Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peedam (Sankara Mutt)
The Inherent Spiritual Power of one of the world’s most ancient religious is at once evident in the ambience of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam to a visitor even as he near the temple town of Kancheepuram.
Sri Adhi Sankara Bhagavadpada established sri kanchi kamakoti peetam about 2510 years ago. He traveled the oneness and total unity of all existence. The peetam has been adorned by an illustrious lineage of sages.
Ekambareshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the largest temples in Kanchipuram, spread over an area of 12.14 hectares. It is surrounded by a huge stonewall built in the early 16th century during the days of the Vijayanagar Empire.
The Ekambareshwar Temple consists of innumerable shrines, mandapams, gopurams and tanks. It is considered to be one of the most ancient temples in India and has been in existence even prior to 600 AD. It enshrines many traditions.
Ekambareswara means Eka Aam, a mango tree which is found at the centre of the temple and it is over 3,500 years old with just four branches, which signify the four Vedas. This temple is one of the Shiva Temple in Pancha Bootha Stalams. Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam. (Representing the Land), each Shiva temples representing the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature - land, water, air, sky and fire.
Dedicated to Siva, Kailasanatha is one of the earliest temples was built from 685-705 AD by a Rajasimha ruler of the Pallava Dynasty and his son Mahendra in the 8th century A.D. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine. Paintings of Fresco-style adorn the inner walls of the shrines. Sandstone was used in the construction of this temple. It is the only temple at Kanchipuram which is not cluttered with the more recent additions of the cholas and vijayanagar rulers. Fragments of the eighth century murals which once graced the alcoves are a visible remainder of how magnificent the temple must have looked when it was first built.
Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple
Kanchi is sacred as one of the three Sakti peethas of India. Kamakshi is said to be the Supergoddess, Parasakthi, having Saraswathi, Lakshmi and Parvathi as her eyes. She blesses all that dedicate themselves to her. This temple was built by cholas in the fourteenth century.
It is one of the three holy places of Sakthi worship in India the other two being Madurai and Varanasi. Among these kanchipuram is the most important place. Here, the goddess is worshipped in the form of a Chakra placed in front of the idol. The sanctum sanctorum faces southeast in the centre of Gayathri Mandapam.
The tradition says that there was a delightful grove of Champaka trees around the main temple now known as Gayathri Mandapam. The Devas took the form of parrots and worshipped Sri Devi here. The temple is also in closer control of the Sankara Mutt. An image of Sankaracharya is also worshipped. Sri Sankaracharya is said to have defeated Buddhist philosophers in debate here. The main tower over the sanctum (Vimaanam) of the temple is gold plated. Also of significance is the Golden Chariot in this temple. The Golden Chariot is taken in a procession around the temple on Friday evenings around 7.00 PM.
Ulakalanda Perumal Temple
The temple faces west. Though Ulakalanda Perumal is a Main deity. Adi-seshan is honored here in three modes. The temple itself is called Uragan. The tank opposite the temple is called Naga Tirtham (Snake pond). As the God revealed himself to Adi-seshan, this place got the name of Uragam. In the sanctum, Thiruvikraman is standing in a huge size with his left leg raised aloft to indicate that his one step has measured the sky. Two fingers in the left hand are pointing that two steps are over. The image is in stucco and hence does not receive water oblations, but periodically a special ointment is smeared over it. The image has only two hands, the right exhibiting Tarjani mudra and the left extended as far as the stretched leg. Vishnu has ordinarily three poses. Sitting (Asana), Recumbent (Sayana) and Standing (Sthanaka). In Kanchi itself one can see all the poses sitting in Pandavaperumal coil, sayana in Yatodkari and standing here. The interior is very dark and the priest raises a pole with a lighted torch in the end. One should strain their eyes to study the details. The goddess is Amutavalli. In the prakara of this temple are housed the Nirakan, Karakan and Karvanan shrines. Thirumangai Alvar and Thirumazhisai Alvar has praised this deity in hymns. Adisesha who has attained prominence here is in a front cell called Anantalvar. Sweets are offered to him during worship. Nirakam is where the God facing east gave darshan to sage Akrura in standing pose. Nilamangai Thayar is the goddess. Karakam is the place where the God Karunakara Perumal facing south in a standing pose gave darshan to sage Niketanar, Padmamani Thayar is the goddess.
Varadarajar temple is a massive and impressive edifice. The Hundred-Pillar-hall erected during the Vijayanagar period in this temple is noted for its exquisite sculptures. This is an extremely large temple with abundant sculptures. This temple is made up of several sub-shrines. This is also called the Devaraja Swamy temple.
This temple provides a glimpse of 16th century pillared pavilion with an exuberant workmanship.This temple situated on the top of Hastigiri or Elephant Hill. Lord Varadaraja is in standing posture facing towards the west with his gracious look. The figure is huge in size with four hands holding the insignias of Sankha, Chakra, etc., and richly decorated with costly jewels.The main Deity of Sri Varadaraja Perumal in this temple is very large, and is believed to be second in size to none other than the Deity of Sri Venkateswara of Tirumala-Tirupathi in Andhra Pradesh. Significant among other things in this temple are the sculptures of two lizards carved on the ceiling of the corridor enclosing the Sanctum. The lizards, one covered with a sheet of Gold and the other with a sheet of Silver. The sculptures of the Sun and the Moon can be found beside those of the lizards. The sculptures and paintings in this temple are absolutely amazing. Significant among the sculptures is the "Nooru Kaal Mandapam" or 100 Pillar Hall. This entire masterpiece has been sculpted out of a single rock. The ornamental rings carved out of a single stone in a chain at the four corners are the special features of the hall. The riders on horseback , beautiful figures of Rathi and Manmatha, exquisite temple jewellery are other notable features.