Located on the Bangalore-Chennai highway is a small town Kanchipuram, which you may zip by if you are not the religious kinds and not aware of its spiritual significance.
But here is some news for the non-religious, history connoisseurs.Kanchipuram while being home to thousand plus temples, of all sizes, it boasts of temples more than thousand years old.
Ladies, you too are in for good times as Kanchipuram is also synonymous with Kanjeevaram saris, recently made popular by Vidya Balan. So next time you are travelling on this route you can mark it as your go-to destination.
Places of interest
Kanchipuram is one of the seven holy cities in the country that one must visit in order to attain salvation.While the town is said to be home to 1,000 + temples, the prominent temples are primarily four – Ekambareswarar, Kamakshi Amman, Kailasanathar and Varadharaja Perumal temples.
Ekambareswarar temple- This is the most famous Lord Shiva temple and dates back 1400 years. Here Lord Shiva is worshipped as Earth, one of the five elements.
The temples’ gopuram or entrance gateway is 59 m tall, making it the one of the tallest temple towers in the country. Here in the temple you will find a Shivlingam that is a composite of 108 small lingams.Lord Rama is said to have prayed here when he was at war with Ravana, as told by a priest here.Spanning across the temple compound you will find 1,008 Shivalingas and also located in the temple is a 3,500 year old mango tree under which Goddess Kamakshi is said have done penance and later married Lord Shiva. Hence, the name Ekambareswarar as Eka means one and Amara means Mango tree. It is believed that if a childless woman takes a fruit of this tree she will be blessed with children.
Architecturally the temple is beautiful and reminiscent of our rich cultural heritage. The temple is said to be originally built by Pallavas and later reconstructed by Cholas and Vijaynagara rulers.
Kamakshi Amman temple-Abode of Goddess Kamakshi, this temple is one of the three Shakti peethas. Built in the 14th century it is one of the main temples dedicated to Goddess Shakti. Adi Shankara is closely associated with this temple and an image of him is worshipped in the temple.
Kailasanathar temple- One of the oldest and architecturally beautiful temples is Kailasanathar temple. Dedicated to Lord Shiva the temple dates back to Pallava dynasty and was built in the 7th century AD. The temple is made of limestone and is filled with exquisitely carved sculptures. Today it holds the status of an archeological monument conferred by ASI. Little away from the humdrum of the city the temple can be a perfect place to enjoy some history and a moment of peace.
Varadharaja Perumal temple– This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is said to be one of his 108 holy abodes. The temple was built by the Cholas. A sprawling complex with beautiful carvings is the other highlight of this temple.
While here you can also get a view of the lives of olden times by visiting KanchiKudil, an old house that has been conserved for tourism purposes.
Kanchi Kudil- A 90-year-old ancestral house belonging to an agrarian household has been converted into a tourist spot to give people a glimpse into the houses and lifestyle of yester years. The house has a master’s room, a kids’ room and a lady’s room. The dining area with a floor seating, a temple and an old style kitchen and bathroom, complete with a well, are other parts of the house.
You can also buy some artefacts and handicrafts here. The house serves some snacks during the day. Entry ticket is Rs. 10/- per head.
How to get there
Kanchipuram is easily accessible by road. It is 280 km from Bangalore enroute to Chennai via NH4, NH7 and NH46.Bangalore -Hosur- Krishnagiri- Vellore -Kanchipuram.It takes approx. 5 hours by road. If going from Chennai it is 72 km.
Saravana Bhavan and the likes are around to give you a taste of Tamil Nadu cuisine. While we stayed away from it since we were staying at my Chithi’s house we could not resist the street food – Bondas and Dal vadas. So if you do not have weak stomachs do try them out. You can also enjoy Malabar Parottas and Chicken curry. Kanchi or Kudalaiidlis are another famous dish.
If you love silk you can go crazy choosing from a wide variety of colours and designs. Prakash Silks is the shop suggested by my aunt for silk saris and the one from where I got my loot. Nalli Silks and Pachaiyappa’s Silks are two other big names. You can also look out for Silk Pavadais(the South India equivalent of North Indian Lehengas) if you have a little girl to dress up. I ended up picking three for my daughter.
Kanchipuram may come across as a nondescript town but it is a must visit place if you love to visit temples, admire architecture and shop for silk.