|Kanchipuram is one of India's seven sacred cities and one of its loveliest temple towns. It is also noted for its handloom silks. The Golden City of Kanchipuram is one of the seven sacred places of India. It is also hailed by Kalidasa as "Nagareshu Kanchi"(Best City among others). This pilgrimage centre is important for both Shaivites and Vaishnavites. Popularly known as "The City of Thousand Temples" is mainly consists of Siva Kanchi and Vishnu Kanchi. Kanchipuram is around 72 KM from Chennai|
|Sri Ekambareswara is in the form of "Prithvi Lingam" hence Kanchipuram is also known as one of the Pancha Bhutha Sthalas. According to a Puranic story, Kailash Parvathy closed the eyes of Lord Shiva, while playing, bringing darkness to the entire world. Getting angry at her behaviour, Lord Shiva cursed Parvathi to become black like Kali. Unable to bear the punishment the Goddess descended on this place and did penance under a mango tree making a Lingam out of earth . Hence much significance is attached to this shrine and the mango tree, situated within the temple.|
|This temple was built by Kind Rajasimha, the Pallava king and is known for its beautiful sculptures. The image of ardhanareeswara, seated on a bull with the feminine aspect carrying veena, is noteworthy. Other important temples in Shiva Kanchi are the Kachapeswara temple where Lord Vishnu worshipped Shiva in the form of a tortoise, Chitragupta temple, the only one of its kind in the South India, Kumara Kottam., a popular temple of Sri Subramanya, Satyavrateswara and Agastiswara shrines.|
|VARADARAJA PERUMAL TEMPLE|
|Situated on top of Hastigiri Hill, it is the centre of attraction in Vishnu Kanchi. This temple was constructed by the Vijayanagar Kings and the grand gopurams are architectural marvels. The beautiful site has sculptures in the Hall of Hundred Pillars. The separate shrines in the temple are, Sri Perundevi Thayar, the divine consort, and Yoga Narasimha in a cave below Hastigiri Hill. In "Anantha Theertham" the holy tank, Lord Attigiri Varadaraja is lying below water and is taken out only once in a generation for the worship of devotees. Other important temples include those of Vaikunta Perumal, Ulagalanda Perumal, Ashtabujam Perumal, Yathoktakari and Vilakkoil Kerumal.|
|Located in Mylapore, this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Fragmentary inscriptions date back to 1250 A.D. The majestic 37metere gopuram is profusely carved depicting Puranic legends. The present structure was renovated by the Vijayanagara Kings in the 16th century. It has some beautiful sculptures among which are the bronze idols of 63 Saivite saints or the Nayanmars. These adorn the outer courtyard within the temple precinct.|
|Mahabalipuram, a coastal town 64 kms from Chennai is a sculptor’s delight. Mahabalipuram, is now known as Mamallapuram. It is believed to have been called Mahabalipuram after the great king Mahabali, who was blessed by Lord Vishnu in his Vamana Avataram. It is known as Mamallapuram after the Pallava king Narasimhavaramn I, who bore the title of Mamallan (great wrestler). The major contributions were by the Pallava rulers Narasimha Varman & Rajasimhan. The earlier works were rock cut temples & manadapams, while during the period of Rajasimhan they were structural constructions.|
|This bas relief, is an extensive panel (27 metres long & 9 metres high of relief sculptures, with life size images. There are two beliefs as to the theme of the sculptures. Arjuna, one of the Pandava brothers is said to have done penance asking for a powerful weapon with which to destroy his enemies. The huge gathering of celestials and humans witness the great scene. According to the second belief, it is Bhagiratha's penance to get river Ganges down to the earth. His prayers are answered and Lord Shiva sends the Ganges down to the earth, controlling its rapid flow by allowing it to trickle from his matted locks. The natural cleft in the rock face depicts the flow of Ganga, watched over by celestials and humans. There are several images of animals too.|
|Pancha Pandava Rathams|
|The five rathas are mini shrines which are carved out of one rock constructed in the form of chariots. The Dharmaraja, Bhima, Arjuna & Draupadi rathams have been carved out of one single boulder. Draupadi and Arjuna rathams have a common platform. The rathams are modeled on different architectural styles: the Buddhist Viharas - Dharmaraja; Arjuna; & Nakula, Sahadeva's rathams the Buddhist Chaityas - Vessera style - Bhima's ratham with longitudinal structure, barrel roof modern Bengali huts - Draupadi's ratham with a square cell, curvilinear roof. The Dharmaraja ratham has a three storeyed vimana. In the Draupadi ratham, the image of Draupadi is carved on the inside. On the rear wall of the Arjuna ratham is the image of Indra. There is a huge elephant and lion carved out near the rathams. These rathams are characterised by open verandahs in the ground storey, with typical Pallava style pillars. The pillars have crouching lion bases. These five rathams are in one spot. There are three more rathams Valayankuttai, Pidari and Ganesha rathams. The later southern temples have been largely influenced by the Dharmaraja & Arjuna ratham styles.|
|There are eight mandapams located at various spots - the Dharmaraja, Kotikal, Mahishasura, Krishna, Pandava, Varaha, Ramanuja and Shiva mandapams. In these rock cut mandapams, there are sculptural reliefs depicting various stories from epics and mythology. Krishna Mandapam : In this mandapam, the scene of child Krishna holding aloft the Govardhana hill to protect the people of Gokulam from severe rains. Mahishasuramardhini Mandapam : On one wall is depicted the scene of Goddess Durga mounted on a lion, destroying the evil asura with a buffalo head, Mahishasura. On the opposite wall is the scene of Lord Vishnu in repose (ananthasayanam) on the serpent Adisesha. Varaha Mandapam : Two avatars of Lord Vishnu can be seen in this mandapam. On one wall is the scene of Lord Vishnu as Varaha (with a boar head), lifting Boomi Devi from under the ocean. On the other wall is the scene from Vamana avataram (dwarf brahmin boy).|
|The shore temple is located at the sea shore and has withstood the ravages of the sea. Unlike the rock cut structures in Mamallapuam, this is a structural temple, built by Rajasimha out of hard blackish leptinite. This shrine is dedicated to both Siva and Vishnu. There are two vimanas, Ksatriyasimheswara facing east and the smaller Rajasimheswara facing west dedicated to Lord Siva. The Vishnu griha is a mandapa between these two called the Narapatisimha Pallava Vishnugriha. The names of these shrines are the various titles of Rajasimha. The shrines have a square lower storey and a pyraidal superstructure. The tower is more tapering than the monolithic structures.A sixteen sided polished Siva Linga - in the bigger shrine. There are Somaskanda panels in the rear walls of the Siva shrines.|
|Krishna Butter Ball|
|The huge boulder near the Ganesha Ratha is popularly known as Krishna’s butter ball. It rests precariously on a narrow rock base. Legend has it that several Pallava Kings attempted to move it, but all the kings and their elephants could not shift the boulder even by an inch.|
|A venture of Deborah Thiagarajan and her associates from the Madras Craft Foundation. Dakshinachitra is an amazing place to visit, as various kinds of traditional houses have been transported to Chennai from interior parts of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala and rebuilt here piece by piece.|
|In this crocodile farm about 40 kms from Chennai on the Mahabalipuram road, several species of crocodiles, alligators & other reptiles are bred in captivity, kept in open, marshy enclosures. There is a regular venoem extraction (from snakes) show.|
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