Kanchi Ekambareswarar temple is one of the most significant temples to Siva. It is also a Panchabootha sthala & Shiva is revered here as Prithvi Lingam. This is also the first of the 32 Tevara Stahalams of Tondai Region. Sambandar, Appar & Sundarar have sung patikams. There is no separate shrine for Ambal here as Kamakshiamman is the sole Ambal for all Siva temples of Kanchipuram. The Sthala Vriksham is mango tree. The Pallavas, Cholas & later the Vijayanagara Kings contributed considerably to the development of temple in its current form.
As per legend Parvati worshipped Siva as Prithvi Lingam ( lingam made from sand) under a mango tree. As the Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Lingam, Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the lingam and Siva deeply touched by this gesture materialized in person and married her.
The temple has high rise Gopurams which dominate the skyline of Kanchipuram, the historical capital of the Pallavas. Second Century AD Tamil poetry speaks of Kamakottam(Kamakshiamman) and Kumarakottam(Subramaniaswamy). The temple covers an area of 40 acres. The Raja Gopuram rises to a height of 172 ft and was built by Krishna Deva Raya. The Pillared Mandapam in front of the sanctum was also built by Vijayanagara Kings.
Thr presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Siva worshipped as the Prithvi Lingam. A Somaskanda panel adorns the rear of the main shrine. There is another shrine of Siva & Kamakshi under the sthala vriksham which is a mango tree said to be over 3500 years old. The tree is said to be the embodiment of the four Vedas and is said to bear fruits of four different tastes each season.
The outer prakaram: As you circumambulate you see the long multi pillared entrance mandapam, the large Nandi of Sodai, stone Nandi Mandapam & Dwaja Sthambam, sub shrine of Mayaneeswarar & the big temple Teertham with pillared pavilions & steps all around.
Inner prakaram: As you circumambulate you see a sub shrine of Mahapralaya Bandhini east facing , 136 lingams in the South & West prakarams including Saharsa Lingam in the NW corner. On the North side you have Palli Arai & Natarajar vigraham.
Around the Garbha Graha: The customary idols around the goshtam are conspicious by their absence. Around the Garbha Griha you can see Nalwars on the east, Nalwars again and 63 Nayanmars on the south, Somaskandar, 108 lingams on west. Also Mavadi Mandapam on the west. On the NE corner facing west is the shrine of Nilaathungal Tunda Perumal which is considred amongst the 108 Divya Desams. Nilaattungal (Chandra Choota Perumaal) is the Moolavar in a standing posture facing west, while Ner Oruvarillaa Valli is the name of Taayaar here.
Legend has it that Parvati meditated upon Siva, in front of a Shivalingam fashioned out of earth, under a mango tree. It is believed that the mango tree withered, unable to bear the scorching rays of Shiva's gaze, and that Vishnu the brother of Parvati, caused waves of nectar to rejuvenate the tree. On the North side you can see the shrine of Ambal Utsavar - Elavar Kuzhalai. Ambal Moolavar is absent.
Another legend has it that Vishnu distressed by the heat that emanated during the churning of the milky ocean meditated towards Shiva at Ekambam (Kanchi) and that the coolness of the moon adorning Shiva aleviated his discomfort; hence the name Nilaatingal Tundattaan.
Ulagalanda Perumal: Next we visited the nearby temple of Ulagalanda Perumal which another of the 108 Divya Desams. It also home to three other divya desam shrines namely: Tiruneerakam, Tirukkaarakam and Kaarvaanam. It enshrines Vishnu in a mammoth form of Trivikrama dominating the three worlds, in the process of subduing Mahabali the demon king. The stone image here is about 35 feet high and 24 feet wide.The Moolavar here here is Trivikraman (Ulagalanda Perumaal) facing west while Taayaar is known by the name Amritavalli. The Utsavar here is Perakattaan.
Legend has it that Mahabali upon whom Vishnu placed his foot, during his Trivikrama Avataram, dominating the three worlds - desired to worship Vishnu in the form of Trivikrama (as he had not been able to see this form as Vishnu's foot had been placed on his head). Vishnu is said to have answered his prayers by appearing in front of him as Trivikrama at Kanchipuram (Satyavrata Kshetram). As Mahabali was not able to comprehend the immensity of this manifestation, Vishnu is said to have manifested himself as Aadi Seshan, in a smalll shrine next to the imposing shrine of Ulagalanda Perumaal, at Oorakam. Legend has it that Vishnu gave Anjaneyar a vision of Trivikrama and Vamana here.
The temple: This temple occupies an area of about 60000 sq feet. It has two prakarams and a three tiered rajagopuram. The Nagatheertham tank is located across from the temple. Inscriptions from the Chola period are seen here. Parimelazhakar, who wrote a commentary on Tirukkural was a priest here, and an image of him riding a horse is seen in the temple. There are also shrines to Aandaal, Manavaala Maamuni.
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