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Ekambareswarar Temple at Kanchipuram
Deities: Ekambareswarar (Shiva)
Significance: This vast temple with high rising Gopurams dominates the skyline of Kanchipuram the historic capital of the Pallavas. Kanchipuram - a temple town is considered to be the foremost among the seven prime pilgrimage centers in India. Along with Mamallapuram and Tirukkalunkunram, this town attracts the attention of several tourists in Chennai. Shiva is the presiding deity here, worshipped as Prithvi Lingam, symbolizing earth - one of the five primordial elements. This ancient temple has been in existence even prior to 600 AD and has been sung by the revered Saivite Saints. No separate shrine for Parvati exists here. Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya have contributed to this temple.
Antiquity: This is one of the most ancient temples in India and has been in existence even prior to 600 AD. Second century AD 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 the temple.
Architecture: The temple covers an area of over 40 acres. The Raja Gopuram or the entrance tower to the temple which rises to a height of 172 feet was built by the Vijayanagar Monarch Krishnadevaraya. The pillared hall in front of the sanctum was also built by the Vijayanagar Kings. 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.
Deities: The presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Shiva, worshipped as the Prithivi Lingam. A Somaskanda panel featuring Shiva, Parvati and Skanda adorns the rear of the main shrine, which has been held in worship for centuries together. It is believed that Parvati, the consort of Shiva worshipped him in the form of a Prithivi Lingam, or a Lingam improvised out of sand, under a mango tree. Legend has it that the neighboring Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi, embraced the Lingam, and 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 Ambal or the Goddess in the temple as she is worshipped along with Shiva, as in every other Shiva temple in the precincts of the town of Kanchipuram. There is another shrine of Shiva and Kamakshi under the Stala Vruksham or the Temple tree, which is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old. The mango tree is said to be the embodiment of the four Vedas and the tree is said to bear fruits of four different tastes each season here.
Festivals and Services: (See also below): Six worship services are offered each day in this temple - namely UshadKalam, Kaalasanthi, Uchi Kaalam, Pradosham and Sayaratchai and Ardhajamam. Colorful festivals such as Ani Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi Kritikai (July-Aug), Avani Moolam (Aug - Sep), Navaratri (Sep-October), Kartikai Deepam (Nov-Dec), Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb), Panguni Uthiram (Mar-Apr), Chitra Pournami (Apr-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.
Access and Accomodation: Kanchipuram, Chennai
Appeal for Support of Daily Pradosha Worship:
26A Vaidya Gurukkal Street
An attempt is being made to obtain support for carrying out the Pradosha Kala Puja Service (The afternoon worship service - between 4 pm and 5 pm) on a daily basis. This particular time of worship is held sacred in Saivite temples, with the belief that all of the Gods in the Hindu pantheon assemble together for worship. The Pradosha Kala Abhishekam can be sponsored for life on a calendar date of the sponsor's choice, by contributing Rs. 1105/- to the temple. This amount submitted by the sponsor will be invested by the temple and proceeds from the investment will go towards the sponsorship of this particular worship service each year. A similar scheme exists for the sponsorship of the Ardha Jama Pooja involving a contribution of Rs 835/-. For more details contact Mr. M.N. Nagarajan at the address and telephone number listed above.