27 & 28 August'2008: We reached Kanchipuram around 7.30 pm. We went to the circuit house where we had requested for accomodation. Unfortunately all rooms were booked because a State Minister was visiting Kanchipuram for an election rally. We checked into a private hotel MM Hotels (nive hotel, good rooms, reasonable rates) & then left for Kamakshi Amman temple for darshan.
Kamakshi Amman Temple: This is an ancient temple associated with Adi Sankaracharya. This is one of the significant Sakti Peedams in India. This is the solitary Ambal shrine in Kanchipuram and none of the Siva temples in Kanchipuram have Ambal shrines. This because Kamakshi is considered omnipresent in Kanchipuram.
Legend has it that Kamakshi worshipped a Shiva Lingam made of sand under a mango tree and thus gained Shivas hand in marriage. The sanctum is crowned with a gold plated Vimanam and Kamakshi is enshrined in a seated posture and is referred to as Parabrahma Swaroopini. A Sri Chakram has been installed in front of the image and worship is offered to it. It is believed that that originally Kamakshi was a Ugra Swaroopini and upon establishing the Sri Chakra by Adi Sankara she became Shanthi Swaroopini. Because of this the festival image of Kamakshi, takes leave of Adi Sankara at the shrine in the inner prakaram, every time she is taken out in procession.
Inner Prakaram: There is a separate sannithi for the south facing Utsavar image of Kamakshi on a raised pavilion in front of the east facing moolavar image. There is another sub shrine for Bangaru Kamakshi on the Southern side - only a framed photo is kept here. The original Bangaru Kamakshi idol is in a temple in Thanjavur. On the western side there are shrines for Kasi Annapoorni, Ayyanar & Adi Sankara.
Garbha Griha: Surrounding the garbha griha are idols of Perumal, Lakshmi & Ardhanareeswa on South side, Aroopa Lakshmi, Varahi & Ganesha on the North side. Here there is also a Nabhi Pillar - signifying that this is one of the 51 Sakthi Peedams where the nabhi has fallen. The Sri Chakra is installed on the East side just in front of Kamakshi Amman.
Outer Prakaram: You see the Nandi Mandapam & the Dwaja Sthambam as you enter through the gopuram on the eastern side. The outer prakaram also houses the temple tank, the 100 kal mandapam, the Dwajaa Rohana Mandapam & the stables for the temple elephants. Imposing views of the Golden Vimanam can be had from the outer prakaram.
Kanchi puram is divided into Siva Kanchi & Vishnu Kanchi. The primary temples in Siva Kanchi are Ekambareswarar, Kamakshiamman, Kumara Kottam & Ulagalanda Perumal Temples. The first three are located in Somaskanda formation. The Kumarakottam or Subramaniaswamy temple does not have much historical or archaelogical importance. It was built in its present form in 1915.
Kanchipuram is also the seat of Kanchi Kamakoti peetham established by Adi Sankara. It is believed that Adi Sankara attained Samadhi at Kanchipuram while others hold the view that Kedarnath in the Himalayas is the site of his Samadhi.
Visited Kamakshiamman again on 28th morning and witnessed milk abhishekam of Kamakshi amman followed by Deeparathanai - a truly electrifying experience !