April 25, 2010

Kanchipuram - One of the seven sacred cities of India

Kanchipuram, the city of 1000 temples, is one of the ancient cities of India. Kanchipuram is also called as Kanchi or Kancheepuram. In olden days, it was called as Kachi or Kachiampathi. You can learn the importance of Kanchipuram city from the description "Nagareshu Kanchi" meaning "Kanchi - the best city" by the great poet Kalidasa of India. Kanchipuram has a lot of important features to talk about. I try to cover as much as possible in this small blog post.

1) Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred cities of India. The other six sacred cities of India are Varanasi aka Kasi, Haridwar aka Hardwar, Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwarka, and Ujjain.

2) Kanchipuram is called as city of 1000 temples. It is believed that there were around 1000 temples in ancient Kanchi. Now, you can find around 250 temples in and around the city.

3) Kanchipuram is famous for its silk sarees too (Kanchi Pattu). The other city is India which is famous for silk materials is Kasi aka Varanasi.

4) Kanchipuram had its golden times during the rule of Pallava kings between 3rd century AD and 9th century AD. Most of the current temples of the city were built during this period.

5) The great Chinese traveler Xuanzang (Hsuan Tsang) visited Kanchipuram in the 7th century AD.

6) The history of Kanchipuram can be traced back to many centuries before the advent of the Christian era. The ancient Tamil literatures such as Pattupattu and Manimekalai have reference to Kanchipuram. Patanjali's Mahabhashya also refers this city.

7) Kanchipuram was ruled by Pallava kings between 3rd century AD and 9th century AD. During Pallava period, Kanchipuram was their capital city. The Chola kings ruled Kanchipuram between 10th and 13th centuries AD. Then it was ruled by Vijayanagara kings between 14th and 17th centuries AD.

8) It is believed that Lord Buddha visited Kanchipuram. Bodhidharma of 6th century AD, who was from Kanchipuram, went to China to spread Buddhism. He also trained the local people in the art of Varmakkalai (a kind of martial art which is present in Kerala state nowadays). The art underwent many changes and came to be known as Kung fu. It is also believed that it underwent further changes and came to be known as Karate and Judo in Japan.

9) Adi Shankara, the great reformer of Hinduism, established four mathas in the four corners of India, and he also established the fifth matha in Kanchipuram. However, there are controversies on this, and there are people who claim that no matha was established in Kanchipuram by Adi Shankara.

10) Today's Kanchipuram city has a lot of Shiva and Vishnu temples (Saivism and Vaishnavism). However, in olden days, there were four Kanchis - Shiva Kanchi, Vishnu Kanchi, Buddha Kanchi, and Jaina Kanchi.

11) There are five forms of adobes of Lord Shiva. They are Chidambaram (Sky), Sri Kalahasti (air), Tiruvanaikaval (water), and Tiruvannamalai (fire). The remaining adobe is at Ekambaranatha temple located in Kanchipuram (earth).

12) Out of 108 divya desams (the 108 most famous temples of Lord Vishnu), 15 diva desam temples are located in and around Kanchipuram.

13) Kamakshi Amman temple in Kanchipuram is one of the 51 Shakthi Peeths (51 famous temples of Mother Goddess).

14) Kamakshi Amman temple in Kanchipuram is one of the three most important temple of Mother Goddess (Kanchi Kamakshi, Madurai Meenakshi, and Kasi Visalakshi).

15) The translation of Skanda Purana (the biggest among 18 Hindu Puranas) into Tamil language, which became more popular than the original, was written in Kumara Kottam temple in Kanchipuram.

The city, Kanchipuram, has much more importance and there is lot more to write. However, it is humanly impossible to cover everything about this great city. So, I stop here. When you get a chance, go and visit this holy city of India, which is located at a distance of around 75 kms from Chennai in South India.

Happy travelling.

City Name: Kanchipuram
1) City of 1000 temples
2) One of the seven sacred cities of India
3) Famous for silk sarees
4) Has around 250 temples in and around
5) Very ancient city
6) One of the Pancha Bhootha Sthalams - earth adobe of Lord Shiva
7) The city has Kamakshi Amman temple - one of the three most famous temples of mother Goddess
Location: 75 kms from Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai (around 75 kms)
How to reach: Easily reachable by road and train
Hotel: A lot of luxury hotels and budget hotels are available
Restaurants: There are a lot of good restaurants in the city

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