Kanchipuram is known as one of India's Seven Sacred cities. Kanchipuram was, one of India's seven sacred cities. Kanchipuram was the historical capital of the Pallavas. It was under the Pallavas from 6th to 8th century A.D and later became the citadel of Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslim and the British. It has been a centre of Tamil learning, cultural and religious background for centuries. Kanchi is also known centre of the finest silk sarees made in the country. Kanchi has magnificent temples of unique architectural beauty bearing eloquent testimony to its glorious Dravidian heritage. Adi Sankara established his episcopal seat (Kamakotipeetam).
Kancheepuram is situated at a distance of about 77 km from Chennai on the Arakkonam - Chengalpattu section of the Southern Railway. It is easily accessible both by road and by rail. The town of Kanchi can be divided into two sections, the Shiva Kanchi and the Vishnu Kanchi. There are many small temples and shrines scattered all over Kanchi.
This is one of the most revered temples to Shiva. It is one of the Panchabhoota Stalams signifying the 5 elements of wind (Kalahasti), water (Tiruvanaikka), fire (Tiruvannamalai), earth (Kanchipuram) and space (Chidambaram). It is a vast temple with many an endowment from the Vijayanagar rulers, as seen in the long corridors, towering gopurams and mandapams. This is the 1st of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of South India.
All the various temples in Kanchipuram belong to the south Indian style of temple architecture. As one nears the city of Kanchipuram, one is greeted by a cluster of temple shikharas (prominent roofs that surmount the sanctum sanctorum of the temples) and gopurams (tall and elaborately carved temple gateways), which are typical of the south Indian style of building temples.
Ekambareswarar Temple: Ancient temple of Kanchipuram, it has been renovated by the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings. This is one of the Panchabootha sthala where the Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of 'Prithvi' (earth) Lingam. The 57 metres (188") high Rajagopuram is one of the tallest towers in South India. The 2,501 - year old mango tree inside the temple has 4 branches each yielding different varities of mangoes. This temple has five spacious corridors (prakrams) and a beautiful 1,000 - pillar hall.
Legend is that goddess Parvathi in a playful mood closed the eyes of Lord Paramasivan. This created darkness in the whole universe. Every creature came to an abrupt stop as they could not see. Lord Shiva opened his third eye and gave light to the whole universe. To make her realise the folly of her action Lord Shiva renounced Goddess Parvathi. She then left her abode in 'Kailash' and came down to Kancheepuram. She was pining to be reunited with her Lord. In order to atone for her sin, she moulded a Sivalingam out of sand and installed it under a mango tree on the bank of River Kampa. She prayed to the Lord daily requesting that she be forgiven and taken back. Lord Shiva wanted to test her devotion and caused the river to swell. Parvathy fearing that her Sivalingam would be washed away clasped it to her bosom to protect it. Lord Shiva was pleased with her dedication and devotion and took her back to her rightful place.
There is a very old mango tree in the compound of the temple. This tree bears four different types of mango fruits on four different branches. These four different branches are believed to represent the four Vedic scriptures that form the basis of Hindu philosophy. The tree is venerated and worshipped by devotees visiting the temple. People who are longing for children or young women who want to find suitable husbands make offering to this tree in the belief that their wishes would be fulfilled.
ERUMELI SASTHA TEMPLE: Erumeli Sastha Temple, an important meeting place in the pilgrimage trip to Sabarimala is famous on many counts. There is also a Muslim Temple very near to the Sastha Temple. Ayyappans go to Sabarimala after worshipping at these two temples, that symbolise the Hindu-Muslim unity. The pilgrims go to Sabarimala after 'Pettathullal' at Erumeli. Pilgrimage to Sabarimala without Pettathullal and worship at the above mentioned temples is against the traditional dogmas. Erumeli Temple is at a distance of 38 Kms from Kottayam. Nearest Railway station is Kottayam.
PANDALAM VALIYAKOYICKAL TEMPLE: According to legend Ayyaappa as a babe was found lying on the banks of the river Pampa, by the Raja of Pandalam. The Raja had no issue and the child was considered as a God-given gift. It was therefore brought up in court with all regal honours. Ayyappan grew up endowed with heavenly splendour, super human wisdom and physical powers. Sree Dharmaa Sastha of Pandalam Valiyakoyickal Temple is Dharma Deva to King to Pandalam. One of the Major events associated with the Makaravilakku Festival is the procession of the Thiruvabharanam of Lord Ayyappa from this Temple. The nearest town and railway station is Chengannoor-12 Kms away.
KULATHUPUZHA SASTHA TEMPLE: The Sastha Temple at Kulathupuzha is a very ancient one. The idol at Kulathupuzha is called 'Manikantan'. It is believed that the Temple was constructed by the Raja of Pandalam. But the idol was discovered by a Brahmin from Kottarakkara after several years and he started pooja there. The King of Kottarakkara heard about this and he constructed the present temple. Feeding the fishes in the nearby river is an important vazhipadu in the Temple.
ACHANKOIL SASTHA TEMPLE: Achankoil Sastha (Arachan) temple is a sacred place of worship where pilgrims from Kerala and Tamilnadu come in groups through out the year. According to a legend the God gave 'Darshan' to a worshipper who had undertaken long term penance at Kandamala, where the the present temple stands. The main festival season here comes during the Mandalam puja. The nearest town and railway station is Shenkottah-Tamil Nadu.
ARYANKAVU SASTHA TEMPLE: The legend behind the Ayyappa of Aryankavu is similar to that of Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha. The only difference between the two is that Sastha was brough up by the Pandi Raja of Madura and not the Raja of Pandalam. The temple is constructed about 35 feet below the road level. It is at a distance of 2 kms from the majestic Pallaruvi waterfalls located in the deep dense forests. It is believed that Ayyappa had relationship with Sourashtrans while living in the palace of Raja of Madura. Even now Sourashtrans reach here in groups during the time of Mandalapooja. The temple rests 86 Kms away from Thiruvananthapuram.