Kanchipuram – General Information
Kanchipuram district is a district in the northeast of the state of Tamilnadu in India. In Early Days Chengalpattu is called as the District. In later Kanchipuram is considered as a District. It is bounded in the west by Vellore District and Thiruvannamalai District, in the north by Thiruvallur District and Chennai District, in the south by Viluppuram District and in the east by the Bay of Bengal. It lies between 11° 00' to 12° 00' latitudes and 77° 28' to 78° 50' longitudes. The district has a total geographical area of 4,432 km2 (1,711 sq. mi) and coastline of 57 km (35 mi).
The town of Kanchipuram is the district headquarters. The Chennai International Airport is located in Trisulam in Kanchipuram district now under Greater Chennai Corporation Limit. In 2011, Kancheepuram district had a population of 3,998,252, with a sex-ratio of 986 females for every 1,000 males. The district produces over 15,000 engineering graduates every year, same as Gujarat state.
Located on the banks of the Vegavathy river, Kanchipuram has been ruled by the Pallavas, the Medieval Cholas, the Later Cholas, the Later Pandyas, the Vijayanagar Empire, the Carnatic kingdom, and the British. The city's historical monuments include the Kailasanathar Temple and the Vaikunta Perumal Temple. Historically, Kanchipuram was a centre of education and was known as the ghatikasthanam, or "place of learning". The city was also a religious centre of advanced education for Jainism and Buddhism between the 1st and 5th centuries.
In Vaishnavism Hindu theology, Kanchipuram is one of the seven Tirtha (pilgrimage) sites, for spiritual release. The city houses Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Ekambareswarar Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, and Kumara Kottam Temple, which are some of major Hindu temples in the state. Of the 108 holy temples of the Hindu god Vishnu, 14 are located in Kanchipuram. The city is particularly important to Sri Vaishnavism, but is also a holy pilgrimage site in Shaivism. The city is well known for its hand woven silk Sarees and most of the city's workforce are involved in the weaving industry.
Kanchipuram is administered by a Special grade municipality constituted in 1947. It is the headquarters of the Kanchi matha, a Hindu monastic institution believed to have been founded by the Hindu saint and commentator Adi Sankaracharya, and was the capital city of the Pallava Kingdom between the 4th and 9th centuries. Kanchipuram has been chosen as one of the heritage cities for HRIDAY - Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana scheme of Government of India.
Kanchipuram was known in early Tamil literature as Kachi or Kachipedu but was later Sanskritized to Kanchi or Kanchipuram. According to legend, the name Kanchi is derived from Ka referring to the Hindu god Brahma and anchi, referring to his worship of Hindu god Vishnu at this place. The earliest inscription from the Mauryan period (325–185 BCE) denotes the city as Kanchipuram, where King Visnugopa was defeated by Samudragupta Maurya (320–298 BCE).
Patanjali (150 BCE or 2nd century BCE) refers to the city in his Mahabhashya as Kanchipuraka. The city was referred to by various Tamil names like Kanchi, Kanchipedu and Sanskrit names like Kanchipuram. The Pallava inscriptions from (250–355) and the inscriptions of the Chalukya dynasty refers the city as Kanchipura. Jaina Kanchi refers to the area around Tiruparutti Kundram. During the British rule, the city was known as Conjeevaram and later as Kanchipuram. The municipal administration was renamed Kancheepuram, while the district retains the name Kanchipuram.
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Geography & Climate
Kancheepuram district is situated on the North East coast of Tamilnadu. It is bound by Bay of Bengal in the East, Vellore and Thiruvannamalai districts in the west, Thiruvallur and Chennai districts in the north, and Villupuram district in the south. It lies between 11° 00' to 12° 00' latitudes and 77° 28' to 78° 50' longitudes. The district has a total geographical area of 4, 43,210 hectares and a coastline of 57 km. The table below shows the maximum and minimum temperatures experienced in the district during different seasons.
48.8 °C (119.8 °F)
38.7 °C (101.7 °F)
20.1 °C (68.2 °F)
10.0 °C (50.0 °F)
The pre-monsoon rainfall is almost uniform throughout the district. The coastal regions receive more rainfall than the interior ones. The district is mainly dependent on the monsoon rains. Failure of monsoon leads to distress condition. Northeast and Southwest monsoon are the major donors, with 54% and 36% contribution each to the total annual rainfall. During normal monsoon, the district receives a rainfall of 1200 mm.
The Palar river is the most important river running through the district. Through most of the year it remains dry, attributed to the construction of dams across the river in Andhra Pradesh. There are only a few hills of considerable elevation in the district. The southern part of Maduranthakam taluk contains small hills. The total forest area in the district is 23,586 hectares.
Kanchipuram, the temple town, is the district headquarters. For administrative purpose, the district has been divided into 4 revenue divisions consisting of 12 taluks with 1,214 revenue villages. For development purpose, it is divided into 13 development blocks with 648 Village Panchayats.
Revenue Divisions and Taluks:
Kanchipuram District consists of 3 Revenue Divisions and 13 taluks.
Chengalpattu Revenue Division:
· Chengalpattu Taluk
· Thiruporur Taluk
· Tirukalukundram Taluk
Kanchipuram Revenue Division:
· Sriperumpudur Taluk
· Walajabad Taluk
· Kanchipuram Taluk
Madurantakam Revenue Division:
· Uthiramerur Taluk
· Madurantakam Taluk
· Cheyyur Taluk
Below Taluks are Part Of Chennai city Region:
Alandur, Sholinganallur, Pallavaram, Tambaram taluks lies inside Chennai Metropolitan City and Part of Greater Chennai Corporation Limit.
According to 2011 census, Kancheepuram district had a population of 3,998,252 with a sex-ratio of 986 females for every 1,000 males, much above the national average of 929. A total of 431,574 were under the age of six, constituting 220,341 males and 211,233 females. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes accounted for 23.71% and 1.03% of the population respectively. The average literacy of the district was 75.37%, compared to the national average of 72.99%.
The district had a total of 1,006,245 households. There were a total of 1,673,814 workers, comprising 74,761 cultivators, 162,494 main agricultural labourers, 41,149 in house hold industries, 1,088,974 other workers, 306,436 marginal workers, 14,582 marginal cultivators, 110,020 marginal agricultural labourers, 13,583 marginal workers in household industries and 168,251 other marginal workers.
Agriculture is the main occupation of the people with 47% of the population engaged in it. Paddy is the major crop cultivated in this district. Groundnuts, Sugarcane, Cereals & Millets and Pulses are the other major crops cultivated. 76.50 Metric Tonnes lands are cultivated in Fuel wood and 8.039 Tonnes in Cashew. Palar river along with Tanks and wells are the main sources of irrigation in this district. Kancheepuram is also known as 'Silk City' and 'Temple City', since one of the main professions of the people living in and around is weaving silk Sarees. The silk weavers of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago and have given it an enviable reputation as the producer of the best silk Sarees in the country.
More than 70 percent of the 163 notified areas (megalithic sites) in the state of Tamilnadu are in Kancheepuram district, including those at, Erumaiyur, Nandambakkam, Sirukalathur, Sikarayapuram, Ayyancheri, Kilambakkam and Nanmangalam. Kanchipuram is also one of the most industrialized districts in the country; Kanchipuram district has a many automobile manufacture such as Hyundai, Nissan, ford, BMW, Daimler and Yamaha etc. thanks to its proximity to the state capital Chennai. Areas surrounding Sriperumpudur have turned out to become one of the largest manufacturing hubs of India. The district is home to the manufacturing units of Hyundai, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nokia, Samsung, Dell, Saint Gobain, etc.
The district is also at the center of the Information Technology boom in India. Many multinational IT companies like Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), Infosys, Wipro Technologies, Cognizant Technology Solutions, etc. have set up their offices in Kanchipuram district. TCS and Infosys have built huge offices with capacities of 22,000 and 25,000 employees, respectively.
Buddhism is believed to have flourished in Kanchipuram between the 1st and 5th centuries. Some notable Buddhists associated with Kanchipuram are Aryadeva (2nd–3rd centuries) – a successor of Nagarjuna of Nalanda University, Dignaga and the Pali commentators Buddhaghosa & Dhammapala. According to a popular tradition, Bodhidharma, a 5th/6th-century Buddhist monk and founder of Shaolin Kung Fu was the third son of a Pallava king from Kanchipuram. However, other traditions ascribe his origins to other places in Asia. Buddhists institutions from Kanchipuram were instrumental in spreading Theravada Buddhism to the Mon people of Myanmar and Thailand who in return spread the religion to the incoming Burmese and Thai people.
It is thought that Jainism was introduced into Kanchipuram by Kunda Kundacharya (1st century). Jainism spread to the city by Akalanka (3rd century). Kalabhras, the rulers of Kanchipuram before the Pallavas, followed Jainism which gained popularity from royal patronage. The Pallava kings, Simhavishnu, Mahendra Varman and Simhavarman (550–560) followed Jainism, until the advent of Nayanmars and Azhwars during the 6th and 7th centuries. Mahendravarman I converted from Jainism to Hinduism under the influence of the Nayanmar, Appar, was the turning point in the religious geography.
The two sects of Hinduism, Saivism and Vaishnavism were revived under the influence of Adi Sankara and Ramanuja respectively. Later Cholas and Vijayanagara kings tolerated Jainism, and the religion was still practised in Kanchi. Trilokyanatha/Chandraprabha temple is a twin Jain temple that has inscriptions from Pallava king, Narasimhavarman II and the Chola kings Rajendra Chola I, Kulothunga Chola I and Vikrama Chola, and the Kanarese inscriptions of Krishnadevaraya. The temple is maintained by Tamilnadu archaeological department.
Hindus regard Kanchipuram to be one of the seven holiest cities in India, the Sapta Puri. According to Hinduism, a kshetra is a sacred ground, a field of active power, and a place where final attainment, or moksha, can be obtained. The Garuda Purana says that seven cities, including Kanchipuram are providers of moksha. The city is a pilgrimage site for both Saivites and Vaishnavites. It has close to 108 Shiva temples.
Ekambareswarar Temple in northern Kanchipuram, dedicated to Shiva, is the largest temple in the city. Its gateway tower, or gopuram, is 59 metres (194 ft.) tall, making it one the tallest temple towers in India. The temple is one of five called Pancha Bhoota Stalams, which represent the manifestation of the five prime elements of nature; land, water, air, sky, and fire. Ekambareswarar temple represents earth.
Kailasanathar Temple, dedicated to Shiva and built by the Pallavas, is the oldest Hindu temple in existence and is declared an archaeological monument by the Archaeological Survey of India. It has a series of cells with sculptures inside. In the Kamakshi Amman Temple, goddess Parvati is depicted in the form of a Yantra, Chakra or Peetam (basement). In this temple, the Yantra is placed in front of the deity. Adi Sankara is closely associated with this temple and is believed to have established the Kanchi matha after this temple.
Muktheeswarar Temple, built by Nandivarman Pallava II (720–796) and Iravatanesvara Temple built by Narasimhavarman Pallava II (720–728) are the other Shiva temples from the Pallava period. Kachi Metrali – Karchapeshwarar Temple, Onakandhan Tali, Kachi Anekatangapadam, Kuranganilmuttam, and Karaithirunathar Temple in Thirukalimedu are the Shiva temples in the city revered in Tevaram, the Tamil Saiva canonical work of the 7th–8th centuries.
Kumarakottam Temple, dedicated to Muruga, is located between the Ekambareswarar temple and Kamakshi Amman temple, leading to the cult of Somaskanda (Skanda, the child between Shiva and Parvati). Kandapuranam the Tamil religious work on Muruga, translated from Sanskrit Skanda Puranam, was composed in 1625 by Kachiappa Shivacharya in the temple.
Varadharaja Perumal Temple, dedicated to Vishnu and covering 23 acres (93,000 m2), is the largest Vishnu temple in Kanchipuram. It was built by the Cholas in 1053 and was expanded during the reigns of Kulottunga Chola I (1079–1120) and Vikrama Chola (1118–1135). It is one of the divyadesams, the 108 holy abodes of Vishnu. The temple features carved lizards, one platted with gold and another with silver, over the sanctum. Clive of India is said to have presented an emerald necklace to the temple. It is called the Clive Makara Kandi and is still used to decorate the deity on ceremonial occasions.
Tiru Parameswara Vinnagaram is the birthplace of the azhwar saint, Poigai Alvar. The central shrine has a three-tier shrine, one over the other, with Vishnu depicted in each of them. The corridor around the sanctum has a series of sculptures depicting the Pallava rule and conquest. It is the oldest Vishnu temple in the city and was built by the Pallava king Parameshvaravarman II (728–731).
Ashtabujakaram, Tiruvekaa, Tiruththanka, Tiruvelukkai, Ulagalantha Perumal Temple, Tiru Pavala Vannam, Pandava Thoothar Perumal Temple are among the divyadesam, the 108 famous temples of Vishnu in the city. There are a five other divyadesams, three inside the Ulagalantha Perumal temple, one each in Kamakshi Amman Temple and Ekambareswarar Temple.
The Kanchi Matha is a Hindu monastic institution, whose official history states that it was founded by Adi Sankara of Kaladi, tracing its history back to the 5th century BCE. A related claim is that Adi Sankara came to Kanchipuram, and that he established the Kanchi mutt named "Dakshina Moolamnaya Sarvagnya Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam" in a position of supremacy, namely Sarvagnya Peetha, over the other Mathas (religious institutions) of the subcontinent, before his death there. Other historical accounts state that the mutt was established probably in the 18th century in Kumbakonam, as a branch of the Sringeri Matha, and that it declared itself independent.
Another mutt which was famous in ancient times was the Upanishad Brahmam Mutt, located near Kailasanathar temple, Kanchipuram. It has the Mahasamadhi of Upanishad Brahmayogin, a saint who wrote commentaries on all the major Upanishads in Hinduism. It is said that the great Sage, Sadasiva Brahmendra took to sanyasa at this mutt.
The city has two mosques; one near the Ekambareswarar temple was built during the rule of Nawab of Arcot in the 17th century, and another near the Vaikunta Perumal temple shares a common tank with the Hindu temple. Muslims take part in the festivals of the Varadarajaswamy temple. Christ Church is the oldest Christian church in the city. It was built by a British man named Mclean in 1921. The church is built in Scottish style brick structure with arches and pillars.
Places of Interest
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