December 14, 2014

Akshardham - Delhi

Site Name: Akshardham Temple
Site Type: Temple
Location:  East Delhi, Delhi, India
Highlights: A huge temple complex; one of the largest temples of India; an architectural marvel
Nearest Railway Station: New Delhi
Nearest Airport: New Delhi
How to reach: Well connected by road, rail and air
Hotel: A lot of options in Delhi
Restaurants: Varieties of options in Delhi

New Delhi is the capital city of India. There are varieties of tourist sites in this city which include forts, monuments, memorials, mosques, heritage sites and temples. Let us explore Akshardham temple in this article.

Akshardham temple is one of the latest attractions of Delhi city. More than 7000 workers' hardwork for about five yeas resulted in the inauguration of this huge temple complex in November 2005. The temple is also called Swami Narayan Mandir. Swami Narayan was a Hindu saint who lived in the beginning of the 19th century CE. He was from Uttar Pradesh state and settled down in Gujarat. He is the central figure in Swami Narayan sect of Hinduism. The Akshardham temple in Gandhi Nagar is older than this. 

The complex has multiple sections and buildings. The central building is the main temple dedicated to Swami Narayan. It is a blend of different architectural styles from different parts of India. The structure is built entirely from Rajasthani pink sandstone and Italian Carrara marble without using steel or concrete. The structure has around 234 carved pillars and around 20,000 sculptures on the pillar and walls. 

The main deity Swaminarayan is a 11 feet high idol. He is surrounded by similar statues of the Gurus of the sect. The idols of Ram-Sita, Lakshmi-Narayan, Shiv-Parvati and Radha-Krishna are also found in the main shrine. 

The prakara around the main shrine has many elephant statues in different postures.

There is a section called Sahajanand Pradarshan, which features lifelike robotics displaying incidents from Swaminarayan's life.

The Neelakanth Darshan is an iMax screen which displays the film on the life of Swaminarayan.

The Sanskriti Vihar features a boat ride which takes the devotees to different periods of India starting from Vedic period to modern day.

There is also a small Swami Narayan temple within this complex.

Happy travelling.



December 13, 2014

Nainital

Site Name: Nainital
Site Type: Hill station, Lake
Location:  Uttarakhand state, India
Highlights: One of the most popular hill stations and tourist destinations in India
Nearest Railway Station: Kathgodam, 35 kms from Nainital
Nearest Airport: Pantnagar, 70 kms from Nainital
How to reach: Well connected by road through National Highway 87
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire town
Restaurants: Varieties of options across the entire town

Nainital is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It is situated in Uttarakhand state of India. Various lakes and picturesque lakes in Nainital and the surrounding places make it the important tourist site. Let us explore about all the important destinations in Nainital.

Drive from Kathgodam to Nainital

Kathgodam is the base station to reach Nainital. The railway link is available only till Kathgodam. The one hour drive to cover 35 kms from Kathgodam to Nainital, which is located at an altitude of 6837 feet above sea level,  is interesting with a lot of breathtaking viewpoints. Nainital, one of the most beautiful places in entire India, is situate on a valley with a large lake and is surrounded by hills in all sides. The highest hill in the mountain range is called as Naina.

Naina Devi Temple

Naina Devi Temple is located on the shore of the famous Naina Lake in Nainital. As per the legend, the Goddess Sati destroyed herself by falling on the yagna fire of her father Daksha. Lord Shiva got extremely angry;he lifted her corpse and started dancing rudra thandava. To protect the universe from the wrath of Lord Shiva, Vishnu cut down Sati's corpse into multiple pieces. The sites where her body's parts fell were called as Shakti Peethas. Naina Devi temple is one of those Shakti Peethas. It is believed that Sati's eyes fell in this site. (Naina means eyes.)

The temple is small and beautiful. The main deity Naina Devi is represented by two eyes. She is flanked by Lakshmi, Saraswati, Riddhi and Siddhi. Some of the idols that are found in this temple include Ganesha, Navagraha, Shiva Linga, Hanuman and Radha-Krishna.


Nainital Lake

Nainital Lake aka Naini Lake is the most important tourist attraction of Nainital. The lake got its named from the Goddess Naina Devi and the town got its name from this beautiful eye shaped lake. The lake which is located at the heart of the town is the most visited site in Nainital. A boat ride in the lake to view the picturesque hills that are surrounded should never be missed out. 


Zoo

Although the zoo is very small, it is unique due to its altitude. It is located at an altitude of 2100 meters from the sea level. An one km trek or a yak ride takes the tourists to this small and cute zoo. Importantly, it is one of two high altitude zoos in India.


Bhowali

Located at a distance of around 11 kms from Nainital, Bhowali is the junction from which one can travel to all the nearby hill stations. It is famous for it hill fruit mart. 


Ghorakhal

Situated at a distance of about 3 kms from Bhowali, Ghorakhal has a tribal temple dedicated to tribal God called Golu. The deity is small and is sitting on a horse. The temple which is full of bells hanged also houses other deities such as Kali, Smashan Devi etc. Devotees bring goats and sheep in large number to sacrifice in this temple.


Sattal

Sattal is a cluster of seven lakes. It is located at an altitude of 1370 meters at a distance of about 23 kms from Nainital. Nala Damayanti and Garud lakes are the first two lakes. As we move down further, the cluster of five lakes namely Ram lake, Lakshman lake, Bharat lake, Sita lake and Hanuman lake are found as a group. The boating is not available in Hanuman, Garud and Nala Damayanti lakes.


Bhimtal

Bhimtal, which is located at a distance of 22 kms from Nainital at an altitude of 1370 meters is larger than Nainital lake. The lake has an island in the middle where tourist vistas are located. Boating is the highlight of this site.


Hanuman Garhi Temple

At a distance of around 4 kms from the Nainital bus stand and at an altitude of 1951 meters, Hanuman Garhi temple is located. It has a large idol of Hanuman as the main deity. The other deities found in this temple include Shiva and Ram-Sita. There is a replica of Vaishnov Devi cave shrine found in this temple complex. 


Naukuchia Tal

Naukuchia Tal, which is located at a distance of 26 kms from Nainital at an altitude of 1220 meters is an ideal place not only for boating but also for bird watching.


Ropeway

Ropeway is one of the best attractions in Nainital. It connects snow view point at 2270 meters with Nainital. 


Horse Riding

Horse riding is an important tourist attraction in Nainital. Horses are available at Barapathar. The tourists can visit Lover's Point, Tiger Top, Tiffin Top, Dorothy's Seat and other viewpoints and also get spectacular Himalayan view on horse riding.


Caves Garden

Caves Garden is a collection of six natural caves located in a garden along with a fountain. It has become a main tourist attraction in the last 10-15 years.


Waterfalls

There is a waterfalls located in the outskirts of Nainital. It is an added tourist attraction where tourists can take refreshing bath.

Happy travelling.

December 10, 2014

Melavasal Subramanya Temple

Site Name: Subramanya Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of the important temples of Tanjore
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road and rail
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city

Those who know about Thanjavur (Tanjore) city is South India know mainly about the great Brahadeeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja Chola around 1000 years back. However, there are many rare and interesting sites found across the entire city. Let us explore about Subramanya temple.

Melavasal Subramanya temple is one of the important temples in Tanjore city. It is located at West Main street. 

The temple is very small and it is located slightly at higher altitude which can be reached through small staircase. 

The sanctum sanctorum has Subramanya along with his two consorts Valli and Devasena.

The idols of Shiva Linga, Ambal, Ganesha and Subramanya are also located in this temple.

Happy travelling.


Tanjore Kodi Amman Temple

Site Name: Kodi Amman Temple
Site Type: Hindu Temple
Location:  Outskirts of Tanjore city, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The legend associated with the temple reveals the origin of the name of Thanjavur (Tanjore) city
Nearest Railway Station: Tanjore
Nearest Airport: Trichy
How to reach: Well connected by road and rail
Hotel: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city
Restaurants: A lot of options across the entire Tanjore city

Those who know about Thanjavur (Tanjore) city in South India know mainly about the great Brahadeeswarar Temple built by Raja Raja Chola around 1000 years back. However, there are many rare and interesting sites found across the entire city. Let us explore about Kodi Amman temple, which is supposed to be one of the original temples of this city. 


Highlights:
  • The city Thanjavur was probably named after the demon who was killed by Goddess Kodi Amman, the main deity of the temple.
  • Goddess - Kodi Amman
  • The utsava idols of this temple are located in a separate temple in faraway place.
  • The Goddess bears Lord Shiva on her head which is unique.

Legend:

As per the legend, the demon Thanjan got boon from Lord Shiva and became very powerful. He was troubling the Devas who had inhabited the site where the temple is currently located. The Devas sought Shiva's help. Lord Shiva sent his consort to help them. The Goddess took the form of Pachai Kali (her complexion in green color) and started fighting the demon. However, the demon started taking different forms and was reappeared crore (kodi) times. Kali became very ferocious and turned red in color and was called as Pavala Kali. As she ultimately killed the demon who took kodi forms, she was named as Kodi Amman. The blood of demon flew as river and as it was reflecting in the body of Goddess, her body turned into red, as per another version. As per the request by Thanjan to the Goddess, the place was named as Thanjavur.

There is slightly a different version which states that the Goddess fought with two demons Thanjan and Tharagan in order to protect Parasara rishi and his disciples. 

As per another version, as the temple is located at the corner of the city, the deity was named as Kodi Amman. Kodi means corner in Tamil language.

There is another legend associated with this temple. There was a Chola king ruling this region once. As his country was affected by drought, he sought advice from the sage Vashisht. As per his advice, he expelled a Brahmin who was associated with an unchaste woman from his country. The Brahmin aligned himself with a king named Chatrgopan, the enemy of the Chola kingdom. The king attacked the Chola Kingdom, Kali took score of figures carrying burning woods and protected the boundary of the Chola King. Thus the Goddess was named as Kodi Amman. The Chola king built this temple.

Temple Layout:

This is a village temple located in the outskirts of Tanjore city enroute to Kumbakonam. It is close to a place called Sungan Tidal. 

The temple is very small and has no tower. The sanctum santorum has the five feet tall large stucco red colored idol of Kodi Amman. She looks very ferocious. She has eight arms and bears Lord Shiva on her head. 

Kodi Amman is flanked by Pachai Kali and Pavala Kali. Both are stone idols are they are present in the main shrine too.

The entrance of the temple has the idols of Ganesha, Subramanya and Shasta- Poorna-Pushkala.

The temple has just one prakara. The idols mostly of village deities are located in the prakara. Some of the idols present here include Madurai Veeran, Karuppanna Swami, Shiva Durga, Vishnu Durga, Shakti Linga, Raja Vishnu Durga, Swarna Bhairava, Karuppannan, Dakshinamurti and Kala Bhairava.

Usually, the processional (utsava) metal idols are also present in the same temple premises. However, the utsava idols of Pachai Kali and Pavala Kali, the deities of this temple, are located in Tirugnana Sambandhar Mutt adjoining Omli Pillaiyar Temple in Mela Masi Veethi (West Main Street) in Tanjore. 

There is a famous festival called Kali Attam connected to this temple where the utsava deities Pachai Kali and Pavala Kali are taken for procession.

Happy travelling.