“ Kashi Vishalakshmi
Kanchipuram Kamakshi”… . . .
Chanted our knowledgeable driver , Alagesan , as we crossed the railway tracks to the old temple town of Kanchipuram the seat of the pallavas ,cholas and vijayanagaram empire .We were on the trail of Kanjipuram Idlis, temples and silks at 8 am on an overcast Sunday morning .
After wading in ankle deep street water, barefoot near the busy entrance of the Ekambaranatha temple, we stood irresolute as the heavy down pour and high walls made the temple premises invisible. We opted for hot Kanchipuram Idlis and South Indian coffee (egged on by memories of hoardings announcing “Kumbhakonam Degree Coffee” and masala fried tiny idlis)
In contrast to the earlier temple the Vaikunda Perumal temple, whose street court, flanked by quaint old houses turned sari shops, was the perfect space to view the imposing granite gopuram against a charcoal coloured sky. The space was abuzz with flower sellers, sari touts, devotees and priests, creating a wonderful ambience of warmth and energy.
The imposing gateway framed a huge outer court with a large temple tank, a mandapam with many intricately carved ‘vyali’ on brackets, temple flag masts ,one in stone and another in brass, an ancient elangi tree with a carpet of tiny white fragrant flowers.
On the further end was the entrance to the temple main sanctum. We could only imagine the grandeur of it from the entrance, as we looked at the stone pillars leading upto it
The Kamakshiamman temple was shrouded in scaffolding so the feature of interest was the large temple rank with the spreading mango tree, said to bear a fruit everyday of the year.
An interesting interlude was an irritated elephant bearing down on us with a fast and purposeful stride, daring us to stand in its way!
The kailasanathar temple restored and maintained by the A.S.T is a small and beautiful temple, with lavishly decorated exterior in carved sandstone .Traces of the vegetable dye that adorned the sculptures still remain evident, in small areas. Very similar to the architecture in Hampi.This Vijayanagaram style beautiful temple has a well-maintained garden with a sandstone Nandi standing guard and many black granite Shivalingams. Large flocks of paraheets have flourished in the temple premises adding a flash touch of colour and movement to the aura of stillness around.
Our temple trip over we look forward to lunch at the ‘Thalapakatti Biriyani’!