Kancheepuram

Kancheepuram or Kanchi is a famous temple city in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is a spectacular temple city known as the city of thousand temples which reflects the Glorious Traditions of South India with its noted temples.

Kancheepuram district is situated on the northern East Coast of Tamil Nadu and is adjacent by Bay of Bengal and Chennai city and is bounded in the west by Vellore and Thiruvannamalai district, in the north by Thiruvallur district and Chennai district, in the south by Villuppuram district in the east by Bay of Bangal. It lies between 11° 00' to 12° 00’ North latitudes and 77° 28' to 78° 50' East longitudes. The district has a total geographical area of 4393.37 Sq.Kms and coastline of 57 Kms. Kancheepuram, the temple town is the district headquarters. For administrative reasons, the district has been divided into 4 revenue divisions comprising of 10 taluks with 1137 revenue villages. For development reasons, it is divided into 13 development blocks with 648 Village Panchayats.

Predominant soil types found in this area are black, red loam, clay and sand, suitable for constructional activities. The weather is hot and humid, reaching a maximum (Average) of 37.5 degree Celsius during April to July the minimum (Average) of 20.5 degree Celsius during the months of December to February. The town receives an average of 1064 mm of rainfall, 68% from the northeast monsoon.

Kancheepuram served as the Capital city of the Pallava Kingdom from the 1st to 9th centuries. It is also known by its former names Kanchiampathi, Conjeevaram, and the nickname "The City of Thousand Temples". It is now the Administrative headquarters of Kanchipuram district. Kanchipuram is located 72 kilometers from Chennai, the capital city of the southern state of Tamil Nadu, India.

Kancheepuram was important during the Chola, Vijayanagar, and Nayaka periods. It was mentioned in the Mahabhasya, written by Patanjali in the 2nd century BC. The term "nagareshu Kanchi" in the above verse attributed the famous Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa, means that Kanchi was the best amongst the cities of medieval India.

Kanchipuram is one of the oldest cities in South India, and was a city of learning for Tamil, Sanskrit, and Pali. It was believed to be visited by Xuanzang (Huan Tsang) also known as Yuan Chwang. Xuanzang, the great Chinese traveler, who visited the city in the 7th century and said that this city was 6 miles in circumference and that its people were famous for bravery and piety as well as for their love of justice and veneration for learning. He further recorded that Buddha had visited the place.

The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma is said to have been born here, as was the famous Sanskrit writer Dandin who wrote Dashakumaracharita. The Sanskrit poet Bharavi hailed from Kanchi and wrote the famous Kiratarjuniya here under the patronage of the Pallava king Simhavishnu. Great Buddhist scholars such as Dignaga, Buddhaghosa, and Dhammapala lived here too.

The king of Kanchi, Pallava Mahendravarman I was a great scholar and musician, a man of great intelligence and also a great Sanskrit satirist and playwright.

As regards learning, Kanchi stood second in glory only to Banaras. The history of Kanchi can be traced back to several centuries before the advent of the Christian era. The famous Tamil classic, and Perumpanatru Padai, a great Tamil poetical work, vividly describe the city as it was at the beginning of the Christian era. Pattupattu, belonging to the sangam literature, records that the king Thondaiman Ilandirayan ruled the town around 2,500 years ago.

The Pallavas fortified the city with ramparts, moats, etc., with wide and well laid out roads and fine temples. They were a great maritime power with contacts with far-off China, Siam, Fiji, etc., through their chief port Mahabalipuram. The Cholas ruled the city from the 10th to the 13th century. Kings of Vijayanagara dynasty ruled from the 14th to the 17th century. The temple tower, 192 feet high in the Ekamabaranadhar Temple and the 100-pillar mandabam in the Varadaraja Perumal Temple are famous for the architectural techniques of Vijayanagara dynasty.

Kanchipuram is considered one of the seven holiest cities to the Hindus of India. In Hinduism, a k?etra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, a place where moksha, final release can be obtained. The Garuda Purana enumerates seven cities as providers of moksha, namely Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Varanasi, Avantika, Dvaraka and Kanchipuram.

Among the major Hindu temples in Kanchipuram are some of the most prominent Vishnu Temples and Shiva Temples of Tamil Nadu like the Varadharaja Perumal Temple for Vishnu and the Ekambaranatha Temple which is the "earth abode" of Shiva. Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kumara Kottam, Kachapeshwarar Temple, and the Kailasanathar Temple are some of the other prominent temples.

Legend is said to provide eternal happiness to those who visit the city. It is said that “Ka” (Brahma) “anchi” (worshipped) Hindu God Vishnu at this place, which is why the city was given the name Kanchipuram (puram meaning “city).”

Kancheepuram is popular for its renowned crafted and hand woven world famous silk sarees, a traditional home industry. Kancheepuram is also known for its culture and civilization. It is easily accessible from the state capital Chennai. It is a place to visit for everyone.

How to reach
• By Road – Kancheepuram is 75 kms away from Chennai and is well connected by a good network of roads. There are frequent bus services to Chennai, Bangalore and other places.
• By Air – The nearest airport to Kancheepuram is the Chennai International Airport, just a 2 hours drive away.
• By Rail – Kancheepuram can be reached from Chennai Central Railway station and Arakkonam railway station

Demographics
As of 2001 India census, Kanchipuram had a population of 152,984. Males constitute 50.37% of the population and females 49.63%. Kanchipuram has an average literacy rate of 75%, higher than the national average of 59.5%: male literacy is 81%, and female literacy is 69%. In Kanchipuram, 10% of the population is under 6 years of age.

History
Muslim Rulers and Architecture

Kanchipuram was also ruled by the Nawab of Arcot in early 1700 AD, many Mosques and Islamic Shrines were built by the Nawabs. There are nine mosques in Kanchipuram. Nawab Sathathullah Khan Mosque and Vaikunda Perumal Temple are situated very close.

Both the mosque and the temple share the same tank. It shows the communal harmony in Tamil Nadu and especially in Kanchipuram. The Hameed owliya dargah was also constructed by the Nawab and is a great work of architecture.

British Rule

Robert Clive, of the British East India Company, who played a major role in the establishment of British rule in India, is said to have presented an emerald necklace to the Varadaraja perumal (the Clive makarakandi, still used to decorate the Lord on ceremonial occasions).

Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil, Sanskrit, and Telugu learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Once the seat of learning and religious fervour started its climb down from the Mughal invasions followed by three centuries of colonial rule under the British. Kanchipuram has over one hundred temples today, but it is said to have had over 1,000 temples at its prime.



Prominent People from Kanchipuram

Bodhidharma (520 CE), who went to China to spread Buddhism, is said to be from Kanchipuram. Bodhidharma stayed at the Shaolin Monastery and preached Buddhist ideologies. At that time he supposedly trained the monks in the art of Varmakkalai. However, historians have proven that he had no historical connection to martial arts.

Economy of Kanchipuram Being near the large industrial estates of Sriperumbudur, the face of the town has changed in recent years. Real estate has picked up well. Traditional industries such as silk saris and pilgrim visitors are still making significant contributions to the local economy.

Educational institutions Kanchipuram in history was also been known as the ghatikasthanam or place of learning. Today several educational institutions offer courses in engineering, arts and science, and medicine, in and around Kanchi. Notable among them is Meenakshi Medical College and Research Institute located near Enathur, about 6 km from Kanchipuram. Since the Meenakshi Medical College was established in 2003, it has developed into a respectable institution of medical education. The Meenakshi hospital, which handles over 1000 outpatients every day, was established with modern infrastructure and facilities and provides service to many people in this area.

Kanchi Sri krishna college of Arts and Science is located in Kanchipuram. The Kalsar College Of Engineering is located at the Mannur village. Vallal pachiyappa Mudaliar run school, colleges for men and women are located in kanchi from 19th century providing education to needy people. Asia's biggest International Library is located at Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Viswa Maha Vidyalaya (SCSVMV University) which is a part of Kanchi Mutt. This also runs the Sri Sankara Arts and Science college and Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Engineering College.

Temples Kanchipuram is known to be one of the three Shakti Peethas, the other two being Madurai and Kasi. This is because of the principal shrine, the Kamakshi Amman Temple, which is the seat of Goddess Kamakshi Amman. To honor the principality of this temple, the Siva temples in the city do not have a shrine dedicated to Goddess Shakti.

Kanchi Matha

Kanchipuram is also the seat of the Kanchi matha, a Hindu institution that became influential and famous under the leadership of Shri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati. This matha says that Adi Shankara settled in Kanchipuram after establishing four Amnaya mathas in the four corners of India and that this gave rise to the Kanchi matha. However this claim is disputed by other mathas who claim the Kanchi matha is only a branch matha. The followers of Kanchi Math however claim that, due to Muslim invasions, this Matha was temporarily shifted to Kumbakon.