Hidden Gems of Kanchipuram: Lesser-Known Facts and Stories about Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Kanchipuram, often referred to as the “City of Thousand Temples,” is renowned for its spiritual and architectural heritage. Among its many sacred sites, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple stands as a remarkable testament to ancient Dravidian architecture and religious fervor. While many are familiar with its grandeur and significance, there are numerous lesser-known facts and intriguing stories about this temple that add to its mystique and allure. Join me on a journey to uncover the hidden gems of Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple.

A Glimpse into History

The Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, was built in the 8th century by the Pallava king Rajasimha (Narasimhavarman II). This temple is one of the earliest structural temples in South India, constructed entirely of sandstone. Its architectural style served as a prototype for many later temples, influencing the design and construction techniques in the region.

Architectural Marvels

  1. Unique Sandstone Construction: Unlike many other temples in Tamil Nadu built using granite, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple is constructed from sandstone. This material choice not only showcases the architectural ingenuity of the Pallavas but also highlights their advanced understanding of building materials and their properties.
  2. Exquisite Sculptures and Frescoes: The temple walls are adorned with intricate carvings and frescoes depicting various deities, mythological scenes, and legends. These artworks provide a window into the artistic excellence and spiritual imagination of the Pallava period. Particularly notable are the numerous reliefs of Shiva in various poses, which convey both his serene and fierce aspects.
  3. Labyrinthine Corridors: One of the unique features of the temple is its series of narrow, interconnected corridors and passageways. These were designed to facilitate pradakshina (circumambulation) around the sanctum, allowing devotees to engage in deep meditation and reflection as they moved through the sacred space.

Mystical Legends and Stories

  1. The Chola Invasion Myth: According to local legend, during the Chola invasion, the temple was a sanctuary for the Pallava king and his family. It is believed that they hid within the temple’s labyrinthine corridors to escape the invaders. The intricate design of these passages is said to have played a crucial role in their successful evasion.
  2. The Tale of Rajasimha’s Devotion: King Rajasimha, the temple’s patron, was known for his unwavering devotion to Lord Shiva. It is said that he personally oversaw the temple’s construction and even participated in the carving of some sculptures. His dedication is believed to have imbued the temple with a divine aura, making it a powerful spiritual center.
  3. The Hidden Nandi: Unlike other Shiva temples where the Nandi statue (the bull mount of Lord Shiva) is prominently placed facing the sanctum, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple has a hidden Nandi. This statue is located in a secluded area of the temple, symbolizing the secretive and mystical nature of the divine.

Lesser-Known Rituals and Practices

  1. Pradosham Celebrations: While Pradosham, a bi-monthly ritual dedicated to Lord Shiva, is celebrated in many temples, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple’s Pradosham rituals are especially significant. Devotees believe that participating in these rituals at this temple brings immense spiritual benefits and the blessings of Lord Shiva.
  2. The Midnight Abhishekam: Another unique practice at this temple is the midnight abhishekam (ritual bathing of the deity). Performed on special occasions, this ritual is believed to purify the soul and grant liberation from worldly sufferings.

Modern-Day Significance

Despite the passage of centuries, the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple continues to be a vibrant center of worship and cultural heritage. It attracts thousands of devotees and tourists each year, drawn by its spiritual ambiance and historical significance. The temple is not only a place of religious worship but also a testament to the enduring legacy of ancient Indian architecture and devotion.

Preservation Efforts

Given its historical and cultural importance, various preservation efforts have been undertaken to maintain the temple’s structural integrity and artistic splendor. Conservation projects aim to protect the sandstone carvings and frescoes from weathering and other environmental factors, ensuring that future generations can continue to marvel at this architectural gem.


The Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple, with its hidden gems and lesser-known stories, offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich tapestry of Kanchipuram’s spiritual and architectural heritage. As we delve into its history, legends, and unique features, we gain a deeper appreciation for the ingenuity and devotion of the ancient Pallavas. Whether you are a devout pilgrim or a curious traveler, a visit to this temple promises a journey of discovery and wonder, revealing the timeless beauty and mystique of one of South India’s most cherished landmarks.

Exploring the hidden gems of the Kanchi Kailasanathar Temple not only enriches our understanding of this magnificent structure but also connects us to the profound spiritual and cultural legacy of Kanchipuram. May this journey inspire us to seek out and cherish the lesser-known treasures of our ancient heritage.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - A specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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