Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Tamil Nadu. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva and is located in the holy town of Kanchipuram.
The Golden City of Temples, Kanchipuram is one of the seven Hindu pilgrimage sites and popular tourist destinations of South India. The city is home to many famous Hindu temples like the Ekambareswarar Temple, Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kamakshi Amman Temple, and many more.
Significance of the Ekambareswarar Temple
Ekambareswarar Temple is one of the Pancha Bhuta Sthalam temples. The Pancha Bhuta Sthalam means the five temples of the god Shiva, each of which represents one of the five elements of Nature – Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Ether.
The five temples are—Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeshwara (water), Kanchipuram Ekambareswarar (earth), Chidambaram Nataraja (sky), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleshwarar (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (air).
The Ekambareswarar temple represents the element earth or Prithvi and the god Shiva is worshiped as Ekambareswarar or Rajlingeswaram.
The Ekambareshwarar Temple has many interesting legends regarding its origin. One of which states that once Goddess Parvathi was in deep penance under a mango tree and in order to test her devotion, Shiva sent fire on her but god Vishu helped her by showing the rays of the moon on her and the mango tree.
The Shive sent the river Ganga to disrupt her penance. But Goddess Parvathi requested and convinced Ganga not to harm her as they were sisters and Ganga then did not disturb her penance.
Goddess Parvathi with the wish to get united with Shiva made a Shiva Lingam from the sand and started worshiping it. Impressed by Devi Parvati’s devotion, Lord Shiva descended into a human and married Devi Parvati.
The God Shiva here came to be known as Ekambareswarar or “Lord of Mango Tree”. The sacred mango tree, believed to be more than 3500 years old, can be seen on the temple premises.
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The Ekambareshwarar Temple is one of the most ancient temples in India and is believed to be in existence since at least 600 CE. The temple finds its mention in the classical Tamil Sangam literature dated 300 BCE.
Initially, the temple was built by Pallavas and rebuilt by the later Chola Kings. During the 15th century, the Vijayanagar kings made a lot of contributions to the temple.
Achyuta Deva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire gifted a number of villages to the temple and there are inscriptions of the same dated in 1532 CE.
After the Vijayanagar kings, Vallal Pachiyappa Mudaliyar spent abundant money on the renovation of the temple. He used to visit the temple regularly traveling from Chennai. Further renovation activities were carried out by Nattukottai Chettiars, a community of merchants.
The temple complex is spread over an area of 23 acres. The eleven-storied Raja Gopuram, the entrance tower to the temple is one of the tallest gopurams in India. The gopuram is 57 m (187 ft) tall and was built by Krishnadevaraya.
At the entrance of the temple, there are two halls Vahana Mandapam (vehicle hall) and Sarabesa Mandapam also known as Navaratri Hall.
Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or the hallway with a thousand pillars is after the gopuram. It was constructed by the Vijayanagar Kings. Several shrines, including those of Vinayaga and Murugan, can be seen in the courtyard.
The temple’s innermost precinct is decorated with an array of Shivalingam, one of which is a Sahasra Lingam with 1,008 Siva lingams sculpted on it. There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Nilathingal Thundam Perumal temple inside the temple complex, it is one of the 108 Divya Desams.
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Many festivals are celebrated in the temple throughout the year and scores of devotees visit the temple during these festivals and rituals. Panguni Brahmotsavam is the most important festival associated with the Ekambareshswarar temple.
The festival is celebrated in the Tamil month of Panguni, between March and April, and is celebrated for 13 days. Various processions are taken out during the festival, on the fifth day Ekambareswarar is carried on the silver Mount Nandi during the morning and Ravaneswara Vahanam during the evening.
The festival is concluded with the celebration of Kalyanotsavam, the marriage of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati.
Temple Timings: Morning 6 am to 12:30 pm and evening from 4 pm to 8:30 pm
Some Amazing Facts about Ekambareswarar Temple
- Ekambareswarar Temple is the biggest temple in the holy town of Kanchipuram
- The sacred mango tree which is believed to be more than 3500 years old gives four varieties of mango to date. These four varieties of mango symbolize the four Vedas.
- There are ten pillars in the temple corridor which when tapped produce different musical sounds.
- The Sun’s rays fall directly on the main Shivalinga on the 19th, 20th, and 21st of Panguni month.
- There are all 12 zodiac signs on the roof of the temple and it is believed that if you pray in the temple you can rid of your Horoscopic defects and problems.
- Idols of the 63 Nayarars, the prominent Saivite poets of the 6th century are there in the temple.
- Sambandar, Appar, and Sundarar, the most prominent Saivite poets of the 7th and 8th centuries mentioned Ekambareswarar in the verses of Tevaram.
How to Reach Ekambareswarar Temple
Airport: Chennai International Airport is the nearest airport to the holy city of Kanchipuram(65 km). Local transport and private taxis can easily be hired directly from the airport.
Railways: Kanchipuram is well-linked with all major cities via the railway network. You can walk to the temple from the Kanchipuram railway station as it is just a walkable distance from there.
Road: Regular bus services are available from Chennai (65km), Tirupati (128km), Pondicherry (127km), and Tiruchchirappalli (290km). The temple is just 2 km from the bus stand and can easily find local transport to the temple.