Tamil Nadu

Our Six Days Southern Sojourn

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Coimbatore also known as Kovai is a major developing smart city in the Tamil Nadu located on the banks of the Noyyal River amidst Western Ghats. It is often referred to as the ‘Manchester of South India’ due to its cotton production, garment and textile industries. Coimbatore is also called as the “Pump City” as it supplies country’s large requirements of motors and pumps.

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‘Rock’On Mahabalipuram!

‘Rock’On Mahabalipuram!

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The streets of Mahabalipuram are a photographer’s delight. The city is famous for stone sculptures. You can get your sculpture done within 3 months and get it delivered to your place just by giving your photograph and your measurements. The murals of deities, elephants, bhuddha’s are a very common sight. It is an eye feast to look at the workmen at work, carving intricate designs on the stones. I got to speak to one such person, Surya , who was diligently making a Ganesh idol. It took him 3 months so far to make the below idol and it would fetch him 35,000 INR. These idols are made  using the machinery as well as traditional hammer and chisel. It gives altogether a different experience to stand among numerous idols which are going to make it temples where we are not allowed to go even 5 steps nearer. After a brief visit to the workshops we headed to the Arjuna’s penance.

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A rare visit to Tanjore & Namakkal in Tamilnadu

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One very popular fact about this temple is that the due to its height, the shadow of the gopuram (the temple structure on top) will never fall on the ground. Right opposite to the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum is the giant Nandi, remaining at the disposal of the god almighty.

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The Southern Sojourn – Kanyakumari

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It was close to 9.00 p.m. and with hunger cramps, I told Rajah to stop at a good eating place in the next town en-route. We landed at a small time restaurant – Shanti Bhawan (?) at Sayalgudi, a very small Panchayat town. The place looked clean, but the restaurant owner told us that the place was “full”. There were around 40 Ayappa Swami Devotees already seated and they were to be served first and our waiting time could be more than half an hour. While talking to the owner I was surprised to see the pictures of Kabaa, the holiest place for the Muslims along with some of the Hindu Gods. I asked him if it was a Hindu hotel. He said it was a Muslim Hotel. When I pointed to the wall hangings, he said “Sir, we worship all the Gods”. I was touched by his reply to the hilt and almost embraced him. I wish people all over the country had the similar feelings and then this divide between the religions would probably be non-existent. Thankfully the things appeared to be much better in Tamil Nadu as people of all the religions eat the same food, drink same toddy, speak Tamil and wear the same dress – lungi / dhoti and shirt.

Outside the restaurant, a group of Swamis (devotees of Lord Ayappa) were standing. I was told that they were coming from somewhere in North Tamil Nadu (after a couple of drinks, one tends to forget the names sometimes) and were heading for Kanyakumari,

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Dhanushkodi – No Land only Sand

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We reached Rameshwaram from Madurai about 3:00 PM, we planned to visit Rameshwaram temple in the morning, so we asked our taxi driver Kannan if there is any beach nearby, he nodded his head and said “Yeeessss” (I liked the way he used to say Yeeessss”), it is 13 kms from here and is called Dhanushkodi.
Well, we reached the beach in about 45 minutes, on the way, we also visited a temple where Lord Rama performed the “Raj Tilak” of Vibhishan. Kannan told us that this is the beach, it was very deserted. We found an Indian Navy post there, a tea stall and a snack shop. The Indian Ocean was beautiful, roaring and with high waves. We dared not go too deep inside and also asked the kids to stay off.

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Mahabalipuram – ‘The Maha Destination’

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The boat jetty/flight of steps and the miniature shrine and the Varaha sculpture at the basement of the Shore Temple, which were discovered by the ASI between 1990 and 1993, were flooded. Controversies and debates among the archaeologists and historians still persist on the existence of similar structures, submerged into the sea.

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Chennai Beaches

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Marina beach is a major tourist attraction of the city. This sea is rough and the waves here are strong. People visiting Chennai make a point to visit the beach. It is also the main place for the local people to escape from the summer heat. This beach is always crowded attracting about 30,000 – 50,000 visitors everyday. The beach has around 450-500 shops and stalls run by local vendors. It is an ideal hangout place for people of all ages. There are two swimming pools along the stretch maintained by Chennai Corporation.

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Salem – Madurai – Kanyakumari Road trip and sightseeing

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1322km, hidden beach, kanyakumari, 6:10am, 10mins away from sunset. The Road ends and it ends with Indian extreme south land zone, and turquoise sea in front about to turn saffron and then black gradually.

The feeling can’t be explained in words, of what we were watching, what we have achieved and what we have experienced so far.

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Ruins Of Alamparai Fort on East Coast Highway

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We were not ready for the pathetic state the Alamparai fort was in.  As per Archaeological survey of India board it was built some time in 17th century and was a trading post during the Mughal period and changed hands many times between various powers till India got independence. What appears is that after independence the fort totally lost its significance as a trading outpost as more modern Chennai and other ports in South India gained prominence.

The fort though in a very scenic location, near a natural lagoon and the adjoining village is inhabited by fishermen.  But the fort is an example of the pathetic attitude we have towards our historical monuments.  Full of sand in a very bad shape the fort is more of ruins and a source of bricks for the locals than anything else. There was not a single guard or tourist beside us, though we saw some bikes parked near the entrance which instead of a magnificent gate like most forts was just a big gaping hole in the wall. The parapet was broken at many places and one portion of the wall was lying on the ground. The whole wall had hundreds of bushes growing on it and at many places bricks were missing. It appeared they were being regularly removed by locals to construct their homes.

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Picture perfect beaches on Jolly Buoy

The Emerald Islands of Andaman and Nicobar

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The view from underwater is breathtaking. Corals, oysters, sea weeds, colored fish  and the surrounding blue water is mesmerizing. Touching endangered species such as corals are  not allowed. The best part of the sea walk actually came when we fed pieces of bread to the  fish. As soon as you hold up the bread pieces, fish of different colors gather around you and it does get a bit ticklish but it is definitely a wonderful experience.  After 20 minutes of  “seawalking”, the divers  escorted us back up to the pontoon. When you climb up, one is likely to experience  the pressure factor again . At the end of it, the whole experience leaves you spellbound and the sparkling blue water always tantalizes you to go back underwater.

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Summer sojourn to Kodaikanal

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After a good night’s sleep, we got up early and had breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Although, the quality of the food was good the service was very poor because of lack of staff at the restaurant. Then we waited at the lobby for the van(arranged by the hotel) to take us to the trip to Berijam lake,21 kms from Kodaikanal town and the tourist spots on the way.

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Valparai – The Hidden bliss

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A blissful hill hidden amongst the borders of Kerala and Tamil Nadu; small yet serene in its own way felt like a perfect weekend getaway. If you’d like to venture more then you could extend you trip to view the Athirampally falls or even visit the Indira Gandhi wildlife sanctuary at Topslip.

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