My second stop in Kanchipuram town was this architectural wonder which is a 10 mins drive from the town centre. There was not a hint of what was to come on the road to Kailasanathar Temple. Reminds me of the minutes before the start of a rock show. The air of anticipation, the nervous laughs , the seeming quietness, all shattered when the stars make a grand entrance in a cocktail of high energy, thumping music, psychedelic lights and what not. The effect was no different. I found the temple suddenly looming large in front of me. Talk of making a grand entry, the Kailasanathar temple did a class act. I don’t recall if I had mentally logged out, hence the suddenness of this vision. It jolts you out of your reverie and you realize you are in the rock show of the millennium. “Rock Show” albeit of a different kind sans the high decibel sound and tattooed teens frisking around.
The temple is of modest size .One notable difference is the absence of an imposing Gopuram which is a standard for the next generation temples. The modest size coupled with the compact footprint of the design helps you remain focused and your experience a lot more intimate.
The Kailashanathar temple has a 4 tiered Vimana built entirely in sandstone and adorned with the most beautiful sculptures. It’s amazing how the sculptors manage to get the proportions right. The design is a precursor to future Dravidian temples. The evolution of future temples on a standard set so high, benefitted humanity for generations in keeping the spiritual tradition alive.
There are 2 cloisters encircling the sanctum. The one outside is open to the sky , where there is a profusion of sculptures on the walls and miniature shrines skillfully meshed in the walls makes it a free flowing seamless work of art.The inner cloister encircling the sanctum has an interesting twist to the tale. There is a small opening through which you crawl for the customary pradkashinam and a similar opening at the other end for you to crawl out. I stuck my head in to check if this was worth the adventure and found that beyond the opening, it had a large enough passage with a high ceiling through which one can comfortably walk. I tend to get claustrophobic and found this was well within my level of endurance. I was all set to go, but I had to tick off one more item in my check list.
Is the opening big enough for my 38” waist ????
No problem at all. They had bigger guys in mind when they designed it.
The legend according to one of the priests is that each pradakshinam helps you skip a cycle of rebirth. I managed to finish one round. In case you guys find my status “not checked in” in one of your future incarnations, you know why.
The sanctum has a large shivalingam with a very beautiful Somaskandar panel on the wall behind it. The priest was an old man who was keen to explain the history of the place and did the archana with sincerity. What beats me is that this is not a Paadal petra Sthalam. Sundarar who has sung songs in Onakanthan Thali which is a stones throw away is unlikely to have skipped this architectural wonder. In all probability the songs on this temple have been lost. .
For the historically inclined , the Kailasanathar temple was built and consecrated during the reign of the Pallava King Narashimavarma II between 690 – 730 AD who ruled over a vast empire with Kanchipuram as the capital. The Pallavas were forward thinking and the city flourished under their reign.
How do I reach there : Google map address 12 55'08.40"N 80 02'33.47"E.