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Kanchipuram is near to Chennai and can be reached both by train and bus. Just like Kumbaknonam, in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, this small city has innumerable Hindu temples and was once the center of Pallava dynasty and is the seat of famous ''Sankaracharaya Kamakotti Peetam (Mutt).'' Sri Sankaracharaya of 8th century was a saint and a great exponent of Hindu philosophy.
The Ekambareswarar (Shiva) temple at Kanchipuram, is one of the largest (covering 40 acres of land) and oldest temples in India dating back prior to 600 AD. Second century AD Tamil poetry mentions Kamakottam, and the Kumarakottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple). Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya contributed to this temple at different periods of time.
The 172 feet high Raja Gopuram - tower was built by the Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya. This temple buildings, etc cover 25 acres with 5 prakarams (corridors) and have a thousand-pillared hall built by the Vijayanagar Kings. Kampai Tirtha, the temple tank, is believed to have an underground holy river. The fourth and third prakarams have a small Ganesha temple with a pond and smaller shrines respevtively. One amazing feature in this temples the presence of an array 1000 Siva lingam. The sanctum is enshrined with Shiva in the form of lingam along with his image.
The presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Shiva, worshiped as the Prithivi Lingam - symbolizing earth - one of the five important primordial elements (pancha bootham). Legend has it that Parvati, the consort of Shiva worshiped him in the form of a Prithivi Lingam, or a Lingam improvised out of sand, under a mango tree. Once the near-by Vegavati river overflowed its banks and threatened to flood the Shiva Lingam and Parvati alias Kamakshi, embraced the Lingam to protect it. Lord Shiva, moved by her devotion appeared in person and married her. There is no separate shrine for Ambal (Goddess) in the temple as she is worshiped along with Shiva, as in every other Shiva temple in and around of Kanchipuram. There is another shrine of Shiva and Kamakshi under the Stala Vruksham - Temple tree, which is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old. The mango tree is said to be the embodiment of the four Vedas and the tree is said to bear fruits of four different tastes each season here.
Joyous festivals are Ani Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Kritikai (July-Aug), Navaratri (Sep-October), Kartikai Deepam (Nov-Dec), Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb), Panguni Uthiram (Mar-Apr), Chitra Pournami (Apr-May) and Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) . The Panguni festival lasts for 13 days and it is during this festival that the wedding (mock) of the presiding deity is celebrated, and the venerated Tamil poems of the Nayanmars (Tirumurais) are sung in great splendor.
The Saint poet Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is said to have recovered his eyesight (left eye) after offering worship here.
There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan inside the temple complex. Vishnu is prayed as Vamana Murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Alvar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams
Kanchipuram is famous for hand woven silk sarees - a design by name Ekambaranathar obtain its name from the designs of these shrines.
Alexander, Jane (2009), The Body, Mind, Spirit Miscellany: The Ultimate Collection of Fascinations, NY: Duncain Baird Publishers, ISBN 978-1-84483-837-0
Ayyar, P. V. Jagadisa (1991), South Indian shrines: illustrated, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-0151-3.