Ekambareswara Temple

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Location : Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Dates Back To: 600 AD
Deity Worshipped: Ekambareshwar (Lord Shiva)
Important Festival Celebrated: Panguni Festival (March-April)

Kanchipuram is a temple town that is considered to be the foremost among the seven prime pilgrimage centers in India. Ekambareshwar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the largest temples in Kanchipuram, spreading over an area of 12.14 hectares. This ancient temple is surrounded by a huge stonewall built in the early 16th century during the days of the Vijaynagar Empire.

History Of The Temple
Ekambareshwar temple is of hoary antiquity, beginning as a small fane, it has grown over the centuries into a large one with innumerable shrines, Mandapams, Gopurams and Tanks. It is considered to be one of the most ancient temples in India and has been in existence even prior to 600 AD. It enshrines many traditions.

Second century Tamil poetry speaks of Kamakottam, and the Kumarakottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple). The existing structure then, was pulled down and rebuilt by the Pallava Kings. The Cholas who came in later also made several contributions to this temple.

All of the four revered Saivite Saints have sung the glory of this temple. The Saint poet Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is said to have recovered his eyesight (left eye) after offering worship here.

The Legend
According to the legend Goddess Parvati once worshipped a linga (also spelt as lingam) in the bed of streamlet, the Kampa, flowing near the Kanchi Mayanam, which has now been developed into a shrine. To test her devotion the Lord caused freshes in the river in her anxiety to save the linga (also spelt as lingam) from being washed away, she hugged it to her bossom. Lord Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her.

In this context he is referred to as 'Tazhuvakkuzhainthaar' in Tamil. There is no separate shrine for the Goddess in this temple as she is worshipped along with Lord Shiva.

About The Temple
Ekambareswara Temple is a vast temple with high rising Gopurams, which dominate the skyline of Kanchipuram the historic capital of the Pallavas. Lord Shiva is worshipped as Prithvi Lingam, symbolizing earth - one of the five primordial elements.

The Pallavas, the Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings have renovated Ekambareshwar temple. The 57 meters (188") high RajaGopuram is one of the tallest towers in South India. No separate shrine for Parvati exists here. Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya have contributed to this temple.

The Idol And Deities
The presiding deity here is Ekambareswara (also spelt as Ekambeshwara) or Lord Shiva, worshipped as the Prithivi Lingam. The Linga (also spelt as lingam) in the main sanctum is made of sand, representing the element of earth. The name of the Lord is said to have been derived from an ancient mango tree near the sanctum. Its branches are believed to represent the Vedas. It is said that the mango tree has some unusual properties. Each leaf is of different shape, and each branch bears fruit that tastes differently.

It is also said that the word Ekamra comes from the word, "Kamba" or pillar, a synonym for the "pillar of fire", or "Sthanu" a well-known name of Lord Shiva. A Somaskanda panel featuring Lord Shiva, Parvati and Skanda adorns the rear of the main shrine, which has been held in worship for centuries together.

Services And Festivities
Six worship services called "UshadKalam", "Kaalasanthi", "Uchi Kaalam", "Pradosham", "Sayaratchai" and "Ardhajamam" are offered each day in this temple.

Colorful festivals such as Ani Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Kritikai (July-August), Avani Moolam (August - September), Navaratri (September-October), Kartikai Deepam (November-December), Thai Poosam (January-February), Panguni Uthiram (March-April), Chitra Pournami (April-May) and Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) mark the temple's annual calendar.

The Panguni festival lasts for 13 days and it is during this festival that the wedding of the presiding deity is celebrated, and the venerated Tamil poems of the Nayanmars ("Tirumurais") are sung in great splendor.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Chennai is the nearest airport to Kanchipuram. One can take flights for most of the important Indian cities and important cities abroad from Chennai.
Rail:Trains for Kanchipuram are available from Chennai, Chengalpattu, Tirupati, and Bangalore.
Road: Kanchipuram is 75-km away from Chennai and is well connected by a network of roads. There are frequent buses from the city to Chennai, Bangalore and other places. For local transportation, bicycles can be hired from the shops near the bus stand. Cycle Rickshaws and auto rickshaws are also available on hire to move in and around the city.

WHERE TO STAY

Accommodation is available at the moderate class and small budgeted hotels, lodges and choultries in Kanchipuram.



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