Historical Importance of Kanchipuram

Kancheepuram District had been administered by the Pallavas, Cholas, Vijayanagar rulers, Muhammadan Kings, and the British before Independence. Tondaimandalam was an ancient division of Tamil country comprising roughly the present districts of Kancheepuram, Chennai, Tiruvallur, Vellore and Tiruvannamalai. The capital of Thondaimandalam was Kancheepuram. The Major breakthrough in the district administration was in 1788 when, for the first time, Collector was appointed to the district. The district was split up into two divisions, Northern and Southern and placed under two Collectors. The names of the Collectors during 1790’s were Clerk and Balfour.

  • Lionel Place, the Collector in (1794-1799), created the posts of Sharistadars under the control of the Collector. Clerks were also appointed to assist the Sharistadars. The famous Madurantakam and Uthiramerur tanks were created by Place.
  • Karunguzhi became the headquarters of the district and it remained so upto 1859 when it was shifted to ‘Home Garden’ Saidapettai, except for a short spell (1825-1835) during which Kancheepuram served as the district headquarters. From 1859 to 1968 the Collector’s office was located in Saidapettai and with effect from 1st July 1968, Kancheepuram became the district headquarters.
  • Hodgson, the Head Assistant to the Collector succeeded Place as the Collector. The place he resided at Kancheepuram is still known in the name of Hodgsonpetta.
  • In 1800, Hodgson was succeeded by his Senior Assistant, Greenway. For the first time in 1801, the judicial function of the Collector was separated and Greenway became the provincial judge and Hepburn was appointed as the Collector of the zilla of Karunguli.
  • The Collector’s office was known as Public House. It was by this time that the Talook Cutcheries were built at Kancheepuram, Karunguli (for Maduarantakam), Tirukazhukundram (for Chengalpattu) and some more places. These public offices were the forerunners of the present Taluk Offices.
  • The position of the district administration in 1900’s was that the Collector having his headquarters at Saidapettai was assisted by a Sub-Collector and two General Deputy Collecotrs, six Tahsildars for six Taluks and five Deputy Tahsildars for five sub taluks. The Sub-Collector and the General Deputy Collectors were the heads of the revenue divisions of Chengalpattu, comprising Chengalpattu, Madurantakam and Kancheepuram Taluks; Saidapettai comprising Saidapettai and Ponneri Taluks and Tiruvallur comprising the lone Taluk of Tiruvallur.
  • Later in 1911 when Sriperumbudur sub-taluk was upgraded as a full fledged taluk, the fourth revenue division was formed with headquarters at Kancheepuram comprising Kancheepuram and Sriperumbudur Taluks.
  • Consequent on the implementation of the Andra Pradesh and Madras Alteration of Boundaries Act, 1959, with effect from 1.4.1960, Tirutani Taluk and Pallipattu sub-taluk of Chittoor district of Andra Pradesh were transferred to Madras (Tamil Nadu) and annexed with the Chengalpattu District.
  • Later Gummidipoondi (1975), Uttiramerur (1978), Uthukkottai (1981) and Pallipattu (1981) subtaluks were upgraded as fullfledged taluks and total taluks in the district came to 12. On 1.7.1986, Cheyyur taluk demarcated by bifurcating the Madurantakam taluk.
  • Then the Chengalpattu-MGR district has been splitted into two as Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur Districts from 01.07.1997. On the same day, Tirukalukundram Taluk demarcated by bifurcating the Chengalpattu Taluk. Thus the new Kancheepuram District is formed from 01.07.1997 comprising of 8 Taluks, via, Kancheepuram, Sriperumbudur, Uthiramerur, Chengalpattu, Tambaram, Tirukalukundram, Madrandakam and Cheyyur.
  • Conjeevaram is the English name of the ancient Kancheepuram. Like all ancient cities, Kancheepuram is also situated on the banks of a river, Vegavati. The city was the capital of the Early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries. It is surrounded by the historic places like Mamallapuram, Thiruvannamalai, Vellore, Sholingar, Thiruthani and Thirupathi. The sculptures in Mamallapuram town are famous for Pallava’s architectures. the successive dynasties from Pallavas to Vijayanagar kings have consciously added to the architectural and religious grandeur and value through one thousand five hundred years.
  • Kalidasa has described, it to be the best among the cities (Nagareshu Kanchi) just as Jati (jasmine) is the sweetest amongst the flowers, Rambha the most beautiful amongst women and Grihasthasrama the most ideal amongst the four asramas of human life. The king of Kanchi, Mahendravarman-I was a great scholar and musician, a man of great intelligence and also a great playwright. Yuan Chwang, the great Chinese traveler, visited the city in the 7th century and said that this city was 6 miles in circumference and that its people were famous for bravery and piety as well as for their love of justice and veneration for learning. He further recorded that Buddha had visited the place. As regards learning, Kanchi stood second in glory only to Banaras.The history of Kanchi can be traced back to several centuries before the advent of the Christian era. The place finds its name in Patanjali’s Mahabhashya written in the second century B.C. Manimekalai, the famous Tamil classic, and Perumpanattu Padai, a great Tamil poetical work, vividly describe the city as it was at the beginning of the Christian era.Pathupattu, one of the sangam literatures reads that the king Thondaiman Ilandirayan ruled this town around 2500 years ago.
  • From the 3rd to the 9th century A.D. Kanchi was the capital of the Pallavas who ruled over the territory extending from the river Krishna in the north to the river Kaveri in the south. The Pallavas fortified the city with ramparts, moats, etc., with wide and well laid out roads and fine temples. They were a great maritime power with contacts with far-off China, Siam, Fiji, etc., through their chief Port Mamallapuram, the modern Mahabalipuram. The Cholas ruled this town from 10th century to 13th century. Kings of Vijayanagara dynasty ruled from 14th century to 17th century. The temple tower, 192 feet height in Ekamabaranadhar temple and 100-pillar mandabam (building) in Varadaraja Perumal temple in this town are famous for the architectural techniques of Vijayanagara Dynasty. The British Viceroy Robert cleave, who is responsible for the British Ruling in India had exclaimed the architectural techniques of Varadharaja perumal temple and presented a fabulous jewelry to this temple. Kanchi was a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhists, Jains and Hindus.Once the seat of learning and religious fervour started its climb down from the mughal invasions followed by three centuries of colonial rule under the British.