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Kanchipuram Temples

Brief
Kanchipuram district is situated on the north-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, adjacent to the Bay of Bengal and Chennai city. It is bounded in the west by Vellore and Thiruvannamalai district, in the north by Thiruvallur district and Chennai district, in the south by Villupuram district, in the east by Bay of Bengal. It lies between 11° 00' to 12° 00' North latitudes and 77° 28' to 78° 50' East longitudes. The district has a total geographical area of 4, 43,210 hectares and coastline of 57 Kms.

History
Kanchipuram - "Golden City of Temples" was believed to be the most attractive city of ancient India. This city is one of India's seven sacred cities and is considered the second holiest place in India next to Varanasi.

This city was the Historical Capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar rulers. It was under the Pallavas from 6th to 8th century A.D. It later became the citadel of the Cholas, Vijayanagar kings, the Muslims and the British. During Pallava times, it was briefly occupied by the Chalukyans of Badami, and by the Rastrakutas when the battle fortunes of the Pallava kings reached a low ebb. Many of these temples are the beautiful work of Pallavas and later, Cholas. The remains of a few Buddhist stupas here also bear testimony that Buddhism also prevailed here for a while. One of the Acharya Peetas of Sri Adi Sankaracharya - The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is situated here. It has been a centre for Tamil learning and Culture for centuries and gives us a clear picture of the glorious Dravidian Heritage of the Vaishnavites and Shaivites.

Kanchipuram, the "Silken Paradise" is world renowned for the gorgeous hand-woven silk sarees of myriad rich colours, noted for their shine, finish and matchless beauty. The exquisite silk sarees are woven from pure mulberry silk in contrasting colours and have an enviable reputation for lustre, durability and finish. They reflect a weaving and dyeing tradition hundreds of years old and whose riches the West came seeking before the industrial age began. The proper name of the site is "Mamallapuram", after Mamalla, an honorific of the Pallava king, Narasimha Varman I (630-668), who created the earliest of its monuments. But it is popularly called "Mahabalipuram", or "The city of Bali", whom Lord Vishnu chastised for his pride and of whom there is a relief in one of the excavated temples here. 

Temples in Kanchipuram   

Kailasanathar Temple:- Dedicated to Lord Siva, Kailasanatha is one of the earliest temples built by Rajasimha and his son Mahendra in the 8th century A.D. There are 58 small shrines situated round the main shrine. Fresco-style paintings adorn the inner walls of the shrines. Sandstone was used in the construction of this temple. It is the only temple at Kanchipuram which is not cluttered with the more recent additions of the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers. Fragments of the eighth century murals which once graced the alcoves are a visible eminder of how magnificent the temple must have looked when it was first built.

Kamakshi Amman Temple:- Built in the 14th century by the Cholas, this temple is dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi - the presiding deity of Kanchi. Here, the goddess is worshipped in the form of a Chakra placed in front of the idol. An image of Sankaracharya is also worshipped. Sri Sankaracharya is said to have defeated Buddhist philosophers in debate here. It is one of the three holy places of Shakthi worship in India, the other two being Madurai and Varanasi. The temple has a golden "gopuram" in the centre.

Varadarajar Temple:- Varadarajar temple is a massive and impressive edifice. This is another Vishnu temple on Hastagiri rock at the end of the town. The Hundred-Pillar-hall erected during the Vijayanagar period in this temple is noted for its exquisite sculptures. The ornamental rings carved out of a single stone in a chain at the four corners are the special features of the hall. The riders on horseback, beautiful figures of Rathi and Manmatha, exquisite temple jewellery are other notable features. This temple provides a glimpse of a 16th century pillared pavilion with an exuberant workmanship.