Kanchi- Dakshina Kashi

Kanchipuram is famous for temples. There are several Vishnu and Shiva temples in Kanchi town. This temple town is broadly divided into Vishnu Kanchi and Shiva Kanchi where one can find several Vishnu and Shiva temples respectively.  

Out of 108 vaishnava kshetras known as divya deshams 14 are located in Kanchi town. The oldest stone inscription in Kanchi town dates back to the period BC 325-185 when mourya kings ruled Kanchi. Rishi Patanjali in his Maha Bhashya (2nd century BC) describes the Kanchi town as Kanchipurika. Thereafter Pallavas, Cholas, Pandyas and Vijayanagara kings ruled Kanchi.

Kanchi is popularly known for education. During the period 1st and 5th century AD there were several Jain and Buddhist religious and educational institutions in Kanchi town. The famous poet Kalidas (4th century AD) was full of praise of Kanchi and describes it as “nagareshu kanchi” which means Kanchi is the best and model town.

Pallava and Chola kings built and renovated several temples in Kanchi. One can find stone inscriptions in many Kanchi temples in Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Sanskrit languages.

Muslim rulers and Golkonda Bijapur Sultans invaded Kanchi town.

Kanchi is known as Dakshina Kashi (South Kashi). In Garuda Purana, Kanchi is described as one of the best seven cities in Bharat that give salvation to the people, the other six being- Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Avantika and Dwaraka.    

Kamakshi Temple

Devi Kamakshi gives darshan in padmasana posture, holding a bow made with sugar cane and lotus flower in her left hand, with a parrot on her right shoulder. Devi Kamakshi temple is one of the 51 shakti peetas.

This temple was built in 6th century AD by Pallava Kings. The name Kamakshi means as one who has Saraswati and Lakshmi as her two eyes (ka means saraswathi , ma means lakshmi and akshi means eye).    

Ulagha Alanda Perumal Tempole

This temple is one of the 108 vaishnava divya deshas. Bhagwan Vishnu gives darshan in this place as Vamana Murthy. People worship him as Trivikram.

This temple was built during 846-869 AD by King 3rd Nandi Varma of Pallava dynasty and subsequently renovated by Pallava and Chola kings. 

Varadaraja Perumal Temple

This temple is also one of the 108 Vaishnava divya deshas. It was built by Chola kings in 12th century AD.

This temple is built in 25 acres of land with two gopuras. Main gopuram is of 96 feet height. Bhagwan Varadaraja Perumal (Vishnu) gives darshan in this temple with four hands holding conch, discuss (chakra), mace (gada) and lotus flower respectively. There is a hundred pillars mantapa in this temple. 

Ekambareswara Temple

Ekambareswara (Shiva) temple in Kanchi is one of the pancha bhoota temples in south Bharat. The mango tree in this temple is 3,500 year old. This tree has four branches and each branch has a mango fruit with different taste. The four branches of this mango tree are considered to be as the four Vedas.

This temple was renovated by Pallava, Chola and Vijayanagara Kings. There is a thousand pillar mantapam in this temple. The main Raja gopuram is 57 feet high. The Sree Chakra in this temple is in the form of tortoise with 34 triangles known as Raja Yantra.  

Others

Kanchipuram is also famous for idlis. In varadaraja perumal‘s temple they give idli as prasadam. They add ingredients like pepper, ginger and boil the idli on bauhinia leaves, that gives it a special falvour.

Kanchipuram silk sarees are world famous. The traditional handloom workers of Kanchipuram are highly skilled craftsmen who weave saree and its border separately, add design to the saree border and then mix it to the saree. However, one can not make out that both the saree and the border are woven separately and then joined together.

Though the saree may become old and torn the border of the saree will remain intact bearing testimony to the skills of these handloom workers.

In 2006, Indian Government accorded G.I. (Geographical Indication) tag to Kanchipuram sarees. History says that more than 4 centuries ago handloom weavers from Andhra Pradesh migrated and settled in Kanchi during Sri Krishna Devaraya’s period. 

One finds a beautiful blend of traditional and modern cultures in Kanchi that symbolises Sanatana Dharma. 

How to reach Kanchi? Kanchi is located at around 75 kms from Chennai. Kanchipuram has a raliway station.


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About the Author

Dr. B.N.V. Parthasarathi
Ex- Senior Banker, Financial and Management Consultant and Visiting faculty at premier B Schools and Universities. Areas of Specialization & Teaching interests - Banking, Finance, Entrepreneurship, Economics, Global Business & Behavioural Sciences. Qualification- M.Com., M.B.A., A.I.I.B.F., PhD. Experience- 25 years of banking and 14 years of teaching, research and consulting. 100 plus national and international publications on various topics like- banking, global trade, economy, public finance, public policy and spirituality. One book in English “In Search of Eternal Truth”, two books in Telugu and 20 short stories and 27 articles published in Telugu. Email id: [email protected]