Kanchipuram is situated on the Vegavathi River 70km southwest of Chennai. Ask any Tamil what Kanchipuram (aka “Kanchi”) is famous for, and they’ll probably say silk saris, shrines and saints – in that order. A dynastic capital throughout the medieval era, it remains one of the country’s seven holiest cities, sacred to both Shaivites and Vaishnavites, and among the few surviving centres of goddess worship in the south. Year round, pilgrims pour through for a quick puja stop on the Tirupati tour circuit and, if they can afford it, a spot of shopping in the sari emporia. For non-Hindu visitors, however, Kanchipuram holds less appeal. Although the temples are undeniably impressive, the town itself is unremittingly hot, with only basic accommodation and amenities. Some people prefer to visit Kanchipuram as a day-trip from Chennai or Mamallapuram, both of which are a two-hour bus ride away.

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