Archive for the ‘India Temple Tour’ Category

Char Dham Yatra-Part I

Posted on January 13th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off on Char Dham Yatra-Part I

 Badrinath Badrinath

This time I and my friends were thinking of planning a tour which could be different from the rest of the tours which we had already taken. I mean we were looking for a destination which can offer natural beauty, adventure, pleasure, peace, knowledge and much more-all rolled into one. I was sharing this with my mom and she suggested the Char Dham Tour. Not taking her suggestion seriously I smilingly said ‘we are too young to go for a tirth yatra’. But then later when I saw the destinations of Char Dham Yatra on internet I was speechless. They are extremely beautiful promising much more than what we wanted. I immediately shared this idea with my friends and finally finalized this tour.

According to Hindu mythologies it is believed that Char Dham Yatra is a journey to moksha. Char Dham consists of four wonderful pilgrimage sites namely Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. It is one of the most holy tours of the Hindus. These four destinations are located in the staggeringly beautiful Himalayas. We booked the Char Dham tour with great excitement.

Starting from Delhi we reached Haridwar in the afternoon. After refreshing ourselves we visited the Mansa Devi temple and participated in the evening aarti at Har ki Pauri. Haridwar is another famous pilgrimage site of India. Its evening aarti was very uplifting. There we had an overnight stay at Hotel Haveli Hari Ganga. This place is a doorway to the Char Dham Yatra.

The next day in the morning we drove to Barkot via Mussoorie. We halted for some time in Mussoorie to see the wonderful Kempty Fall. We continued our drive to Barkot and reached there in the evening and spent the night in a hotel. Barkot is 215 kms from Haridwar.

In the morning we left from Barkot for Janki Chatti via Hanuman Chatti and Fool Chatti. Hanuman Chatti is the confluence of Hanuman Ganga and Yamuna River. After reaching Janki Chatti we started the trek of 6 km for Yamunotri, one of the Char Dhams. Yamnotri is located at an elevation of 3,235 m above sea level. The views of the surroundings were mesmerizing. After reaching Yamunotri we took a holi dip in Garam kund and then headed towards the shrine of Goddess Yamnotri. After darshan and Pooja we trekked back to Janki Chatti and drove back to Barkot.

Our Guide Shankar told us that Yamunotri is the the source of the Yamuna River and the seat of the Goddess Yamuna. Yamunotri Temple was built in the 19th century by Maharani Gularia of Jaipur.

We saw several thermal springs flowing into the pools near the temple. The guide told us that among all Surya Kund is the most famous. We also worshipped at Divya Shila, a rock pillar which is worshipped before entering the Yamunotri Temple.

From Barkot we left for Uttarkashi in the morning. It is 82 km from Barkot. En route we visited Prakateshwar Cave. The journey from Barkot to Uttarkashi was very pleasurable as the road was flanked by pine trees and the path was very picturesque. It is a natural cave found around 10 years back. There are limestone formations inside the cave which resemble Shiv Linga because of which it holds religious importance. Cold water flows inside the cave making their way into a small pool. The water here is considered sacred.

We reached Uttarkashi in the afternoon and after refreshing ourselves we visited Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Later in the evening we participated in the aarti of Goddess Ganga at the Ganga river ghat. Uttarkashi is a gateway to Gangotri. Uttarkashi is located on the bank of river Bhagirathi. There are several temples located here. We also strolled through the town of Uttarkashi and retired to the beds late. The next day we had to drive to Gangotri. Till now our journey had been great, very beautiful, very uplifting.

Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple Where One Can Hear the Echoes of Dravidian Culture

Posted on October 8th, 2010 by govind  |  Comments Off on Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple Where One Can Hear the Echoes of Dravidian Culture

 Meenakshi Temple Meenakshi Temple

The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple is a historical Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord) and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi or Fish-eyed Goddess). The glorious architectural beauty of this Dravidian structure summons scores of tourists to this place from several parts of the globe. But it is said that only the fortunate one’s get an opportunity to visit this Hindu religious destination.

I have heard, read and seen about this temple since my childhood which develops a sense of inclination in me towards this magnificent architecture. Finally this curiosity ended last week when I visited this colossal building during my Chennai Tour. The impressive architectural beauty, striking atmosphere, intricate carving and religious atmosphere absorbed me when I entered the temple premises.

The temple is enclosed within a high-wall and at the center there are two sanctums one is for Meenakshi and another is for Sundareshwara. The whole temple is encircled with number of smaller shrines, grand pillared halls and twelve impressive gopurams. I was impressed by towers in the temple which are adorned with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vivid colors. The chiseled out beauty of these towers showcases the affluence of craftsmanship achieved by artists during the Dravidian era.

Every nook and corner of this magnificent edifice have its own identity and own significance yet the most striking feature is 14 magnificent Gopurams or towers including two golden Gopurams. These towers are elaborately sculptured and painted brightly with several mythological figures which touch the heart of every visitor.
Ashta Shakthi Mandapam located on the eastern entrance of the temple is known for the statute of eight goddesses which are famous for their crafting and elaborate design. Adjoining to this is the Meenakshi Nayak Mandapam, known for its sculptured pillars that portray the story of Lord Shiva’s Thiruvilayadals (miracles) and Meenakshi’s birth. This hall also has a lamp-holder with 1,008 lamps which is lit up during festive occasions.

Orthamarai Kulam (Golden Lotus Tank) is a scared lake situated inside the temple premises. The Oonjal (swing) Mandapam and Killikoontu (parrot cage) Mandapam is located on the western side of the lake. Every Friday the idols of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar are placed on the swing in the Oonjal Mandapam and mantras were chanted. It is because of this Friday is considered as auspicious day to visit this temple. The shrine of Lord Sundareswarar’s is situated to the north of Kilikoontu Mandapam. Here Sundareswarar is worshipped in the form of a linga with his 64 bhootaganas, 32 lions and 8 elephant attendants.

After exploring some of the popular attractions of this temple I sat on the staircase of Potramarai Kulam – The Golden Lotus Pond. I was seating quietly and the continuous chants, prayers and devotional carnatic music accompanied by Mridanga and Nadaswara creates a mystic atmosphere in which I was completely lost. I felt that I was away from the world and my mind was thoughtless. The peace that I felt cannot be expressed in words. Based on my experience I assured that people who want to feel the power of religion and spirituality must visit the Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple.

Rameshwaram Tour offers beauty and spirituality in plenty!

Posted on August 26th, 2010 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Rameshwaram Tour offers beauty and spirituality in plenty!

 Rameshwaram Rameshwaram

‘Boss will remain a boss’. Seems it’s their ‘job profile’ to not grant leave to their respective subordinates. I sometimes wonder do they get special incentive for not approving leave! Well after a great deal of efforts I somehow managed to take four days leave for the Rameshwaram Tour which I had planned with my friend Pallavi. It was such a great feat for me. But the sinister forces were lying in wait to attack my happiness. At the crack of the dawn, on the same day when we had to leave for Rameshwaram, Pallavi called to say that her boss canceled her leave as she has to accompany him on an urgent business trip. This dampened my spirits but I still decided to go alone as my heart didn’t allow me to maul my dream of visiting Rameshwaram, a place I always wanted to visit.

I had heard and read a lot about the wonderful Rameshwaram town (an island) in Tamil Nadu and now I was eagerly waiting to experience its charm for real. An inexpressible feeling of joy enveloped my heart as I stepped into the beautiful land of Rameshwaram. This city is steeped in natural beauty and has great religious significance. It is affectionately dubbed as the ‘Varanasi‘ of the South. It is a religious city which draws devotees of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The Hindus believe that a visit to Varanasi( the most sacred pilgrimage of Hindus) is incomplete without a visit to Rameshwaram. According to the legend it is at this place where Lord Rama performed thanks giving rituals to Lord Shiva after his triumph over the demon king Ravana in the battle at Sri Lanka.

I was booked in the Hotel Royal Park which is a budget luxury hotel offering good services and facilities. One of my friends had suggested this hotel to me. The famous Lord Ramanathaswamy Temple of Rameshwaram is located only 2 km from this hotel.

Post breakfast I along with my guide Ramesh embarked on my journey to explore the mesmerizing Rameshwaram. I first visited Ramanatha Swamy Temple which dominates the land of Rameshwaram. It is the major draw here. Reflecting the brilliance of Dravidian architecture, the temple dates back to the 12th century A.D. It boasts of the largest temple corridor in India. Its other attractions are its 22 big wells, each having different taste of water, elaborately sculpted pillars and carvings on the walls.

Next we drove to Dhanushkodi, a scenic site located 8 km from Rameshwaram. The legend goes that at the request of Vibeeshana, brother of Ravana and ally of Rama, Rama broke the Sethu with one end of his bow and hence the name Dhanushkodi, Dhanush meaning Bow and Kodi meaning end.

We also visited Kothandaraswamy Temple which is located at 12 km from the city center. It is a historic place where Vibhishana( Ravana’s brother) surrendered to lord Rama.

My next halt was Agnitheertham. It is a place which holds immense mythological significance. My guide told me that it is at Agnitheertham where Lord Rama worshipped Lord Shiva. The water at this place is considered holy and hence devotees from far and wide come here to take a dip. With a desire to accumulate some good fortune I also took a bath in the water.

Next was my favorite attraction-the beach. The beach was peaceful and beautiful. The serene beach and shallow water make this place a perfect destination for swimming and sunbathing. The view of the dolphins in the sea was mesmerizing to the hilt. Last but not the least was the enchanting sunset view which was breathtaking. With the wonderful memories of Rameshwaram I went back to the hotel.

Day 2: Shimla Jakhu Temple- An Unusual Experience!

Posted on November 19th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Day 2: Shimla Jakhu Temple- An Unusual Experience!

Jakhu TempleJakhu Temple

Next day our morning started with a leisurely walk down the winding lanes of Shimla. Our hotel was located at one of the highest points in the city, which was a great advantage. The mountain air was cool and fresh, which was an attraction in itself. And the picturesque views of the hills and valleys were simply overwhelming.

Post breakfast we headed for the famous Jakhu Temple (Monkey temple) of Shimla. It is located at an altitude of 2500 m, which is the highest point in the city. Dedicated to Lord Hanuman, it is an ancient temple. According to the legend when Lord Hanuman was searching for the Sanjivni Booti to revive Lakshman in the Epic Ramayana, he rested here for some time. The temple serves as a venue for a grand festival during Dusshera.

The path leading to the temple is steep. It takes around 45 minutes to climb to the temple from the Ridge road. And one can go to the temple on foot or can hire a pony/horse. We chose to go on foot and really enjoyed the arduous path and the views of the wonderful surroundings. But no doubt the steepness of the path really challenged out fitness. Although I felt tired after reaching the temple but at the same time I felt victorious because I could complete the trek in 35 minutes.

Before starting the trekking to the temple we read the board, which says, ‘if you are under 30 and complete the trek in 40 mints or less you are ‘Fit’. Other categories were also mentioned. The temple seems to be an abode of monkeys. They were everywhere. Seeing so many monkeys we became a little careful about our belongings as people say that the monkeys snatch away whatever they like. It is said that these monkeys don’t attack people unless fiddled with.

When we were coming back from the temple a monkey cleverly took off Tahir’s glasses. We kept following him in a hope to get the glasses back. We gave him a bunch of bananas and finally he gave back the glasses to us. We were amazed that the monkey didn’t do anything to the glasses. May be he was very clear about his goal, which he could easily achieve. Seeing this drama Sanjog commented, “ No wonder monkeys are our ancestors and and are much smarter than us”.

Kanyakumari Attractions- Laced With Extraordinary Beauty!

Posted on November 5th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Kanyakumari Attractions- Laced With Extraordinary Beauty!

Sunrise in Kanyakumari Sunrise in Kanyakumari

Determined not to miss the famous sunrise of Kanyakumari, I and my friend Pallavi woke up early and after relishing a cup of tea walked to the beach for the breathtaking sunrise. Pallavi had ditched me on the trip to Ranthambhore National Park as she had missed the train. But this time she had promised to abide by her words, “I will surely reach on time”. Gosh! This time her entry into the train was quite dramatic, very much like the one made by Kajol in the movie Dilwale Dulhaniya Lejayege. But at last she managed not to push me into a state of despair this time. My heartfelt thanks to her.

The cool breeze, peaceful ambiance, romantic aura, swaying palms, limitless sky and bewitching waves of the beach hypnotized us completely. It was a world-out-of-this-world. The wind was chilly as it was the month of October. But we were enjoying every bit of the experience. Finally the much-awaited moment arrived. The first rays of the morning light fell on the unfathomable waves making the sea glowing like a jewel. The sight was simply overwhelming and the feeling was heavenly. I captured the blissful sight in my heart and in the camera as well. Pallavi said, “How much we crave for such sights in Delhi,’ where we are surrounded by a ‘sea of buildings’”. She also said, “thank God I could made it to Kanyakumari and I think this time I have overcome my karma of missing trains”. I looked her in the eye and we burst out laughing.

Post breakfast, we were slated to visit the renowned Kanyakumari Temple. Standing at the confluence of the three wonderful oceans, it is 3000 year old temple. Its extraordinary location and architectural beauty are its striking features. It is also laced with a legend, which is quite interesting. Our guide Sarvanan told us that the rock on which the temple is built has the footprints of the virgin goddess Kanyakumari (an incarnation of Goddess Parvati).

The legend goes that Kanya Devi, an incarnation of Goddess Parvati was to marry Lord Shiva but because of some reason the Lord didn’t come on the wedding day, so the marriage could not be solemnized. After this incident the Goddess decided to remain virgin for the rest of her life. It is believed that the rice shaped stones on the beach today are the uncooked grains of the wedding. The wedding feast consisting of rice and other grains were left uncooked and were not used thereafter. According to the legend those grains transformed into stones with time. After hearing this legend we were constantly on a look out for such rocks at the beach.

After visiting the temple I found myself completely soaked in some new found energy. The statue of the goddess was very beautiful and the sparkling nose ring was shining brightly as if endowed with some spiritual power.

Our trip ended with shopping. We bought beautiful souvenirs made of bamboo and wood. Our trip to Kanyakumari rewarded us with great memories which will always remain etched in my heart.