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Kanchipuram - The Silk City

Updated on April 2, 2015

Kanchipuram

Welcome to Kanchipuram, the silk city of South India. Once this city called as city of thousand temples, Kanchipuram still has 124 beautiful Temples.

Some of the temples are great example of massive Dravidian architecture. A special feature of Kanchipuram pilgrimage is that offer worship to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu one or the other.

An Interesting feature of Kanchipuram is that it is a "city of festivals"; there is always one or the other festival taking place in the city connected with its many temples. The founder of Zen Buddhism, Bodhidharma said to have been born in this city.

Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu is also famous for hand-woven silk fabrics and saris - it is a traditional home industry here. The weavers use the highest quality silk and pure gold thread in their products.

Photo Credit: Flickr Under CC license.

About Kanchipuram

Kailashanathar Temple Kanchipuram
Kailashanathar Temple Kanchipuram

Photo Credit: Flickr Under CC license.

Kanchipuram was at first flourish as the capital of the Pallava dynasty. It is also known by its previous names Kanchiampathi, Conjeevaram, and the pet name The Golden City of 1,000 Temples.

This city was the Historical Headquarters of the Pallavas. It was under the Pallavas rule from 6th to 8th century A.D. It later became the citadel of the Cholas, Vijayanagar kings, the Muslims and the British.

Kanchipuram is one of the seven most sacred pilgrimage centers for the Hindus, others being Varnashi, Mathura, Ujjain, Haridwar, Dwaraka and Ayothya. In the 7th and 8th centuries AD the Pallavas were also encouraged the tradition of silk weaving as well as the Bharathanatyam dance.

Kanjeevaram (the English name for Kanchipuram) still maintain their reputation. The settlements of weavers are seen in the back lanes of the city. The Bharathanatyam dance was played within the pillared halls of the Temples by Devadasis, young women who had dedicated themselves to the service of God.

After the fall of Pallavas, Kanchipuram was taken over by the succession of dynasties - the Cholas, the Chalukyas and later the Vijayanagara Kings. All of them have left their artistic stamps in elaborate temples built over 12 centuries.

Bharathanatyam Dance
Bharathanatyam Dance

Temples & Architecture

Some of the temples are remarkable example of great architecture. For instance, the entrance Tower (Gopuram) of the Ekambareswara Temple built in the 16th century stands 188 feet high with no less than 10 stories of elaborate sculptures.

Parallel but more delightful to the eyes is the 100 feet tower of the Varatharaja Swamy Temple. This Temple to known for its hall of 96 decorated pillars with interesting sculptures.

Some of these Temples are the attractive work of Pallavas and later, Cholas. The leftovers of a few Buddhist stupas here also bear evidence that Buddhism also exist here for a while. Sankaracharya, the 6th century saint who travelled all over India to promote Hinduism, was set up an Episcopal seat here.

One of the Acharya Peetas of Sri Adi Sankaracharya - The Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is also found here. It has been an important place for Tamil learning and Culture for centuries and gives us a clear image of the celebrated Dravidian Heritage of the Vaishnavites and Shaivites.

Kanchipuram Temple sculptures
Kanchipuram Temple sculptures

Kanchipuram - The Silk City

Kanchipuram Handloom Silk Saris
Kanchipuram Handloom Silk Saris

Apart from its temples, Architectures and Tourism, Kanchipuram is also known for its flourishing Silk Weaving industry. Kancheepuram is also well known as Silk City.

Making amazing silk saris on handlooms is the main occupation of the weavers living in and around Kanchipuram and has given it a desirable reputation as the producer of the best silk saris in the country.

Each sari is becoming a unique hand-made artwork! These Kanchipuram silk saris are world-famous, and a treasured part of every South Indian bride's wedding costume.

Kanchipuram Silk Saris
Kanchipuram Silk Saris

Silk Sari is always considered the ceremonial wear at religious rituals functions and weddings. Every Kancheepuram silk Sari is amongst the most superior quality silks in the world.

The Kanchipuram silk saris are known for their durability. It has double warp and double weft. Apart from this, the gold in the motifs is included by dipping the silk thread into liquid gold and silver.

These threads enhance the beauty and the value of the silk. Kanchipuram silk saris do make the women more elegant and stylish when one drapes it.

Kanchipuram - Silk city. Documentary Vid.

Kanchipuram Handloom Silk Saris
Kanchipuram Handloom Silk Saris

The specialty of Kanchipuram silk sari is that each thread is made up of three silk fibers twisted together, making the sari more long-lasting, and of course little bit costlier, compared to other brand silk saris.

Draping Indian Sari - Vid

Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary
Vedanthangal Bird Sanctuary

Other Tourist Places around Kanchipuram

Vedanthangal - Bird Sanctuary

The Vedanthangal is one the most spectacular bird sanctuaries in India. This bird sanctuary has been protected by the nearby villagers for more than 250.years. With amazing clock-work precision by biological clocks the winged visitors visit after the monsoon and get into the breeding act quietly.

Every mid January the population of the migratory birds is approximately more than 50000. In Vedanthangal bird sanctuary you can view Cormorants, Darters, Herons, Egrets, Open billed Stork, Spoonbill and White Ibis, Little Grebe, Indian Moorhen, Black Winged Stilts, a few migratory ducks and occasionally Grey Pelicans etc.

The Best season to visit Vedanthangal is: from November to January. Accommodations are available at the Forest Department Rest House or Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation's Hotel.

Shore Temple @ Mahabalipuram
Shore Temple @ Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram

Mahabalipuram is located very near to Chennai on the shores of the Bay of Bengal. This well known tourist place contains nearly forty monuments of several types including an "open air bas relief" which is the largest in the world.

For centuries it has been a centre of pilgrimage, and even today it attracts disciples and tourists from foreign countries in large numbers. The best examples of Pallava sculpture in Mahabalipuram are the Shore temple, the sculptured rock relief known as Arjuna's Penance, temples carved from granite monoliths (Five Rathas), and number of cave temples.

Today Mahabalipuram is a resort and tourist spot. These historic grandeur and the sunny beach attract tourists from all over the world. There is a college offering instruction in architecture and temple sculpture in this place.

Muttukkadu Picnic Spot
Muttukkadu Picnic Spot

Muttukkadu

Muttukkadu is a perfect picnic spot in Kanchipuram. It is situated at a distance of 80 Kms from Kanchipuram Water sports like Wind Surfing, Canoe, Kayak, Pedal Boat, Row Boat etc., are available for the public.

Every year a windsurfing regatta is prearranged in Muttukkadu in February. The backwaters of Muttukkadu have been converted by the Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation to serve as a picnic spot and a centre for water sports.

Apart from regular competitions, training camps for adoring water sports lovers are some of the other features that make this place an unforgettable pleasure. For those who take pleasure in seafood being here could prove to be a memorable experience.

How To Get There

By Road:

Kanchipuram is situated 75 kms away from Chennai and is well linked by a good road network.

By Air:

The nearest airport is Chennai International Airport.

By Rail:

Can be reached from Chennai central railway station or Arakkonam railway station.

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    • profile image

      ethnicpark 2 years ago

      Silk sarees looks awesome when a woman carry it

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      spectacular, would love to see these sites

    • Just4Luck profile image

      Justin 3 years ago from Slovenija

      Astonishing images and captivating story. Thanks!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      Love all the images.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image

      VspaBotanicals 4 years ago

      I love silk. Thank you for sharing

    • srsddn lm profile image

      srsddn lm 5 years ago

      I heard of Kanchipuram for Saris and Mahabalipuram but your lens says much more about the place. Sanctuary and picnic in addition to famous temples makes it a perfect station for visiting.

    • mueedahmad profile image

      mueedahmad 5 years ago

      very nice lens!The author has described the the beauty of Kanchipuram in the best way.

    • profile image

      AnimalHouse 5 years ago

      Lovely lens, I enjoyed reading about Kanchipuram.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I had been to Kanchipuram for buying wedding sarees for my sister's marriage and the experience was exhilarating. I adore kanjeevaram saries and wear some of them in the functions.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I was here yesterday and was so interested in that video of yours of how to wear a sari, its an art in itself to fit it properly and I've always wondered how it was done, so thank you for including that nice side light. The Kanchipuram silk sari would certainly be the one that every lady would want with its beauty and extra durability due to the 3 stranded thread, all the ladies in India must dream of owning at least one of them. Thank you for this beautifully done look at The Golden City of 1000 Temples, this is the first I've heard the name Silk City but that sure does fit too!

    • Auntiekatkat profile image

      Auntiekatkat 5 years ago

      lovely lens sadly it makes me very homesick.

    • Phillyfreeze profile image

      Ronald Tucker 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

      The exquisite silk sarees are absolutely gorgeous!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      great tribute to a foreign land to me, enjoyed the read tonight.