NAGARESHU KANCHI: P.V.L. Narasimha Rao; Emesco Books, 1-2-7, Banucolony, Gaganmahal Road, Domalguda, Hyderabad-500029. Rs. 75.

A comprehensive picture of Kanchipuram, encompassing its spiritual ethos, the religious institutions, architecture, sculpture, and silk industry is presented in this book. In ancient times, Kanchi was a prominent centre of learning and it drew religious teachers, poets, musicians, travellers, and artists from other countries. Buddhist and Vedic texts were studied in academies known as Ghatikas.

Reckoned among the seven cities considered particularly holy by the Hindu community, Kanchi is also the seat of the Kamakoti Peetam, which became prominent and drew attention worldwide during the decades when Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi presided over it. The author gives a detailed account of the Peetam's origin and the Acharyas who have adorned it since then. Rao takes the reader on a tour of the temples, big and small, situated in the town, and the way he has marshalled mythological and historical information is admirable. There was a time when the town had a thousand shrines, but now, according to him, only about 200 are under worship.

The reader is told that one of the earliest references to Kanchi is found on Ashoka's rock edicts; it served as Karikala Chola's capital city; it has had connections with Satavahanas, Pallavas, Chalukyas, and Cholas; and the Vijayanagar kings helped in renovating some of the major temples.

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