Monday, 21 December 2015

MALAMPUZHA DAM AND GARDEN with its natural background at PALAKKAD, KERALA

Malampuzha is a small place in the outskirts of the Palakkad Town and at the foot of the Western Ghats. The name Malampuzha itself is derived from the river with the same name and flows from the Ghats. Across this river the famous Malampuzha dam is constructed with a beautiful garden below it in the style of Mugal gardens of Srinagar Kashmir (see the Youtube link below). Inside the garden there is a Children section with a mini train. Because of this and the nearness of the mountains and forest with its trekking tracks this suburb of Palakkad is also a major tourist attraction. The water of the dam is both used for irrigation and drinking purpose.

Across the garden there is a ropeway service though the entry is from outside the garden. It is a 15 minutes aerial journey most enjoyable particularly for children and the whole garden and surrounding area is visible below the ropeway. Boating facilities are available inside the garden in the small stream flowing from the dam.

Close to the garden and dam, there are other attractions like fresh water aquarium, rock garden, Snake Park, etc. The snake park has got a good collection and maintained by the Government Forest Department. Though I had seen other snake parks also including the one at Pune,it is in this snake Park, I had seen Pythons staying at the tree tops.

Hotels are available near the garden. More accommodation at cheap rate are available at Palakkad town which is connected by road at about 6 kilometre distance. Palakkad is well connected by road and rail. Nearest airport is Coimbatore.

Other tourist point near Malampuzha is the Fort in the heart of the Palakkad Town at about 6 kilometers away by road.

Go to the link for photo slide show:



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Thursday, 17 December 2015

Pontifical Marthoma Shrine Azhikode – Kodungallur. Christian Pilgrim center

Pontifical Marthoma Shrine is at Azhikode, Kodungallur in Thrissur District of Kerala. It is built in memory of the arrival of St. Thomas where his relics are kept. This is built in the model of St. Peters of Vatican. It was also in the nearby area, one of the seven and half churches was established by St. Thomas.
St. Thomas, one of the 12 Apostles of Jesus, landed in India in 52 A.D., i.e., well before St. Peter reached Rome in 72 A.D with the message of Christ. At that time, it was also one of the main ports in the Malabar Coast known as Muziris. But unfortunately, this port was extinct in 1341 A.D. due to a Tsunami like flood realigned the area. The main reason why he selected this area was that, there were many Jews settled in this area being a commercial center in those days. Therefore, the Christians of Malabar coast is known as St. Thomas Christians to distinguish it from other Christians who were converted after the European Missionaries like St. Xavier, etc. came to India, after the arrival of Vasco da Gama of Portugal landed at Kozhikode (Calicut) at the same Malabar coast in 1498 A.D. St. Thomas Christians are also known as Syrian Christians/Syro Malabar Christians etc., who used Syrian language in Holy Mass in olden days and followed local customs in wedding and other ceremonies as distinguished from the Latin/Anglo Christians who used Latin/English language in Holy Mass and followed European customs in wedding and other ceremonies. Till the arrival of Europeans, St. Thomas Christians of Malabar Coast had also no idea about the existence of the Pope and they were a totally independent Church then, though there was some influence from the Church of Syria due to the commercial connection with gulf countries in those days.
The surrounding area of the Shrine is blessed with natural beauty. South side is River and the west side is Arabian Sea. It is a joining place of rivers like Chalakudy river, Periyar, etc., with the sea. Munakkal beach is also about 1 kilometer away. One of the spectacular scene of Azhikode river side is the use of Chinese fishing net to catch fish. This Chinese fishing net locally known as Cheena vala, was first introduced in the area including the nearby Kochi (Cochin) backwaters were Portuguese.
How to reach:
Air : Nearest international airport is Cochin International Airport Nedumbassery about km
Rail : Nearest railway station is Irinjalakuda , but Thrissur railway station is more convenient to reach the place.

Road : The Shrine is situated very close to the National Highway NH17.

I.  Watch the youtube clip below for shrine :

 II.  Watch the youtube video below to know China net and how it is used :

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Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Shimla or Simla, Capital of Himachal Pradesh, India

Shimla or Simla is one of the most famous tourist destinations of India. It is located in the State of Himachal Pradesh as its Capital. The name of this hill station derives from the goddess " Shyamla", who is believed to be an incarnation of Goddess Kali. The luck of this hill station started with the discovery of the place by the British who played romance with its beauty and went to the extent of declaring the city as their summer capital. The status of capital remained up till now, though under various status. After the British summer Capital, it became the capital of undivided State of Punjab. After that, when the state of Himachal Pradesh was formed, Shimla became its capital. Thus, this small hill station surrounded by the Himalayan ranges always remained as a Capital city. I am very happy to mention that I and my wife stayed in one of those historic, heritage buildings called The Grand Hotel of the British era, now used as Holiday Homes by the Government of India for the parliamentarians, employees and others. But rates are different according to the different categories. This and many other heritage buildings certify that Shimla still retains its original charm and beauty. Natural beauty, calm and cool atmosphere is the identification of Shimla. 

In addition, as in any other place, there are some notable places of interest in and around Shimla:

1.            The Ridge road is a large open space, located in the heart of Shimla, the capital city of Himachal Pradesh, India. The Ridge is the hub of all cultural activities of Shimla. It is situated along the Mall Road, which is the famous shopping center of Shimla. Most major places of Shimla like Snowdon, Mall, Jakhoo hill, etc. are connected through the Ridge.

2.            Mall Road is the main street in Shimla. It is constructed during British colonial rule. The Mall road  is at a level below the ridge road.

3.            Scandal point is the place where the Mall road joins Ridge road. There is a love story behind the name Scandal point. In short, the story tells that the then Maharaja of Patiala had eloped with the daughter of the British Viceroy from this place. Following this, the Maharaja was prohibited from entering Shimla by the British authorities. But the Maharaja equally countered the move by setting up a new summer capital in the nearby place called Chail, about 45 km from Shimla. It is now a famous hill resort and tourist place.

4.            Kali Bari Temple: The temple is situated near to The Mall and is 5 minutes walk from The Mall. The temple is dedicated to Shyamala Devi (Shimla is named after this goddess), an incarnation of Goddess Kali. The temple witness heavy rush during the Diwali and Durga Puja seasons as many outside pilgrims throng to this temple in addition to normal tourists.

5.            Churches:  Built in 1846-1857, Christ Church is the second oldest church of Northern India. The Church overlooks the Ridge and is one of the landmarks of Shimla. The clocks on Christ Church were added later but none of them are functional now. The Church's exquisite beauty comes with the stained glasses that are fitted on its windows. One can have a look inside the church, or attend English-language services. From the side of this Church, the steps towards the Jakhu Hill Temple starts.The town's other important church is the Roman Catholic Church, which is just below road of the Mall.

6.            Jakhu Hill and Temple: 2 km from Shimla, at a height of about 8500 ft. Jakhu Hill is the highest peak in Shimla and offers a beautiful view of the town and of the snow-covered Himalayas and a delight for tourists. At the top of the Hill, there is also an old temple of Lord Hanuman, which is also the home of countless monkeys. Many Pilgrims feed these monkeys. There is a 108 ft. statue of Lord Hanuman, a Hindu deity, outside the temple. It is considered to be the highest statue to stand at this high altitude. Please go through the video scene I captured from the Jakhu temple complex:



7.            Shri Sankat Mochan temple is situated at a distance of about 5 K.m from Shimla and is on the Kalka- Shimla National Highway.  This temple is very easily approachable by car. It is liked by the devotees and pilgrims. For the tourists it gives a beautiful view of the Shimla City and the Jakhu Temple overlooking at the opposite side.

8.            Indian Institute of Advanced Study: This institute is housed at the former Viceregal Lodge, once used as the summer residence of the Viceroy. Nearby to it there is a small zoo housing birds. Most of the birds are left in the open without cages.

9.          Naldehra: Naldehra is a well maintained Golf course. Surrounding Himalayan Ranges and thick forest of giant deodar trees, make it a unique spot for picnics. Regular bus and taxi service is available to the spot. But from there you have to either walk or take horse journey to see the Golf course and two temples inside.


10.          Kufri: Well known for its slopes which gives good views of the Himalayan ranges. There is a Himalayan Nature Park in the area and a mini zoo has been set up in this Park. Rare breeds of wild animals and pheasant species commonly found in Himalayan forest region have been kept here in a natural habitat.

11.          Lakkar Bazar: Lakkar bazar is famous for fancy items including local products of Shimla. It includes rural products, woolen and wood products at attractive bargaining rates. Here blanket etc. made out of Yak wool is also available. It is very cheap, but rough than the wool from  sheep. 

The terrain of Shimla is very steep so many roads are very narrow. Hence, one has to walk up and down particularly in the nearby areas of the Ridge/Mall where motor vehicles are totally prohibited, except the emergency vehicles.

Shimla is conveniently connected by Rail and Road. Air journey is not convenient.

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Sunday, 1 November 2015

AJANTA CAVES - ARCHAEOLOGICALLY, ARTISTICALY AND HISTORICALLY IMPORTANT MONUMENTS AT AURANGABAD, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA

Ajanta Caves: 

The caves are of archaeologically and historically important monuments. The caves are famous for its mural paintings. It is considered as the finest surviving example of ancient Indian art. The cave paintings with natural colours stand a living evidence of ancient Indian technology and cultural heritage. Ajanta caves dates back from 100 B.C. It has found a place in the World Heritage list of monuments. These caves were discovered and came to light in the year 1819 A.D., by a military officer of the British Army while he was hunting in the rocky thickly forested area. It is believed that these caves were the handiwork of the Buddhist monks who retreated at these isolated places during the rainy seasons or they might have taken shelter in the forest area to escape from the religious persecution.

The rock-mountain used for excavation of these caves is in a horse shoe shape. Hence almost all caves are face to face with a small stream in between. Some of the caves are found to be in an incomplete stage.It is a very important tourist destination in the world. The caves are famous for its mural paintings. It is considered as the finest surviving example of ancient  Indian art, particularly painting. Ajanta caves dates back from 100 B.C. It has been listed in the World Heritage list of monuments.

The Caves are situated in the District of Aurangabad in Maharashtra at a distance of about 107 km north of Aurangabad town. However, it is very close from the adjoining District Jalgaon by about half the distance by road and rail. It is situated on the Jalgaon-Aurangabad highway. Aurangabad is the nearest Air port for Ajanta which can be reached from Mumbai (Bombay), international airport. 

Many hotels and resorts are available both at Aurangabad and Jalgaon towns. But considering other tourist places like Ellora Caves, Bibi-ka-Maqbara (a photocopy of Taj Mahal of Agra), Panchakki, Daulatabad Fort, Paithan Garden (a photocopy of Vrindavan Garden of Mysore), etc. in and around Aurangabad, it is better to stay at Aurangabad to cover all the places.





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Saturday, 31 October 2015

DODHANI NEAR PANVEL, NAVI MUMBAI, MAHARASHTRA, INDIA – A PIECE OF NATURE’S VIRGIN BEAUTY

Dodhani is situated very close to Panvel city at Navi Mumbai. It is at the foothills of the famous Matheran Hill station. This is the place from where the trekking starts for Matheran. It is totally a small village, where the only activity is farming. There is dam nearby from where you can watch the nature’s beauty at 360 degree. In monsoon season, there are waterfalls from the Matheran Hills. It can be watched from the village. It later forms the shape of a small river. So, for those who like to watch virgin natural beauty it really an ideal place to visit. From Nere to Dodhani, much development has not yet reached though it is very close to Mumbai. Many birds are also humming around the area. State bus service is available from Panvel ST Depot and the last stop is Dhodhani Village. After Nere, there is no modern facilities available. There is a tiny shop available at the Dhodhani Village where bare minimum items like water bottle etc.are available. So it is better to keep some eatables with us.  

Only road transport is available from Panvel to Dodhani which is about 22 kms and may take about 50 minutes. Part of the Matheran road is highway, but after the Dam, the road is narrow till the village.







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Thursday, 22 October 2015

KANCHIPURAM - A HISTORICAL AND RELIGIOUS PLACE OF TEMPLES AND SILK SAREES IN TAMIL NADU

Kanchipuram or Kanchi is a town about 72-75 kms from Chennai in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Sriperumbudur, where the memorial of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi is located comes in between Chennai and Kanchi. In Hindu religion, Kanchi is considered as one of the holy towns in the country. It lies on the bank of the River Pallar. The city is also sacred for Buddhists and Jains too. Though it is believed that the ancient town of Kanchi had about 1000 temples, now only a little over one hundred of them are found. Even then the number is larger than many other places. Because of this, there would be a festival throughout the year in one or the other temple in the town.

Apart from the temples of the town, silk Industry has also deep rooted in this area for over hundreds of years and the name Kanchipuram saree is famous for its hand woven Silk Saree. The entire households of the town are involved in this trade in a way.

Apart from religion, for the general tourists, the temples in Kanchipuram are impressed with the architectural and artistic skills exhibited in it. The temples also stand as a proof of the dominance of South Indian heritage and the city’s glorious past, which was ruled by kings who were not only powerful but loved and patronized arts and crafts.

The notable temples are, Kamakshi Amman Temple,  Ekambareswar Temple, Kailasanathar Temple and Devarajaswami Temple among the many.


Kanchipuram is connected by road and rail. Chennai International Airport is the nearest airport about 70kms away.

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Temple at Kanchipuram



Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Alibaug (Kolaba) Fort, a historical monument in the sea, Maharashtra, India Tourism

Alibaug/Kolaba Fort is situated on a rock island near Alibag town surrounded by Arabian sea, about 1 km from the mainland. When it is low tide, the fort can be reached by walk.  The main gate of the fort faces the town.  Inside the fort there is fresh water tank,  well and temples. One of the temple is still well maintained. In the parapet of the fort, some old time canons are placed facing the open sea.  There are also some other gates open to the high seas. This fort was Shivaji’s last construction and was the main base of the Maratha navy in the area.

There are some hotels and resorts available in the mainland. There are frequent boat services from the mainland to the fort. By foot it can be reached through the water during low tide only.
Two photographs are attached below:
























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Thursday, 15 October 2015

Swami Vivekananda memorial, Thiruvalluvar Statue at Kanyakumari, India.

Swami Vivekananda memorial has been built on a rock situated at the meeting point of three seas,  about half a  kilometer away from the mainland Kanyakumari. The memorial is approachable by boat which provides a pleasurable time in the sea.

Swami Vivekananda came down to Kanyakumari in 1892. He sat on meditation on this rock and became powerful spiritual leader and philosopher. The Memorial consists of two main structures namely Vivekananda Mandapam and Sri Pada Mandapam.

Near to this there is another rock where a Statue of Thiruvalluvar  with a height of 133 feet tall stone sculpture in memory of the Tamil poet and philosopher Tiruvalluvar is also installed.

This is a most sought after tourist and religious place. Though there is no accommodation available for stay at the rock memorial, lot of Boarding and lodging facilities are available in the mainland Kanyakumari. Boat is the only mode of transport to reach the memorial from the mainland Kanyakumari.

View of the 2 memorials from mainland Kanyakumari

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Sunday, 11 October 2015

SRINAGAR, of KASHMIR, India

Srinagar, the summer capital of the State of Jammu and Kashmir is also called a city of lakes and Mughal gardens.

Srinagar city which is also called the heart of the Kashmir Valley is located on the sides of Jhelum River. There are several lakes in and around the city of which the Dal Lake is noteworthy and famous. It is full of house boats including a Floating Post Office.

The city is surrounded by the Himalayan ranges on all sides and hence always a cool place. Winters are too cool temperature going below the freezing point with moderate to heavy snowfall. Summer season is warm. Hence during this period, Srinagar is the capital of the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir and named as the second capital of the State.

Srinagar has many gardens including some Mughal gardens of which famous are Shalimar, Chashme Shahi, Nishat, etc. Nishat garden is located on the banks of the Dal Lake. Other gardens are Botanical garden, Tulip garden etc. But Tulip Garden in seasonal in the sense, tulip flowers are blooming mainly in the month of April.

There are plenty of Hotels including House Boats available in Srinagar with rates ranging from the lowest to the highest. There are Air and Road services from Delhi-Jammu to and fro Srinagar. From Jammu to Srinagar, there is no railway service. From Srinagar, other tourist destinations of Kashmir like Gulmarg, Pahalgam, Sonmarg, etc. can be reached.


The Dal Lake is the largest lake in the city. It is famous for its houseboats and shikaras. Shikaras are mainly used to reach the houseboats. However, many of the houseboats are stationed at the shore and approachable from the land. It is also used for pleasure rides and shopping. There is also a floating houseboat used as a Post Office.



Another notable lake is Nigeen (Nagin) Lake. It is a beautiful lake and located very near to Dal Lake. It is also famous for its houseboats and shikaras.


Nishat Garden

Nishat Bagh Garden though smaller than Shalimar, is more beautiful. It lies almost in between the Shalimar and Chashma Shahi Garden and on the shore of the Dal Lake. The credit for laying this garden goes to the brother of empress Nur Jahan.



Chashma Shahi

Shah Jehan is accredited with the laying of Chashme Shahi garden. This is well designed as three tier terrace and a natural spring which waters the whole area from which the garden got its name. From the top of the garden, we can have a long view of the lake below and the surrounding Himalayan ranges.

veiw below link for photo


https://youtu.be/Xli0LCv0uNk


Shalimar Garden

Shalimar Garden is the queen of Srinagar's many gardens and parks. This beautiful was laid by emperor Jehangir for his beloved wife Nur Jahan. There are fountains laid through the middle of the garden which enhance the beauty of the garden. In the Mughal period, a part of this garden was reserved for the ladies of the royal family. With the picturesque background of the Himalayan ranges, it is worth visiting.


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Saturday, 10 October 2015

KOLHAPUR, THE LAND OF TEMPLES AND PALACES IN MAHARASHTRA, INDIA.

Kolhapur is a historic Maratha city and also known as the land of magnificent temples. The district also derives its name from this city. Kolhapur is world famous for its Kolhapuri Chappals (foot wear) made of pure leather.

Mahalakshmi temple is the main attraction of all others. From the architecture style, it is believed that it existed form the period of Chalukya dynasty of the South Central part of India. But there are also people who believe that it was in existence even before that.

Not so far away from the Mahalaxmi Temple, lays the Rankala Lake or Talao. The surrounding area of the lake is converted into a picnic spot or a Chowpatti. Adjoining to the lake is the Shalini Palace. In the vicinity there is also a beautiful garden. The lake is full of fish and watching them itself would give enjoyment.

New Palace Museum is also a main tourist attraction like the Mahalaxmi Temple. It is still the residence of the royal family. However, a part of it is converted into a Museum and is open to public. Surrounding it there are garden, zoo and a lake.

About 20 kms away from the town is Panhala fort on top of a not so high hill, is also a tourist attraction. It is here the Ambabai Temple where Shivaji used go to seek blessings. The panoramic view from top of the hill is enchanting and refreshing.

It is also a milk producing district, with major diaries like Warna at Waranagar. It is a well developed township.


Kolhapur is well connected with Rail and Road Transport.


Mahalaxmi Temple

Thursday, 8 October 2015

NANDED, District of MAHARASHTRA and a Sikh Pilgrim Centre

Nanded is in Marathwada region of Maharashtra State. It is bordering with Telangana State. It is situated on the bank of Godavari River.  In the past, Nandas ruled over Nanded for many generations. In 1708, Guru Gobind Singh the tenth spiritual leader of the Sikhs came over to Nanded. A monument has been constructed at the place where he breathed his last. A Gurudwara has also been constructed there and is known as Shri Huzur Abchalnagar Sachkhand Gurudwara. It is a very important Sikh Pilgrim centre next only to the Golden Temple of Punjab. Now Nanded is famous because of this Pilgrim centre.

In the later on, it became a part of the Hyderabad of Nizam in 1725 and continued to be so till 1947. With India getting freedom and soon thereafter, it became part of the Bombay State. Afterwards, when the state of Maharashtra was formed, it became part of the state of Maharashtra.

Another famous tourist centre Aurangabad (Ajantha & Ellora) is also in the close proximity of Nanded. 

Nanded is well connected with the rail and road transport. There are 4 super fast trains running between Nanded and Punjab where other major Gurudwaras are situated.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

THANJAVUR: SHOW CASE OF ART, ARCHITECTURE & TEMPLES - TAMIL NADU, INDIA

Thanjavur District of Tamil Nadu is popularly known as the Delta area and the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu. The name Thanjavur, according to legend, was derived from the Mythical Demon Tanjan. This area is rich in art and architecture apart from religion. About the earlier history of Thanjavur, there is no clear picture. The latest history starts from the Chola rulers who developed their kingdom during the period between the 9th and 14th centuries, with Thanjavur as their Capital particularly in the period of Raja Raja Cholan. Thereafter many other dynasties ruled the area namely Pandiyas, Nayaks and Marathas. The great monuments like Grand Anaicut, Big Temple and Serfoji Mahal Library/Saraswathy Mahal Library and so on are all existing today as mute witnesses to the contributions of these rulers to the region. Many of these monuments have been classified as the World Heritage Monuments by the UNESCO.

Places of tourist and pilgrimage interest:

Sri Brahadeeswara Temple :

This temple is popularly known as Big Temple. The Great Chola Emperor Raja Raja Cholan I dedicated this temple to Lord Siva in the year 1010 AD . It is surrounded by fortified walls presumed to have been built in later period. The Tower above the sanctum Sanctorum is about 216 feet tall. This tower is regarded as the show case of the Art and Architectural Excellence of the period. Lifting such huge rock pieces to such a height during those period clearly demonstrate the excellent workmanship and technology existed in those days. In short it is a marvellous showpiece of art and architecture. The walls of the outside buildings of the main temple are filled with paintings depicting the stories from the mythology reminding the paintings of Ajanta Caves of Aurangabad, Maharashtra.

Palace:

Palace is situated about 1km from the Big Temple. Other items like Saraswathi Mahal Library, Sangeetha Mahal or The Hall of Music, Royal Museum, Serforji Memorial Hall and Schwartz Church are all situated either inside or around the Palace.

Christian pilgrim centres:

Poondi Matha Basilica and Velankanni Church are all situated in the nearby areas.



Thanjavur is well connected by Rail and Road. The nearest airport is Tiruchirapalli 56 Kms away.

Big Temple

Painting from  Big Temple
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Saturday, 5 September 2015

POONDI MADHA BASILICA IN THANJAVUR DISTRICT NEAR VELANKANNI CHURCH TAMIL NADU

Poondi Madha Church/ Basilica is a Christian Pilgrim Centre in a small village Poondi, situated in between the two rivers namely Cauvery (Kavery) and Colleroon (Kollidam) of Thanjavur District, in Tamilnadu, India. On 03.08.1999, the shrine was declared as Minor Basilica by Pope John Paul II. Many pilgrims coming to Velankanni Church also visit this place. The famous tourist and Hindu pilgrim centre Thanjavur is very close to this place.

Sufficient rooms are available in the church compound for the pilgrims who want to stay at night. Also a well maintained restaurant run by the Church is also available nearby.


Frequent bus services are available from Thanjavur to the nearest town Thirukattupalli which is about 3kms away from Poondi. From there frequent buses are available to Poondi. Direct buses are also available from Thanjavur / Velankanni to Poondi Madha but is very limited. Nearest rail head is Budalur. Please also remember that there is also a nearby place called Poondi. So while inquiring, specifically mention poondi madha.
















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Thursday, 23 July 2015

MADURAI MEENAKSHI TEMPLE, TAMIL NADU, INDIA

The twin Temple comples of Madurai City - Sri Meenakshi and Sundareshwar is synonymous with the city itself. It is not only one of the largest temples of India, but also one of the oldest too. It grew to the present form with an area of about 65000 Sq. mt. with the generous contributions of each dynasty which ruled the city of Madurai. The temple is believed to be first came into existence about 2000 years ago. However, it was substantially expanded during the ruling period of Thirumalai Nayak (1623-55 AD).
Though the temple is a twin complex of Lord Siva in his incarnation as Sundareshwar and his wife Meenakshi (Parvati), meaning fish-eyed, is the main deity unlike in many other temples where Lord Siva used to be the presiding or the main deity. There are four huge gateways enclosing the twin temples. For the Hindu pilgrims (non Hindus are not allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum) it is a pious area but for the tourists it is a marvellous structure with its many paintings and sculptures adopted from the Hindu religion with unimaginable accuracy and perfectness on the hard rock pieces.
A striking feature of the temple is the astonishing structure known as the “Ayiramkaal Mandapam” or the Hall of Thousand Pillars and each pillar features high, decorative, bold sculptures that look life like. If you look from any angle, these pillars appear to be in a straight line, reminding the perfect architectural technology of those days and making it a masterpiece in itself. In the outermost corridors are situated the musical pillars carved out of stones. When it is tapped, each pillar produces different musical note.
There is also a pond in the middle of the complex making it more beautiful. Outer part of the temple is used as market place where tourists as well as pilgrims can buy various articles of their choice.

Madurai city is well connected by Air, Rail and Road. There are also many other tourist places near to Madurai such as Kodai Canal, Kanyakumari etc. in Tamil Nadu and Thekkadi, Munnar etc.in Kerala. Conducted tours are also available to these places from Madurai.


 

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Wednesday, 3 June 2015

THUMBOORMUZHY DAM AND BUTTERFLY PARK OF KERALA

Thumboormuzhi with its dam and the butterfly park located near to it is one of the most famous tourist places in Thrissur District of Kerala also known as GOD’S OWN COUNTRY. It is located about 55 kms from Thrissur town and about 16 kms from Chalakudy town. Frequent bus services are available from these towns to reach there. It is  also very close to the Nedumbassery (Cochin) International Airport which is about 50 kms from the park.  It is on the way to Athirappilly waterfall, another tourist place.


Thumboormuzhi dam is built across the Chalakudy River and the park is on the banks of the river. Now there is a hanging bridge just above the dam and connecting both sides of the river.  Opposit side of the river is called Ezhattumukham, another tourist point. Thumboormuzhi is a natural habitat of butterflies of various species of butterfly in the world. During the monsoon, the biggest of the butterflies visit the park and is one of the features of the butterfly park in Thumboormuzhi.

The park also includes river and mountain view, lush green forest view, and also a beautiful garden and children’s park with a restaurant to make the trip comfortable.






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Friday, 1 May 2015

VELANKANNI CHURCH, VELANKANNI, TAMIL NADU, INDIA


The church of ‘Our Lady of Good Health’ is situated in the village Velankanni (Vailankanni) of Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu State in India. Earlier the Church was under the Jurisdiction of the Nagapattinam Parish of the Roman Catholic Latin Rite. Later on it was raised to the status of an independent parish in 1771. It is a pilgrim centre visited by many devotees every day.

Devotion to Our Lady of Good Health of Velankanni was started from the middle of the 16th century. It is attributed to three miracles in the area where the Basilica now stands and very close to the newly constructed Morning Star Church. The vision of Mary and the Infant Jesus to a local shepherd boy, the curing of a lame buttermilk vendor, and the rescue of Portuguese sailors from a violent sea storm and the stories behind it are based on tradition and there are no tangible proof in support of it. There is also no statement by the church authorities that these miracles are approved by the Vatican. But pouring crowd with gratitude offerings shows their belief in the miracles. Three memorial chapels are erected in those places.

The first vision is said to have occurred in 1570 A.D., when a local shepherd boy was delivering milk to a nearby house. On the way he met a woman holding an infant. The woman begged for some milk for the little one. Without any hesitation, the shepherd boy offered her the milk and he continued on his way to deliver the balance milk. But later he discovered that the jug was completely full of fresh milk without any decrease when he opened the jug for delivering the milk.

The second vision is said to have occurred in 1597 in the same area. A woman with a young boy in her arms appeared to a young crippled boy selling buttermilk. The little boy with the woman asked for some buttermilk, and after drinking it, they had left. But the same miraculous experience was felt by this buttermilk vender too i.e., no decrease of buttermilk even after selling it to many people. He then started running with his lame leg with joy, but found that he was no more lame and cured fully.
The third incident occurred when a Portuguese ship sailing through the sea was caught in a storm in the Bay of Bengal. They invoked the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary under her title "Morning Star". The storm subsided and the 150 men on board were landed there safely. In thanksgiving, the sailors rebuilt the small chapel and dedicated it to Our Lady of Good Health.

Though there is a railway station at Vailankanni, distant route trains are very rare. Passenger trains are available at intervals. But passenger link train and frequent bus services are available to Nagapattinam which is the main rail head to various places. Taxi, Auto-rickshaw etc. are also available. Nearest Airport to Velankanni is at Tiruchirapalli International Airport at distance of about 160 km. There are accommodation facilities  available under the church administration including A.C romms for pilgrims. Also all types of hotel accommodation is available here.





Thursday, 30 April 2015

Qutub Minar, Delhi, India

Qutub Minar of Delhi is a beautiful monument, 73 metre high tower of victory. There is also a controversy that it served as a minaret to call the faithful to prayer. The first part of the tower was built during 1193 – 1200 A.D. by Qutab-ud-din Aibak, the first Muslim ruler of Delhi. Later some additions were made by his successors and finally completed by 1368. This is also evident from the different form of materials and styles used at different levels. The tower is also beautified by bands of inscriptions and by projecting balconies supported by decorated brackets.

The Mosque at the bottom of the tower is considered as the first Mosque in India, though there is another Mosque namely Cheraman Masjid of Kodungallur Taluk in Thrissur District of Kerala is also considered to be the first Masjid in India.

Qutub Minar is accessible by road and by Metro Rail. Nearby there is a Metro Rail station by the same name. Indira Gandhi International Airport is the nearest Airport.








Thursday, 23 April 2015

PUNE - POONA, Maharashtra, India


PUNE is a cool city once used as the summer capital of Bombay Province during British Rule. Main attraction of Pune is the Aga Khan Palace associated with Mahatma Gandhi and Freedom Movement. It is also famous for Ganapathi Festival. Other attractions are Snake Park converted Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park, Parvathi, Sinhagad Fort, Saras Bagh Garden, etc.

AGA KHAN PALACE
Inside Aga Khan Palace various articles are exhibited related to Mahatma Gandhi including personal items used by Kasturba Gandhi. It was also used as a Prison to imprison the Freedom Movement leaders. It was built by Sultan Mohammad Shah Aga Khan in the late 1890s. Yerwada jail is very close to it.

SINHAGAD FORT
Sinhagad was first captured from a tribal chieftain by Muhammad bin Tughlaq.  Thereafter it was under Shivaji for a short period and then under the Mughals. Then it was recaptured by Shivjaji’s forces under Tanaji, who died in the battle. On his memory, the fort was renamed as Sinhagad  from its original name Kondana.

SARAS BAUG
There is a Ganesh temple in the middle surrounded by water tank like a small lake full of fish and lotus with beautiful green lawns. Many people visit the place with kids for worship in the temple and also to relax on the lawns in the evening. The garden is well maintained. To see a video of a swan with its new born chicks swimming in a pond in side saras baug open air garden go to the link:  https://youtu.be/tzJ1ElqToEQ . It was taken by chance when we visited the place.

RAJIV GANDHI UDYAN (PARK)
Katraj Snake Park in Pune was famous for its collection of snakes, reptiles, birds and turtles. It later became part of the Rajiv Gandhi Udyan (park). There are many species of snakes of which notable collection is a giant King Cobra of about 9 feet length. After it is converted into a general park by name, Rajiv Gandhi Zoological Park (Udyan), a zoo has been added with an open atmosphere for the animals, making it a popular tourist destination, particularly for children. There is a lake in the middle with boating facility (Seasonal).

PARVATI HILL AND TEMPLE
Parvati hill and a Hindu temple is situated near Saras Baug of Pune from where one can get a beautiful glance of the city. The name of the hill derives from the name of the temple namely Parvati. The temple is located so high on the hill that one has to climb a series of over 100 steps to get to the entrance of main temple at the top from where a complete view of the city is possible. At one side of the temple, a museum with the of the Peshwa rulers of the area. The museum contains a variety of things including historical records. The area is also treated as a picnic spot and tourist place.

SHANIWAR WADA
Shaniwar Wada was a royal residence of Peshwa, located in the heart of Pune city. It is in the form of a small fort. The doors of the palace are so strong that it had been designed to resist enemy attacks. Inside it, only the ruins of the glory of the Maratha power is visible. Today it is left with only an imposing outer wall surrounded by the public road always busy with heavy traffic.

KELKAR MUSEUM
The museum has many collections of objects like paintings, handicrafts, armour-suits, musical instruments and many other objects of art and artefacts collected from all over the world.

BUND GARDEN and OSHO COMMUNE INTERNATIONAL
The Bund garden, which is laid next to the river, is a place for evening strolls on the lush green grass. Boating and rowing facilities are also available nearby. Neighbouring to this garden is the THE OSHO COMMUNE INTERNATIONAL situated where public entry is restricted to some area and at particular time.

NATIONAL FILM ARCHIVES MUSEUM
National Film Archives Museum is one of the largest film archives in Asia. The museum preserves all the classic movies and all the details on the classic movie makers. Earlier, it was located inside the campus of the Film and TV Institute of India. Now it is located outside the campus a little away on the same Law College Road. It is also treated as a record keeper of all Films made in India.

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF NATUROPATHY (NIN)
National Institute of Naturopathy (NIN), Pune is an autonomous body of the Government of India, located very close to the Pune Railway station at Tadiwala Road at a walking distance. It is a historical place now called as "Bapu Bhavan", the old building. Mahatma Gandhi  was treated at this place when he was in Pune by a Doctor who used this place as his Nature Cure clinic at that time. The land and building was later acquired by the Government of India and the present institute is established in the present form retaining the old building. In fact, I was an official visitor of the Institute several times.

FILM AND TV INSTITUTE OF INDIA.
The Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) is an autonomous institute under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting of the Government of India. It is situated at Law College road on the premises of the erstwhile Prabhat Studio founded by the noted film director V.Shantaram and his friends. The original Prabhat Studio is now kept as a museum with all its settings. Since its inception, FTII has become India's premier film and television institute. Many of its students became actors, directors, etc. in the Indian film industry. As a mention, I had been an official visitor to the institute several times.

LONAVALA/KANDALA
Lonavala and Kandala are two nearby places where temperature remains cool for most of the year. It is a hill station on the way from Mumbai to Pune. Both places are connected by rail and road. It is treated as a summer shelter for the Mumbai residents who cannot afford to go to distant hill stations. Hence it is crowded during the summer season. Karla Caves are reachable from Lonavala by road..


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

THRISSUR - CULTURAL CAPITAL OF KERALA - GODS OWN COUNTRY



THRISSUR - TRICHUR


I belong to Thrissur District. Thrissur Pooram Festival is world famous for its elephant procession, fire works and the panchavadhyam, panchari melam (different kinds of instrumental music), etc. Arattupuzha pooram is also famous and predecessor to the Thrissur Pooram. Arattupuzha village is 10 kilometre away from Thrissur town. There is also a museum, zoo and art gallery in Thrisur. St. Thomas Shrine of Azhikode (Kodungallur) where St. Thomas believed to be landed in India in 52 A.D. is also in Thrissur District. There are also some wild life sanctuaries here namely Peechi Dam area, Chimmini Dam area etc. 


Western border of Thrisur is Arabian Sea with many beaches like Kothakulam beach of Valapad village, Nattika beach etc. It was here where some parts of the national award winning cenema CHEMMEEN was shot including the Valapad market as it existed then. The film is based on a famous malayalam novel by Thakazhi by the same title and directed by Ramu Kariat. The film was also dubbed in Hindi by name 'Chemmeen Lehren'  and in English 'The Anger of the Sea'.

Thrissur Pooram

Thrissur pooram is a main festival celebrated in the Thrisur (Trichur) town which is the headquarters of Thrisur district. The main attraction of the festival is the decorated elephant procession, colourful fireworks, and various instrumental music. Earlier, Arattupuzha pooram was the final point of all poorams in the region ruled by the Kochi Raja(King). But unfortunately one year the Thrissur pooram procession could not move to Arattupuzha because of heavy rain. Then the King ordered that henceforth, the Pooram would be held at Thrissur itself. The present name of Thrisur is derived from the earlier name Thrissivaperoor associated with the main deity Lord Siva of the Temple around which the Pooram is celebrated.

Thumboormuzhi

Thumboormuzhi with its dam and the butterfly park located near to it is one of the most famous tourist places in Thrissur District of Kerala also known as GOD’S OWN COUNTRY. It is located about 55 kms from Thrissur town and about 16 kms from Chalakudy town. Frequent bus services are available from these towns to reach there. It is  also very close to the Nedumbassery (Cochin) International Airport which is about 50 kms from the park.  It is on the way to Athirappilly waterfall, another tourist place.


Thumboormuzhi dam is built across the Chalakudy River and the park is on the banks of the river. Now there is a hanging bridge ready for inauguration just above the dam and connecting both sides of the river. Thumboormuzhi is a natural habitat of butterflies of various species of butterfly in the world. During the monsoon, the biggest of the butterflies visit the park and is one of the features of the butterfly park in Thumboormuzhi.
The park also includes river and mountain view, lush green forest view, and also a beautiful garden and children’s park with a restaurant to make the trip comfortable.