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6 Of Kanchipuram’s Most Incredible Temples To Visit Atleast Once

10 mins. read

Religion has played a huge role in the cultural history of India and its landscapes. And, temples remain at the centre of them, making a mark in the hearts and minds of the devotees. Kanchipuram, a significant city in the state of Tamil Nadu, is considered one of the crowns of South India.

Also known as the city of thousand temples, Kanchipuram attracts millions of devotees from across the globe annually. As soon as you enter the city, you can feel a soothing calmness as the divinity dawns on you.

‘Kanchi’ means Brahma, one of the trinity in Hinduism, and ‘Puram’ means abode. The city is an abode of Brahma that houses 108 Shiva and 18 Vishnu temples, which in itself is unique and pious. Throughout its history, Kanchipuram remained an important pilgrim site. Today, it is considered one of the seven most sacred cities in India for Hindus.

South India is known for the most ancient temples in India, unlike North India, due to major industrialization in the latter in the last 100 years. It makes South India no less than heaven for spiritual seekers and historians, for they get to see magnificent, awe-inspiring, and majestic temples that stood the test of the time.

Talking of the temples in South India, especially in Kanchipuram, exhibits Dravidian architecture that is taken from ancient Indian texts called Shilpa Shastras (The Science of Arts & Crafts) and Vastu Shastras (The Science of Architecture). Unlike North Indian temples that are based on Nagara-styled architecture with a small-gated entry that leads to a taller tower above the sanctum, the Dravidian craft welcomes the visitor with a huge gopuram (a tiered tower) that leads to smaller and prominent garbgriha (sanctum sanctorum). While both architectures have their history and importance in Hindu spiritual realms, what is common for them is love, obeisance, and devotion for the prime deity.

Let’s delve into the 6 remarkable temples in Kanchipuram that must be visited at least once in a lifetime.

Trilokyanatha Temple

It is 8th century Digambar Jain temple dedicated to the Jain Tirthankaras. Also, a significant Hindu pilgrimage as it houses Hindu deities as well. Located in Jaina Kanchi, this temple is maintained by the Department of Archaeology of Tamil Nadu.

It is a Dravidian-styled architecture having a three-tiered gopuram, a gateway tower. The temple mainly has three shrines with the main deity, Lord Mahaveer, at the center. The shrine facing north houses the 24th Thirthankar (Spiritual teachers of Jainism) known as Lokanthar. The southern side of the shrine holds the wooden idol of Neminatha, 22nd Thirthankar.

One of the unique features of this Kanchi temple is beautifully carved paintings on the ceilings that depict Jain scriptures. Another fascinating aspect in these scriptures is the highlights of the life of Krishna, one of the most revered deities of Hindus, along with the sub shrine of Adishankara, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It highlights how the two different religions are venerated in this temple together.

Timings – From 6 AM to 8 PM, any day of the year.

Kamatchi Temple

Kamatchi Temple

Also known as Kamakshi Amman temple, it is another notable Hindu temple in the list of incredible Kanchipuram temples. Honouring Goddess Kamakshi, a revered deity in Shaktism, which is the goddess-oriented sect in Hindu religion, the temple holds immense power and attraction amongst devotees.

The gopurams at Kamatchi temple have gold overlays. The main sanctum here, known as Gayatri Mandapa, withhold an image of the main deity in a yogic posture known as Padmasan. The image faces the trinity – Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. The five forms of Goddess Kamakshi are present in the outer corridor. Rath Yatra, a yearly procession adorned by many devotees, takes place in the month of Chaitra (end of March) when the idol of Goddess Kamakshi rides on her gold chariot is the most significant occasion. The Rath yatras of all other temples in Kanchipuram take the round Kamakshi temple as she is considered the prime goddess.

An unusual thing to note is that it is the only temple dedicated to a Goddess in the entire Kanchipuram, a city of temples. And many legends go behind this fact. This sacred site is amongst the best sightseeing places in Kanchipuram.

Timings – From 5 AM to 12:15 PM & 4 PM to 8:15 PM. On Pournami Day, it remains open till 10:30 PM.

Kanchipuram is mainly divided into two parts: Big Kanchi, the larger of two; and Little Kanchi. All the Shiva temples lie in Big Kanchi, while Little Kanchi houses the temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

In Honour of Lord Shiva

Ekambaranathar Temple

Ekambaranathar temple

It is the largest temple in Kanchipuram. Spread over 23 acres of land, a 60 m tall Gopuram welcomes you at the entry. The Ekambaranathar temple stands tall on 1000 pillars with idol carvings on each that exhibit jaw-dropping architecture. The inner wall of the temple is decorated with 1008 shivlings, while the sanctum Sanctorum (garbagriha) showcases a huge shiv lingam made of 1008 small shivlings. Thousands of devotees can be seen paying obeisance to the almighty.

Another fascinating sight inside the Ekambaranathar temple is a huge mango tree, which is said to be over 3500 years old. Legend has it that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati got married under this tree in the presence of Lord Vishnu. Another folklore states the four branches of the tree represent four Vedas (holy texts of Hindus), and mangoes from these four branches taste different.

Timings – From 6 AM to 12:30 PM & 4 PM to 8:30 PM.

Kailasanathar Temple

It is the oldest temple in Kanchipuram, with a documented history that dates back to 700 CE. Credited to the artisans of the Pallava dynasty, the architecture of Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram is of Dravidian style with an entrance hall, gathering hall, and a sanctum. The inner walls of the temple showcase Hindu murals, while the main shrine has a large, 16-sided Shivalinga in the sanctum sanctorum, carefully guarded by a Nandi idol a few distances away.

The most spiritual aspect of the Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram is the circumambulatory passage, made on the inner face of the high compound wall. The passage starts with a narrow entrance. The carvings of deities across the wall look upon as if witnessing the devotees. There are two gates in the passage. The entry gate is called the Gate of Death while the devotee exits from the Gate of Birth, completing the circumambulation as if taking the rebirth.

Timings – From 6:30 AM to 12:30 PM & 4 PM to 7:30 PM.

In Honour of Lord Vishnu

Sri Varadaraja Perumal Temple

The city of Kanchipuram houses 15 Divya Desams out of 108 in the world. Sri Varadaraja Perumal temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams, the abode of Lord Vishu, one of the trinity in Hinduism.

One of the best temples to visit in Kanchipuram, it is set up in a 23-acre complex and has around the 400-pillared hall and 32 shrines. A 130-feet tall 7-tiered raja gopuram welcomes the devotees to the main sanctum facing west. Amongst the many fascinating features of this temple are gold glided lizards that are considered sacred and thoughtfully carved over the sanctum. Thus, it is also known as the Golden Lizard temple. The golden and silver lizards in the temple are touched by the devotees which is believed to cure them of doshas or impurities.

The temple observes Brahmostsavam as a major festival that falls in May/June. The temple is throng by thousands of pilgrims to mark this festival.

Timings – From 6 AM to 12 PM & 4 PM to 9:30 PM.

Ulagalandha Perumal Temple

Originally built by the Pallavas, Medieval Chola and Vijaynagara Kings made several contributions to it later. The temple honours Lord Vishnu and is another Divya Desams that holds another 4 Desams inside its premises, which is unique and revered.

Set up over 2 acres, three-storeyed gopurams (towers) welcome this spiritual premise. It is believed that the 4 Divya Desams in this temple were separate places before but what led to the gathering in the Ulagalandha temple is unknown.

  • The central shrine and one of the 4 Divya Desams are Tiruooragam, mostly visited by childless couples praying for the offspring.
  • Tirukkaragam, the other Divya Desams, has a presiding deity facing north with his consort Goddess Padmamani Nachiar. It is located in the third precinct (a sacred area around the shrine) of the temple.
  • Tirrukarvanam, at the second precinct, holds the deity named Kalvar with his consort Kamalvalli Thayar and faces north.
  • Tiruneerakam is located at the hall in the second precinct. There is no presiding deity in the sanctum, and an image of the festival deity, Jagadiswara, is put up, facing east.

Timings – From 7 AM to 12 PM & 4 PM to 8 PM.

Also, famous for the best silk sarees in the country, Kanchipuram is certainly a fascinating place to visit for anyone. It is best explored by booking a Kanchipuram tour package that ensures a comfortable visit to all incredible temples and other sightseeings.

February 11, 2022


Veena World
Veena World

We are an Indian travel company founded in 2013 and excel at domestic and international tour packages including guided group tours, specialty tours, customized holidays, corporate MICE travel, inbound travel and destination weddings.

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