Photograph with a view of the facade of the Kalyanamandapa of the Varadaraja Temple in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, taken by a photographer of the Archaeological Survey of India around 1898-99. Kanchipuram has been a centre of religion and culture for at least 2000 years, with religious establishments for followers of Buddhism, Jainism, as well as the major Hindu cults of Vaishnavism, Shaivism and the goddess Shakti. Buddhism has left very little trace here but a pocket of Jainism survived in a quarter of the city. Today Kanchipuram is best known as one of the seven sacred cities for Hindus in India, the only one revered equally by Shaivas and Vaishnavas. The Varadarajaswami or Vaikuntha Perumal is the principal Vaishnava temple of Kanchipuram, dating from the Pallava period in the 8th century, when Kanchipuram achieved its greatest power. It is situated in the heart of Vishnu Kanchi, south-east of Kanchipuram, which represents the Vaishnava establishment of the town. The temple complex covers 20 acres and consists of five enclosures. It was expanded vastly during Chola patronage in the 12th century and later came under the Vijayanagara rulers who added the two tall gopuras and many halls and pillared verandahs. The large pillared hall or kalyanamandapa in this view dates from the late Vijayanagara period, in the 16th century. The columns are elaborately carved with figures from the Vaishnava iconography, yalis, rampant horsemen and warriors. The peripheral columns are covered by a double curved eave with stone chains used to hang lamps.