The sun of 7th century was setting in the west and a new power was rising to its full glory in the south of India. While the King and the army was busy in conquering land after land, Pallava sculptors were feeling ecstatic with their creation. They were curving out marvels befitted for a supreme dynasty. Kanchipuram, the capital, were flooded with profuse temples and shrines, proudly showcasing mesmerising artifacts created by Pallava artisans.
Kanchipuram, the capital of Pallavas, is still present, 73 km north of Chennai. Kailasnathar temple, built in the time span of 685-705 AD,under the patronisation of King Narasimhavarman II, is the oldest existing temple in Kanchipuram. It has survived the taste of time and still stand tall with majestic, ornate walls, signature of a bygone era .This masterpiece is so engrossing that one can spend hours, just appreciating the temple panels and paintings
The temple is made of sandstone and contains an ornate sanctum sanctorum where Kailasnath, another name of Lord Shiva, is worshipped in form of Shivalinga, built with granite. There is one stone built circumambulatory passage, centring the sanctum sanctorum, where devotees walk round the temple in clockwise direction, a practice believed to be a step towards Mosksha. There are 58 shrines,dedicated to various avatars of Lord Shiva, built along the inner niche of the compound wall which run along the circumambulatory path. The odd numbered shrines contain the paintings of Shiva and Parvati in different pose. Remnants of the gorgeous colours, actually used in the then time, are still visible in some of the shrines. In even numbered shrines, sculptors have curved out different forms of Shiva like- Nataraja, Mahakal, Dattatreya and so on.
Temple panels are a feast for eyes. Pallava sculptors have etched out their dreams in sandstone. Temple walls are ornate with different deities, kinnars (musician and dancers), mythological accounts and mythical creatures. The fine details of the art work indicate the supreme level of excellence in craftsmanship. Lord Krishna with his flute, fearsome lions and elephant heads are some of the very prominent features,sculpted in temple wall.
Built 500 years before the famous Angkor Wat, Kailasnath Temple can easily outnumber it in no of panels and finer details. The temple is a deserving candidate to be recognised as world heritage by UNESCO.
How to Reach- Chennai is the nearest International Airport. Kanchipuram is well connected with Chennai by car, bus, train and Ola. Check Trip Advisor for more info on Where to stay and things to do in Kanchipuram