Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Kamakshi Temple is very near to the Ekambareshwar Temple and is the only Amman temple in Kanchi. This is one of the Sakthi Peethams is run by the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetha founded by Adi Sankaracharya. The temple is most probably built by the Pallava Kings in 6th century A.D. Unfortunately, i don’t remember visiting this temple as none of the photographs i have taken resemble this temple. It is very unfortunate that i visit Kanchipuram and miss the Kamakshi Amman temple.

DSC00265The Vaikuntha Perumal Temple is one of the oldest of the temples in Kanchipuram which date to the same time as Kailasanathar Temple. We can say this by the structure and the similarity in the material used for construction and the sculptures. It is said that the temple was constructed in the 6th century by the Pallava King, Nandivarman. The entrance to the temple is very simple without any gopuram. A flat mantapa leads to the inner complex. The pillars of the mantapa are carved with deities, male and female. As we enter into the temple complex, wDSC00273e find the dhwajasthamba in front, which shines like gold. This is a latest addition after the Vijayanagara period. There is a a columned mantapa which leads to the inner sections.

The Vaikuntha Perumal Temple is one the hundred and eight Divya Desams mentioned in our Vedas. This temple was originally known as “Parameshwara Vishnugriham” after the name of the King Nandivarman whose original name was Parameshwaravarman. The principal structure consists of three sanctuaries, one above the other on three ascending levels; these adjoin a columned mantapa which opens to west. The temple is surrounded by a colonIMG_0018nade. The entrance hall is an addition of the later Vijayanagara period.

I took a walk around the temple before going in. The entire outer structure is carved with lions standing on the hind legs. You will find these at regular intervals. This is a distinctive feature of the Pallava architecture which you find in the Kailasanathar Temple as well as temples in Mahabalipuram. Now i move inside the main temple. This inside sanctuary is surrounded by a colonnade, which rear wall is adorned with sculptures all around the temple.  It was mid afternoon then and the temple was actually closed to visitors. I requested the priest and had a tour. I was given only 10 minutes and had to rush off in that time.

The architecture of the temple has played a vital role in the architectural evolution of the grand thousand pillared mandapas built in the later south Indian temples. There are several inscriptions on the wall of the temple related to the wars between the Pallavas and ChDSC00278alukyas. In eighth century script, they even depict the history of the temple. The inner walls of the temple are entirely carved with stories from epics. There are also sculptures which depict coronation of the King with attendants and Brahmins. It could be very well about the Pallava Kings as suggested by earlier historians like C. Meenakshi.

As i move around visiting the temple, i was very amazed by the architecture and i wondered how many years it might have taken building this great structure. No part of the temple is left empty. We either see the walls carved or pillars with lions on it. There  are many sculptures which geDSC00280nerate a lot of interest.

One of them talks about the Birth of Pallava. He was born suddenly to Ashvatthaman on a litter of sprouts (pallava) by Menaka, a apsara, send by Indra who was afraid to lose his position on account of the austerities of Ashvatthaman. Ashvatthaman is shown in penance standing on single leg, while Menaka is shown standing in front of him. Baby Pallava is shown just in right panel, above the heap of sprouts. DSC00284

As the entire construction was done on plaster, the sculptures look disfigured with the wear and tear all these centuries. Most of the panels here talk about the origin of the Pallava dynasty and the various stories and legends associated with it. These long corridors are very cold in the afternoon, so are a nice place to spend some time away from the scorching heat. The main sanctum stands in the center of the temple complex as seen in the temple sketch.

The entrance to the main sanctDSC00290um is through these corridors and we make go around it from below. I had a darshan of the lord inside and went around the inner complex once again. I could have spent more than an hour if i had the time. However, as i mentioned i was left with very little time and so had to rush off. I would want to visit this temple in leisure again and cover all aspects of this wonderful creation. The one aspect i very much liked in this temple are the lion pillars and the centuries old sculptures in plaster. SDSC00286ome of the lion pillars which also are made of plaster are now replaced with stone ones as the earlier ones were broken.  I am not a spiritual kind of person, so i always see temples in the artistic perspective and less in terms of the deity. Over all, this temple brings back great memories. There are other temples that i visited in Kanchipuram but i will not mention all of them but the most important places. I then moved on to the best temple in terms of architecture and my favourite place in Kanchipuram, the Varadaraja Perumal Temple.


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