The City of Thousand Temples
|State||: Tamil Nadu|
|Type of Tourism||: Pilgrimage and Heritage|
|Area||: 12 sq km|
|Population||: 152,984 (As per Indian Census- 2001)|
|Altitude||: 83.26 meters|
|Best Tourist Season||: All round the year|
|Clothing recommended||: Light cotton in summer, light woolen in winter|
|Languages spoken||: Tamil, English|
|Telephone Code||: India (04112), International (+91)|
|Pin Code||: 631501|
|What to buy||: Silk and Pattu Saris, Idols of Hindu Deities, Jewellery Boxes, Candle Stands, Fruit Baskets, other artifacts, etc.|
|Food Specialties||: Kovil Idlis, All Kinds of South Indian Food Items and other Multi Cuisine Food.|
|Local transportation||: On foot, auto rickshaw, taxi|
Enumerated amongst the most burgeoning pilgrim destinations of India and acknowledged by the ‘Garuda Purana’ as one of the seven most sacred and ‘moksha dayika’ (salvation giving) nagaris of the country ‘Kanchipuram’ is a preeminent temple city sited in the State of Tamil Nadu in Southern India. Also reckoned by the monikers ‘Kanchi’, ‘Kanchiampathi’ and ‘Conjeevaram’, the civic derives its appellation from the prevailing myth that Lord Brahma had worshipped Lord Vishnu in this vicinity. The term Kanchipuram can be split as, Ka-Anchi-Puram i.e. the city (Puram) where Lord Brahma (Ka) had offered worship (Anchi). Nestled on the banks of the river Vegavathi; a tributary of the river Palar and positioned on the north-eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram the abode of some of the most prominent Hindu temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva is also fondly referred to as ‘the City of Thousand Temples’. It is believed that those who pay a visit to this holy temple plaza are blessed with eternal bliss and happiness. An additional treasure of Kanchipuram that adds to its historic and religious significance is its ‘Kanchi Matha’ that was established by Adi Shankaracharya; the proponent of the Advaita Vedanta. Flourishing as the erstwhile capital of the ancient Pallava Empire till 9th century AD, the present day Kanchipuram serves as the administrative headquarters of the Kanchipuram District. Kanchipuram; the domicile of several medieval temples marked with enormous religious magnitude and extravagant architectural appeal also prospered as a major center of learning, culture, religion and philosophy. Today, Kanchipuram has achieved a standing on the international front for its exquisite hand woven silk saris also known as Kanjivaram or Kanchipuram Sari.
History Of Kanchipuram
The earliest available literary citation of Kanchipuram is dated back to 2nd century BC when Maharshi Patanjali mentioned Kanchi in his meritorious composition titled ‘Mahabhasya’. Kanchipuram, one of the oldest existing cities of Southern India functioned as the governmental capital of the Pallava Kingdom from 3rd century AD to 9th century AD during whose regime Kanchi reached to the zenith of its prime time. The Pallavas fortified the civic with strong battlements, watchtowers and moats and built most of shrines of the Kanchipuram group of temples. King Pallava Mahendravarman I of Kanchi was a great scholar, a man of intelligence, a proficient musician and a prolific Sanskrit playwright and satirist who promoted and largely contributed in the cultural development of the Kanchi Domain. This is the time when Kanchi proliferated as the nerve center of learning Tamil, Sanskrit and Pali languages.
The city also bloomed during the ascendancy of the Chola, Vijayanagara and Nayaka Kings. The celebrated Chinese Traveler Xuanzang visited Kanchipuram in 7th century AD and noted in his travelogues that this city covered 6 miles approx. in its circumference and the citizens of Kanchi were particularly famed for their piety, their yearn for justice, their admiration and adoration of learning and their peerless gallantry. Xuanzang has also recorded that Lord Buddha had paid a visit to Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram was a great maritime power too who had developed associations with the far off China, Fiji, and Siam etc. countries. Kanchipuram fell into the hands of the Cholas in 10th century AD who retained the throne till 13th century AD. Cholas were succeeded by the Vijayanagara Kings who governed Kanchi between 14th and 17th century AD.
Certain inscriptions discovered around Kanchipuram are dated 1532 AD which indicate that particular villages were gifted by King Achutaraya. Nawab of Arcot ruled Kanchipuram in early 1700 AD and during the Nawab sovereignty innumerable mosques and Islamic holy shrines of Kanchipuram were erected. These Islamic Monuments of Kanchi depict the architectural dexterity as well as the religious harmony achieved between the populaces of Hindu and Muslim faiths. Kanchi remained under the British Rule for more than 200 years. During the British Era, Robert Clive from the British East India Company is said to have gifted an emerald necklace to the Varadaraja Perumal Temple. Over the years Kanchipuram also boomed as an important seat of learning Tamil and Sanskrit languages and grew famous amongst the foremost pilgrim berths for the Hindus, Jains and Buddhists.