Thursday, January 19, 2006

Ekambaranathar Temple

Unlike Manhattan, the skyline of Kanchipuram is not cluttered with towering steel & glass structures. Instead its the tall "Gopurams" (towers over the temple gateways) of various temples in the town that greet you, from a distance of over 3 miles, as you take the exit towards Kanchi on the Chennai-Bangalore highway.

It's one of the most revered temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, and it signifies one of the five elements, viz earth, of the Universe. This temple built, in 1509 AD, is spread over 40 acres of land and has a 172 feet tall main Gopuram as its most prized possession

If you are tired of seeing the nearly bland facade of American skyscrappers, then these Gopurams certainly provide a different sight. The sculptures dotting the entire surface of these Gopurams tell a myriad Hindu mythological stories. Frankly, I have been more appreciative of the sculptures than the stories behind them.

"Aayiram Kaal Mandapam" or the hallway with a thousand pillars, is another attraction in the temple. And then there's this corridor with an array of 1008 Siva Lingams. Ekambaranathar temple also has the "sthala-virutcham", the famed 3500 year old ( according to Hindu mythology) mango tree whose branches give four different types of mangoes. Apparently, this tree and the silk-saree handlooms were Queen Elizabeth's favorites during her visit to Kanchi in 1997.

The Massive Nandhi (the bull)......

Bronze statue of Lord Shiva....I have always wanted to have one such statue at home!! It's on my buy-list.


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