Weather :

Time Required : 2-3 hrs

Entry Fee : No entry fee

Timings : 5:30 AM - 12:15 PM, 4:00 PM - 8:15 PM (Friday till 9:30 PM and Pournami day till 10:30 PM)

Kamakshi Amman Temple, Kanchipuram Overview

Southern India is well-known for its cultural heritage, and the Kamakshi Amman Temple represents an important gem from the past. Set in the midst of Kanchipuram, also known as the City of Temples, this place of worship is home to the divine Goddess Kamakshi, who is believed to be an incarnation of Parvati, the Hindu goddess of love, fertility and strength. Visitors claim to experience a formidable energy in the air that can only be felt in the presence of the deity. This makes the shrine a popular destination for devotees and culture buffs.

The Kamakshi Amman temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, which are sacred shrines built around the falling body parts from the corpse of Goddess Sati from heaven. It is believed the naval part of her body fell at this site, thus making it a holy abode. Shaktism is based on a Hindu tradition focused on worshipping the Goddess. In the name Kamakshi, the letter 'Ka' represents Saraswati (the Goddess of knowledge and wisdom), 'ma' represents Lakshmi (the Goddess of wealth and prosperity), while 'akshi' refers to gracious eyes. Together, these three Hindu Goddesses or Devis form the holy trinity of the female transcendental energy of the universe.

Ancient as it is, the sacred abode is rooted in the beliefs of civilisations gone by. With its prominent artistic gopurams and the mythology surrounding its origins, the Kamakshi Amman temple creates an enigmatic aura that draws in not just ardent devotees, but also curious travellers from all over the world. Unlike other holy places in Southern India, this temple is well-maintained and kept clean, providing a pleasant atmosphere for prayer and worship.  

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History of Kamakshi Amman Temple

The Kamakshi Amman temple has been around since times immemorial, going as far back as the 7th century. It was established under the auspice of the revered Indian guru Adi Shankaracharya, whose teachings are followed by the disciples of the Goddess till date. The Pallava kings who ruled the lands in that era probably built the temple, with the Chola and Vijaynagar kings later expanding by adding smaller shrines around the main temple. This sanctum of Kamakshi is one of the three important places of worship for the Goddess Shakti, the other two being Madura Meenakshi in Madurai and Kasi Visalakshi in Varanasi.

Legend of Kamakshi Amman Temple

Indian religious literature is wrought with stories of devotion and sacrifice by the Gods and Goddesses of primeval times, and the narratives surrounding the Kamakshi temple are no different. As per Hindu legend, it is believed that the Goddess Kamakshi made a Shivalingam (a small statue of the universal Lord Shiva) out of sand, and worshipped it for several years under a mango tree. Impressed by her piety, the all-powerful Lord Shiva agreed to marry her, forming one of the greatest alliances in Hindu mythology.

The Goddess is said to be ferocious, It was not until the saint Adi Shankaracharya placed a Chakra before her to pacify her energy, and bring forth Shanti Swaroopini, her kind, gentle-hearted nature. During worship, offerings are first made to the Sri Chakra and then to the main deity. It is only when the deity's sculpture is taken out for processions during festivals that she embodies her more intense manifestation again.

Architecture of Kamakshi Amman Temple

The magnificent temple has a multi-layered structure spread over an area of 5 acres. Its entrance is marked with a signature gopuram, a towering structure that is decorated with murals of ancient Gods and Goddesses. The tiny sculptures are carefully shaped to depict stories surrounding the deity inside the temple. This style is symbolic of the Dravidian architecture commonly found in the temples of Southern India.

In the courtyard, one is greeted by the gold-embellished Vimanam (spire) that houses the statue of the deity. To see the deity, one can enter from one of the four sides of the spire, each with its own entrance. Inside the sanctum, the Goddess sits in Padmasana, a Yogic posture that resembles the form of a lotus and is assumed when in the state of meditation. She holds a sugarcane bow in her upper left arm, a parrot in her upper right arm, along with the divine chakras of Pasa and Angura in her lower arms.

The main shrine is flanked by various religious structures, such as the hundred-pillared hall and a sanctuary for elephants that offer worship to the Goddess by trumpeting every morning at 5:00. There are several other smaller shrines surrounding the sanctum. A large tranquil pond adds serenity and peace to the environment, completing the outer prakaram or boundary of the spiritual destination.

Festivals Celebrated at Kamakshi Amman Temple

According to the Tamil Hindu calendar, the month of 'Maasi' - generally from February to March - is considered auspicious for worshipping Lord Shiva. An annual festival is held at the Kamakshi Amman temple at this point of the year. Specifically, on the 7th day of this month, the Goddess Kamakshi is taken out of the sanctum for a procession, seated in a silver chariot. Other major festivals such as Navratri, Rath Yatra, Sankara Jayanti, Aadi, and Aippasi Pooram are also celebrated with equal enthusiasm.

Best Time To Visit Kamakshi Amman Temple

While the temple offers four ritualistic services every day, an early Sunday morning visit would be ideal as one can see the Goddess in her true, undecorated form known as Nija Swarupam. Witnessing the deity in her original self with minimal jewellery is thought to be a blessing and privilege. A special offering is made at this time called Abhishekam for the Goddess.

On other days, the best time to go to the temple would be at 6:00 in the morning to avoid crowds and long queues.

Tips For Visiting Kamakshi Amman Temple

1. Visit the temple early morning or late evening, as the sun gets too hot to walk barefoot in the afternoon.
2. The temple usually has heavy rush hours during festivals, Tuesdays, Fridays and weekends which are believed to be holy times of worship. Though the space is well-organised, one can expect to have a waiting period of about 20-30 minutes, especially during these times.

How To Reach Kamakshi Amman Temple

Kanchipuram is located at a distance of 75 kilometres from the capital city of Tamil Nadu, Chennai. One can hire a taxi/cab to reach the temple from Chennai. Within the city, the shrine is located about a kilometre south of the Kanchipuram Railway Station and Bus Station and is easily accessible via cycle rickshaws, auto rickshaws and city buses.

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