Kanchipuram – City of Temples

Kanchipuram is also known by the names Conjeeveram, Kanjeevaram and Kanchi is a small town situated at a distance of 75 km from Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Kanchipuram is famous for the cotton and silk industry and imposing centuries old temples which has earned it fame as Varanasi of South India.  It is one of seven major pilgrimage centres for Hindus believed to give salvation to the devotees who visit them and worship the deities in the numerous temples of the city. At one time the city was known to be an abode of more than 1000 temples, but at present more than 100 have survived including some amazing churches and mosques.

The city had earned its importance as the capital of Pallava’s from 4th-10th century. Gradually the town became a learning center which was visited by Buddhists, Jains and Saivite Hindus; though today the Jain and Buddhist temples have become extinct, leaving only archaeological remains behind.

Kanchipuram Silk Sarees

Kanchipuram is known for its unique silk and cotton saris which are hand woven by weavers who have learned the trade from their ancestors who settled here nearly 400 years ago. Kanchipuram silk and cotton saris is ranked among the best in India, which has also got it the name as ‘Silk City of India’. The handloom saris are often woven by the threads of pure silk in vivid vibrant colors; in addition they are decorated with bright gold and silver threads called zari.  Everyday thousands of competent and talented weavers work on handlooms, producing dazzling silk saris that are sought by people for weddings and special occasions.

The raw materials for production is imported from different towns, as the occupation is only to weave the sari’s, therefore they are not involved in cultivation or production of silk threads.  Three single pure mulberry silk threads are entwined to form the threads of Kanchipuram silk which gives it’s attractive texture, with lustrous look and finish, in addition to being very durable if certain maintenance rules are followed.

The designs are created by the zari which is produced by interweaving silk, silver and gold threads. When combined with vibrant colors of every hue, the amazing decorations fashioned with the zari create designs that leave people spell bound. Though expensive, the famed sari’s last long enough that at times they are known to passed down to generations. Here’s how to wear sarees.

Kanchipuram Temples

Ekambareswarar Temple

The 11 storey Shiva Temple is one of tallest temples, which spreads over 20 acres of land while its tall southern tower soars to a height of 58.5m. Devotees throng to worship the Linga in the temple throughout the year. One of the most amazing attractions of the place is an ancient mango tree which bears four different leaves and also four different varieties of mangoes though it shares the same bough. The four branches are known to represent four Vedas.

Kailashnath Temple

This temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva. Build in limestone, the temple is abode to amazing art of Fresco style paintings and sculptures which has been well preserved even to this day. The temple is situated far from the busy commotion of the city, other than the day of Shivaratri when devotes have to wait in long queues to just get a glimpse of the deity.

Sri Kamakshi Amman Temple

This temple is dedicated to goddess Shakti which is one of three important temples of the goddess in India. The temple is also famous for its golden tower and chariot.

List of other important temples in Kanchipuram

  • Vardaraja Perumal Temple
  • Ulagalandar Temple
  • Vaikunta Perumal Temple
  • Kacchapaeswarar Temple
  • Vijayaraghava Perumal Temple
  • Jain Temples at Tirupparuthikkundram
  • Subramaniya Swami Temple]

Around Kanchipuram

For those who have time to look around, apart from Chennai, there is Mammalapuram, which is host to art of Pallavas, Muttukkadu lake which has facilities for boating and wind surfing, Covelong beach which is excellent place to enjoy good swim along with wind surfing. It has a good resort for stay. The place is also famous for an ancient Dargah and church. Situated at the distance of 48 km from Kanchipuram, the water bird sanctuary is visited by birds like storks, flamingos, pelicans, cormorants, kingfishers, swans and many other birds which are not commonly sighted in India. The best time to visit is during October to March, when many migrant birds can be seen.

Getting There

The nearest airport and major city is the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai, which is well connected to Kanchipuram by well maintained roads. The town also has a railway station, so that those interested to travel by train can opt for it. You can get around the town walking small distances, or hiring an auto rickshaw or Taxi for convenience.

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