Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu
Kanchipuram is one of the very few places in India where both Vaishnavite (followers of Lord Vishnu) and Shaivite (followers of Lord Shiva) temples are located. These are two of the four sects of Hinduism. Here in Kanchipuram we got the opportunity to visit the temples of two different sects. This temple, the Vaikunta Perumal temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It was built shortly after the construction of Kailasanatha Temple in mid-eighth century, by Pallava King Nandivarman.
It is noteworthy that this temple does not have a gopuram (gate). As we walked in the first in sight was the dhwajasthamba (flag pole) inside the complex. This temple is listed in 108 divya desams (holy place) mentioned in Hindu vedas.
Pillars of Vaikunta Perumal Temple
Most impressive and unique feature of the temple are the pillars. Each one has a lion carved on it. They support the enclosed passage inside the temple. This architectural style, that of pillars in rows, led to a distinctive style followed by the later temples. It led to the evolution of the architectural style of 1000 pillared halls in later temples.
The walls too are carved. The sculptures depict the stories of war scenes between the Pallavas and Chalukyas. One panel describes the history of the temple in eighth century script. The religious sculptures found on the inner walls of the verandah running around the four sides of this temple are very unique and important.
The information here is not found in any other temples of India. Numerous inscriptions of the Pallava dynasty of Vaikuntha Perumal temple have helped the historians of South India. They could decipher and write about all the events of ancient Pallava history and could fix the chronology of this dynasty.
Travel Tips to Vaikunta Perumal Temple
- Take the help of a guide here, I found them quite eager to explain and knowledgeable too.
- The temple is closed in afternoons, do check before you visit.