May 17, 2010

The 8th Century Architectural Marvel - Kailasanathar Temple, Kanchipuram, India

Kailasanathar temple is located at a remote location from the center of Kanchipuram city. Kailasanathar temple is the best temple in Kanchipuram when it comes to art and architecture. The other temple in Kanchipuram which can be compared with Kailasanatar temple in terms of artistic beauty is Vaikuntanathar temple. If you visit Kanchipuram, you must definitely visit these two temples - Kailasanathar temples and Vaikuntanathar temple, which are the best examples of South Indian temple architecture.

Kailasanathar temple is located at a distance of 4 km from bus stand, and 2 km from the famous Ekambareswarar temple aka Ekambaranathar temple. The temple is being maintained by Archeological Society of India.

The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva referred as Kailasanathar in this temple. It is a large Shiv linga idol with 16 stripes, which is a rare form. The temple is famous for its splendid vimana  and Nandi statue. The temple is full of architecturally beautiful idols of Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati in various forms. This temple was built by the Pallava king Narasimhavarman II (Rajasimhan) in the 8th century CE. This is one of the few temples in Kanchipuram, which was purely a contribution of Pallava kings and which didn't have any additions by the other kings such as Cholas and Vijayanagara kings. The beauty of the idols and paintings in this temple is something which is difficult to explain in writing. You need to go there and feel the experience.

As per the legend, there were three demons named Tharakatchan, Kamalatchan and Vidhyamali (Tiripuraris) who were ardent devotees of Lord Shiva. They were troubling Devas, and no body including Vishnu could destroy them due to their devotion to Lord Shiva. Vishnu took the incarnation of Buddha and along with Narada, he changed their mind and made them non-believers of Lord Shiva. It enabled Lord Vishnu to destroy the demons. After this incident, in order to get rid of the sin, Lord Buddha and Narada installed a Shiv linga idol in Kanchipuram and were praying to Shiva. Lord Shiva appeared before them and said that they may have to take a lot of births to get rid of their sin. There is small passage around the main shrine with two entrances – Janana (birth) entrance and Marana (death) entrance. Shiva suggested them to enter and exit through this passage many times to get rid of their sins. Even today, devotees pass through these two entrances; one has to crawl to get in the Janana entrance and crawl again to get out of the Marana entrance.

As per the other legend, Shiva came in the dream of the King Rajasimhanand asked him to postpone the date of Kumbabhishek of this temple, since he wanted to honour the invitation of Saint Poosalar for the Kumbabhishek of his temple at Thirunindravoor which he (Poosalar) built brick by brick by mentally (not physically) just by sheer devotion. This is inscribed in the temple and Sekkizhar also has mentioned this in his work.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Kailasanathar Temple
Highlights: One of the most architecturally beautiful temples of Kanchipuram also in India
Location: Kanchipuram, 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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