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Kailasanathar Temple


The temple is located in Kanchipuram, TamilNadu. 

The co-ordinates are 12°49’58.8″N 79°43’01.2″E!!!


The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is the oldest structure in Kanchipuram. The temple is built in the Dravidian architecture style, and is very well fame for its historical significance.  It is built in the typical Pallava style, with a pyramidal tower, a pillared hall and vestibule, enclosed by a wall. The temple is famous for exquisite carvings and attracts devotees and tourists alike. There are 58 small shrines situated around the main shrine, as a compound wall. Fresco style paintings adorn the inner walls of the temple.

The temple exudes a serene, tranquil air, set in peaceful surroundings away from the more popular temples of Kanchipuram. This temple is built using sandstone, unlike any other Dravidian temples. The temple is constructed near the banks of Vedavati river.

Temple construction is credited to the Pallava dynasty  who had established their kingdom with Kanchipuram (also known as “Kanchi” or “Shiva Vishnu Kanchi”) as the capital city, considered one of the seven sacred cities under Hinduism. There was an interregnum when the Chalukya rulers defeated the Pallavas and occupied Kanchipuram. However, the Pallavas regained their territory and started expanding their capital city of Kanchipuram and built many temples of great magnificence. The only temple of this period which is extant, is the Kailasanathar Temple. 

Shrines and Architecture:

The main shrine has a 16 sided Shivalinga in black granite deified in the sanctum. Within the walls of the main shrine there is padabhanda adhisthana (main pedestal) with very elegantly carved images of gods with a sculpted Nandi, a little distance away giving guard to the deity. On each face of the outer walls of the main shrine there are many carvings of gods and goddesses. In the south facing wall the sculpture depicts Shiva as Umamaheshavara with Varaha (incarnation of Vishnu as a boar) raising the linga, flanked by Brahma and Vishnu; and flying amaras at the lower level. The west facing hall has sculptures of Shiva in the form of Sandhya Tandavamurti and Urdhava Tandvamurti and the ensemble is completed with images of ganas in dancing poses and also with images of Brahma, Vishnu, Nandi and Parvathi. The carving of Shiva on the north facing wall is a composition of Tripurantaka flanked by three ganas. The exterior faces of the vimana (tower) have images of Bhikshatana, Somaskanda and Shiva in Samhara-Tandava (destructive dancing) pose.

It is of stone built architecture unlike the rock cut architecture built into hallowed caves or carved into rock outcrops as in Mahabalipuram. The tall gopuram (tower) is to the left and the temple complex is to the right. The structure has a simple layout with a tower or shikara at the center of the complex. The shikara of the temple, above the main shrine (sanctum sanctorum), is square in plan and rises up in a curvilinear style or pyramidal shape. The tower has many levels rising proportionately.


The Kailasanathar temple is a must see in Kanchipuram. The on site ASI employees will double up as guides for a small fee!!!