Introduction to Kanchipuram Archive

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Kanchi Temple Gopuram

Kanchipuram is the city of rich tradition and culture situated in the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is identified in the global map for two unique reasons – richness of temples and traditional hand woven silk saree. 7th century Chinese traveler Xuansang has recorded about this city and Buddha’s visit to Kanchipuram. The city is at a distance of 75 kms from Chennai, the capital of state Tamil Nadu and is situated on Palar River. It is said that the sacred place -Kanchipuram (Kancheepuram) got its name from a sacred tree called Kanchi Tree which bears Kanchi flowers or blossoms.

“pushpEshu jAti purushEshu vishNu, nArIshu rambA nagarEshu Kanchi”

The great Sanskrit poet of ancient times Kalidasa describes Kanchipuram as ‘Nagaresukanchi’. It means Kanchipuram is the greatest of all the cities. In ancient times it was known by the name Kachi or Kachiampathi and today as ‘City of 1000 temples’. Pathupattu one of the Sangam literatures records Kanchi as the capital for King Thondaiman Ilanthanian who ruled the region some 2500 years back. From 4th to the 9th centuries the city served as the Pallava capital and many of the known temples were built during their reign. The Cholas ruled this town from 10th century to 13th century and the Kings of Vijayanagara dynasty ruled from 14th century to 17th century.

Another interesting aspect of this city is the co-existence of two versions of Hinduism, Vishnavism and Saivism. Almost equal number of temples belonging to each of these branches stands proud in the city proclaiming this fact.

List of Vaishnava Temples

Kanchi Temple Gopuram
  • Varadharaja Perumal Temple
  • Ashtabujakaram - Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple
  • Tiruvekkaa - Sri Yathothkari Temple
  • Tiruththanka - Sri Deepa prakasa Perumal Temple
  • Tiruvelukkai - Sri Azhagiya Singar Temple
  • Tirukalvanoor - Sri Adi Varaha Swami Temple
  • Tiru oorakam - Sri Ulaganatha Swami Temple
  • Tiru neeragam - Sri Jagadeeshwarar Temple
  • Tiru kaaragam - Sri Karunagara Perumal Temple
  • Tirukaarvaanam - Sri Tirukaarvarnar Temple
  • Tiru paramechura vinnagaram - Sri Vaikunda Perumal Temple
  • Tiru pavala vannam - Sri Pavala Vanar Temple
  • Tiru paadagam - Sri Pandava thoodar Temple
  • Tiru nilaaththingal thundam - Sri Nilathingal Thundathan Perumal Temple
  • Tirupputkuzhi - Sri Vijaya Raghava Perumal Temple
  • Parithiyur-Kalyana Varadharaja Perumal Temple
  • Neervalur-Sri veetrirunda Lakshmi Narayana Perumal Temple
  • Sri Aadhi Kesava Perumal - Kooran [about 8 to 9km from Kanchipuram

List of Saiva Temples

  • Kailasnatha Temple
  • Ekambareswarar Temple
  • Kachi Metrali
  • Onakanthan Tali
  • Kachi Anekatangapadam
  • Kachi Nerikkaaraikkadu
  • Kuranganilmuttam
  • Tiru Maakaral
  • Tiruvothur
  • Panankattur
  • Sangupani Vinayakar Temple
  • Vazhakarutheeswarar Temple
  • Thirumetrali Temple
  • Satyanadeeswara Temple
  • Adhi Kamakshi Temple
  • Kanaka Durga Temple, Koneri Kuppam

Richness of temples makes this city equally rich with their respective festivals. Kanchipuram witnesses a festival almost every single day. Hence the life of the people too revolves around these festival calendars. There is the belief that a person, who sets his foot on the soil of this holy land at least once in his life-time, is sure to free himself from the effects of sins. People say that there is Shiva lingam (idol of Lord Shiva) for every foot (a measure of length) of Kanchipuram soil to purify your soul.

Kanchipuram Archive

The NFSC archival project on Kanchipuram concentrates on the socio-cultural aspects of the temples and festivals in and around the city Kanchipuram. There are a lot of myths, common man tales as well as ideologies behind most of these festivals which are yet to be studied or understood by the outside world. It is the same with the proceedings, rituals etc for each of these festival. The objective of this project is to archive and study such festivals in detail from the city and the people involved in it.
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