January 26, 2010

Adventure Games at Wild Tribe Ranch, Chennai, India

The Wild Tribe Ranch is a theme park with lot of fun and adventures, located off NH5, the Calcutta National Highway, near Ponneri, around 35 kilometers from Chennai city in South India. This is an ultimate place for adventure sports and it is new kind of theme park for Chennai city. For the first time in Chennai city, a lot of adventure games such as ATVs, trampoline jumping, army-style obstacle course, paintball, swimming and a WII game arcade have been introduced in the Wild Tribe Ranch theme park.

ATV aka All Terrain Vehicles - Ride the awesome 50 cc to 150 cc All Terrain Vehicles at The Wild Tribe Ranch. Paintball is a sport in which players eliminate opponents by hitting them with pellets containing paint, usually shot from a carbon dioxide or compressed-gas (HPA or N2) powered paintball gun (or marker). A well maintained swimming pool is an added advantage of the park.

Trampoline jumping is a kind of bungee jumping. The army-style obstacle course is really adventurous and fun.

It is a good place for Corporate people for team building exercises or annual outing. You can also visit this place along with your family if your family members are interested in adventure sports. For kids, there is a separate play area along with WII game section.

There are lot of other attractions such as bull ride (which falls you off if you try to ride it), monkey walk and even some indoor games.

Go and enjoy the place...get scared and have fun. :-)

Happy travelling.

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January 23, 2010

An illegal Merchandise Heaven - Burma Bazaar, Chennai, India

Burma Bazaar, located near Beach Railway Station in North Chennai, South India can be considered as an illegal merchandise heaven. You can find a lot of foreign materials here. You can bargain and get all brands of electronic items. You can even buy CDs and DVDs of all foreign and Indian movies, be it legal or illegal over here. If you pass by this area, you will be harassed by the shop keepers and will be disturbed to buy something from these shops.

Burma Bazaar was apparently established in 1960s for the purpose of refugees from Burma to sell the products for their livelihood. Now, you can find only locals in these shops, who sell foreign things mostly seized by customs.

If you really want to buy things from Burma Bazaar, you should know how to bargain and should be in a position to ensure the quality of the product you buy. Or else, it is better not even to pass by this place.

Happy travelling!

January 16, 2010

Worshipped by Tortoise - Kachaleeswarar Temple, Chennai, India

Kachaleeswarar or Kachabeswarar means “the Lord worshipped by a tortoise”. As Lord Vishnu took the form of a tortoise (Koorma incarnation) and worshipped Lord Shiva, Shiva got the name “Kachabeswara”.

Kachaleeswarar temple is located at Armenian Street in the George Town area of Chennai, South India. The main railway station of the Chennai city, Central Railway Station is located at a distance of around 3.5km from this temple.

There is a famous temple for Lord Kachabeswara in Kanchipuram city, which is around 75 kms from Chennai. Talavay Chettiar, a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva used to visit Kachabeswara temple in Kanchipuram whenever he wished to. But during one of such visits, he could not reach Kanchipuram due to heavy rains and had to return. He was extremely sad over the incident. Then, he built a temple for the same God – Kachabeswara in Chennai. He took eight years to complete the work, and the temple got completed in the year 1720 CE. In due course, the name of the Lord became Kachaleeswara.

The main deity of the temple, Kachaleeswarar, is portrayed with five seats – koormasanam (tortoise), ashtanagasanam (eight serpents), simhasanam (lion), yugasanam (time), and kamala vimalasanam (lotus flower). Lord Shiva is portrayed as lingam in all the South Indian temples. But in this temple, at the back side of the lingam, Lord Shiva is portrayed with five heads as Sadasivamurti along with his consort Manonmani. This is something rare which cannot be found in the other temples. Also, the tortoise at the foot of Shiva linga is Lord Vishnu. The main goddess Soundarambikai is found in a separate shrine.

The inner prakara (corridor surrounding the main shrines) has a lot of small shrines for various gods and godesses such as Panchamukha Vinayaka (Ganesha with five faces) along with his consorts, Shanmukha with his consorts, Nalvar, Natraj with Sivakami, 63 nayanmars, Navagrahas in which Surya alone is found with his consorts, Somaskanda and Durga. There are idols such as Ganesha, Karthikeya, Dakshinamurti, Ganesha, Lingodbhava, Brahma, Durga, Chandikeswarar, various forms of Shakthis, Akora Veerabhadra, Bhairav, Saraswathi, Lakshmi, Varadaraja (Vishnu), and Dattatreya.

The bigger prakara (corridor) of the temple has shrines of Ganesha, Karthikeya with his consorts, Subramanya, Adi Shankara, Hanuman, Ayyappa, and Shasta along with his consorts.

When you find time, don’t miss to visit this historical ancient temple.

Happy travelling.

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Kalikambal Temple - Chennai

Did the great Maratha King Sivaji visit Chennai? Did the Britishers demolish a temple to build Fort St. George? Is the city named after a Goddess? Let me discuss about all these in this article on Kalikambal Temple.

Who is Kalikambal? 

Kali is a ferocious form of Goddess in Hinduism. She is also called as Kalika. Hence, Kalika Ambal refers to Kali. Similar to Delhi (Kalkaji mandir) and Kolkata, Chennai city also has an ancient temple of Kali.

Where is this temple located?

Kalikambal Temple is located in Thambu Chetty Street in George Town area. It is easily reachable from Parrys Corner or Beach Railway Station.

Kalika or Kamakshi?

Although the Goddess of the temple is called as Kalika, the iconography of the idol does not resemble any form of Kali. She is found in the seated posture similar to that of Kamakshi. She is also called as "Neithal Nila Kamakshi".

Although there is no historical evidence or record, it is widely believed that the original temple of Kalikambal was located in the area where the Fort St. George is found. The temple was reportedly shifted to the current location in the 1640s by the Britishers.

It is also believed that the original ferocious form of the Goddess (Kalika form) was replaced with the new idol of Kamakshi.

As the temple was shifted from the fort area to a new location, there are people who call the Goddess as "Kottai Amman". (The word "kottai" means fort in Tamil language).

Chenni Amman

It is also believed that the Goddess was also called as Chenni Amman in those days. No historical book support this. But, still there are few people who claim that the original Chenna pattinam village was named after Chenni Amman. (Chenna pattinam and the other adjoining villages developed as the modern day Chennai.)

Did Sivaji visit the temple?

There are historians who argue that Sivaji, the great Maratha King, never visited Chennai city. However, the temple authorities strongly claim that he had visited the temple on 3rd October 1677 CE.

What do historians say?

The historians do not deny that the current temple is there in this location from the middle of the 17th century CE. However, they are unable to say when this temple was built and by whom.


As per the temple authorities, Bharatiar had visited this temple and had authored his famous "Yadhumagi Ninrai Kali" on Kalikambal. (Well, the historians have never denied this so far. :-) )

Mythological Connection

As it is believed that the original temple in the Fort area was there for hundreds of years, there are few legends about this temple.

It is believed that the holy Meru image that is found in the sanctum was installed by Adi Shankaracharya.

It is believed that the sages Agastya, Vyasa and Angeerasa worshiped Kalikambal of this temple. Varun and Kuber are also said to have prayed to the presiding deity of the temple. Kalikambal bestowed Kuber with wealth and prosperity.

Temple Entrance

The temple has two entrances. The east facing entrance is located in Thambu Chetti Street, which is used by most of the people. The west facing entrance is located in Armenian Street. Both the entrances have towers, with lot of stucco images depicting the Goddess in different forms. The temple towers are constructed in the 1980s and they are not very old structures.


The west facing sanctum enshrines the beautiful image of Goddess Kalikambal a.k.a. Kamakshi. She is found with four arms and in the sitting posture. The entrance of the sanctum has two big images of Dwarapalikas. (They are named as Jaya and Vijaya.)

The sanctum is surrounded by a cluster of sub-shrines. The enclosure that contains this sanctum and the other sub-shrines has the south facing entrance.

The flag staff and bali peetha are situated facing outside this enclosure and they face towards the direction of the sanctum.

Brahma Vidya, Saraswati, Vaishnavi, Maheswari and Lakshmi are found as the niche images around the sanctum.


To the right side of the sanctum, the shrine of Kamateswarar, a small Shiv Linga, is located. He is one of the presiding deities of the temple. Actually, the temple is called as Kalikambal Kamateswarar Temple, although Kalikambal has outshoned Kamateswarar in popularity.

Nandi is found facing towards Shiv Linga. The small prakara around this shrine has very small bas relief niche images of Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga. Chandikeshwara is also found.

Inner Prakara

The enclosure which contains the sanctums of Kamateswarar and Kalikambal as well as the inner prakara has few more sub-shrines such as Subramanya-Valli-Devasena, Arunachaleswar-Unnamalai, Brahmendra Swamigal (utsav) and Navagraha. The idols of Ganesh, Subramanya, Shiv Linga, Nagas, Surya, Chandra and Bhairav are also located in this enclosure.

Periya Nayaki

To the backside of the sanctum, there is a big east facing mandap. The bronze idol of Periya Nayaki with Saraswati and Lakshmi on her either sides is found in this mandap. The utsav deity of Kalikambal is called as Periya Nayaki.

Veerabhadra and Kali

In the outer prakara, in a separate sub-shrine, eight armed big image of Veerabhadra and four armed Kali are found. It is not usual to find Bhadra and Kali together in a single shrine in and around Chennai.

Virat Vishwa Brahma

The temple is administered by Vishwakarma community. According to them, the supreme deity is Virat Vishwakarma a.k.a. Virat Vishwa Brahma. The big idol of Virat Vishwa Brahma with five heads and ten arms is found in a separate shrine. As per Vishwakarmas, his consort is Gayatri. She is also found in small sub-shrine nearby.

Pratyingira and Dakshinamurti

The very big stucco idols of Dakshinamurti and Pratyingira Devi seated on lion are new additions to this temple.

Other Shrines

Some of the other shrines that are found in the outer prakara include:

  • Ganesh and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena at the entrance of the enclosure. Subramanya shrine is called as Vada Kathirkamam.
  • Ganesh-Siddhi-Buddhi
  • Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
  • Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena as utsav murtis
  • Nataraj-Sivakami
  • Utsav murti of Durga
  • Ganesh and Naga Subramanya at the entrance of the east facing mandap 

Happy travelling.

Kalatheeswarar Temple, Chennai, India

Kalatheeswarar temple, located at Coral Merchant Street in Mannady/George Town area of Chennai, South India, is a small but old temple, which is quite popular in and around George Town area. The temple is located at a distance of around 3.5 kms from Chennai Central Railway Station. The bus stop and the railway station are not nearby. Hence, you need to take a cycle rickshaw or auto rickshaw to reach this place, if you are not on your own vehicle.

The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva in the form of Linga, who is named as Kalatheeswarar. There is a separate shrine for the goddess Gnanambikai. All the idols including Kalatheeswarar and Gnanambikai are very small in this temple. The idol of the goddess is stunningly beautiful. There are also shrines for other gods and goddesses such as Ayyappa, Manjanamata, Chandikeshwara, Shivlinga, Subramanya along with Valli-Devasena, Ganesha, and Navagraha.

Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as niche images.

Happy travelling.

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Chennai Mallikeswarar Temple

It is indeed difficult to believe that there is such a big temple located in the ever-congested Lingi Chetti Street of George Town in Chennai. Mallikeswarar Temple, which is also called as Mallikarjuna Temple, is not to be confused with Chenna Malleeswarar Temple. This temple is much older. Even in 1652 CE, the British records mention this temple as an old temple. They call it as Mally Carjun's Old Pagoda. Hence, it is evident that the temple is older than the colonial era. There is a possibility that this temple could have been built in the 16th century CE or even before that. In the entire Black Town area, if we go by the available historical records, I believe, this is the oldest temple.

It is said that the temple was completely buried under the ground and only the top most portion showed up. The entire temple was discovered by digging up the land. When did this happen? There is no historical record. However, it is true that the temple is below road level. The pillared hall in front of the temple tower is on road level. From the entrance, a flight of steps would lead us down into the courtyard of the temple. (Ekambareswarar temple in Mint Street is another temple in Black Town area, which is below road level.)

There is an legend added to the above information. When the temple was uncovered, fresh jasmine flowers were found on the Shiva in Linga. Hence, they called the newly discovered deity as Mallikeswarar (the word “Malli” means jasmine in Tamil language).

The frontside mandap as well as the Piallaiyar (Ganesh) shrine facing the mandap were built in 1897 CE by Manicka Chettiar. The gigantic and colorful seven tiered tower was constructed between 1874 and 1888 CE by Vedavalli Ammal, the wife of Ekamra Vaidya Lingi Chettiar. (I believe that the street is named after this Chettiar as Lingi Chetti Street). The tower was repaired and a lot of stucco images were added in 1928 CE by Ellappa Chettiar. The vimanas were rebuilt in the 1930s. There are few mandaps in the prakara which were built in 1925 CE. The temple has been favorite for the Berri Chetti community. They have contributed a lot to this temple in the last three centuries.

During the Siege of Madras (1758-59 CE), the Regiment of Lally camped in this temple. (Thomas Arthur Lally was a French General who commanded French forces during this period).

Temple Layout and Structure

16 Pillared Mandap

In front of the temple tower, the 16 pillared mandap is located. The lintel of the mandap has the details of the builder of this mandap. Also, the bas relief images of Rishabha Vahana Shiv-Parvati, Nalvar, Sapta Rishis, Shiv Linga and a pair of erotic sculptures are found on the lintel. The mandap has many interesting sculptures on the pillars, such as Vishnu's image on top of Shiv Linga, Melakottai Perumal and his consort, Ram and Sita, Nataraja, Palani, Vaikunthavasa, Shiva presenting mango to Ganesha while Kartikeya watching, 12 Jyotir Lingas, different depiction of Parthasarathy, Kunti, Pandu, Dharmaraja-Draupadi, Sahadeva and others.

Where else in Chennai we could find Pandu and Kunti? These are rare sculptures to be found only in this temple.

Raja Gopuram

The magnificent seven tala Raja Gopuram is very attractive. It has so many interesting stucco images.

Each tier (tala) has a pair of Dwarapalas. The top most tala has Dwarapalas with four arms. The Dwarapalas at the second tala from the top have six arms. The Dwarapalas at the next level have eight arms. The number of arms of the Dwarapalas keep increasing for every tala down and the bottom most tala has Dwarapalas with sixteen arms.

The images of Elappa Chettiar and his wife are found in the gopura. The images of many half naked females are also found. The soldiers wearing European style boots are found, which reminds us the period of the construction. Ekapada Murti, Lingodbhava, Meenakshi Kalyanam, Sadasiva Murti, Shiva presenting the divine fruit to Ganesh, Nataraja and the dancing Kali, Markandeya Anugraha Murti, Veerabhadra, Gaja Samhara Murti, Narad and Tumburu, Ten headed Raavan playing veena and pleading Shiva, Shiva seated on Adhikara Nandi, Devatais with wings like angels (later influence), Rati and Manmada with a small cupid like representation, etc.

The tower as well as the entrance of the temple face the south direction. The entrance on either side of the tower has the idols of Ganesh and Kartikeya.

Presiding Deities

The presiding deity of the temple is Mallikeswarar, who is found in the form of a Shiv Linga. His sanctum is facing the east direction. At the entrance, the relief images of Dwarapalas are found.

The Goddess of the temple is Maragambal, who is found in a separate south facing shrine.

Nandi and Simha are found facing towards the shrines of Shiv Linga and Amman respectively in the Maha Mandap area.

Outside the enclosure, in the courtyard, the flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi mandap are found facing towards the direction of the sanctum. Similarly, there is a separate flag staff and Simha Vaahana for the Goddess.

Inner Prakara

The sanctum, shrine of Goddess, inner prakara and Maha Mandap are located within an enclosure. The entrance of that enclosure is at the southern direction. The idols of Ganesh and Kartikeya are located near the flag staff in the east direction. Inside the enclosure, at the entrance of the shrine of Maragambal, another set of Ganesh and Kartikeya idols are found. The entrance of the sanctum has just one Ganesh idol.

There are so many shrines and idols found in the inner prakara area. Nardana Ganesh, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta Murtis. Chandikeshwara is found in the usual location near Brahma and Durga.

Two big shrines are found adjacent to the sanctum. In one shrine, the big sized metal idols of Nataraj-Sivakami-Manickavasagar are found. The other shrine enshrines the big utsav murtis of Somaskanda.

The sub-shrines of Polla Pillaiyar, Shanmukha-Valli-Devasena, Saraswati, the utsav murtis of Shanmukha and his consorts, big Kailasanathar Linga, Adipureeswara Linga, Nalvar and Vishwanatha Linga with Vishalakshi.

Additionally, there is a Shiv Linga found to the true right side of the sanctum. Two small Shiv Lingas called Mahadeva are found in two separate sub-shrines. The utsav murtis of Uma and Chandrashekhar are found in a separate sub-shrine. The entrance of the shrines has the small idols of Ganesh and Kartikeya.

The idols of 63 Nayanmars look very attractive. Ganesha, Sekkizhar, Sundarar, Lakshmi-Narayana, Bhairav, north facing Ganesh, Shaneeswara, Surya and Chandra are also found in the prakara.

Outer Prakara

The outer prakara or the courtyard spreads across vast area. The sub-shrines of Ananda Vinayak, Nriti Vinayak, holy tree, Nagaraja idols under the tree, Goshala, temple tank, a sub-shrine of Ganesha on the banks and few small mandaps are all located in the courtyard.

Navagrahas are found along with their respective vahanas. Also, all the remaining eight planets (grahas) are found surrounding Surya in circle.

The temple is historically the oldest temple of George Town (a.k.a. Black Town). This is one of the biggest temples of the area. Similar to Bairagi Mutt temple, this is also artistically beautiful temple. Some rare sculptures are found in the mandap as well as on the tower. It is unfortunate that this temple is generally neglected. Not even the people from this area regularly visit the temple.

Happy travelling.

January 15, 2010

A rare cute church - Armenian Church, Chennai, India

It is believed that Armenians came to Chennai city in the 16th century CE for the purpose of trade and they settled down in the city slowly. The Armenian church or the Church of Virgin Mary was constructed by the Armenian community. The church is located in Armenian street in George Town area of Chennai, which is hardly 1.5 km from Central Railway station.

The Armenians were once a rich community that made significant contributions, economic and cultural, to the Chennai city. Now there are only 275 registered Armenians in India.

Armenian church is well maintained even though it has hardly any visitor nowadays. It has a huge complex with a small chapel and a tower. The highlight of the church is the tower which has six bells, which are believed to be the largest and heaviest in and around Chennai city. Each bell weighs approximately 200 kg, and they belong to 18th century or 19th century period.The complex also has a small cemetery.

The beautiful church is definitely worth visiting. Go and visit this church and get the blessings of Mary.

Happy travelling.

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A small Temple but very powerful - Chinna Kadai Renuka Parameswari Temple, Chennai, India

Chennai, one of the main cities of South India, has its major North Indian population in an area named Sowcarpet. Sowcarpet area is located very next to the main railway station of the city, Central Railway Station. This area is a part of George Town area, and George Town area is considered as the original Madras/Chennai and this is where British started acquiring Chennai and its surrounding. In due course of time, Chennai/Madras got expanded and became a big city.

Even though the Sowcarpet/George Town area is congested with a lot of shops and commercial complexes along with its narrow and highly crowded streets, it also has a lot of temples. Some of those temples are very prominent and are 200-400 years old. Chinna Kadai Mariamman a.k.a Renuka Parameswari Temple is one such old and prominent temple of this area.

Chinna Kadai Mariamman Temple, which is also called as Renuka Parameswari Temple, is located at the junction of NSC Bose Road and Mint Street in Sowcarpet area. The distance of the temple from Central Railway Station is hardly 1.5 km. This place can be reached either by auto rickshaw or cycle rickshaw. (Sowcarpet is one of the very few areas in Chennai city where you can still find cycle rickshaws). Or else, you can walk down to the temple from the nearby bus stop or railway station.

Chinna Kadai Mariamman Temple  is more than 200 years old. Even though this is very small temple, the goddess is considered as very powerful and it is always crowded. There are a lot of shop owners in the Sowcarpet area who do not open their shops without getting “darshan” of this goddess. The main shrine of the temple has two idols – Mariamman idol (in the typical iconography where only the head of the woman deity is present) and another idol with full human body (Renuka Parameswari). Apart from the main shrine, there is a shrine for Lord Shiva in the form of Kasi Viswanath along with his consort Vishalakshi. The highlight of the temple is that camphor burns always in front of the temple. You will hardly get a chance to see the temple without camphor burning. Swami Vivekananda and Vallalar have visited this temple.

Happy travelling.

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A cute ancient church - Anderson Church, Chennai, India

Chennai city, the capital of Tamil Nadu state of India has a lot of heritage buildings of British era (India was ruled by the British till 1947 CE). Some of those heritage buildings are beautiful churches. In the famous Parrys corner in NSC Bose Road of George Town area, just opposite to the High Court building, there is a cute church named Anderson church is located. This church is a fine example for the heritage sites of Chennai city belonging to the British period.
In 1837 CE, Reverend John Anderson arrived in Madras as the first missionary of the Church of Scotland. He established The General Assembly’s School in a rented house on the east side of Armenian Street (near NSC Bose Road) in George Town area. (In 1877 CE, the school became the Madras Christian College, and the college was shifted to Tambaram area in 1937 CE.) Anderson died in March 1855 cE. Four years later, the Anderson Church was constructed, with Reeverend P Rajagopaul, the first convert of Anderson, becoming the first minister of the church. Surprisingly, the name of Anderson, an educationist, is associated more with the church than with the school he founded.

The church, along with its towering steeple, remained a landmark of the Madras Christian College for many decades. Even today, the towering steeple is a landmark of George Town area/Parrys corner. The church is very small and hardly crowded.

The interior of the church is very beautiful and it is one of the very few well maintained churches of Chennai city.

Happy travelling.

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January 13, 2010

One of the biggest and oldest malls of South Asia - Spencer Plaza, Chennai, India

Spencer Plaza is one of the most famous landmarks of Chennai city, the gateway to South India. Spencer Plaza is located at the heart of the city in Anna Salai (Mount Road) area of the city. This is one of the biggest malls of South India.

When India was ruled by the British, the first departmental store in India was started by Charles Durant and J. W. Spencer in 1864 CE in Chennai city. Within few years, the store was shifted to the current site, where Spencer Plaza is located. It remained as a departemental store/shopping mall and one of the big hangouts for Chennai people for several years. You should note that this site remained as a shopping mall even before the modern day’s word “mall” became popular in India or when there was no mall anywhere else in India. In 1985 CE, the building was completely destroyed in fire and a new shopping mall was constructed in the same site. Over the years, the mall got extended and it has three phases now – Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3.

The Spencer Plaza mall has a lot of shops and eateries including international brands and local shops. Some of the popular shops with popular brands are Swatch, Cookie Man, Nike, Color Plus, Van Heusen, Pantaloons, First Flight, West Side, Arrow, Navigator, Music World, Bata, Adidas, Timex, Land Mark, Vummudi Bangaru Chetty, Food World, etc.

Happy shopping and happy travelling.

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The oldest existing bookstore of India - Higginbotham's, Chennai, India

Higginbotham’s is the oldest bookstore and book publisher in existence in India. The main store of Higginbotham’s is located in Mount Road (Anna Salai) in Chennai city in South India. If you are a bookworm/book lover based out of Chennai, you would have certainly visited this store. This book store is so popular that no book lover visiting Chennai city can miss. Even though this book store has many other branches in the other parts of the city and some other South Indian cities, the main building at Anna Salai located opposite to LIC building is considered as the landmark.

In 1840s when India was under the British rule, an English man named Abel Joshua Higginbotham was appointed as a librarian of a bookstore named Weslyan Book Shop run by the Protestant missionaries. The book store did not run successfully and to avoid further loss, the missionaries wanted to sell off the book store for a cheap price. Higginbotham, who was working as a librarian in the book store, bought the book store and named it as Higginbotham’s. The bookstore became very popular very soon and in 1850s and 1860s people started considering Higginbotham’s as one of the prominent bookstores of South India. The business spread to various other locations of the city and various other South Indian cities over the years.

The building where this book store is located is a fine example of British architecture. It remains as one of the favorite places in Chennai for book lovers and it will definitely remain as the one forever.

Happy reading….happy travelling.

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Body Guard Muneeswaran Temple, Chennai

Muneeswaran is a popular village deity of Tamil Nadu. In and around Chennai, you could find a lot of Muneeswaran temples. Some of them are road side small temples and some of them have gigantic images of Muneeswaran in open air. He is called in different names such as Jada Muni, Kottai Muni, Pal Muni, etc. There is a small road side temple on Pallavan Salai near Central Railway Station, which has a peculiar name. It is called as Body Guard Muneeswaran.

This temple is very small, but it is always crowded. Whoever owns a vehicle in Chennai, would have visited this temple or at least heard about this for sure. It is believed that the temple protects the vehicles from road accidents. Pallavan Salai is always crowded with the vehicles mainly due to this temple.

What does the legend say?  In 1919 CE, few labourers from North Arcot district brought the idol of Muneeswaran with them.  The labourers placed the idol under a neem tree adjoining the military barracks. A British troop commander objected this. He met with an accident on the same day. Thereafter, he allowed the deity to stay there. Then, a lot of devotees, especially the drivers of various vehicles started believing that this deity would save them from accidents and started visiting this temple. This is the story of Muneeswaran, who is believed to save you from the accidents and hence he got a special name called ‘Body guard’.

The above mentioned legend is just a legend and it's not historical fact. There is no record about the origin of this temple. There are so many such road side Muneeswaran temples found on the lanes and streets of George Town. This became popular and the others remain unknown; that's it. Pallavan Salai was originally called as Body Guards Lines Road. The body guards of the British Governor used to live here. Probably, due to this reason, the people started referring this deity as Body Guard Muneeswaran.

It is common practice in Tamil Nadu for the people to stop their vehicles for a moment in the temple located in the border whenever they travel to the other villages or towns. This practice is even followed nowadays all across the state. Probably, the same practice was followed in this temple when the boundaries of the city was much shorter. This practice would have developed as the one which we see today. This is my personal opinion.

Happy travelling.

A 17th century Dargah with healing power - Mount Road Dargah, Chennai, India

Mount Road or Anna Salai is one of the most happening places of Chennai city, the gateway to South India and the capital city of the state Tamil Nadu. There are two famous Islam shrines in Mount Road – one is Thousands Light mosque and the other one is Dargah-e-Hazrath Syed Moosa Shah Qadri Baghdadi (Rahmathullahi Alaihi) aka Mount Road Dargah.

Mount Road Dargah is very popular. It attracts hundreds of devotees including the local celebrities every Thursday. Hazrath Syed Moosa Shah Qadri Baghdadi (RA) arrived from Baghdad Shareef in the middle of the 17th Century CE and lived in this site. It is believed that he had healing powers. When he died, he was buried next to his house and here his family raised the Dargah Shareef. Since then, not only Muslims but even people from the other religions visit this Dargah based on the belief that this Dargah has healing power.

You can easily locate this Dargah as it is well located opposite to LIC building in Anna Salai (Mount Road). You can reach this place easily by your own vehicle or using pubic transportation.
Happy travelling.

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January 12, 2010

A Kerala-type Temple in Chennai - Mahalingapuram Ayyappa Temple, Chennai, India

The beauty of Kerala lies not only on its nature and greenery, but even in its well maintained beautiful temples. Most of the temples for Lord Guruvayurappa and Ayyappa (the two main deities of Kerala) in all over India are built in Kerala temple architecture style. Chennai, the capital city of Tamil Nadu state of India, also has three important temples for Lord Ayyappa. This post will talk about one of those three temples – Lord Ayyappa temple at Mahalingapuram area.

Lord Ayyappa is the son of Lord Shiva and Mohini (the female incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Apart from the famous Sabarimala temple in Kerala, there are hundreds of temples for Lord Ayyappa all over India, especially most of them are located in South India. Chennai city has three important temples for Lord Ayyappa – all of them are constructed in Kerala architectural style. The rituals are also similar to that of Kerala temples as the management of all these three temples are from Kerala.

Lord Ayyappa temple in the Mahalingapuram area near the famous Kodambakkam bridge, is one of the three popular Ayyappa temples in Chennai. The temple is very popular and a lot of devotees keep visiting this temple daily. Especially during the months of November and December, you can find more number of devotees visiting this temple. The presiding deity of the temple is Lord Ayyappa. There is another shrine having equal importance in this temple, which is dedicated to Lord Guruvayurappa. There are also small shrines in the temple, dedicated to Manjanamatha, Ganesha, and Subramanya with his two consorts. There is also an idol of Lord Ranganath (Lord Vishnu in the sleeping posture) located in this temple. The temple looks beautiful in the evening as it is lit by natural light majorly.

You can reach this place easily either by your own vehicle or by auto rickshaw/bus/taxi. As this place is located very near to the famous Kodambakkam bridge, it will not be difficult for you to locate this place.

Happy travelling.

Site Name: Lord Ayyappa temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Site location: Mahalingapuram, near Kodambakkam bridge, Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlight: One of the popular Ayyappa temples of Chennai

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