Magnificence in every nook – that is what the Kailasanathar Temple in Kancheepuram is all about. One of the finest examples of classical Dravidian architecture, the temple emanates unmatched charm and elegance. This ancient Pallava-era temple was built around 700 CE by Narasimhavarman II. Famed for the intricately carved galaxy of Hindu art, the temple houses some of the first mural art works in Tamil Nadu. The walls of the temple also have many inscriptions in early scripts, which have proved to be significant to epigraphical study of regional history and traditions. The temple is made of sandstone and is hence locally known as the Sand Temple. The foundations are made of granite, a factor that helps to hold the weight of the temple.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple is of a square-plan. There is a grand entrance hall, a splendid gathering hall, the sanctum sanctorum which is topped with a four-storey Vimana. There are nine shrines around the main sanctum, seven outside and two inside, all worshiping different forms of Shiva. There are 58 of these small shrines. The innermost pathway of the temple circles the idol of Kailasanathar or Lord Shiva and signifies the entrance and exit of a person from paradise.
Deified in the sanctum sanctorum is a 16 side Shiva Linga made using black granite. Padabhanda Adisthana or main pedestal which is located within the walls of the main shrine, consists of splendidly carved images of gods and a sculpted Nandi, which is meant to guard the deity. Many carvings of different deities are present on each face of the main shrine’s outer walls.