|Travel And Leisure - Kanchipuram|
| By : Ajit Hari Sahu||Previous | Next|
| Posted on : 29 Aug, 2005 ||Total Views : 2508|
Seventy kilometers (44 miles) west of Madras on the road to Bangalore, Kanchipuram is in many respects a typical South Indian town. But as one of India's seven sacred cities, this city of a thousand temples is a major center of Hindu worship.
Kanchipuram was the capital of successive south Indian dynasties, beginning with the Pallavas. Their earliest temple, the Kailashnath, was built by Rajasimha in about 725; he was also the builder of the Shore Temple at Mamallapuram. Dedicated to Shiva, whose guardian bull, Nandi, faces the sanctum from outside, the temple is built of sandstone.
The next temple chronologically is the Vaikuntaperumal, dedicated to Vishnu and built by another Pallava king. It is famous for its bas-relief scenes of battles and its ancient inscriptions. These two temples are perhaps of more interest to the lover of history and architecture than to the devotee. Hindu pilgrims usually visit other temples.
One of these, the Ekambareswara dedicated to Shiva, received the attentions of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. It has one of the tallest (57 meters, or 186 feet) gateway towers in India. A vast complex of halls, corridors and enclosures, it has a huge tank full of sacred fish and, deep within its holy precincts, a thousand-year-old mango tree, the fruit of which is said to impart knowledge.
The other important temple is the 12th-century Varadaraja Vishnu Temple, featuring a hundred-pillar hall and a huge chain carved out of a single piece of stone.
Kanchipuram produces some of India's most beautiful and sought-after silk saris. All over the city the clacking of looms can be heard as weavers work in pairs creating these silken masterpieces.