24 Places to Visit in Kanchipuram nearby the ancient city:
Kanchipuram district in Tamilnadu derives its name and fame from the ancient city of Kanchipuram, one of the seven most sacred Hindu pilgrim centres. There are about 200 temples in Kanchi alone and several hundred in the district. Kanchipuram is also known for its colourful silk sarees, woven from pure mulberry silk with fine gold thread (zari).
This ‘city of thousand temples’, was a Centre of Tamil learning and an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus, Jains and Buddhists. The famous mutt of Kanchi kamakodi Peedam, established by Adi Sankaracharya, is situated here.
Kanchipuram occupies the greater space in Tamil Nadu so at the same time you will have many places to sight see in Kanchipuram, especially ancient temples. There also many enjoyable places like Beach, Mahabalipuram, Zoo and interesting part places that will really make you mesmerise while visiting. Let us see each place in detail. Some well known Kanchipuram points of interest are listed below.
1. EKAMBARESWARAR TEMPLE (1 KM):
This Siva temple was originally built by the Pallavas and additions were later made to it by the Chola and Vijayanagara kings. The outer walls and the gateway towers were built by King Krishnadeva Raya of Vijayanagara in 1509. The south gopuram (tower) which is about 57 m high is one of the largest and tallest towers in South India. The presiding deity here is Prithvilingam (Earth).
2. VAIKUNTA PERUMAL TEMPLE (1 KM):
Built during the 7th century by the Pallava King Parameshwaravarnan, this is a famous Vishnu temple. Battle scenes are depicted on the panels around the main prakaram. The first eight panels show the descent of the Pallavas from Vishnu.
3. KAILASANATHAR TEMPLE (2 KM):
Built by Rajasimha Pallava in the 8th century, this temple is dedicated to Lord Siva. The architecture of this temple is reminiscent of the store Temple at Mamallapuram.
4. VARADARAJA TEMPLE (3 KM):
This temple built by the Vijayanagara Kings is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The presiding deity is Devarajaswamy. The hundred pillared hall of this temple is noted for its exquisite sculptures among which are a huge chain curved out a single stone.
5. KAMAKSHI AMMAN TEMPLE:
This temple was built by the Cholas in the 14th century and is dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi (Parvathi) and is one of the three places of Sakthi worship in the country. The other two are in Madurai and Varanasi. There is yet another Chola temple nearby called Sakkiswarar temple.
6. THE HANDLOOM INDUSTRY:
The silk weavers of Kanchi settled here more than 400 years ago and even today, you can find them at work on quaint, old-fashioned, hand-operated looms, using the finest quality silk and pure gold zari. Hand-woven Kanchi cotton sarees are also equally famous. You can shop for Kanchi silk and cotton fabrics at the weaver’s co-operatives and government textile shops.
7. MUSARAVAKKAM (13 KM)
We have here an agricultural farm where research in hybrid varieties of rice is being done.
8. MAGARAL (20 KM)
A main Saivite religious centre mentioned in the ancient Tamil Literature Thevaram is located here.
9. UTTIRAMERUR (30 KM)
Where this destination is the Abode of goddess Ashtalakshmi and Lord Muruga cited in Thirupugazh. Stone inscriptions reveal a system of election of village presidents by picking lots from mud pots.
10. SRIPERUMBUDUR (36 KM)
Besides its ancient temple and ashram, the town is now better known for the Rajiv Gandhi Memorial, built on the spot where the former Prime Minister of India was assassinated. A splendid motor-racing track, Dash N Splash – a water amusement park and the Hyundai Car Factory are located nearby.
11. TIRUKKALUKKUNDRAM (49 KM)
There is an ancient temple dedicated to Lord Siva, a Pallava cave temple, and a hilltop temple here. At around noon every day two sacred kites come to hill top temple and feed on the hands of the priest.
12. VEDANTANGAL (54 KM)
The oldest bird sanctuary in the country, thousands of birds fly in here from all over the world, to nest in the trees here in this 30-hectare swamp, from October to March every year. It holds nearly 115 species of birds both migratory and resident – have been recorded in this sanctuary. The best time for bird – watching would be early in the morning or evening. Close by is the Karikili Bird Sanctuary, where an equally interesting variety of birds can be seen.
13. KUNNATHUR (55 KM)
This is the birthplace of poet Sekizhar who wrote Periyapuranam. He built a temple for Thiru Nageswarar. On a hillock, there is a temple for Lord Subramanyaswamy.
14. MANGADU (58 KM)
The temple for Kamatchi Amman is here. The legend goes that Parvathi as Kamatchi did penance standing on a needlepoint in order to marry Lord Siva.
15. TIRUPPORUR (60 KM)
This place is the abode of Lord Kandaswamy whose temple is mentioned in the ancient Tamil Literature, Thiruppugazh.
16. VANDALUR (62 KM)
Spread over an area of 1,265 acres, the Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur is the Largest in South Asia and has a variety of different species of mammals, reptiles and birds. The animals are housed in natural surroundings and there is also a special enclosure for nocturnal creatures.
17. MELMARUVATHUR (62 KM)
The temple dedicated to goddess Adiparasakthi is here where thousands of pilgrim flock for darshan.
18. SADRAS (64 KM)
The tiny village of Sadras, beyond Mamallapuram, has the remains of a fort and an ancient cemetery, which were part of a Dutch settlement dating back to 1647.
19. MAMALLAPURAM (65 KM)
Also known as Mahabalipuram, this ancient sea port was built by Emperor Mahendravarman Pallava in the 7th Century. From here ships once left for countries in South East Asia and the Mediterranean. Over the Passage of time, Mamallapuram ceased to function as a port but its glory lived on in its temples and monuments. Time and natural forces have wrought changes on the solid rock surface of these monuments but each sculpture and image still succeed in conveying a message beauty and harmony. Mamallapuram bears testimony and pays tribute to its Pallava artists and to the culture of South India. Among the places of interest are Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna Mandapa, Mahishasuramardhini Cave, Mandapams, Pancha Rathas, Shore Temple and Varaha Mandapa. The government school of sculpture here trains aspiring sculptors in the centuries-old art. An annual Dance and Music Festival is held here in December-January.
20. KOVALAM (71 KM)
Just 40 km away from the hustle and bustle of Chennai, this picturesque village en route to Mamallapuram is the ideal place to smuggle in for a sunbath and take in the sea and suf at leisure. The ruins of an old fort have been cleverly merged into the beautiful settings of Taj’s Fisherman’s Cove, which offers cosy cottages on the beach-front, besides delicious sea-food and facilities for swimming and windsurfing.
21. TIRUNEERMALAI (72 KM)
A centre for pilgrimage, a famous Vishnu temple is located here.
22. ACHARAPAKKAM (73 KM)
A temple for Lord Siva and Lord Muruga is situated here. This temple has been mentioned in ancient Tamil Literature like Thevaram and Thiruppugazh.
23. CHENNAI TO MAMALLAPURAM – THE ENTERTAINMENT CORRIDOR
The best way to visit Mamallapuram would be to plan a weekend gateway from Chennai, for there is so much to see and experience en route to Mamallapuram, along with the East Coast Road. Once you cross the city limit, Cholamandal Artists Village, an artist’s co-operative where modern art, sculpture, metal work and batiks are displayed and sold, greets you. Next in line is VGP Golden Beach, a popular beach resort frequented by the people of Chennai. You can also stop over at MGM’s Dizzee World – an amusement park for kids, and the MGM Beach Resort. A must-visit for tourists is Dakshina-Chitra, where traditional village streets from the four South Indian states have been re-created, with craftsmen in residence, who create and sell traditional handicrafts. A little further away is Mayajaal – Chennai’s first entertainment multiplex, complete with Cineplex, Bowling Alley, Games Parlour and Food Courts. The Champ Sports Village, which contains an outdoor and indoor cricket stadium, mini golf course, tennis court, swimming pool, health club and a variety of indoor games facilities and Onshore – a leisure resort are also part of this complex. The Muttukadu Backwaters nearby offer facilities for boating and windsurfing. The annual windsurfing regatta is held in February. Taj’s Fisherman’s Cove would be ideal for a late lunch and dip in the sea before heading for Crocodile Bank, where many species of crocodiles including alligators, gharials and other reptiles can be found. The best time to visit is around 4.00 PM when the most venomous species of snakes in India are ‘milked’ to prepare anti-venom serum. Around 7 km from here is Tiruvidaventhai, a classical temple village. The last stop before you reach Mamallapuram would be the serene Tiger’s Cave, a half-finished private theatre built for the Pallava King.
Closer to Chennai, this is where the Madras Christian College is located on 365 acres of sylvan woodlands. A delight to walk through, the campus has a wide variety of flora and fauna. Nearby is Kishkinta, an amusement park, offering many exciting fun rides including an artificial waterfall called ‘Chennai Courtallam’.