Kanchipuram is a pilgrimage city. A former Pallava capital (7th – 9th century), Kanchipuram is filled with temples dating from the 8th – 17th centuries. These temples are the perfect study of the evolutionary changes that the South Indian architecture underwent while different reigns made their impressions on them.
Among the oldest temples in the temple city of Kanchipuram is Kailasanath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva. King Rajasimha, of the Pallava dynasty, built this Shiva temple in the early 8th century. An epitome of an early structural temple, Kailasanath Temple reflects the rapidly emerging South Indian style: gopuras, pilastered walls, a pyramidal shikhara, and a perimeter wall enclosing the complex.
Constructed mostly of limestone, the walls and vimaanam of this temple are filled with great sculptures, and paintings. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine. Paintings of Fresco-style adorn the inner walls of the shrines. It has an attractive panel depicting Shiva and Parvathi in the midst of one of their innumerable dance competitions.
It is the only temple at Kanchipuram, which is devoid of any of the recent additions of the Cholas and Vijayanagar rulers. It is believed that the temple also served as the king’s shelter during wars and the remains of an escape tunnel in the temple’s precincts attests to that fact.
On the auspicious day of Maha-Sivaraathri, thousands of ardent devotees converge to the temple. The temple is far removed from the city and thus quite peaceful. Under the maintenance of the Department of Archeology, Government of India, tourists are allowed to freely photograph the sculptures in and outside the temple, with the exception of the Sanctum and the main Deity.
How to Reach
Chennai (75 km) is the nearest airport from Kanchipuram.
Trains for Kanchipuram are available from Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tirupati, and Bangalore.
Kanchipuram is well connected by a good network of roads.