Ancient Kanchipuram, the city of thousand temples, is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim centres for the Hindus. There now remain about 126 temples in Kanchi and a few more in its outskirts. The city was the capital of the Early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries.

Today, apart from its temples, this small town is also known for its thriving handloom industry. 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 saris in the country.

What to see

  1. Ekambareswarar Temple : Originally built by the Pallavas, this large Siva temple was later reconstructed by the Chola and Vijaynagara kings. Here, Lord Siva is worshipped as Earth or Prithivi, which is one of the five elements. The dimensions of this temple are reflected in its 20 - acre spread and its tall south gopuram which soars to a height of 58.5m.

The eleven-storey structure which is adorned with beautiful sculptures is one of the tallest temple towers in South India. Also in the temple, is a small panel depicting the story behind the temple’s existence. Parvathi incurred Siva’s wrath when she made the mistake of playing a mischievous prank on him by covering his eyes for a second. Since even that one second of hindering Siva’s vision led to years of darkness for the mortals, Siva bade her to perform penance to obtain forgiveness. The temple is said to have been built at the spot where the lord forgave her.

  1. Vaikunta Perumal Temple: This Vaishnvite temple dates back to the 8th century and was built by Nandivarma Pallava. Battle scenes depicting Pallava valour are carved on the panels surrounding the main prakaram.

  2. Anna Memorial : Kanchipuram is the birth place of Dr. C.N. Annadurai, the scholar statesman, affectionately called Anna - The Elder Brother - by the general public. His ancestral house located here has been converted into a memorial.

  3. Varadaraja Temple : Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple was built by the Vijaynagar kings and the presiding deity is Devarajaswamy. The 100-pillared hall of this temple proves the mastery of the sculptors of Vijayanagara in fine artists. Among the best pieces are the severed halves of a large chain carved out of a single stone and the figures of the God of Love and his consort astride a swan and a parrot respectively.

  4. Kailasanathar Temple: This Pallava temple was constructed in the 8th century and has an attractive panel depicting Shiva and Parvathi in the midst of one of their innumerable dance competitions. The architecture of this temple resembles the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram.

  5. Handloom Industry : Kanchipuram’s exquisite silk sarees are woven from pure mulberry silk in contrasting colours and have an enviable reputation for texture, lustre, durability and finish. More than 5,000 families are engaged in this industry and their spectacular creations are marketed by a number of co-operative socities, located all over the state. The Tamil Nadu Handloom House offers attractive rebates.

Getting There

Air: Nearest is Meenambakkam Airport in Chennai.

Rail: Kanchipuram has a railway station on the Chengalpattu - Arakkonam line and can be reached via Chengalpattu from Chennai.

Road: Kanchipuram is connected by good motorable roads with Chennai (75 Km), and other cities like Kanchi, Bangalore etc.

General information

Area 11.6 Sq. Kms (4.5 sq. miles) Altitude Sea level Temperature: Summer - Max : 36.6 Deg.C Min : 21.1 Deg.C Winter - Max : 28.7 Deg.C Min : 19.8 Deg.C Rainfall : 87cms Season: Throughout the year STD Code: 04112

Excursions

  1. Tiruttani (42 Kms): Tiruttani, lying to the west of Chennai, is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya. Situated on a hill top, the temple is accessible by road as well as by train. 365 steps lead to the hill which represent the days of the year. Tiruttani is said to be the place where the Lord married Valli - one of his two consorts. The Karthigai festival which falls in December is celebrated with great pomp here and it is one of the most crowded periods of the year. This small town is also the birth place of Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, a philosopher - statesman and former President of India.

  2. Sriperumpudur : It is 29kms from Chennai on the way to Kanchipuram. It is the birth place of Saint Ramanujar, the Father of Visishtadvaida philosophy of Vaishnavism and hence an important pilgrim centre for the Vaishnavites.

  3. Vedantangal (60 Kms From Kanchi) - Birds Sanctuary : This small birds sanctuary has come up around a village tank which is surrounded by a grove of trees. It is a heaven for migratory birds such as sandpipers, white ibis, spoonbills, swans and grey wagtails among others. There is also a sizeable population of resident breeding waterbirds. The period between October-February is the best time to visit Vedantangal.

  4. Elagiri Hills: An isolated, attractive picnic spot in the Eastern Ghats is the Elagiri Hills, at an elevation of about 1000 metres. A salubrious climate, scenic surroundings and a quaint Murugan temple are some of the attractions of this place. Located very near to Chennai, this serves as an ideal location for organizing one day or two days Trekking. Week-end Trekking can be organized.

  5. Suchindram: Just 13 kms. from Kanyakumari, Suchindram has a temple dedicated to a deity who is the representation of the combined forces of