The Kailasanathar temple, which is also commonly known as the Kailasanatha temple, is a historic Hindu place of worship in Kanchipuram, in Tamil Nadu, India, and it belongs to the era of the Pallavas. It’s among some of the oldest monuments still surviving in Kanchipuram and this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. Dravidian architecture is reflected in the temple and this temple was constructed around the start of the eighth century by Rajasimha (Narasimhavarman II) with Mahendra III making further additions and modifications. A temple with a square-plan, it contains an entrance hall (mukha-mandapa), a gathering hall (maha-mandapa), and a primary sanctum (garbha-griya), topped with a vimana that is four-storied. Nine shrines surround the main sanctum, two inside flanking the entrance of the sanctum, and seven outside, and all with forms of Lord Shiva. The outer walls of the temple's courtyard (prakara) are also seen to be surrounded by cells.
This Kailasanathar temple stands out for its intricately and delicately carved collections of Hindu art in the later parts of the 7th and in the early parts of the 8th century’s Tamil tradition. These majorly are seen to be relating to Shaivism, and yet include also an important number of themes from , Shaktism, Vaishnavism and also from Vedic deities. This temple is also popular for one among the early and best specimens of Hindu mural art in Tamil Nadu. This can be found in the inner walls of the cells of the courtyard. The murals are in a style that is also found in the Caves of Ajanta, as well as in the historic paintings in the Vaikunthaperumal temple of the 8th-century, also located in Kanchipuram. There are many inscriptions in early scripts on the temple walls, which are important to the epigraphical study of regional history and traditions of Tamil temples.
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The structure has 58 small shrines that are dedicated to several forms of Lord Shiva. These are built into niches on the inner face of the high compound wall of the circumambulatory passage. The temple is one of the most prominent tourist attractions of the city.
The temple has retained the Pallava architecture in its real stylized form with influence of the later styles developed by the Chola Dynasty and Emperors of Vijayanagara. It is of stone built architecture unlike the rock cut architecture built into hallowed caves or carved into rock outcrops as in Mahabalipuram. The tall gopuram (tower) is to the left and the temple complex is to the right. The temple's foundations are made of granite, which could withstand the weight of the temple, while the superstructure, including the carvings, are all made of sandstone. Initially, only the main sanctuary existed with pyramidal vimana and a detached mandapa (main hall).
The temple complex is complete in all respects as it has inner enclosure (antarala), sanctum sanctorum (garbagriha), a high compound wall, mandapa, and an entrance gate, the gopuram. The mandapa, which was initially detached, was made part of the main shrine by interposing an ardhamantapa (smaller hall). The pillars of the mandapa have the repetitive features of mythical lion mounts. The tower has multiple shrines embodied on all its external faces which have the appearance of miniature shrines. These shrines have three features, the rectangular (sala), square (kuta) and apsidal (panjara) styles. Eight small shrines also decorate the wall of the entrance. The 58 small shrines are built into the niches of the compound wall that encloses the main shrine. They are seen to depict Somaskanada reliefs of Shiva and Parvathi, his consort in several dance forms. The temple maybe constructed using a geopolymer that looks somewhat like sandstone.