An architectural marvel, the Ekambareswarar Temple is spread over a vast area of 40 acre. Its most striking feature is the main entrance or the raja gopuram that rises to an imposing height of 172 ft. Entering through this gate feels like stepping into a different era, such is the grandeur of the structure. A pillared hall sits in front of the sanctum, and there are idols of the 63 Nayanmars across the place. As you move further into the temple, you will come across two water tanks known as Shivaganga and Kampa Nadi. The main shrine showcases a Somaskanda panel, which features Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati and Skanda epic.
Built by the Pallava rulers, Ekambareswarar Temple has 1000 pillared halls and five prakarams or enclosures. With Lord Shiva as the presiding deity, who is worshipped here as prithvi (earth), the temple was later renovated by the Chola and Vijayanagara rulers. During the rule of Krishnadeva Raya, the gopuram (gateway tower) and the outer walls were constructed in 1509 AD. Just behind the sanctum stands a 3,500-year-old mango tree that still bears fruits. The temple is an important religious site of the Hindu sect of Saivism, as one of the temples of the Panch Bhoota Stalas, or the five elements. Lord Shiva is represented by his most famous symbol, the lingam, and this particular one is known as Prithvi Lingam. The lord’s divine consort Goddess Parvati is also worshipped here in the avatar of Gowridevi Amman.
The best time to visit is during the festival of Phalguni that continues for 13 days. During this time, Ekambareswarar Temple is decked to the nines, as it prepares for the wedding of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.