Must Visit Shrines in the City of Thousand Temples

Located on the banks of River Vegavathy, Kanchipuram, fondly called as Kanchi is a celebrated spiritual hub of South India. Just 74.7 km away from the bustling urban center of Chennai (via NH4), Kanchipuram reminds of countless religious sites, especially Hindu temples. As a matter of fact, the city is dotted with temples all around and thus called as the 'city of thousand temples'. Along with the holy cities of  Ayodhya, Haridwar, Varanasi, Mathura, Dvaraka and Avantika, Kanchipuram is one among the seven cities (Sapta Puri) as providers of Moksha (liberation from the cycle of death and rebirth), according to the Hindu religious scripture of Garuda Purana.

Furthermore, Kanchipuram is a sacred pilgrimage destination for both Vaishnavites and Shaivites. It is important to mention that among the 108 Divya Desams (108 holy temples of Lord Vishnu that are glorified in the sacred compositions of the Tamil Azhvars) fourteen temples can be found in the temple city of Kanchipuram. What is more, Kanchipuram has been picked out as one among the heritage cities for Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme (HRIDAY) of the Government of India. Let's get to know the list of Top 10 Must Visit Temples in the City of Thousand Temples, Kanchipuram.

Arulmigu Kanchi Ekambaranathar Thirukoil

Also called as the Ekambareswarar Temple, the landmark temple in Kanchipuram is celebrated as the most prominent temple in all of the temple city of Kanchipuram. Known for its ancientness and the existence traced back to at least 600 AD, the Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in the country. The historic temple along with the Trichy Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeshwarar Temple, Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara Temple, Kalahasthi Sri Kalahastheeswara Temple and Chidambaram Thillai Natarajar Temple are called as the Pancha Bhoota Sthalams.

Kanchi Ekambaranathar Thirukoil
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Kannan Muthuraman

The massive temple represents the element of Earth. As adding yet another feather in the hat, the Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar Temple is also named among the  275 Paadal Petra Sthalams and is glorified in the sacred compositions of Thirugyana Sambandar, Sundarar, Appar Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar and Maanikavasagar. Furthermore, the Shiva temple stands as an example of the illustrious Dravidian architecture.

Location: Car St, Periya, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631502
Phone Number: +91-44-27420836, +91-9944117450, +91-9976842058
Primary Deity: Lord Shiva (Arulmigu Ekambaranathar)
Timings: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM & 5:00 PM - 8:00 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Ekambaranathar Temple, Click here

Kailasanathar Temple in Kanchipuram

The oldest religious structure in the temple city, Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple was constructed by the Pallava Dynasty during 685-705 AD. It is believed that the notable Raja Chozhan I of Chozha Dynasty visited this temple in Kanchipuram and went on to construct the world famous Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar Temple. Presently, the Kailasanathar Temple is well-kept by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) who declared the temple as an archaeological monument.

Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple
Image Credit: Flickr Creative Commons Kannan Muthuraman

With its outer walls made of arenaceous rock, the whole site is nothing but a labyrinth of noteworthy sculptures of mythological animal like Yali and has distinguishable shapes of early Dravidian architectural designs. Adi Shankaracharya is closely related to this temple and is considered to have built the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham after the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple. The primary deity of this temple is Lord Shiva who offers his blessings in the form of Kailasanathar.

Location: Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631501
Phone Number: +91-423-25383333
Primary Deity: Lord Shiva (Arulmigu Kailasanathar)
Timings: 5:30 AM - 12:00 AM & 4:00 PM - 9:00 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Kailasanathar Temple, Click here

Iravatanesvara Temple in Kanchipuram

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Iravatanesvara Temple in Kanchipuram was constructed by Rajasimha Pallava, a notable ruler of the Pallava Dynasty. Rajasimha Pallava, also known as Narasimhavarman II built this architectural grandeur during his rule between 700 and 728 AD. The Iravatanesvara Temple is more renowned for its Gopuram/Vimana (temple tower) which is nothing short of a magnificence of the Dravidian architecture.

Iravatanesvara Temple

As the temple was found in ruinations, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has undertaken the maintenance and named the site as a protected monument. The Government of India agency also fixed the original architectural brilliance of the temple towers established over the garbha gruha (sanctorum Sanctorum). The Kanchi Iravatanesvara Temple is indeed one of the best from the Pallava Kingdom. People visit the Iravatanesvara Temple in Kanchipuram to seek relief from diseases, to gain knowledge, to attain wealth and for salvation.

Location: Car St, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631 502
Primary Deity: Lord Shiva (Arulmigu Iravatanesvara)
Timings: 5:00 AM - 12:00 AM & 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM (all days of the week)

Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram

One of the most visited Hindu temples of Kanchipuram, Arulmigu Kamakshi Amman Temple is a temple that is dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi, a form Parvathi or Thirupura Sundari. The historic temple is often associated with one of the most prominent Hindu gurus Adi Sankaracharya. Along with Goddess Akilandeswari of Trichy Thiruvanaikaval Sri Jambukeshwarar Temple and Goddess Meenakshi of Madurai Meenakshi Temple, Goddess Kanchi Kamakshi are regarded as the important temples of Goddess Parvathi.

Kamakshi Amman Temple

Here in this temple, the presiding deity, that is, Goddess Kanchi Kamakshi offers her blessings to devotees from a seated posture, in a venerating yogistic stance intending peacefulness and successfulness. This is considered as singular when compared to the traditional standing posture of Goddess Parvathi. It is rather strange for a temple city that there is no other Kamakshi temple found in the entire city.

Location: New No. 6, Old No. 144/A, Kamakshi Amman Sannathi Street, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631502
Primary Deity: Goddess Kamakshi (Parvathi)
Timings: 5:00 AM - 12:30 AM & 4:00 PM - 8:30 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Kanchi Kamakshi Temple, Click here

Varadaraja Perumal Kovil in Kanchipuram

One among the 108 Divyadesams of Lord Vishnu, Kanchipuram Sri Varadaraja Perumal Kovil is a renowned Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is believed that the Varadharaja Perumal Temple have been visited by the twelve azhwars (Tamil poet saints) who include Poigai Alwar, Bhoodath Alwar, Pei Alwar, Thirumazhisai Alwar, Thirumangai Alwar, Thondaraippodi Alwar, Thiruppan Alwar, Periyalwar, Sri Andal, Nammalwar, Madhurakavi Alwar and Kulasekara Alwar.

Varadaraja Perumal Kovil

Furthermore, it is widely believed that Sri Ramanujar also called as Ilayalvar or Sri Ramanujacharya, Udayavar, a Hindu theologian and scriptural exegete resided in this Vishnu temple. Along with Kamakshi Amman Temple and Arulmigu Kanchi Ekambaranathar Thirukoil, this temple is called as Mumurtivasam. The Varadaraja Perumal Kovil is called by several other names which include Aththigiri, Vezhamalai, Attiyuran, Thiru Katchi and so on.

Location: Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu 631501
Phone Number: +91-44-27269773
Primary Deity: Sri Varadaraja Perumal (Lord Vishnu)
Timings: 6:00 AM - 11:00 AM & 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Sri Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Click here

Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram

Also called Ashtabujakaram, Kanchipuram Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. One among the 108 Divyadesam of Lord Vishnu, Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple's history can be traced back to the Pallavas of the 8th century AD.

Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple

The primary deity of the Sri Adhikesava Perumal Temple is Adi Kesava Perumal or Astabhuja Perumal, who offer his blessings in the sanctum sanctorum in a majestic posture with eight hands. Separate sannadhi can be found for the goddess called as Alamelu Mangai. Some of the other sannadhi found in this temple include Alwars, Hanuman, Chakra and Sarabeswara, Andal and so on.

Location: SH 57, Ramanujar Nagar, Sriperumbudur, Kanchipuram District Tamil Nadu 602105
Primary Deity: Sri Adhikesava Perumal (Lord Vishnu)
Timings: 7:00 AM - 12:00 AM & 4:00 PM - 8:00 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Sri Adikesava Perumal Temple, Click here

Yathothkari Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram

A Vishnu Divyadesam temple, Kanchipuram Yathothkari Perumal Temple, also known as Tiruvekkaa is glorified in the Perumpaanatrupadai composed by Patanjali. Esteemed as one of the three ancient temples of Kanchi, Yathothkari Perumal Temple has its roots to the Pallavas of 8th century AD.

Yathothkari Perumal Temple

Standing majestically as an example of the brilliant Dravidian style of architecture, Kanchi Yathothkari Perumal Temple houses Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal or Yathothkari Perumal as the primary deity in the sanctum sanctorum, in Bhujanga Sayanam posture. The Yathothkari Perumal Temple finds mention in Silappatikaram, one of the five great epics of Tamil literature (second – third centuries CE).

Location: Ennaikaran, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631501
Primary Deity: Sonnavannam Seitha Perumal or Yathothkari Perumal (Lord Vishnu)
Timings: 7:30 AM - 9:30 PM & 5 PM - 7 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Yathothkari Temple, Click here

Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram

Also called as Thirupadagam, Kanchipuram Sri Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple is a Divyadesam temple of Lord Vishnu. Celebrated as one of the 3 ancient temples of the temple city (other two being Yathothkari Perumal Temple and Ulagalantha Perumal Temple), the Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple is located close to the Arulmigu Kanchi Ekambaranathar Thirukoil, which makes it as one of the most visited Vishnu temple of Kanchipuram.

Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple

The sanctum sanctorum of this temple features a massive 25 ft primary deity of Pandava Thoothar Perumal who offers his blessings from a seated posture, that is, in Arda Padmasana posture. The goddess here is called Rukmini (Goddess Lakshmi).

Location: Tirupadagam, 28-B, Pandavaperumal Koil St, Periya, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631502
Primary Deity: Panadava Thootha Perumal (Lord Krishna)
Timings: 7:00 AM - 11:00 PM & 4 PM - 7:30 PM (all days of the week)

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram

Also called as Tiruoorakam, Kanchipuram Sri Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is a Divyadesam temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is glorified in Mangalasasana Pasuram of Saint Thirumangai Azhwar. The primary deity here is called as Ulagalantha Perumal who offer his blessings with his right leg pushed on the earth with the left leg up! Legend has it that Goddess Parvathi had the darshan of Lord Vishnu in this sacred site.

Ulagalantha Perumal Temple

The Ulagalantha Perumal Temple is located in Periya Kanchipuram area and is quite close to the renowned Kanchi Kamakshi Amman Temple. This Divyadesam temple also is the home of four other Divyadesams that is to say Thirukaaragam, Thirukkarvaanam, Thiruneeragam and Thiruooragam.

Location: Kamakshi Amman Sannidhi Street, Periya Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu 631502
Primary Deity: Karvaana Perumal aka Kalvar Perumal/Ulagalantha Perumal (Lord Vishnu)
Timings: 7:00 AM - 12:00 PM & 4 PM - 8:00 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Sri Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Click here

Vaikunta Perumal Temple in Kanchipuram

Also called as Thiru Parameswara Vinnagaram or Paramapada Nathar Temple, Sri Tiru Vaikunta Perumal Temple is a Divyadesam temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The Paramapada Nathar Temple is conceived to have been constructed by Nandivarman II (720-96 CE), a Pallava king, with subsequent parts from Vijayanagar kings and Medieval Cholas.

Vaikunta Perumal Temple

Lord Vaikunta Perumal in the sanctum sanctorum offers his blessings in a beautiful standing, sitting and reclining posture. The garbha gruha and the first temple corridor are of kudavarai pattern constructed with sand rock. Goddess in this temple is called as Vaikundavalli who offer her blessings from a separate sannadi which is east facing.

Location: Parameswara Vinnagaram, Kancheepuram, Tamil Nadu 631502
Primary Deity: Paramapada Nathar or Vaikunda Perumal (Lord Vishnu)
Timings: 7:30 AM - 12:00 PM & 4:30 PM - 7:30 PM (all days of the week)
For more information about Sri Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Click here

Also Read:
Travel and Tourism in Kanchipuram | Chitragupta Temple in Kanchipuram | Sri Kachapeswaran Temple in Kanchipuram | Temples in Kanchipuram | Athi Varadhar in Varadaraja Perumal Temple | Jain Temples in Kanchipuram | Tiruthani Murugan Temple

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