In the last couple of years, my parents have discovered several temples in this town through their frequent visits. So, when my mother first mentioned the Kailasanadar temple, my interest was piqued. Plus, I wanted to explore some old and lesser known temples myself (yes, getting to know my roots). And so we went in search of a particular Guru temple (where he is present with his spouse, a rarity, it seems) and of course Kanchipuram for a day.
Idols outside Kailasanadar Temple
My mom is probably the perfect company if you wanted to 'temple' - she can tell you the stories behind the temples, the gods. This is of course as long as you have the patience for the single mindedness of a true devout. The nandanar story of Chidambaram was my favorite. The story of Mayiladuthurai, of different nayanars (or followers of shiva), the story of how the Thiruvasagam was written. Visiting temples for me is always tied up with listening to these tales of devotion, gods conquering the asuras or of divine romance, stories listened to with the same fascination as for fairy tales. Visiting Kanchipuram was just like the old times.
Kanchipuram is called the city of thousand temples. Among the 'puranada' temples or ancient temples, there are 108 Shiva temples and 19 Vishnu temples. Did you know that The Kamakshi Amman temple in the center of the town is the only shrine for the goddess in the town? Kamakshi is believed to be a form of shakthi or supreme power. Kanchi's Kamakshi, along with Madurai's Meenakshi and Kasi's Visalkshi are three epitomes of the shakthi forms. Exemplifying her importance, none of the Shiva temples in Kanchi have the usual secondary shrine for the goddess. Interestingly, all the Shiva and Vishnu temples have been built in a way that these deities all face the Kamakshi. Yes, Kamakshi appeals to the feminist in me.
The Gopuram at the entrance to the Kamakshi temple
It would be hard to cover all the temples in Kanchi at one shot. We managed to visit the Kailasanadar temple and Vaikunda Perumal temple, but had to miss the Ulagalanda Perumal temple, amongst others we hoped to cover. Without doubt, this one and several others have been put on the list for another time. There is also a Chola excavation site just outside of Kanchi - the name eluudes me for the moment - but, that has also been put off for another time.
Oh, yes, there will always be a next one to Kanchipuram, what with my mom threatening to retire here!
A flower seller at the entrace of the temple at Govindavadi
Lighting a lamp