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Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram

Ekambareswarar Temple, also known as Ekambaranathar Temple, is one of the most popular temples of Kanchipuram, the ‘City of Temples’. One of the Pancha Bootha Sthalangal of God Shiva, this city is also one of ancient India's seven great holy centers.

Significance of Ekambareswarar Temple

Ekambareswarar temple is a huge temple covering an area of around 40 acres. It is believed to be one of India’s most ancient temples that have been here since the year 600 AD. The rulers of the Chola, Vijayanagar and Pallava dynasties contributed during different times in constructing the temple.

The presiding deity is Lord Shiva, who is revered here in the form of Prithvi Lingam/Lingam of Earth. All the Shiva temples in the city have a separate shrine for the female deity, but this is not the case in Ekambareswarar. Appar, Sambandar, Manickavasgar, and Sundarar, the four popular Saivite Saints of the region, have praised the temple in their songs.

The temple also has an old revered mango tree, known to be the Sthala Vruksham, which is believed to be over 3000 years old. The tree has four branches depicting the 4 Vedas. Each tree branch bears 4 varied types of mango in 4 different seasons. If mythology is to be believed, it once happened that Goddess Parvathi got separated from the Lord and came to Kancheepuram. Using sand, she made a Sivalingam, installed under the mango tree. She worshiped Lingarm religiously and got back together with Lord Shiva.

This is one of the most sacred temples to the Lord as it is also one of the Panchabhoota Sthalams representing the 5 elements- water (Thiruvanaikaval), wind (Kalahasti), space (Chidambaram), fire (Tiruvannamalai) and EarthEarth (Kanchipuram). This huge temple received many grants from the Vijayanagar rulers, which can be noted in its long corridors, towering gopuram, and mandapams. This temple is also the first of the 32 Tevara Stalams in the Tondai region of Southern India.

The colossal gopurams of the temple look amazing against the skyline of the temple. The Pallavas, Cholas, and Vijayanagar rulers, mainly Krishna Deva Raya, made important contributions to this temple. First, the original structure was demolished and then reconstructed by the Pallava rulers. The Cholas later entered the scene and made many contributions to Ekambareswarar temple.

The Ekambareswarar temple complex spreads over an area of over 40 acres. The entrance tower, or the Raja Gopuram, with a height of 172 feet, was erected by Krishnadevaraya, a Vijayanagar ruler. The Vijayanagar Kings also constructed the pillared hall in front of the main sanctum.

Lord Shiva is worshiped as the Prithvi Lingam and is known as Ekambareswarar. A Somaskanda panel including Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, and Skanda Mata installed at the back of the main temple area, used in worship for centuries as told earlier that Parvati worshiped the Lord as Prithivi Lingam, made from sand, placed under a mango tree.

The legend informs that once the bordering River Vegavati flooded, threatening to immerse the Lingam. Goddess Parvati, or Kamakshi, clutched the Shiva Lingam, who was touched by her gesture in person and married her. Because of this, the Lord is also referred to as ‘Tazhuvakkuzhainthaar’ in Tamil.

Legend of Ekambareswarar temple

According to the Sthala Purana, when the Lord was extremely absorbed in the creation, protection, and destruction of the Universe, his consort Goddess Parvati cheerfully closed his eyes. As a result, there was a halt in this important process, making the Lord angry. In anger, he cursed Parvati to leave his side to the EarthEarth and amend her faults.

After this, she came to the banks of the Kampa River under a single mango tree in Kanchipuram. She made a Shivalinga from sand and started worshiping it. Lord thought of testing her by creating obstacles in her way of penance. However, with Lord Vishnu’s help, she cleared all her troubles.

At last, Lord Shiva opened his matted hair and asked River Ganga to wash away the Linga that Parvati was worshiping. She hugged the Lingam tightly. The Lord was pleased and remarried her.

Architecture of Ekambareswarar Temple

The tall gopurams of Ekambareswarar temple look daunting with the Kanchipuram’s skyline in the backdrop. The temple complex spreads over an area of 40 acres. The tower on the entry gate, or Raja Gopuram, erected by Krishnadevaraya, is 172 feet high. Another structure he built was a pillared hall in the sanctum’s front.

The main shrine is surrounded by a corridor, representing an arrangement of receding piers. One can spot statues of 63 Nayanmars. The temple complex also has 2 tanks, Kampa Nadi and Shivaganga. There is also a shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is worshiped as Nilathingal Tundattan. The temple also has valuable silver and gold-plated vahanams.

Best Time to Visit

The temple complex bustles with activity because of the various festivals celebrated throughout the year. The 13-day festival, the Phalguni Festival, is the most important temple festival of Lord Shiva or Lord Ekambareswar. The wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati during this festival is performed.

How to Reach the Temple

  • By Air

The nearest international airport is Chennai, located at a distance of 75 km from Kanchipuram. From the airport, both private and public transport facilities are available.

  • By Rail

Kanchipuram Railway Station is very well-connected to the southern part of the railway network.

  • By Road

A good network of roads connects Kanchipuram city with the other part of the state and the neighboring states. Frequent bus service is available from Chennai. Going for a private vehicle or rented cab is another option.

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Q: Who built Ekambareswarar Temple Kanchipuram?

Ans. The Pallavas originally built Ekambareswarar Temple.  Later, the Chola and the Vijayanagara Kings improvised the temple with five enclosures or prakarams and a thousand-pillared hall. In 1509 AD, Krishna Deva Raya added giant outer walls and gateway towers (Gopuram).

Q: How old is Ekambareswarar Temple in Kanchipuram?

Ans. Ekambareswarar Temple Kanchipuram is among the most ancient temples in India. It dates back to at least 600 CE.

Q: What are the timings of Ekambareswarar Temple?

Ans. Ekambareswarar Temple opens from 6 am to 12.30 pm and again from 4 pm to 8.30 pm.