Kancheepuram

 

Kanchipuram is located at  about  72 km south-west of Chennai on the banks of the VegavathiRiver, a tributary of the PalarRiver. The historical city served the capital city of the PallavaKingdom between the 4th and 9th centuries. The city is believed to have been part of the mythical DravidaKingdom of the Mahabharatha, and was described as “the best among cities” (Sanskrit:Nagareshu Kanchi) by the 4th-century Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa. Chennai International Airport is the nearest domestic and international airport to the city, which is located at Tirusulam in Kanchipuram district.

 

The city is home to a number of sacred Hindu temples and is a holy pilgrimage site for both Saivites and Vaishnavites. and is often referred to as “City of Temples”. The intricate architecture of the temples represents the rich culture and fine arts of south India. The Varadharaja Perumal Temple,Ekambareswarar Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, and Kumara Kottam are some of major Hindu temples found in Kanchipuram. It is the headquarters of the Kanchi matha, a Hindu monastic institution founded by the Hindu saint Adi Sankaracharya, Kanchipuram is also famed as the weaving center for the premium ‘Kanjeevaram silk’. The hand woven silk sarees is famous and most of the city’s workforce is involved in the weaving industry.

 

Historically, Kanchipuram was a centre of education  and was known as the ghatikasthanam, or “place of learning”. The city was also a religious centre of advanced education for Jainism and Buddhism between the 1st and 5th centuries. The city witnessed the rise and fall of many empires , the Vijayanagar empire, the Mughal empire to name a few.  Kanchipuram was a battlefront for the British East India Company in the Carnatic Wars  and the Anglo-Mysore Wars .  The popular 1780 Battle of Pollilur of the Second Anglo-Mysore War, was fought in the village of Pullalur near Kanchipuram. Kanchipuram is subdivided into two divisions – Big Kanchi, also called Shiva Kanchi occupies the western portion of the city and is the larger of the two divisions. Little Kanchi, also called Vishnu Kanchi, is located on the eastern fringes of the city. Most of the Shiva temples lie in Big Kanchi while most of the Vishnu temples lie in Little Kanchi.

 

Xuanzang, a Chinese traveller who visited Kanchipuram in 640 BC, recorded that its people were renowned for their bravery, piety, love of justice, and veneration for learning.

 

The intricate architecture of the temples represents the rich culture and fine arts of south India. The natural beauty and charm of the place blended with the religious allure makes the city a sought after destination for travelers.

 

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