Kanchipuram district had been administered by the Pallavas, the Cholas, the rulers of the Vijayanagar Empire, the Muhammadan Kings and the British before Indian Independence. Tondaimandalam was an ancient division of Tamil country comprising roughly the present Kanchipuram district, Chennai district, Tiruvallur district, Vellore district and Tiruvannamalai district. The capital of Thondaimandalam was Kanchipuram. 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 the charge of two collectors. Karunguzhi became the headquarters of the district and it remained so up to 1859 when it was shifted to `Home Garden` Saidapettai, except for a short spell (1825-1835) during which Kanchipuram served as the district headquarters. From 1859 to 1968 the collector`s office was located in Saidapettai and with effect from 1st July 1968, Kanchipuram became the district headquarters.
Kanchipuram district is a spectacular site of temples and the district headquarters is also known as the temple city. The temples of Kanchipuram district reflect the glorious traditions of South India. Mammalappuram was a flourishing port-town during the time of Pallavas. This is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the district of Kanchipuram. The monuments of Mamallapuram are excellent specimen of Dravidian temple architecture and Pallava art. Sriperumpudur is another place of tourist interest in the district. It is 29 kilometres from Chennai on the way to Kanchipuram. It is the birth place of Saint Ramanuja, the father of Visishtadvaida philosophy of Vaishnavism and hence, an important pilgrim centre for the Vaishnavites. Kamakodi Peetham and Kammakshi Amman temple are closely associated with the life of Shankaracharya. The Kamakoti Peetham is enshrined in the Sri Chakra just in front of Sri Devi and all pujas and sacrifices are offered to the Sri Chakra. Sri Ekambareswara temple is the most famous Shiva temple at Kanchipuram district. Kailasanatha temple was constructed by the Pallava Dynasty during the first quarter of the 8th Century. The temple is built of red sandstone and has innumerable carvings of Pallava art, of which the Urdhva Thandava dance of Shiva and the laughing face of Parvati are worth seeing. Another famous temple of this district is the Sri Ulagalandar temple. The temple was constructed in the Chola period. Some of the other temples of this district are Sri Vardaraja Perumal temple, Vaikuntha Perumal temple, Sri Vijayaraghava Perumal temple, Sri Subramaniya Swami temple, Jain temples, etc. Apart from the temples some of the other major attractions of this district in the state of Tamil Nadu are Muttukkadu (a large lake), Bird Sanctuary at Vedantangal, Sadras, Anna Memorial, etc.