very old (600 AD.) Shiva temple representing 'earth'- Kanchipuram,Tamil Nadu,India

 entrance, Ekambareswarar (Shiva) temple,Kanchipuram.
Ekambareswarar (Shiva) Ekambareswarar (Shiva) temple,
 With some exceptions, south Indian Hindu temples of great antiquity built by the Chola, Pandya, Vijayanagara and Nayak and Chalukya dynasties,  are made of  granite rocks of igneous group. They built these massive, tall temples with high, wide halls and long corridors of solid rocks bearing beautiful symmetrically carved images of gods, goddesses with artistry and workmanship at a time when construction technology was unknown. That, how did they lift thousands of big, thick, well cut and dressed granite beams and slabs of various sizes, put them uniformly  in perfect alignment on the high roofs  using  lime mortar and covering vast areas more than 1000 years back, is just mind boggling. 

Kanchipuram is near to Chennai and can be reached both by train and bus. Just like Kumbaknonam, in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, this small city has innumerable Hindu temples and was once the center of  Pallava dynasty and is the seat of famous ''Sankaracharaya Kamakotti Peetam (Mutt).'' Sri Sankaracharaya of 8th century was a  saint and a great exponent of Hindu philosophy.

The Ekambareswarar (Shiva) temple at Kanchipuram, is one of the  largest (covering 40 acres of land) and oldest temples in India dating back prior to 600 AD. Second century AD Tamil poetry mentions  Kamakottam, and the Kumarakottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple). Pallavas, Cholas and the Vijayanagar Kings especially Krishna Deva Raya  contributed to this temple at different periods of time.

The 172 feet high Raja Gopuram - tower  was built by the  Vijayanagar king Krishnadevaraya. This temple buildings, etc  cover 25 acres with 5 prakarams (corridors) and have a thousand-pillared hall  built by the Vijayanagar Kings. Kampai Tirtha, the temple tank, is believed to have an underground holy river. The fourth  and third prakarams  have a small Ganesha temple with a pond and  smaller shrines respevtively. One amazing feature in this temples the presence of  an array 1000  Siva lingam. The  sanctum  is enshrined with  Shiva in the form of  lingam along with his image.

The presiding deity here is Ekambareswarar or Shiva, worshiped as the Prithivi Lingam  - symbolizing earth - one of the five important primordial elements (pancha bootham). Legend has it  that Parvati, the consort of Shiva worshiped him in the form of a  Prithivi Lingam, or a Lingam improvised out of sand, under a mango tree. Once the near-by  Vegavati river overflowed its banks and threatened to flood the Shiva  Lingam and  Parvati alias  Kamakshi, embraced the Lingam to protect it. Lord Shiva, moved  by her devotion appeared in person and married her. There is no separate shrine for Ambal (Goddess) in the temple as she is worshiped along with Shiva, as in every other Shiva temple in and around  of  Kanchipuram. There is another shrine of Shiva and  Kamakshi under the Stala  Vruksham - Temple tree, which is a mango tree said to be 3500 years old. The mango tree is said to be the embodiment of the four Vedas and the tree is said to bear fruits of four different tastes each season here.

Joyous  festivals  are  Ani  Tirumanjanam (June-July), Adi  Kritikai (July-Aug), Navaratri (Sep-October), Kartikai  Deepam (Nov-Dec), Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb), Panguni  Uthiram (Mar-Apr), Chitra Pournami (Apr-May) and  Vaikashi Vishakam (May-June) . The  Panguni festival lasts for 13 days and it is during this festival that the wedding (mock) of the presiding deity is celebrated, and the venerated Tamil poems of the  Nayanmars (Tirumurais) are sung in great splendor.

The Saint poet  Sundaramoorthy Nayanar is said to have recovered his eyesight (left eye) after offering worship here.

There is a small shrine for Vishnu named Thiru Nilaaththingal Thundathan inside the temple complex. Vishnu is prayed as Vamana Murthy and the shrine is hailed by the Alvar saints as one of the 108 Divya Desams

Kanchipuram is famous for hand woven silk sarees - a design by name Ekambaranathar obtain its name from the designs of these shrines.

Alexander, Jane (2009), The Body, Mind, Spirit Miscellany: The Ultimate Collection of Fascinations, NY: Duncain Baird Publishers, ISBN 978-1-84483-837-0

Ayyar, P. V. Jagadisa (1991), South Indian shrines: illustrated, New Delhi: Asian Educational Services, ISBN 81-206-0151-3.