Kāñcipuram

From Hindupedia, the Hindu Encyclopedia

By Swami Harshananda

Sometimes transliterated as: Kancipuram, KAJcipuram, Kaaycipuram


Kāñcīpuram, the city of temples, is also spelt as Kañci, Kāñcī or Conjeevaram. It is one of the seven very ancient cities and pilgrim centers. It is situated on the bank of Pālār river, at a distance of 75 km. or 46 miles to the south-west of Chennai or Madras city and near Chengleput, the district head-quarters.

Sections of Kāñcīpuram

It is divided into sections:

  1. Śivakāñcī - Temples of Ekāmranātha (also called Ekāmbareśvara), Kailāsanātha and Kāmākṣi adorn this section
  2. Viṣṇukāñcī - This section is famous for it's Varadarājasvāmi temple

Ekāmbaranātha Temple

The tower of the Ekāmbaranātha temple of lord Śiva is majestic. It is 56 meters (188 ft.) high. Its high compound wall encloses an area of 10 hectares (25 acres). It contains the images of 63 Nāyanmārs, Śaiva saints of Tamil Nadu. The temple has been renovated during the recent years.

Kāmākṣī Temple

Kāmākṣī temple of Śivakāñcī is very popular. It is one of the most well-known Śaktipīṭhas, abode of Divine Mother. A Śrīcakra in the form of a disc in front of the image is worshiped. There is also a shrine of Śaṅkarācārya (A. D.788-820) in the temple complex which is 1.6 hectares (4 acres) in area. The sacred tank in the complex is called Pañcagaṅgā. The annual temple festival takes place in the Tamil month of Māśi<ref.Months of Māśi are February-March.</ref> which includes a silver-car festival also.

Varadarāja Temple

The most famous temple of Viṣṇukāñcī is that of Varadarāja. It is situated on a small hillock called Hastigiri. It is 360 meters by 240 meters (1200 ft. by 800 ft.). The image of Varadarāja[1] is quite big in size. It is in the standing posture. There are images of the Ālvārs and Rāmānuja (CE 1017-1137) which also receive worship.

Vaikuṇṭha Perumāl Temple

Vaikuṇṭha Perumāl temple was built in the 8th century CE. The vimāna (tower) of this temple is three storeyed. It contains three images in the standing, sitting and recumbent postures.

Citragupta Temple

A rare temple of Citragupta with his image holding a book of palmyrah leaves is also located in Kāñcīpuram. It is visited by both the Śaivas and the Vaiṣṇavas.

Personalities Belonging to Kāñcīpuram

Kāñcīpuram has been associated with many famous persons.

  • Cāṇakya, (300 B. C.) the author of Arthaśāstra is said to have been born here
  • Śyāmāśāstri (CE 1762-1827) a famous musician-saint of South India originates from Kāñcīpuram
  • Buddha (563-483 B. C.), Śaṅkara and Vedānta Deśika (CE 1268- 1369) had visited this place
  • The Pallavas and the Colas had ruled here.
  • Buddhism and Jainism had spent their time here.
  • The town is famous for Sanskrit learning and silk saris.

References

  1. Varadarāja is an aspect of Viṣṇu.
  • The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore