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Kanchipuram: Where traditional silk, history and devotion have an interesting confluence

If anybody has seen the critically acclaimed Tamil language movie called ‘Kanchivaram’ , it is impossible not to feel remorse about the struggle that an artisan in this country encounters in pursuit of his art and craft. However, this movie will also pique your interest about the famous Kanjeevaram sarees and its eponymous place where this silk is crafted with hand-made techniques. Situated in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, Kanchipuram has become synonymous with the silk which was first crafted by Sage Markanda (who worked its tissues from the fibres of a Lotus flower) according to mythology.

This is also a silk considered to be a favourite of Lord Vishnu. Here are some of the interesting facts and places of interest in this city.

1. There are a lot of mythologies associated with Kanchipuram. One of it is the fact that this place was supposedly the spot where Lord Shiva was worshipped by Lord Brahma in Hindu mythology. Kanchipuram because of its ancientness, has been ruled by a lot of powerful Indian dynasties, right from the Early Cholas, Pallavas, the Later Cholas, Pandyas, Vijayanagara Empire, to the British. In this context, one of the most interesting legends of this place is that the Buddhist monk Bodhidharma, who supposedly went to China and founded the Shaolin Temple, was originally the son of a Pallava dynasty king from Kanchipuram.

2. One of the most important landmarks of Kanchipuram is the towering temple of Ekambareswarar with its majestic Gopuras and beautiful architecture. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Legend has it that an incarnation of Goddess Parvati worshipped Lord Shiva here to do her penance. This temple is one of the biggest in India and also visited by millions of devotees.

3. The most ancient temple of Kanchipuram is the Kailashnathar Temple. It was supposedly built in the 7th century CE by the mighty Pallava king Narasimhavarman II (who started it and later completed by Mahendravarman III). This temple is beautiful with intricate artworks of several deities carved on its walls and façade. This is a must visit place of South India for the sheer history and ancientness that this structure possesses.

4. Out of several beautiful and ancient temples in this city, one of the most important one is the Kamakshi Amman Temple where the Devi (an incarnation of Goddess Parvati) is seated in a lotus yogic posture signifying peace and prosperity. This temple is also associated with the iconic Indian monk Adi Shankara.

5. Some other historic and religious places of this city are the Kanchi Mutt of Adi Shankara, Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Kanchi Metrali or Metraleeswarar Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple and several other holy shrines of Hinduism. Kanchipuram is indeed the city of piety together with a lot of history. This city is so holy that the moment you set down your feet on its streets, you will see numerous devotees especially women dressed in their traditional attires with garlands of flowers on their hair going towards the temples. This is a place where one can truly experience the Dravidian temple architecture together with the classical South Indian culture.

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