Monday, November 23, 2009

Kanchipuram – The Varanasi of Southern India

Kanchipuram is the golden city of thousand temples. Kanchipuram is also known as Kashi or Varanasi of the south. It was a walled city in the past and was called Shiva-Vishnu Kanchi. Buddhism and Jainism also found roots here before the birth of Jesus Christ but this phenomenon faded in the 4th century with the advent of the Hindu temples. Even today a Jain temple built during Chola regime is located on the southern bank of the Begavati river, 5 km on the city's outskirts. Kanchipuram is one of the Seven Mokskhapuris for devout Hindus. Others are at Ayodhya, Mathura, Varanasi, Ujjain, Hardwar and Dwaraka. Thousand temples at Kanchipuram were built in 11.6sqkm and there are 10,000 Shiva lingas. Lord Vishnu is another God of Kanchi.

Around the bus stand on the northern side of the town, 200 temples still carry the mark of the Pallava sculptures. The sky-high Gopurams are still visible from far-off places. The artisans in Pallava era also invented Kanchivaram silks.

The control of Kanchipuram was highly coveted by rival dynasties, Pallavas, Cholas as well as the Chalukyas and Rashtrakuts of Badami.

The city has a population of about 2 lakh people. The temperature varies between 36.6° and 21.1° C in the summer and 28.7° and 19.8° C in the winter.

How to travel Kanchipuram
TTDC and ITDC conducted one-day bus tours (6-30—19-00 with breakfast and lunch) cover Kanchipuram, Pakshitirtham and Mahabalipuram at charges. Constrained by limited hours, the tourists cannot take a proper view of all the places however economic and time saving the conducted tours may be. It is better to avoid trains and avail bus services to reach Kanchipuram.

After arriving there contract a rickshaw or walk throughout the day to visit one temple after another made by the Pallava-Chola-Vijayanagar kings. The temples remain closed during the mid-day (13-00 Hrs—16-00 Hrs). One should be beware of demands of tips. Enthusiastic tourists may contact Archeological Department opposite Kailash for a thorough visit.

See also:

Kanchipuram - The Varanasi of South India
Places to see in Kanchipuram

This article is originally published in Travel India and India Study Channel

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