Kanchipuram



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Kanchipuram is 71km (45 miles) southwest of Chennai on the Vegavati River, and 64km west of Mamallapuram.

three times bigger image in new window It is said that "Ka" (Brahma) "anchi" (worshiped) Lord Vishnu at this place and that is why the city was given the name Kanchipuram. Puram means "city."
three times bigger image in new window Kanchipuram is known as the "Golden City of Temples." It is considered one of the seven main sacred cities of India. Varanasi, Haridwar, Ujjain, Mathura, Ayodhya and Dvaraka are the others.
three times bigger image in new window Kanchipuram is believed to give eternal happiness to one who goes there.
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It has over one hundred temples now, but at one time it is said to have had about one thousand.

three times bigger image in new window Ramanujacharya lived in Kanchipuram during his youth.
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Four of the Alwars-Pey Alwar, Poygai Alwar, Bhutatt Alwar, and Thirumalisai-were born within 50 miles of Kanchipuram.

three times bigger image in new window Sri Chaitanya visited Kanchipuram 500 years ago.
three times bigger image in new window The city is divided into two main parts-Siva-kanchi, which is the northern suburb, and Vishnu-kanchi, which is the extreme east section of town. There is a group of Jain temples south, across the river. Kailasanatha and Vaikuntha Perumal temples were the most important temples built by the Pallavas. Varadaraja, Kamakshi, and Ekambareswara temples were originally built by the Cholas, but were added onto by the Vijayanagar and Nayaka rulers.
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The temples are well spread out across the city and you need at least four hours to see the major ones.

three times bigger image in new window There are thirteen Divya Desam temples in the area of Kanchipuram. If you visit these temples you should take into consideration that some of the less popular temples may have the same priest doing the worship at more than one temple. This means that you may come to one of these temples and it may be closed. If possible, it is best to try to find a rickshaw driver who knows what time each temple is open.
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Most of the temples are open from sunrise to 12.30 pm and from 4 pm to sunset. Many temples restrict entry to Hindus only.

three times bigger image in new window Kanchipuram was the capital of the Pallavas rulers from the 7th to 9th centuries. It was also important during the Chola, Vijayanagar, and Nayaka periods. It is an ancient place. It was mentioned in the Mahabhasya, written by Patanjali in the 2nd century BC.
three times bigger image in new window Inside of this pillar hall is a museum.
three times bigger image in new window The shade of this mandapa creates nice place for rest and refreshement.
three times bigger image in new window Sri Varadaraja Temple
This is a major Vishnu temple built by the Vijayanagar kings in the 12th century. It is counted along with Tirupati and Sri Ranganatha (in Srirangam) as one of the major Vaishnava temples in South India
three times bigger image in new window Varada means the "bestower of benedictions," and raja means "king." Thus, Varadaraja means the "king of those who give benedictions."
three times bigger image in new window Brahma's Yajna
It is said that once Saraswati asked her husband, Lord Brahma: "Who is greater, Lakshmi or I?" Brahma replied that Lakshmi was definitely better. Hearing this reply, Saraswati left her husband...
three times bigger image in new window ...At this time Brahma was preparing to do a big sacrifice. When his consort, Saraswati, refused to participate in the sacrifice, Brahma began the sacrifice alone. Then in great anger, Saraswati transformed herself into the fast-flowing Vegavati River and came rushing towards the yajna (sacrifice) area. Upon Brahma's appeal for help, Lord Vishnu laid himself across the river's path and foiled goddess Saraswati's efforts...
three times bigger image in new window ...She also tried to stop the yajna in other ways. At the end of the yajna, Sri Varadaraja emerged from the yajna. At Brahma's request Lord Varadaraja agreed to stay in Kanchipuram in that form and give darshan to his devotees.
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Ananta-tirtham, the temple tank, is north of the 100 pillar mandapa hall.

The original deity of Lord Varadaraja (Atti Varadar), who is said to have been installed by Lord Brahma himself, is in a silver casket inside the temple tank. The deity is taken out every forty to fifty years for 45 to 48 days (some say 10 days). The last occasion was in 1979 and the next will be around 2019...

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The story is that Lord Brahma had Visvakarma, the architect of the demigods, make a wooden deity of Lord Varadaraja. The utsava-murti is said to have emerged from Lord Brahma's sacrificial fire. It was felt that the wooden deity would be ruined if constantly exposed and worshiped. Therefore the deity was immersed in the temple tank, and a granite deity was installed in its place.

three times bigger image in new window If pilgrims wants to touch the Deities, they must climb those iron stairs.
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The consort of the Lord Varadaraja is Sri Perundevi Thayar (Lakshmi). She has her own temple nearby.

3 x vě?í obrázek v novém okně There is a beautiful garden inside the walls of the temple. The Deity of Sri Perundevi Thayar goes every Friday to this garden and there is a festival there.
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The 100 (actually 96) pillar mandapa, which has exquisite sculptures, is one of the beauties of India. Mainly avatars of Vishnu, and scenes from the Mahabharata and Ramayana, are carved on the pillars.

three times bigger image in new window The main hall is supported by giant pillars, each carved from a different rock. There are also riders on horseback, beautiful figures of Rathi and Manmatha, and a massive chain carved out of a single stone.
three times bigger image in new window Different forms of Lord Vishnu are on the paintings on the walls.
three times bigger image in new window There is a Narasimha deity when you first enter the main temple area, called Yoga Narasimha Swami.
three times bigger image in new window This temple has a 30m (100 ft) high gopuram originally built in the 11th century and later renovated in the 16th century by the Vijayanagar kings.
three times bigger image in new window The temple covers about 23 acres, which is one of the biggest areas covered by any temple in India. The temple's outer walls are 365m (1200 ft) by 545m (1800 ft).
three times bigger image in new window Ramanujacarya used to regularly come to this temple in his youth. He is said to have met the great Vaishnava acharya Alavandar for the first time in the courtyard of this temple.
three times bigger image in new window The main festival is the Brahmotsava Festival in May-June, which is attended by hundreds of thousands of people. During this festival the deity is carried in procession. The main event is the Garudotsavam.
three times bigger image in new window Non-Hindus are not allowed in the temple, which means not into the second courtyard. Converted Hindus may be allowed to enter, but are expected to wear traditional dress and tilaka.
three times bigger image in new window 100 years ago this ashram was full of brahmanas.
three times bigger image in new window ...But some are still there.
three times bigger image in new window From the ceiling the pilgrims can get an unussual blessing from Sun, Moon and... ...lizzard.
three times bigger image in new window Kanchipuram is famous for hand-woven silk fabrics and saris. The weavers use the highest quality silk and pure gold thread. This place is known to be the best source of high quality hand-woven silk items, and Varanasi is known to be the best place for machine-made silk items.
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Sri Ekambaranatha Temple
This temple is dedicated to Lord Siva and is the largest temple in Kanchipuram. This temple is also known as the Ekambareswara Temple. The Pallava kings built parts of the main temple, but the rest of the temple complex was mainly built in the 16th and 17th centuries. It has the towering 60m (188 ft) high Raja Gopuram, which was built by Krishna Deva Raya of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1509.

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There is a mango tree behind the inner sanctum (main temple) that is said to be 3,500 years old. It has four branches, said to represent the four Vedas (sacred Hindu scriptures). Each leaf of this tree is a different shape. The name of the deity itself is believed to have been derived thus: Eka-Amra-Natha, meaning the "Lord of the Mango Tree." The fruit from each branch has a different taste.

3 x vě?í obrázek v novém okně In the path around the tree is a Siva-linga made of 108 small lingas and another one made up of 1008 lingas. You should circle around the tree clockwise (the other way is considered inauspicious).
three times bigger image in new window The temple entrance.
three times bigger image in new window Gopuram above the entrance gate.
three times bigger image in new window The huge linga is known as the Prithvi-linga, or earth linga, and is one of the five element lingas of South India. The other four are the Agni-linga (fire) at Thiruvannamalai, the Appu-linga (water) at Jambukeswara, the Vayu-linga (air) at Kalahasti, and the Akasha-linga (ether) at Chidambaram.
three times bigger image in new window The story of the temple is that while Lord Siva was meditating, Parvati playfully covered his eyes for a moment. This resulted in the earth being covered with darkness for years...
three times bigger image in new window ...This angered Siva who cursed Parvati to go to earth and do severe penance. She came to earth and created the earth linga and worshiped it under a single (eka) mango tree in Kanchipuram...
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...Siva sent different obstacles to test Parvati's sincerity. When he sent a flood, she clasped to the linga so tightly that imprints were made on it.

It is believed that if a woman seeking a child worships here, her desire will be fulfilled.

three times bigger image in new window Siva anad Parvati.
3 x vě?í obrázek v novém okně The sacred lake in the temple complex.
three times bigger image in new window In one of the hallways of Ekambareswara Temple there are 108 deities of Sankara acaryas.
three times bigger image in new window Siva-linga and sitting Nandi.
three times bigger image in new window Parvati in Ekambareswara Temple.
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Durga in Ekambareswara Temple.

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No two towers of the temple are opposite each other, nor are the walls of the temple parallel to each other. There are almost no right angles in the temple.

three times bigger image in new window There is a Vishnu temple within the temple complex, which is one of the Divya Desams shrines. The Vishnu deity in this temple is named Nilathingal Thundatthan Vishnu.
three times bigger image in new window The temple has a 1,000-pillar hall (actually 540).
three times bigger image in new window Most of the pillars are intricately and beautifully carved.
three times bigger image in new window This temple is really big, but not so many pilgrims are comming there.
three times bigger image in new window Kailasanatha Temple
Rajasimha Pallava built this sandstone temple, dedicated to Lord Siva, in the late 7th century. His son, Mahendra Varman III added the front later. It is the oldest temple in Kanchipuram
three times bigger image in new window . It is one of the earliest examples of Dravidian architecture and it is one of the most beautiful temples in Kanchipuram.
three times bigger image in new window The architecture resembles that of the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram. There is a major festival here during Siva-ratri in Feb/March.
three times bigger image in new window Kailasanatha means "Lord of Mount Kailash." It is famous for its sculptures. Most famous of these is the sculpture of Ardhanariswara, who has a vina in her hand. The outer wall of the temple has 58 small shrines showing different aspects of Siva.
three times bigger image in new window There are fresco-style paintings on the inner walls of the shrine.
three times bigger image in new window Place for meditation.
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Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple
This temple is dedicated to goddess Kamakshi (Parvati). Kamakshi means "one who has eyes full of love." Just in front of Sri Kamakshi is the Sri Chakra. All worship and sacrifices are offered to the Sri Chakra.

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Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple is one of the three main holy places of Shakti worship in India, the other two being Varanasi and Madurai. This temple has a golden gopuram and fine carvings. It was built by the Cholas in the 14th century and the gopurams were built during the Vijayanagar period. The gopurams are painted a variety of bright colors.

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Sri Ulagalandar Temple
This temple is dedicated to Trivikrama (Vamana), who is called Sri Ulagalandar, "the Lord who measured the world with his three steps." This deity is nearly 11m (35 ft) in height. Trivikrama is another name for Lord Vamana, who begged from Bali Maharaja the amount of land that he could cover in three steps.

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The right foot of the deity is in a lifted position, indicating that the Lord has already covered the earth and heaven. His left foot is pressed on the head of Bali Maharaja. A lamp, fixed to a big stick, is used to enable one to get a full view of the deity.

This temple has four Divya Desams shrines in it-Peragathan (Sri Ulagalandar) and Ooragam (always referred to together), Neeragham, Karagham, and Karvannam shrines. The shrine of Adi Sesa, called Ooragam, is next to Ulagalandar Perumal. Ooragam means snake. Adi Sesa is the divine snake used as a couch by the Lord.



Please visit Vaisnava.cz
Thanks to Vaisnava.cz for the creation of
this photo essay. Copied with permission.

English texts, selection of images, design:
Tattva-darsi das
Most texts are based on the information from Jada Bharata's book Holy Places of India,
which contains many additional information useful for travelers.

Photographs from their travels:
Radha-raman das and Pavan-suta das

 


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