are a little oily compared to the normal ones.

Kanchipuram Sarees

A saree is the traditional female garment in India, Pakisthan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. A sari is a strip of unstitched cloth, ranging from four to nine metres in length that is draped over the body in various styles. The most common style is for the sari to be wrapped around the waist, with one end then draped over the shoulder baring the midriff. It is not cumbersome but a great antique that suits to any occasion. The great Indian women in different spheres of life, the rich and the poor admire and appreciate the style and strength of the sari.

The silk weavers of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk sarees in the country. Woven from pure mulberry silk, the sarees in dazzling colours are embellished with fine gold thread (zari) and are available in every imaginable design and variety, which can make the job of selection quite challenging. The sari both conceals and reveals, depending on the weaver’s whim and conditioning. The versatile sari has its variety fashion in adorning in this multicultural society of India . Indian silk has been popular the world over - for its sheer variety of designs, weaving and quality. This is largely due to the fact that India has the unique distinction of producing different varieties of silk. Silk is a protien fibre, produced by the silkworm for spinning around its cocoon. This fibre (filament) is unwound to obtain silk. Yarn is produced by twisting the fibre, which is then dyed, warped and finally woven to produce fabric. The glamour of the Kancheepuram silk saree lies in its colour contrasts, and the traditional designs of pyramidical temple borders, checks, stripes and floral buttas. Kancheepuram silk sarees, are famous since the border, body and pallav of the saree are woven separately and then interlocked together strongly, making the saree to last long.

How to reach Kanchi:

One can motor down from Chennai in 2 hours time. There are regular buses, and express trains operating from Chennai.

Where to stay?
There are a number of one star and budget hotels and It is difficult to find quality accommodation in Kanchipuram. For those who prefer star hotels they can stay at Chennai or at Mahabalipuram. Hotel Saravana Bhavan has a branch at Kanchi, which maintains a high standard restaurant.

Local Transport:
It may interest visitor to have a ride in a horse drawn vehicle, or a “Ricksha”, a peddled Tricycle to go around the city.

There are also taxis (without meter) and auto rikshas, for faster transportation. Local Transport: Bicycles can be hired from the shops near the bus stand for as little as Rs 2 per hour. Cycle Rickshaws and auto rickshaws are also available on hire to move in and around the city.

*More details can be collected from the Tamilnadu Tourism Development Corpration at Chennai.



Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful