We made this trip during the 2009 Dassera festival. And this has possibly been one of the best trips we have taken up, esp the most organized one….
We took a bus from Bangalore’s Shantinagar Bus Station. As there are no volvo buses between the 2 places, the trip can best be described as “an experience”. 🙂 We took the Rajahamsa service, which left at around 9pm and reached at around 3.30am at Kanchi.
The bus stop is right in front of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, and not the main bus stop. In fact, when wee got off, we though the Peetham poster was just an adevertisement poster, not the entrance!!! Here you have a lot of auto-wallahs haggling the price of a trip. Almost no one ever uses the meters in the autos. So one has to be careful when dealing with them. We however struck gold with Karthik, our auto driver. Over the period of the 2 days we stayed here, he was of great help.
We stayed at Hotel Jayabala International. Its a clean, inexpensive place. Its biggest advantage is 2-fold. One: its located above Saravana Bhavan, which is one of the best South Indian eateries. Secondly, most of the Silk Sari emporiums are located on the same street, Mahatma Gandhi Road.
The First Day:
We took darsanam of Kamakshi Ammavaru. It was a nice experience. When we spoke to the priest inside the temple, we could arrange for passes for abhishekam for the next day.
Kanchipuram is divided into Vishnu Kanchi & Shiva Kanchi. There are temples associated with each diety as named.
We then went to Ekambaresawar temple, which is part of Vishnu Kanchi. This huge temple complex is spead over an area of 12 hectares. One of the highlights of this temple is “Aayiram Kaal Mandapam” the thousand pillar mandapam with 1008 Sivalingams. The temple per se is located around a “sthala-virutcham”, a tree which gives 4 types on mangoes. This tree has been around for over 3500 years. The story goes that Parvati performed penance under the mango tree in front of a Lingam made of sand. This is also the reason why no abhishekam is performed on the Lingam, as it is made of sand.
This lingam is also one of the “Panchabhoota” Lingams, signifying the element of Earth – Prithvi Lingam.
The next temple we visited was the Varadaraja Swamy Temple. This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Varadaraja Swamy. The “original” idol of Varadarajaswamy is made of “Fig” of 10mtrs height and is kept imersed in the temple tank. This idol is taken out once in 40yrs for a period of 48days. The last time it was taken out was 1979, so the next time still is some time away. 🙂
The temple itself is divided into various section or prakarams. Lord Varadaraja Swamy resides in the upper prakaram. The only problem with getting there, is the massive crowd, and the narrowness of the steps and passage. It takes anywhere upwards of an hour to get darshan of the Lord. On the way uout, you are directed to a room where on the ceiling are 3 lizards, the Sun & Moon are fixed. The largest lizard is made of gold (bangaram balli), the next of silver (vendi balli), and the last of brass. Steps lead to the top where you can touch these and come down again. The thought is that touching these idols will cleanse you of your sins.
The last stop for the day was the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. This is situated directly in front of the lane leading to the temple. We were truely surprised at the simplicity of the structure. The Kanchi Mutt had become famous and influential under the leadedrship of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sawmi. It is now being led by Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swami & Sri Shankara Vijendra Saraswathi.
We entered into a small temple, where offering are made. Behind the temple itself, along side the diety in the temple we take a path to the back. This is an open courtyard with a large open hall, and rooms at the back. We met Sri Jayendra Saraswathi in one of these rooms, which are kept open during specific times for the Swami to meet people. In front of this courtyard and room is the Brindavanam of Sr Chanradsekharendra Saraswathi Swami. In thevenings, the Kamakshi Temple elephant is brought in to pay obeisance to the Brindavanam and the temple in these premises. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience.
We ended the day by walking on MG Road, where the hotel is located, and all the sari shops are located. We bought a 3 saris in a shop, but it was truely an exercise in restraint to stop at 3!! 🙂 However, a lot of shop claim to be co-operative societies and are frauds. So one has to be really careful when shopping at the sari shops here.
The Second Day:
The next day started at around 5am, which was the time we had to get to the Kanchi Kamakshi temple for the morning Abhishekam. This is an experience that I can never have enough words to describe, one of the most beautiful sights, one that I can never forget.
This was followed by a trip by auto to almost all parts of Kanchi. We had this booklet written by Tamarapu Sampath Kumar, who gave details of almost all temples in kanchi. The list, as we managed to see, was:
- Vishnu Kanchi
- Adikesava Perumal temple
- Pandavadhoota Perumal temple
- Ulagalanda Perumal temple
- Vijayaraghava Perumal
- Siva Kanchi
- Kailashnathar temple
- Sri Kacchapeswara temple
- Kachi Anaikthangapadam temple
This was followed by a trip to a weaver’s house, and home shop. The purchases we made here were really good. When we finally reached the hotel, we also went over to Co-opTex which has a showroom nearby. The rates here are by far the best you can find in Kanchi. The saris are all provided with SilkMark, and also have a standard discount price. In all, its a good bargain for Kanjeevaram saris.
At the end of our trip, we needed to buy bus tickets at the bus station. here, our auto driver, Karthik, was of great help. He managed to speak to the bus conductor, and get us good seats. The buses here get filled within minutes of opening the doors. Also there is no ticket counter where you are assured of a seat; all tickets are given by the concerned bus conductor!!
We caught the 8pm bus, and reached Bangalore by 4am. It was truely a great experience! 🙂