Kanchipuram's ancient Kailasanathar temple was built by the Pallava emperor Rajasimha Varman and his son Mahendra Varman. The Pallavas also built the better known Mahabalipuram monuments and anyone who has seen these will experience a sense of deja vu at the Kailasanathar complex.
The temple exudes a serene, tranquil air, set in peaceful surroundings away from the more popular temples of Kanchipuram. Very few visitors come here except on major days of worship of Lord Shiva.
Unlike most other Dravidian temples, the Kailasanathar temple is constructed out of sand stone. There is no typical entrance Gopuram, the only tower is the vimanam over the sanctum. The courtyard and walls of the temple are intricately carved with a predominantly Yazhi theme, typical of the Pallava style.
The priceless carvings and frescoes have been covered by layers of plaster which the Archaeological Survey of India is now trying to restore to their former condition.
The elderly and most erudite priest, provides interesting
information about the temple and will conduct a small pooja for visitors without demanding a fee, although he is grateful for anything offered. Thanks to him, we discovered the remnants of the damaged frescoes in the many meditation cells that line the inner walls of the complex.
There is a curious tunnel around the sanctum sanctorum which has a very narrow opening at the entrance and a larger one at the exit. The sanctum is closed between 12noon and 4pm but the main temple is open throughout the day for non worshipping visitors who want to see the architectural marvels.
The Kailasanathar temple is a must see in Kanchipuram. The on site ASI employees will double up as guides for a small fee.
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