August 29, 2013

Sholingur

Site Name: Yoga Narasimha temple and Yoga Anjaneya temple  
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Sholingur, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the most important Vaishnaivite temples; one of 108 Divya Desam temples
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai (nearest local train station at Arakkonam)
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road; public transport is not dependable
Hotel: No good hotels nearby; better to stay in Chennai 
Restaurants: No good restaurants nearby; it is better to depend on the temple prasad

Sholingur is a small town in Vellore district near Chennai city in South India. Narasimha temple and Hanuman temple, located on top of two separate hills in this town, are two of the most popular Vaishnaivite temples in India. 

Highlights:
  • Yoga Narasimha temple is located on top of 'Periya Malai' (bigger hill) which is 750 feet high that can be reached by taking 1305 steps.
  • Yoga Anjaneya temple is located on top of 'Chinna Malai' (smaller hill) which is 350 feet high that can be reached by taking 405 steps.
  • One of the most important Narasimha and Hanuman temples in India.
  • Periyalvar and Tirumangai Alwar have sung about this site in their verses.
  • It is rare to find a separate hill temple dedicated to Lord Hanuman.
  • Hanuman is found in a unique posture with four arms and holding conch and discus.
  • It is considered as the 64th Divya Desam temple.
  • God - Yoga Narasimha and Yoga Anjaneya
  • Goddess - Amirthavalli
  • Teerth (holy water) - Brahma Teerth
  • Vimana - Simhagoshtakriti Vimana aka Hemakoti Vimana

Legend:

Lord Narasimha is an important incarnation of Lord Vishnu. After killing the demon named Hiranya, it is believed that Lord Narasimha reached Sholingur and settled down here. As he gave darshan to Sapta rishis (seven saints) for a kadigai time duration (45 minutes), the site is called as Kadigachalam. He also gave darshan to his great devotee Prahalata in the form of Yoga Narasimha in this site. There is also a legend which states that Vishwamitra became Brahma Rishi after worshipping Lord Narasimha for kadigai time duration in this site.

Lord Hanuman helped the king Indratyumna by killing the demon Nikumban. There is another version of the legend which states that Rama instructed Hanuman to protect the penance of sapta rishis by killing the demons Kaalan and Keyan. It is said that he got conch and discus from Lord Rama. It is also said that Narasimha asked Hanuman to stay in this site till the end of Kali Yuga. 

Some people believe that the King Karikala Chola divided his country into 48 divisions and this site is one of those divisions called as Kadigai. Kadigai is the place of learning; as Vedas were taught in this place, it was called as Kadigai.

This place was also called as Chola Simha Puram, which later became Sholinga Puram and ultimately to 'Sholingur'. There are people who claim that a Chola kind was hiding behind the Shiva Linga to escape from his enemy in this village; hence, it was called as Sholinga Puram. There are people who claim that the place got its name due to Shiva Linga temple built by the Chola in this village.


Temple Layout:

Big Hill Temple aka Periya Malai

The most important temple in Sholingur is Lord Yoga Narasimha's temple located on top of the bigger hill which is locally called as Periya Malai. The 750 feet high hill can be reached by climbing 1305 steps

The temple at top of the hill is moderate in size with a five storey north facing tower. The flag post and bali peetha are also found as usual. 

The sanctum sanctorum has the small idol of Lord Narasimha who is found in the Yoga posture with four arms and his two upper arms holding conch and discus. Facing the sanctum sanctorum Garuda idol is found; adjacent to him the small statues of Sapta Rishis, Visvaksena and Ramanuja are located. The shrine has the golden vimana called as Hemakoti Vimana.

The Goddess Amirthavalli is found in a separate shrine facing the eastern direction. 

The utsava idols (processional) of Krishna, Garuda, Sesha and Sudarshana are also found in the sanctum santorum. 

Small Hill Temple aka Chinna Malai

The second most important temple in Sholingur is Lord Yoga Hanuman's temple located on top of the smaller hill which is locally called as Chinna Malai. The 350 feet high hill can be reached by climbing 405 steps

The temple has a small three storeyed tower. The sanctum sanctorum has a small idol of Yoga Anjaneya with four arms and his upper arms holding conch and discuss. Japamala and Japashanku are found in his lower arms.

There are two separate shrines in this temple dedicated to Ranganatha and Kotanda Rama-Lakshman-Sita. The processional idols of all the corresponding deities are located in the respective shrines.

The tank called as Hanumantha Teerth is located near Hanuman shrine.

There are about 100 teerths in this site. The main among them is Brahma Teerth which is located in the middle of the town.

Happy travelling.





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August 13, 2013

Tiruvenpakkam

Site Name: Oondreeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:  Poondi, near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of 274 Paadal Petra Sthalams (the most important temples of Lord Shiva)
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai; Local train facility is available till Tiruvallur
Hotel: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options 
Restaurants: Go to Chennai where there are lot of options

Poondi is a village located adjacent to Tiruvallur near Chennai city in South India. It is famous due to the reservoir located here. It has an important Shiva temple called as Oondreeswarar Temple. It is considered as the 17th among the Devara Paadal Petra Sthalams (274 most important temples of Lord Shiva) located in Tondai region. 

Highlights:
  • Sundarar has revered the temple in his verses in Devaram.
  • God Oondreeswarar aka Aadharandeshwarar
  • Goddess Minnoli aka Tadi Gowri
  • Sthala Vruksham (Holy tree) - Ilandai

Legend:

As per the legend, the saint Sundarar lost his eye sight. He came to this site and begged for the sight. However, Lord Shiva blessed him only with a pole to aid him walk. He got angry and threw it towards Shiva; it fell on the head of Nandi and he lost one of his horns. In this temple, Sundarar holding a pole adjacent to Nandi with the broken horn are found.

Goddess Parvati appeared in the form of lightning now and there to guide Sundarar to this site. Hence, the Goddess is called as 'Minnoli' which means the light from lightening. 

Sundarar
History:

The original temple was built by the Cholas; it is believed that it belonged to 11th century CE. It was located in a village called Tiruvilamboothur. As the Government took over the village to construct the reservoir, the temple along with the original idols got shifted to the current site in 1968 CE.

Temple Layout:

Oondreeswarar temple is located in a calm location with a lot of trees within its compound. It does not have a tower. It has two entrances at east and north directions. The entrance at the north direction acts as the main entrance nowadays.

The sanctum sanctorum faces the east direction. Oondreeswarar in the form of small Shiva Linga is the main deity. The Panchaloka (metal) idols of Somaskanda are located behind the main deity. At the entrance of the sanctorum, apart from Dwarapalaks the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya-Valli-Devasena are found.

Nandi with broken horn
The highlight of the temple is Sundarar holding a pole and Nandi with his right horn broken - both facing the main deity. As Lord Shiva gave pole to Sundarar, he is named as 'Oondreeswarar' which means the Lord who presented pole.

The Goddess, Minnoli appears with four arms and in the standing posture in a separate shrine facing the north direction. 

The wall surrounding the sanctorum has the koshta idols of Ganesha, Dakshinamurti, Lingodbhava, Brahma, Durga and Chandikeshwara. The sub-shrines of Ganesha, Subramanya-Valli-Devasena and Lakshmi are also located in the inner prakara.

The mandapa in front of the sanctorum has few idols such as Navagraha, Surya, Arunagiri, Nalvar, Vallabha Ganapati and Bhairava with eight arms.

The outer prakara is full of trees. No sub-shrine or idol except for Vazhi Thunai Vinayaka sub-shrine is located there. 

A big flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi are located facing the temple at the outer prakara. A small Bhairava idol is found adjacent to Nandi mandapa.

Happy travelling.


















Dwarapalak

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August 12, 2013

Poondi Reservoir

Site Name: Sathyamurti Sagar aka Poondi Reservoir
Site Type: Reservoir/Dam
Location:  Near Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: An important dam near Chennai city
Nearest Railway Station: Tiruvallur local railway station
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: Go to Chennai
Restaurants: Hardly any option in and around this area; go to Chennai for restaurants

Sathyamurti Sagar reservoir located in Poondi near Chennai city in South India is an important dam/reservoir. It is a huge reservoir with an area of about 121 square miles. It is built across the river Korttalaiyr aka Koshathalaiyar. This is one of the reservoirs which supplies water to Chennai city. The reservoir and the adjoining park make an interesting picnic spot. 

Happy travelling.








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August 4, 2013

VGP Golden Beach

Site Name: VGP Golden Beach
Site Type: Beach
Location:  Chennai city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the oldest and popular amusement parks of Chennai city
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: All varieties all over the city
Restaurants: Many options across the city

VGP Golden Beach is one of the oldest charms of Chennai city in South India. Now, there are so many amusement parks and theme parks located in many cities in India. However, 15 to 20 years ago, there were hardly any such parks in the entire country. VGP Golden Beach was started in the 1980s and it is one of the oldest theme park not only in Chennai but in the entire country.

Although there are few such theme parks in Chennai today, there are still people from and around Chennai city who visit this oldest charm located in the much happening ECR. The theme park is nowadays called as VGP Universal Kingdom and it also has a separate water world called Aqua Kingdom within its complex.

The statue man, a man with the royal costumes standing like a statue is a main attraction of the park. In those days, this man never used to blink even his eyes. No matter whatever is done or told, no one could succeed in making him move. Well, we can't expect the same quality anymore now. :-) That has become a good old story; however, you can still find the statue man for the name sake.

There are so many rides both for children and adult in this park. They are similar to that of any other theme park in this country. In those days, there used to be a huge queue waiting for these rides. Nowadays, you could find hardly 2-4 people in each of these rides even during the weekend. The city has got so many theme parks and other attractions. Golden Beach is no more the prime attraction for the Chennai citizen as it used to be two decades ago.

There are many modern day sculptures and sculptured pillars and even a castle like structure all located in this park; nothing extraordinary when compared to the sculptures of this heritage rich state.

Don't miss the secluded beach as it is difficult to find a beach in the city where it is not crowded.

If you are residing in this city or nearby, you can try this attraction for one weekend. It will be fun for your children if not for you at least. 

Happy travelling.





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