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This busy temple town is famous for two reasons; its marvellous silk, and for being one of the holiest cities in the country, sacred to both Shaivites and Vaishnavites. Kanchipuram was originally established by the Pallava dynasty in the fourth century AD and continued to flourish under different rulers for hundreds of years, establishing itself as an intellectual meeting place for scholars from many cultures, and it has kept this eclectic feel. The Ekambaranatha Temple is a great Shiva shrine, dominating the city from the north with its huge white gompa and lingam said to have been made by Kamakshi (or Shakti), Shiva's consort. Other temples in Kanchipuram include the sandstone Kailasanatha, the oldest in the city, and Kamakshi Amman, one of the three holiest shrines to Shakti. No visit to Kanchipuram is complete without a visit to the silk shops and factories and a sari-tying lesson.

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The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
Rudyard Kipling

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