The Kamakshi Temple is a famous Hindu temple dedicated to Kamakshi, one of the forms of the goddess Parvati. It is located in the historic city of Kanchipuram, near Chennai, India and is popularly associated with Sankaracharya, one of the greatest Hindu gurus. The Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, the Akilandeswari temple in Thiruvanaikaval near Tiruchirappalli and this Kamakshi are the important centers of worship of Parvati as the mother goddess, in the state of Tamil Nadu. The temple was most probably built by the Pallava kings, whose capital was Kanchipuram, around 6 C.E.
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The main deity, Kamakshi, is seated in a majestic Padmasana, an yogic posture signifying peace and prosperity, instead of the traditional standing pose. The goddess holds a sugarcane bow and bunch of flowers in the lower two of her arms and has a pasha (lasso), an ankusha (goad) in her upper two arms. There is also a parrot perched near the flower bunch. There are no other Parvati temples in the city of Kanchipuram, apart from this temple, which is unusual in a traditional city that has hundreds of traditional temples. There are various legends that account for this fact. One of them according to Kamakshivilasa is that the Goddess had to absorb all the other shakthi forms to give a boon to Kama, the Hindu god of love.Another legend attributes it to the Raja Rajeswari pose of the deity that signifies an absolute control over the land under the deity's control.Legend has it that Kamakshi offered worship to a Shivalingam made out of sand, under a mango tree and gained Shiva's hand in marriage.
FestivalsFour worship services are offered each day. The annual festival falls in Spring, in the Tamil month of Masi, which runs from mid-March to mid-April. During this time the chariot festival (Ther) and lake festival, (Theppam) are held. Other festivals include Navaratri, Aadi and Aippasi Pooram, Sankara Jayanthi and Vasanta Utsavam in the Tamil month of Vaikasi. All Fridays are considered sacred, though the Fridays in the Tamil months of Adi (mid-July to mid-August) and Thai (mid-January to mid-February) are celebrated.
The Old Kamakshi Devi TempleThe original Kamakshi Devi Temple is what is presently known as Adi Peeteswari or the Adi Peeta Parameswari. This temple is just adjacent to the Kumarakottam, and is near to the presently famous Kamakshi Devi temple.
Adi Shankaracharya, the famous 8th-century CE scholar and saint, established the Sri Chakra at this original Kamakshi Devi temple in the trough-like structure in that shrine, This Sri Chakra soon became the All India famous Kamakoti Peeta. The Acharya's Lalitha Trishati Bhashya comments Kamakoti Peetam as Sri Chakra.
The Acarya changed the fierce form of worship into a sowmya form. The Devi in this original Kamakshi temple is called by various names like Kirtimati, Devagarbha in extant Tantric works like Tantrachudamani. She has four hands containing in each of them respectively, Ankusa, PAsa, Abhaya and a Kapala. This description corresponds to those extant old tantric works. Further, Girvanendra Saraswathi describes precisely this swaroopa as Kameswari.
Sundaramurthi Nayanar, the Saiva saint of the 12th century is aware of the Kamakottam. He in fact mentions that the Kamakottam has come in existence just at that time.
The Siruthondar Puranam of Sekkilar Peruman, written during this time, is aware of both the temples and mentions the original temple as the Yoga Peeta and the present Kamakshi devi temple as Bhoga peetam. The reference to the present Kamakshi Devi as Aram Purappaval (bestower of boons)by Sekilar Peruman is noteworthy, as the present name of the street in which this new temple is located in Kanchipuram is called ArapanakAra Theru.
The modern Kamakshi Devi Temple at Kanchi
The present Kamakshi temple too, has a Sri Chakra which was established during the 16th Century by NrusimhAdvari, of the famous dathamAnji family. There is a stone inscription inside the new temple, near this Sri Chakra, which states this fact. It is noteworthy that Arunagirinathar a 15th Century Tamil Saint, sings in praise of the Goddess as devi of dark emarald complexion and the mother of Muruga of Kumarakottam. The Original Kamakshi Devi temple i.e. Adi PeeteswariKamakshi Devi temple is just adjucant to the Kumarakottam. Arunagirinathar mentions the Sri Yantra in the Kamakshi Devi temple, which can apply, during the 15th century, only to the original Adi Peeteswari Kamakshi Devi, which contained the Sri Chakra installed by Adi Shankara. Arunagirinathar does not make any reference to the new temple.
Also noteworthy is the fact that this new temple's legend considers the Bangaru Kamakshi at Thanjavur as Dharmadevi This is the metallic counterpart of the stone image of Dharmadevi, which is at present at Thiruparuthikunram (Jina Kanchi) to where it was removed from this present Kamakshi (Tara Devi) temple after the conversion of the Jain Tara Devi temple into Hindu Sakta tradition has become stronger. There is a stone inscription at the Jina Kanchi temple which explains this fact. There are strong evidences that Dharadevi was worshipped in the present day main shrine.
Also, the holy water tank of the present temple now called Charka Thirtam has another name as per the temple legend, which is Nemitattam. This is clearly after Neminatha the Jain Thirtankara. There are further Jain inscriptions which certify that this present temple was a Jain temple. There is no inscription on the contrary to establish that this was a Hindu devi temple before the 12th Century.
TirukkalavanurIn the shrine of Kamakshi Amman close the sanctum, the Tirukalavanur Divya Desam, the temples dedicated to Lord Vishnu glorified by the 7th-10th century alwars(Tamil saint poets) is present. The temple faced west went to ruins and the deity is now placed inside the Kamakshi Amman temple. There are shrines over the vimana.
Quick GlancePresiding Deity
Goddess Kamakshi/ Kamakshi Amman
- This is probably the only town with a unique feature that none of the other temples have a separate shrine for the goddess. The Kamakshi temple is the house of the goddess in this town.
- Golden tower
- Lord Vishnu in the standing, sitting, and sleeping postures
- Huge temple tank with fish
- 3 temple elephants
- Monkeys and their antics are a sight to see
Located in the heart of Kanchipuram town, the temple is less than 1 km from the bus stand and from Srimatam
Food is served to all visitors in the afternoon as annadanam at the nearby Annadana Hall run by Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Sankara Matam.
Temple timings: 5.30 am - 12 noon; 4.00 pm - 8.00 pm
(Fridays and Full moon days are considered very auspicious)
The temple is open for darshan on all full moon days at around 11.30 pm
The annual temple festival(Brahmotsavam) takes place in the month of February
Navaratri is celebrated with grandeur every year
The Goddess Kamakshi is taken out on a procession within the temple precints every Friday evening on a Silver Chariot
The impressive Kamakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Parvati in the form of Kamakshi or the goddess of Love. The sanctum sanctorum of this temple can be reached by passing through a large mandapam (hall) with ornate pillars.
Reaching Kanchipuram - TRAVEL DIRECTIONS
Kanchipuram is off the Chennai-Bangalore National highway NH4 at a distance of 70 kms from Chennai. The approximate travel time from Chennai to Kanchipuram is 2 hours (assuming there are no traffic snarls).
Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam is on Salai Street.
Srimatam is at a distance of about 1 km from the Bus terminus and the New Railway Station. (Auto fare :Rs. 20 )
DISTANCE TO KANCHIPURAM
Chennai 70 kms
Tirupati 108 kms
Bangalore 300 kms
Chengelpet 38 kms
Arakkonam 28 kms
Pondicherry 120 kms
Vellore 75 kms
KANCHIPURAM TRAIN TIMINGS AND FARE DETAILS:
Kanchipuram to Chennai
05.25 AM, 07.20 AM, 08.05 AM , 10.25 AM,
01.50 PM, 05.25 PM
Chennai Beach to Kanchipuram
At beach station
07.00 AM, 09.25 AM, 10.40 AM, 06.00 PM, 07.15 PM, 08.15 PM
At Mambalam Station07.25 AM, 09.51 AM, 11.05 AM , 06.25 PM, 07.41 PM, 08.41 PM
Kanchipuram to Chengalpet
06.25 AM, 06.00 PM
Kanchipuram to Pondicherry (via Chengalpet)
Kanchipuram to Tirupati (via Arakkonam)
Kanchipuram to Arakkonam
08.55 AM, 08.50 PM
Nagerkoil to Mumbai Via Kanchipuram
(Thursdays and Sundays)
Mumbai to Nagerkoil Via Kanchipuram
(Wednesdays and Sundays)
TRAIN FARE FROM KANCHIPURAM TO:
Rs. 17 (Rs. 35 in Exp.)
(Pl. confirm exact timings and fare before your journey)
A railway ticket reservation counter operates from the New Railway Station.
The closest airport is the Chennai Meenambakkam Airport. The airport is at a distance of 45 kms from Kanchipuram.