Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu, India

Kanchipuram (or Conjeeveram), one of the most ancient towns of southern India, traces its history to the 2nd century BCE as an early Chola capital. From the 3rd to the 9th century CE it was the Pallava capital, and from the 10th to the 13th century it served as the late Chola capital. An important Vijayanagar town from the 15th to the 17th century, it was conquered by Muslim and Maratha armies in the 17th century and by the British in the 18th century, after which it was twice sacked by the French.

Throughout its history, Kanchipuram remained an important pilgrimage centre and was once a Jain and Buddhist centre of learning; the great Hindu philosopher Ramanuja (1017-1137 CE), the single most influential thinker of bhakti (devotional Hinduism akin to Sufism), was educated here. He provided an intellectual basis for the practice of bhakti, organized temple worship and founded centers to spread his doctrine of devotion to Vishnu and his wife Sri. Kanchipuram today is known for its silk fabrics and, with its 108 Shiva and 18 Vishnu temples, is considered one of the seven great sacred Hindu cities of India (the other six include Varanasi, Ayodhya, Mathura, Dwaraka, Haridwar, and Ujjain). [Adapted from Encyclopedia Britannica]

Devarajaswamy Temple (built by the kings of the Vijayanagar empire)

Temple compound (more)

Pillared hall

Ornately carved

Vijayanagar origins (more)

Pillar details

Pillar details

Quaint sculpture

Temple tank

Dancing girl

Amorous couple

The kiss

Temple corner

Ekambaranathar Temple (In 1509 CE, Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar augmented an earlier Pallava temple and its Chola extensions)

Temple approach (gateway)

Pillared halls (1, 2)

Path leading in (more)

Hundreds of pillars

"Ancient" mango tree

Subsidiary shrine inside

Temple tank (more)

Rangoli near temple

Kailashnath Temple     (built in late 7th century CE by the Pallava king, Rayasimha)

External view

Inside corridor (right)

Inside corridor (left)

Compound wall (more)

Sculpture remains

Sculpture (more)

Sculpture (more)

View from temple entrance

Kamakshi Amman Temple

View from the street

Decking up the elephant

A local fertility ritual

Entrance gate (more)

Temple tank

Gopuram detail

Blessing visitors

Construction worker

Vaikuntha Perumal Temple (built in the 8th century CE by the Pallavas)

Side view

Second layer inside

Homage (more)



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