"Kanchi" Kanchipuram by tayloretc
Kanchipuram Travel Guide: 28 reviews and 181 photos
Kanchipuram (Kanchi) is famous for its silk and its temples. The silk is gorgeous, and there are temples absolutely everywhere.
It's one of the seven holiest cities in India, and the only one of the seven holiest cities located in southern India. Among devotees of Siva, Kanchi has the further distinction of being "earth" among Siva's representation of the 5-elements - the lingam in the main Ekambaranathar temple complex is made of metal-covered sand. (The others are: Chidamburam [space/ether], Trichy [water], Tiruvannamalai [fire], and Sri Kalahasti [wind], and I'll get to those eventually.)
Kanchi is one of few cities which are centers for worshipping both Siva and Vishnu (if you've read your Indian history, you'll know that worshipping Siva and Vishnu in the space of a small geographic area like a single city is a big deal), and is one of few cities that is also a center for worshipping a goddess (Parvati - Siva's consort - here in her manifestation as Shakti (power/strength), the "goddess who accedes to all requests"). This place is different, even by Indian standards of different.
Details of my visits to several of the temples can be found in my Temple Hopping travelog (under construction).
It's a major Indian pilgrimage center, and therefore, since this is India, it is also a major tourist center. Pilgrims go to visit sacred shrines and to be for a while in one of the seven holiest cities in India. Tourists go to take pictures of the shrines and pilgrims in one of the holiest cities in India. That's the theory, anyway. I was the only foreigner I saw all day, including in the only restaurant with a glowing review in all the guidebooks.
Tourists also go to Kanchipuram to buy silk. The industry is well sponsored, supported, and foisted upon them by just about everyone, from the state-sanctioned tourism offices to rick-drivers in cahoots with one manufacturer or another. Most of the cooperatives and showrooms weren't open on the Sunday I was there, although there were a few places with the shutters up.
It's only about 1 1/2 to 2 hours from Chennai over decent enough roads, so it's doable as a day or overnight trip. The bus runs frequently, and there is a train station on the edge of town with some trains daily. (I hired a car, for about US$30 for the whole day.) I saw a few hotels around, although nothing stood out as 5-star. Keep in mind that temples are spread out more than the guidebook maps indicate, and it gets really, really hot by quite early in the day. As a corollary to that, also keep in mind that the guidebook maps are mostly wrong, and be prepared to spend some time lost.
I walked much of the time because I like walking, and because I think the slower you go the better you get a feeling for a place. I think that in the case of Kanchi that would be served by biking as well, and you'd have the advantage of getting out of the sun faster. As scary as the thought of riding a bike on Indian roads is, I'll probably go that route next time.
The side effect of few foreigners in town, mostly getting lost, is that people are extremely friendly, if a little shy. Once they get started, though, you'll draw a crowd. English doesn't seem to be very common, but I got the feeling that people really tried harder to communicate than people in Chennai would have in the same situation. (I suppose that's true of any larger city, though.)
(The elephant in the photo was on its way to one of the temples to be given offerings. It actually gave offerings to the men standing next to it, and to me, by taking some money and whacking us on the head.)
tayloretc's Related Pages
Kanchipuram Travel Guide
Member Travel Pages
- "Kanchipuram-Temple&Silk city :)"
- "Sacred City"
- "land of a thousand temples"
- "Nagareshu Kanchi -- Kanchi -- the Temple town"
- "Kanchipuram Photos 1"
- "Kanchipuram - temple town & silk Sarees"
- See All...
- Things to Do in Kanchipuram
- Transportation in Kanchipuram
- Restaurants in Kanchipuram
- Shopping in Kanchipuram
- See All...
Badges & Stats in Kanchipuram
- 0 Reviews
- 10 Photos
- 0 Forum posts
- 1 Comments
- See All Stats
- See All Badges (15)
Have you been to Kanchipuram?Share Your Travels
Latest Activity in Kanchipuram
Photos in KanchipuramSee All Photos (10)
Top 10 Pages
- Top 5 Page for this destination Chennai (Madras) Intro, 47 reviews, 68 photos, 8 travelogues
- Top 5 Page for this destination State of Uttar Pradesh Intro, 1 review, 80 photos, 10 travelogues
- Quebec Intro, 7 reviews, 65 photos, 9 travelogues
- Donji Milanovac Intro, 16 reviews, 53 photos, 4 travelogues
- Madikeri Intro, 17 reviews, 44 photos, 3 travelogues
- Barnstable Intro, 10 reviews, 48 photos, 4 travelogues
- Bitola Intro, 1 review, 55 photos, 7 travelogues
- New Delhi Intro, 4 reviews, 46 photos, 5 travelogues
- Penang Intro, 11 reviews, 38 photos, 1 travelogue
- Bogazkale Intro, 49 photos, 6 travelogues