|Kanchi Kailasanathar temple, TN nativeplanet.com|
The Kanchi Kailasanathar temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, has the distinction of being the oldest structure in Kanchipuram (Tamil Nadu) which is close to Chennai, just 75 miles. Built from 685-705 AD by Rajasimha ruler of the Pallava Dynasty in the Dravidian temple architectural style, it is a popular temple. The name Kailasanathar Temple implies “Lord of the Kailash Mountain”) and the credit goes to the Pallava dynasty, who had established their kingdom with Kanchipuram (also known as “Kanchi” or “Shiva-Vishnu Kanchi”) as the capital city. Like Kumbakonam temple city, TN, this city is one of the sacred places for the Hindus. Pallavas, once they established their rule began to expand the city and started building many artistically designed fine temples. Maha Shivaratri is the major festival held in this temple when thousand of devotees visit the temple in the evening hours to offer prayers to the main deity.
|Kanchi Kailasanathar temple, TN 500px.com|
Narasimhavarman II ( also known as Rajasimha Pallaveswara) built the earliest structure here. It was his son Mahendravarman III completed the front part and the gopuram (tower). Earlier temples were built using either wood or wood hewn into rock faces in the caves. It is said that this temple acted as a safe haven for the rulers of the kingdom during wars or any other emergency. Underground secret tunnel, built by the kings, was used as an escape route and is still visible to day. Raja Raja Chola 985-1014 CE, on a visit to this temple, was very much impressed by the architecture, unique design and the beautiful stone sculptures. It was this visit that gave him inspiration and desire to build a big temple made of only hard stone and dedicate it to God Shiva as he happened to be a true devotee of God Shiva. Like the underground tunnel at the Kanchi temple, there is also a tunnel connecting the Big temple at Thanjavur and outside. It used to be an escape route for the rulers in case of emergency. On the outer wall of this temple at Thanjavur, you can see provisions for mounting big canons in case of war.
The low lying sandstone compound has a large number of beautiful carvings, including many half-animal deities which were popular during the early Dravidian architectural period. The complex has 58 small shrines, all dedicated to various forms of God Shiva. These are set into niches on the inner face of the high compound wall of the Prakara path way. Facing east, the temple is on the banks of the Vegavathy River at the western limits of the Kanchipuram. The city has three parts and this temple is in Shiva Kanchi. The other parts being Vishnu Kanchi and Jain Kanchi. The other famous Hindu temples are Ekambaranatha, Kachapeshwarar, Kamakshi Amman, Kumarakottam Temple, and Varadaraja Perumal.
Tradition followed here at this temple is based on Smartha worship: Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya (Sun), Ganesha and Kartikeya (Subramaniam or Murugan have separate shrines.
|Kanchi Kailasanathar temple, TN findmessages.com|
The main shrine has a 16 sided Shivalinga in black granite stone deified in the Srikovil/sanctum and the pedestal, within the walls of the shrine, has many beautifully carved images, including sculpted Nandi (bull), supposedly guarding the main deity.
On the south facing wall you can see the sculpture of Shiva as Umamaheshavara (Shiva with his consort Parvati), Lingodbhava (emergence of Shiva as fiery pillar - linga) surrounded by Brahma and Vishnu and flying amaras on the lower level. On the west facing hall there are sculptures of Shiva in the form of Sandhya Tandavamurti and Urdhava Tandvamurti. The ensemble is complete with images of ganas in dancing poses and also with images of Brahma, Vishnu, Nandi and Parvati. On the north facing wall Shiva is Tripurantaka flanked by three ganas, goddess Durga with three ganas, and goddesses Bhairavi, Kaushiki and Jyestha. Aspects of Shiva - Bhikshatana, Somaskanda and in Samhara-Tandava (destructive dancing) pose adorn the exterior faces of the tower - vimana.
|Kailasanathar temple, Kanchi A sculpture in one of the niches of the 58 subshrinesen.wikipedia.org.|
| Kailasanathar temple, Kanchi. pillar with mythical lions.en.wikipedia.org|