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Silken Times in Kanchipuram

by Madhav Srinivasan 5 year, 29 days ago

Kanchipuram, the temple town, instantly evokes memories of a bygone era in tourists and is mainly popular for this very reason. With its quaint old buildings and bustling culture, the place is an ideal spot for historians, pilgrims and shoppers alike.

Kanchipuram is one of the most famous temple towns of Tamil Nadu, popularly called the ‘city of 1000 temples’. It is also considered to be one of the seven holy cities of India, revered for its culture and rich temple heritage. Ancient texts give evidence of this thriving temple town, renowned for its learning centers dating back to 500 B.C.

When people mention Kanchipuram, they immediately think of rich silks and bustling temples with their majestic towers. Located at just 70 kilometers from the metropolis of Chennai, Kanchipuram is a short drive away through the picturesque coastal highway on your Tamil Nadu tour packages.

The Town’s Historical Significance

Kanchipuram has always had a rich tradition of arts, culture and learning; successive dynasties that ruled the temple town have helped by patronizing the local craftsmen. During the Pallava reign, in the 4th the 9th centuries, the town flourished and was considered as one of the best centers of learning in India, according to the Chinese traveler Hsuan Tsang.

Many poems belonging to the Sangam period mention Kanchi, as Kanchipuram was known during that age. During the Chola rule from the 10th to the 13th centuries, the temple town thrived. In the reign of the Vijayanagara kings, from the 14th to 17th centuries, the Shiva temples and their majestic gopurams were built. Kanchipuram is a popular place to holiday in South India.

The Religious Significance of Kanchipuram

The ancient Shiva temple, also called the Ekambareshwarar temple, is representative of the Earth amongst the five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva which denote the five elements. The Kailasanathar temple is also dedicated to Lord Shiva and is the oldest of all temples in the town.

The Kamakshi Amman temple, dedicated to the Goddess Shakti, is one of the 18 major ‘Shakti peetams’, of the 52 peetams which are said to contain the various body parts or jewels of the Goddess Dakshyayini which were scattered by Lord Shiva across the Indian subcontinent. The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam which was established by the Saint Adi Shankara in 482 B.C. has the unparalleled distinction of being run by 70 consecutive pontiffs without a break through all the turmoil India has suffered over the centuries.

The Varadaraja Perumal temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is also very significant and is one of the 108 ‘Divya Deshams’. The temple has a lizard which is gold plated and is said to bring luck to those who touch it. The Brahmotsavam of the temple in the Tamil month of Vaigasi, which falls in the latter half of May and the first half of June, is very famous and draws thousands of devotees. Numerous Kanchipuram tour packages from Chennai are available. 

The Caress Worthy Kanchipuram Silks

Kanchipuram is synonymous with its silks, aptly called Kanchipuram ‘pattu’, meaning silk in the local language. Hand woven with richly embroidered zaris made from spun silver (but golden in color), Kanchipuram silks have come to epitomize luxury to most Indians.

No South Indian wedding is complete without a few Kanchipuram saris for the bride and the immediate families of the bridal couple. Following recent trends, the traditionally grand Kanchipuram sari has evolved and is now embellished with Swarovski crystals and Cubic Zircons to make them even more luxurious and viable.

Not only is Kanchipuram a place where you can sink in history and tradition, you can go on a shopping spree to satisfy your hunger for the finest silk too. Take a trip to Kanchipuram – you’ll love the quaint old town. 

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