This is one of the largest temple complexes in Kanchipuram, having over 20 acres of land. As you enter the raja gopuram, which stands over 188 feet high, you will see horses grazing on grass. It is a very peaceful and spacious atmosphere. Sri Ekambareswara temple was built in 1506. The impressive silhouette of the great gopuram of this temple has a colossal gate which is more than 60 meters high.
photo left, entrance of temple, Krishna Kumar 2009, used with permission
This temple is dedicated to the relationship between Lord Shiva and Parvathi in the form of Kamakshi. Ekambareswara means Lord of the Mango Tree as Kamakshi worshipped Shiva in the form of earth, or a sand lingam, under the mango tree. Sri Ekambareswara temple in Kanchipuram is dedicated to Lord Shiva. He is worshipped in the form of Prithivi Lingam (Earth). Hence Kanchipuram is considered as one of the Pancha Bhutha Sthalas or the five earth elements. The other four being Tiruvannamalai, Tiruvanaikkaval, Kalahasthi and Chidambaram where Siva is worshipped as fire, water, wind and space respectively. The lingam in the main sanctum is made of sand, representing the element of earth. The tree is 60 ft. high and spreads its mighty branches around. The sand lingam remains in the temple compound. However, as it is made from sand, no abhishekam can be done directly on the murthi, but only around its sides. However, as Lord Siva loves abhishekam, he is coated with special oil. The mango tree situated next to this lingam, situated in the middle of the temple, is said to be 3500 years old. The tree has four branches, representing each of the Vedas. It is said that each branch produces a different variety of mango. There is a Shiva Lingam near the base of this tree engraved with 108 lingams on it. In the hall that circles the tree in the temple are 1008 Siva Lingams.
Another unique aspect of this temple is the ‘mirror’ room. The walls of this room are covered with mirrors, and a murthi of god sits in the center. All devotees are allowed to go into this room with a candle, as there is no electricity or natural lighting in this room, and circle god. When you do this, and look into the mirrors, the effect is overwhelming as God’s image seems overpowering and never ending in the countless reflections. There is also such a room in the Varadharaja Temple, however, as it is in the inner sanctum or graba graha, not everyone can enter it as in this temple.
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