Sri Kachapeswaran TempleThe temples found in Kancheepuram are Shiva temples, Vishnu temples, Jain Temples, Shakti temples and Buddha temples. Accordingly, Kancheepuram is divided into Shiva Kanchi, Vishnu Kanchi, Jain Kanchi and Buddha Kanchi. There are numerous Shiva temples in Shiva Kanchi, Shiva’s consort Shakti or Kamakshi temples or can also be found in Shiva Kanchi. Sri Kachapeswara or Kacchapeswarar or Kacchapeswaran temple is one of oldest Shiva temples located in the centre of Kancheepuram.
Introduction of Kachapeswaran TempleKachapeswar Temple has its name from the legend that Lord Vishnu worshipped Lord Shiva in the form of Kacchapa or the turtle. Since this temple is very old the origin of construction of this temple cannot be derived but it is said that the temple has Pallava origin.
Legend of Kachapeswaran TempleOnce Lord Indra was returning to his heaven after defeating the demon Jambasura, riding on his white elephant Iravata with great pomp and show. He met sage Durvasa on the way who congratulated him and offered Goddess Lakshmi Prasadam to Lord Indra. But to Durvasa’s great dismay Lord Indra insulted the prasadam by adorning it to temple of the elephant and not for his own. Durvasa broke down with rage when he saw that the garland was pushed away, thrown to the ground and trampled by the elephant when the bees stung on its trunk. Sage Durvasa cursed him that Goddess Lakshmi will leave him and thus all his riches got submerged in the milky ocean and Lord Indra turned from rich to rags also suffering a fatal blow to his dignity.
The worried Indra went to Lord Vishnu and requested to save himself from this disgrace. Lord Vishnu suggested to churn the milky ocean in order to get back the riches. But churning the huge ocean was not an easy task, so both the Demons and the heavenly abodes (Devas) agreed upon churning the ocean together with an understanding that they would have an equal share of Amrutha the nectar (the potion awarding immortality) generated during the process of churning. They used the mountain Meru as the churning stick, and the serpent Vasuki as the rope. Lord Vishnu took the form of Kacchapa or Koorma (a turtle) and bore the mountain Meru on his back to prevent it from getting drowned in the milky ocean and thus the process of churning started.
During the process of churning the serpent Vasuki was unable to withstand the continuous friction between its body and the rough mountain and eventually emitted a deadly poison called halahal, so deadly was the poison that whole body of Lord Vishnu went dark, Lord Vishnu unable to withstand the severity of the poison started violent movement which endangered the very life of the creatures in milky ocean as well as the demons and the devas. It had not but for the great Lord Shiva, the world would have perished to the deadly poison. Lord Shiva consumed the whole poison and by Goddess Parvati will the poison was trapped at Lord Shiva’s neck hence giving it the characteristic blue color. Lord Shiva went to be known as Neelkantha since then.
Greatly relieved the demons and the devas continued the churning and secured many valuables of Indra including the invaluable gem Kausthuba which was presented by the devas to Lord Vishnu as a token of gratitude. Lord Vishnu considered himself to be responsible for the restlessness caused among the creatures in the milky ocean and went to kancheepuram to have penance by offering puja to Lord Shiva as Sri Kachapeswara.
Architecture of Kachapeswaran TempleKachapeswar Temple has a unique gopuram (entrance) which is facing to the east. Just upon passing the entrance one can reach the sacred tank called Ishtasiddhi Theertham, It has four bathing ghats, each believed to be bestowed with a distinct power to reward the devotees having a dip there. As per local belief a dip in this holy tank especially on Sundays ensures longevity of the devotee with sound health.
The ardha mandapam is facing south and the sanctum sanctoram is facing east. After the Maha Mandapam entrance the ceiling has a Magaram (mythical creature with face). The outer wall of the Mandapam is adorning the inscriptions. The other shrines located in this temple are that of Vinayaka, Dakshinamurthy, Chozheeshwarar, Kalahastheeswara and Chidambareswarar, Subrahmanya, Saraswathi with eight arms Vishnu, Gnana Ganapathy, Kalatheeswarar, Maheshwari, Marga Sahaa Ishwarar, Naagalingam, Naagarajar, Kaasi Vishwanathar, Valli Devasena Subrahmaniar, Vishnu, Chandikesa and Durga.
There are series of Buddhist figures on the stone pillars of an inner mandapa, it is guessed that inspiration of these figures possibly have been taken from a Buddhist monastery. On the outer circumambulatory passage of the temples is the shrine of Sri Ganpathi, son of Lord Shiva. In the ardha mandapam of the shrine of Ganapathi is the sculpture depicting the legend of the temple on the ceiling.
Kachapeswaran Temple opening timeKachapeswar Temple opens daily at 06:00 am till 11:30 am and then re opens at 04:00 pm till 08:30 pm. Puja is offered daily two times, morning and evening.
Festivals celebrated in Kachapeswaran TempleOne of the most important festivals celebrated at this temple is the Brahmostsavam. Brahmostsavam is celebrated in the Tamil month of Chaitra (March to April).
How to reach
Road: Kachapeswaran Temple is less than 1 km from the kanchipuram central bus stand and Srimatam.
Train: Kachapeswaran Temple can be reached via Chengalpattu Railway Station on the Chengalpattu – Arakkonam line. Daily passenger train service between Chennai and Kanchipuram are also available.