Archive for the ‘South India Temples’ Category

Explore the Wonders of South Zone

Posted on November 18th, 2011 by manish  |  Comments Off on Explore the Wonders of South Zone

Meenakshi Temple Sri Meenakshi Temple

In Madurai, we came across the beautiful Meenakshi Temple. This huge temple complex houses the statues exploring different human emotions. Its exquisitely carved towers represent the finest examples of Dravidian architecture.

After the Madurai sightseeing tour, we headed towards Kanyakumari. It is known as the land’s end where you can see the horizon. The Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean seems to meet here. We all were excited to see the sunrise view and the thought did not let us sleep. Well, we had no regret of it after seeing the beautiful view of sunrise. Believe me, it was breathtaking.

Kovalam, this wonderful place was our next destination. As the name suggests, Kovalam was truly blessed with groves of coconut trees along the beaches. The palm fringed bays organized in coconut groves, offer a relaxed stay. The seamless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and far-spread white sands washed away by surf makes the beach a heaven. Visiting the beach was really relaxing and refreshing.

We were feeling ourselves fortunate enough being in the wonderful land of Kerala. The palm-fringed beaches, enchanting backwaters, exotic wildlife and Ayurveda therapies, what else you could ask for!
We headed towards Periyar wildlife sanctuary which is home for the varieties of animals and birds. The creatures we could see there were nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, cormorants, king cobra, python and many more.

While exploring the South Indian Cities, we also came across the city of Alleppey, which is also known as Alappuzha. It was once a busy port that serves as the entrance point of Kerala. Visiting Alappuzha beach is one of its kind experience. The beach was clean and has all the facilities to enjoy interesting water sports activities.

The days were passing with excitement to see new destination. When we visited Fort Cochin, we got flabbergasted to see the fascinating beauty of the fort. The colonial charisma and several exotic cultures still can be seen there. Jewish Signage is another popular attraction of the place. Exploring different
historic attractions in the morning, we also witnessed Kathakali dance show in a theater in the evening.

After a drive of 280 km, we reached the beautiful land of Ooty where we checked-in hotel for taking rest. Enjoying the world-class amenities of the hotel, we went for enjoying the full-day sightseeing of Ooty and Coonoor. The exotic mountain ranges of Himalayas, the salubrious weather and the gurgling streams make Ooty a destination worth to visit.

Next day, we were in the temple city of Mysore. A city which boasts of gardens, palaces, shady avenues and much more. We explored Somnathpur Temple and in the afternoon, we visited Srirangapatnam. It was a great experience altogether.

While driving to Banglore, we also visited Sravanbelgola on the way. The afternoon sightseeing tour of the city made us cheerful. Next day, we were transferred to Mumbai from where we left for home.

The 18 days which were spent with my family at different destinations are a lifetime experience for me. The beautiful memories of the tour still fills my heart with great joy.

In Madurai, we came across the beautiful Meenakshi Temple. This huge temple complex houses the statues exploring different human emotions. Its exquisitely carved towers represent the finest examples of Dravidian architecture.

 

After the Madurai sightseeing tour, we headed towards Kanyakumari. It is known as the land’s end where you can see the horizon. The Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean seems to meet here. We all were excited to see the sunrise view and the thought did not let us sleep. Well, we had no regret of it after seeing the beautiful view of sunrise. Believe me, it was breathtaking.

 

Kovalam, this wonderful place was our next destination. As the name suggests, Kovalam was truly blessed with groves of coconut trees along the beaches. The palm fringed bays organized in coconut groves, offer a relaxed stay. The seamless blue waters of the Arabian Sea and far-spread white sands washed away by surf makes the beach a heaven. Visiting the beach was really relaxing and refreshing.

 

We were feeling ourselves fortunate enough being in the wonderful land of Kerala. The palm-fringed beaches, enchanting backwaters, exotic wildlife and Ayurveda therapies, what else you could ask for!

We headed towards Periyar wildlife sanctuary which is home for the varieties of animals and birds. The creatures we could see there were nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, cormorants, king cobra, python and many more.

 

While exploring the South Indian Cities, we also came across the city of Alleppey, which is also known as Alappuzha. It was once a busy port that serves as the entrance point of Kerala. Visiting Alappuzha beach is one of its kind experience. The beach was clean and has all the facilities to enjoy interesting water sports activities.

 

The days were passing with excitement to see new destination. When we visited Fort Cochin, we got flabbergasted to see the fascinating beauty of the fort. The colonial charisma and several exotic cultures still can be seen there. Jewish Signage is another popular attraction of the place. Exploring different

historic attractions in the morning, we also witnessed Kathakali dance show in a theater in the evening.

 

After a drive of 280 km, we reached the beautiful land of Ooty where we checked-in hotel for taking rest. Enjoying the world-class amenities of the hotel, we went for enjoying the full-day sightseeing of Ooty and Coonoor. The exotic mountain ranges of Himalayas, the salubrious weather and the gurgling streams make Ooty a destination worth to visit.

 

Next day, we were in the temple city of Mysore. A city which boasts of gardens, palaces, shady avenues and much more. We explored Somnathpur Temple and in the afternoon, we visited Srirangapatnam. It was a great experience altogether.

 

While driving to Banglore, we also visited Sravanbelgola on the way. The afternoon sightseeing tour of the city made us cheerful. Next day, we were transferred to Mumbai from where we left for home.

 

The 18 days which were spent with my family at different destinations are a lifetime experience for me. The beautiful memories of the tour still fills my heart with great joy.

 

South India-The Land of Remarkable Temples Part-1

Posted on November 11th, 2011 by manish  |  Comments Off on South India-The Land of Remarkable Temples Part-1

I still remember the day when my father planned a South India tour. We, all five members of the family were really excited because for one or another reason, the tours earlier planned by us got limited to just planning only. It was for the first time when my whole family accompanied me on this 18 days tour.

Elephanta Cave Fort St. George

Well, we reached Chennai by flight from Delhi. On being reached and welcomed there in the evening, we were transferred to a good hotel. Believe me, staying out with your family is a wonderful experience. Next day, the tour started with morning city tour of Chennai.

While visiting the Fort St. George, we realized that we were in a new world. Beautifully surrounded by cannon-proof walls, the fort reminds one of old era. Within the fort, we came across little St Mary’s Church and Protestant church. The day was good and we returned to hotel in night.

Next day, we embarked on a full day sightseeing tour of two famous cities-Mahabalipuram and Kanchipuram. There we reached Kanchipuram, the Golden City of a Thousand Temples. I was too delighted as I love to explore religious spots and there I was.

We all visited some temples of 7th and 8th centuries like the Vaikunthaperumal Temple, Ekambareshwar Temple, Kamakshi Temple and Kailashnath Temple. My father who has a great interest in exploring new places, shared his knowledge with us about the temples. It reminded me of my childhood days when we all siblings used to sit beside my father and heard many religious stories.

Well, we moved ahead and shop around Kanchipuram. Embellished with striking patterns there are fine silk saris and my mother could not help herself buying one.

At Mahabalipuram, we came across several attractions related to Mahabharata age. There is exquisitely rock cut temple, known as Five Rathas, dedicated to Pandavas and Draupadi. We also saw ‘Arjuna Penance’, which is a group of elephants.

Next day, we headed towards Pondicherry. This union territory is situated within the state of Tamil Nadu.
Based on our experience, I can say that the city is like a living monument of French culture in India.

We got an opportunity to visit The Aurobindo Ashram, where we meditated for some time. It was a great experience. The tranquil ambience of the Ashram fills your heart with calmness and peace. ‘Auroville‘, the international township was also became a part of my exploration.

Our enjoyment, and curiosity was piqued with each passing day. The next day started with paying a visit to Tanjore, where we visited a big temple, dedicated to lord Shiva. Another attraction which we visited there was Tanjore museum. It houses a beautiful collection of South Indian sculptures and paintings.

Sri Ranganathaswami Temple Sri Ranganathaswami Temple

In Trichy, we came across several worth-admiring temples. Located on 83 m long rock outcrop,  Rock Fort Temple, showcasing the finest example of architecture.

We also visited Sri Ranganathaswami Temple, which is 7 km from Trichy. It is said to be the abode of Sri Ranganatha. It is said to be the largest temple in India. Visiting temple was already a great delight and moreover, the magnificence of temples just left us amazed.

To be continued…

Part 2- Rekindle the Charm of Magical Moments in Mumbai

Posted on November 3rd, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off on Part 2- Rekindle the Charm of Magical Moments in Mumbai

Elephanta Cave Elephanta Cave  

Even after reaching Mumbai, we could not forget the spell of Goa. The whole experience of Goa was unforgettable for us that really made our honeymoon a celebration. Especially, the breeze coming from the sea whispering romantic melodies in the ears was just creating a perfect romantic ambiance. The wonderful attractions of this destination just insisted us to stay there for a long time. Though we didn’t feel like coming back yet we had to.

The next day in Mumbai started with one hour boat ride with my spouse. This romantic ride took us to the lush green Elephanta Island, where we saw the beautiful Elephanta Caves. These intricately carved caves date back to 8th century. The whole experience was amazing and the beautiful locations blessed with sheer natural beauty added charm to it.

Elephanta Cave Outside Elephanta Cave Outside

To continue this wonderful experience, I persuaded my spouse to go on Bollywood tour. This full day tour offered us to opportunity to visit a film studio where we could see live shooting. To witness the glimpse of bollywood stars was like a dream come true for me.

The other popular attraction worth to mention is Kanheri Caves in Mumbai. They are a group of rock-cut monuments, located north of Borivali. The name, ‘Kanheri’, is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘Krishnagiri’ that means ‘black in colour’. These caves were also carved out of a giant piece of basaltic rock.

It is a must visit destination for short excursions. These popular caves date back to 2nd -9th centuries and are known to be carved out by Buddhist monks. They are one of the biggest Buddhist monastic establishments on the Konkan coast.

The other attractions, which became a part of our exploration during the tour were Gateway of India, Marine Drive, the Towers of Silence and the Dhobi Ghat. We also paid a short visit to Mani Bhawan, a small museum dedicated to the life of Mahatma Gandhi. In the late evening, we were transferred to the International airport from where we took a flight back to home.

At the end of our honeymoon tour, we were happy to select Goa as our honeymoon destination. A trip to Goa really gave a magic start to our new life with its never-ending charm and captivating natural beauty.

Fairs and Festivals of India Reflect its Rich Cultural Heritage

Posted on April 14th, 2011 by admin  |  Comments Off on Fairs and Festivals of India Reflect its Rich Cultural Heritage

The incredible country like India can be best described by the phrase ‘Unity in Diversity’. India is a land of rich cultural heritage which beautifully reflects in its various attractions. The various states of India have their own unique culture. Although there is so much diversity in culture of India but still there is unity among Indians. Fairs and festivals are among the most colorful part of Indian culture. They are also the perfect means of getting acquainted with the culture of India.

It would be no exaggeration to say that India is a land of fairs and festivals as its calender is full of various fairs and festivals commemorating various occasions. Fairs and festivals of India attract tourists from across the globe.

Some of the most famous fairs and festivals of India are:

Diwali
It is the festival of lights which is celebrated with great flavor

DiwaliDiwali

throughout India. Symbolizing the victory of good over evil, this festival commemorates Lord Rama’s return to his kingdom after 14 years of exile. On this festival people illuminate their houses with earthen lamps and lights, distribute sweets, burn crackers and worship Goddess Lakshmi. This festival falls in the month of October or November.

Navratri
This festival is celebrated for nine days in honour of the goddess. The goddess symbolizes power. During these nine days nine forms of the goddess are worshipped and devotees observe fast for nine days. The goddess is known by several names like Durga, Laxmi, Bhavani, Kali, chandika, Maha gauri, Ashtabhuja and Siddhiratri. All the nine forms signify various traits that the goddess influences us with.

Holi

It is a festival of colours which is celebrated with great enthusiasm

HoliHOli

especiallyin North India. During this festival people play with powdered colours and water. Huge bonfires are lit on the evening of Holi. This festival also symbolizes the victory of good over evil. There is an interesting legend associated with it.

Pushkar Fair
It is the largest cattle fair in the world. Held in Pushkar City of Rajasthan it is marked with several cultural activities like dance, music, competitions and many more. It is celebrated in October/November.

Pongal
It is an important festival of South India which is celebrated for four days. It is a harvest festival. During the festival cattle, Sun god and Rain god are worshiped.

Eid-ul-Fittr
It is an important festival of Muslims which marks the end of Ramzan, the Muslim month of fasting. During the festival people exchange greeting and sweets and offer prayer in mosques. Feasting is the main feature of this festival.

Desert Festival
This is a famous festival of Rajasthan which is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the city of Jaisalmer. During the celebration the desert comes alive with cultural activities. Folk dance, puppet shows, turban-tying competition, camel race etc are the main highlights of the festival.

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.

Madurai Tour- A Blissful Experience!

Posted on September 17th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Madurai Tour- A Blissful Experience!

Meenakshi TempleMeenakshi Temple

“Architecture, of all the arts, is the one which acts the most slowly, but the most surely, on the soul”. This quote sits smug on the culturally rich city, Madurai. Fashioned in the shape of a lotus flower, this city was the next attraction on my list of places in India I wish to visit. Once the capital of the empire of the Pandayas, Madurai is the oldest and second largest city of Tamil Nadu. It is internationally famed for its incredible Meenakshi Temple, which is one of the highly revered pilgrimages of the Hindus.

As I set out for a visit to the Meenakshi Temple my guide Rakesh acquainted me with a wonderful legend about it. According to the legend Lord Shiva poured nectar or ‘Madhu’ on the land of Madhurai. Hence the city was blessed and named Madhu. Later the name was distorted to Madurai after the 14th century.

We reached there early morning as I wanted to attend the aarti. I was completely overwhelmed at the sight of the temple. The exquisite carvings of the temple are a treat to the eyes. What enchanted me the most were the incredible gopurams decorated with stucco figures of deities, mythical animals and monsters painted in vibrant colours . I wonder how talented the artists were! I also saw the thousand pillared hall festooned with amazing sculptures.

While exploring the Kalyana Mandap, Rakesh told me that this hall serves as a venue for the celebration of the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. This celebration is observed during the Meenakshi Thirukalayanam in the month of Chaitra (April).

Post lunch, I went to the Chitirai bazaar in Madurai to buy some souvenirs. The bazaar was stocked with glass bangles, handloom saris, woodcarvings, brass ware, palm basket and jaggery. I bought some souvenirs and with golden memories of the temple came back to the hotel.

Hampi Tour – A Visit To The Glorious Era

Posted on September 7th, 2009 by Pooja Chaudhary  |  Comments Off on Hampi Tour – A Visit To The Glorious Era

Hampi Virupaksha Temple

What do you have to say about Hampi which is dotted with enchanting
architectural ruins, which take you back in time?. Well my friend Divya had a lot to rave about this historic site and even showed me some of the photographs, which were simply mind-blowing. After seeing the pictures, on the spur of the moment I decided to visit this World Heritage Site.

I flew down to Bangalore, the nearest airport to Hampi. Bangalore is around 350 km from Hampi. From there I took a train to Hospet which is only 20 km from Hampi. After taking rest for some time I feasted on South Indian cuisine and got ready to explore the heritage monuments and temples. Finally I reached the Hampi ruins and was overwhelmed at the sight of the ruins, which really made me feel that I had stepped into a different world altogether. Being a World Heritage Site, Hampi attracts tourists from far and wide.

Our first halt was the Queen’s bath where the royal queen used to take bath. It is a huge and wonderful structure. The next attraction was the underground Shiva Temple . Its location was interesting but it was very dark inside. From here we headed for the famous Virupaksha temple (located in Hampi bazaar), which is the tallest structure in Hampi. It is an eleven storied structure which is truly an architectural wonder. Dotted with many beautiful pillars, the temple is a treat to the eyes. Each pillar is amazingly carved. The Hampi bazaar is lined with shops and restaurants.

Our next destination was the picturesque Hemakuta hill, which offers breathtaking sunset views. As the day was drawing to a close I managed to shoot some great pictures. I and my guide sat there for half an hour and then made our way to the Ganesha statue located between an array of pillars, which is lit up beautifully.

Hampi is not only famous for its heritage monuments and temples but also take pride in its picturesque sunrise and sunset views.

The next day I explored other marvels of Hampi like Vithala temple, the King’s balance, Lotus Mahal and Pattabhirama Temple. All I had to say at the end of my Hampi trip was ‘ wow’.