Ekambaranathar Temple (Tamil: ஏகாம்பரநாதர் கோயில்) or Ekambareswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, located in Kanchipuram in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. The temple is the largest temple in the town of Kanchipuram and is located in the northern part of the town. The temple gopuram (gateway tower) is 59m tall, which is one the tallest gopurams in India.
It is one of the five major Shiva temples or Pancha Bootha Sthalams (each representing a natural element) representing the element - Earth. The other four temples in this category are Thiruvanaikaval Jambukeswara (water), Chidambaram Natarajar (Sky), Thiruvannamalai Arunachaleswara (fire) and Kalahasti Nathar (wind). It is one of the 275 Paadal Petra Sthalams, where all of the four most revered Nayanars (Saivite Saints) have sung the glories of this temple.
Legend has it that once Parvati, the consort of Shiva was doing
penance under the temple's ancient Mango tree near Vegavathi river.In order to test her devotion Shiva sent fire on her. Goddess Parvati
prayed to her brother, Vishnu, for help. In order to save her, he took
the Moon from Shiva's head and showed the rays which then cooled down
the tree as well as Parvati. Shiva again sent the river Ganga (Ganges)
to disrupt Parvati's penance. Parvati prayed to Ganga and convinced her
that both of them were sisters and so should not harm her.
Subsequently, Ganga did not disturb her penance and Parvati made a Shiva
Linga out of sand to get united with Shiva. The God here came to be
known as Ekambareswarar or "Lord of Mango Tree".
According to another legend, it is believed that Parvati worshipped Shiva in the form of a Prithivi Lingam (or a Lingam improvised out of sand), under a mango tree.Legend has it that the neighboring Vegavati river overflowed and threatened to engulf the Shiva Lingam and that Parvati or Kamakshi embraced the Lingam. Shiva touched by the gesture materialized in person and married her. In this context he is referred to as Tazhuva kuzhainthaar ("He who melted in Her embrace") in Tamil.
Tiurkuripputhonda Nayanar, one of the 63 saivite saints, called nayanars
was a washerman in near the temple and he washed the clothes of all the
Saivities. He was divinely tricked by God Shiva appearing as an aged brahmin
and asked him to wash before dawn. At the same time Shiva made a
cloudly evening. On observing the approach of the evening, the washerman
banged his head in a stone in disappointment. God appeared in his true
form and graced his devotee.
This vast temple is one of the most ancient in India having been in
existence since at least 600 AD. Second century AD Tamil poetry speaks
of Kama kottam, and the Kumara kottam (currently the Kamakashi Amman temple and the Subramanya temple).Initially temple was built by Pallavas. The Vedantist Kachiyapper served as a priest at the temple. The existing structure then, was pulled down and rebuilt by the later Chola Kings. Adi Sankara, the 10th century saint got Kanchipuram remodelled along with expansion of this temple along with Kamakshi Amman temple and Varadaraja Perumal Temple with the help of local rulers.
The Vijayanagar kings, during the 15th century, also made lot of contributions to the temple and later developed by Vallal Pachiyappa Mudaliar used to go regularly
from Chennai to Kanchipuram to worship in this temple, he spent
significant money he amazed during British rule on the temple
renovation, Pachiyappa Mudaliar seated at horse back can be seen in the
temple pillar. At the later stage a similar temple with same name
Ekambareswarar was constructed in Chennai by Pachiappa Mudaliar in order
to avoid travelling time to Kanchipuram. The Archaeological Survey of India report of 1905-06 indicates wide spread renovation activities carried out in the temple by Nattukottai Chettiar.