May 15, 2010

A 10th century Granite Stone Temple - Chokkeeswarar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Site Name: Chokkeeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:  Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: 9th century period stone temple
Nearest Railway Station: Kanchipuram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road and train
Hotel: A lot of options across Kanchipuram
Restaurants: A lot of options across Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram is one of the seven holy sites for Hindus. The ancient town is located at a distance of around 75 kms from Chennai city in Tamil Nadu state of India. The town is said to have more than one thousand temples. However, currently although one thousand temples cannot be found, there are about one hundred important and ancient temples found across the town. Let us discuss about Chokkeeswarar Temple in this article. 

Diagonally opposite to the popular Kamakshi Amman temple, this small but beautiful Chola period ancient temple is located in the North Mada Street.

This is one of the oldest temples of Kanchipuram, which survives in its original form. It is believed that the temple was built by the Chola King Uttama Chola in the 10th century CE. As per an inscription, a Pandya King, who was defeated in the war, won back after worshiping Chokkeeswarar. 

As per a not so popular legend, Kausiki's (Durga) skin turned dark after she killed two Asuras Sumbha and Nisumbha. She worshiped Shiva in this site and got her original complexion back. 

The sanctum enshrines Shiv Linga called as Chokkeeswarar or Kausikeswarar. The complex does not have any other shrine. The entire structure of the temple along with the vimana which is completely made in granite (instead of brick and mortar) looks very attractive. It is a typical Chola period stone temple. 

One major highlight of the temple is that in the sanctum along with Shiv Linga, the Goddess Kamakshi is also found. Usually in Kanchipuram, Shiv Linga is not found along with the Goddess.

The niche images are very beautiful. Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga are found as the niche idols. 

Nandi is found facing the sanctum. A small Ganesh idol is found near the entrance of the sanctum. There is no Chandikeshwara.

The ceiling of the sanctum has the images of fish and snake capturing Sun and Moon, which depicts the eclipse.

Happy travelling.

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