April 30, 2016

Statue of Liberty

Site Name: Statue of Liberty
Site Type: Monument
Location: New York, USA 
Highlights: One of the most popular attractions of New York as well as for the entire USA
Nearest Train Stations: Bowling Green, Whitehall Street, South Ferry Station
Nearest Airport: New York
How to reach: Easily reachable by road, train, and flight
Hotel: A lot of budget and luxury hotels are available within New York; as the local transportation especially subway train system is good, one can even stay in the nearby places too for cheaper options.
Restaurants: A lot of options for wine and dine

Everyone who visits New York would definitely visit or at least attempt to visit Statue of Liberty. Statue of Liberty is one of the popular tourist destinations in New York city. This massive green colored copper statue was a gift to the US from the people of France. It was sculpted in 1886 CE and was designed by a famous French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi. 

The statue of the female who raises a torch and holds a tablet represents Libertas, a Roman Goddess. The statue is an icon of freedom and hence it is called as Statue of Liberty. 

The site is accessible by boat as it is situated in a government owned island called Liberty Island in the middle of New York harbor. The ferries are run from Battery to Liberty Island. The 20 minutes ferry ride is a pleasant experience more than visiting the Liberty Island. 

I am not writing more about this site as there are hundred of sources available across the net and even in the physical form that talk in length about this site and also about its history. 

Happy travelling.






April 29, 2016

Promenade Beach - Puducherry

Site Name: Aurobindo Ashram
Site Type: Ashram
Location:  Puducherry, India
Highlights: A very popular ashram across the entire country
Nearest Railway Station: Puducherry
Nearest Airport: Chennai 
How to reach: Well connected
Hotel: Many star hotels, luxury hotels/resorts and budget hotels are available 
Restaurants: Varieties of options

Puducherry, also called as Pondicherry, is a city located in Puducherry Union Territory near Chennai city in India. The beach which is located in the city's ancient French quarter is one of the major tourist destination of Puducherry.

It's rocky beach where you cannot find much of sand. The beach road is well maintained. There are many historic buildings located on the other side of the road. Gandhi statue in the beach road is an important landmark of the city. In the evenings, motor vehicles are not allowed which enable the people to enjoy a pleasant evening leisurely over here. Also, if you go to this beach in the evenings during the week ends, you can watch the police parade.

Happy travelling.


April 28, 2016

Ahobila Math of Tambaram

Site Name: Ahobila Math
Site Type: Hindu temple
Location:   Selaiyur, East Tambaram, Near Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: The branch of famous Ahobila Math in Tambaram
Nearest Railway Station: Tambaram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tambaram and Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai and Tambaram

Sri Ahobila Math is a Vaishnava monastery established in the beginning of the 15th century CE in Ahobilam in Andhra Pradesh state of India. This Math has many branches all over India. Let us discuss about one such Ahobila Math located in Tambaram town near Chennai.

 Like any other Ahobila Math, this Math also has a Narasimha temple. The beautiful Murti of Narasimha with his consort Lakshmi on his lap is found seated on five hood Adi Sesha.

The temple has no other sub shrines apart from this main shrine. There is a small prakara. Vimana is there. But there is no gopura or flag staff in this temple. 

The utsav idols of Narasimha called as Prahalada Varada along with his two consorts, Lakshmi and Varaha, Lakshmi, Andal, Udaiyavar, Tirumangai Alwar and few other Alwars are also located in the sanctum. 

Happy travelling.

April 27, 2016

Grand Mall - Velachery

Site Name: Grand Mall 
Site Type: Shopping Mall
Location:   Velachery, Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A popular shopping mall in Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai 

Chennai city, the gateway to South India, has got one more place to hangout - Grand Mall. This is one of the most happening places in Chennai. It is situated in one of the highly crowded and unavoidable areas of Chennai, Velachery.

 This interesting place has varieties of shops - international and domestic retail brands, sports stores, electronics, home furnishing stores and even fine dining cafes/restaurants.

The mall is spread across 3,50,000 sq feet. Some of the well known stores and shops found in the mall include Shoppers Stop, Croma and Barbeque Nation.

PVR multiplex cinema hall is a recently added attraction to this mall.

This has definitely become a place not to be missed in the city. Velachery MRTS is at walking distance, which makes this mall easily accessible.

Happy travelling.

Forum Vijaya Mall

Site Name: Forum Vijaya Mall
Site Type: Shopping Mall
Location:   Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A popular shopping mall in Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai 

Chennai city, the gateway to South India, has got one more place to hangout - Forum Vijaya Mall. This is one of the most happening places in Chennai. It is one of the biggest shopping malls in the city as of toady. 

 This interesting place has varieties of shops - international and domestic retail brands, sports stores, electronics, home furnishing stores and even fine dining cafes/restaurants.

The mall is spread across 6,36,000 sq feet. Some of the well known stores and shops found in the mall include Ibaco, Viveks, RmKV and West Side.

Chennai's multiplex cinema hall and one of the very few IMAX theatres in Chennai, Palazzo, is also located in this mall. Kids play zone, called as Fun Zone, is always crowded with kids.

This has definitely become a place not to be missed in the city. The next door Vadapalani Metro Station, which was inaugurated recently has made this mall very easily accessible.

Happy travelling.

April 26, 2016

Pallikkaranai Adipureeswarar Temple

Site Name: Adipureeswarar Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Pallikkaranai, Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: A lesser known ancient temple in Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Chennai
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road 
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai 

Pallikkaranai is a locality in Chennai which has become popular in the last few years thanks to the IT companies in the neighborhood areas. Thousands of people pass through the high road that connects Velachery to OMR or Tambaram. I wonder how many of them realize that there is an ancient temple called Adipureeswarar located on this road. Although the temple is locally famous and people from Pallikkaranai area visit the temple regularly, this temple remains unknown to those who are residing outside Pallikkaranai area. Let us discuss about this temple in this article. 


Highlights:

  • God Adipureeswarar
  • Goddess Shanta Nayaki
  • Sthala Vruksha - Bilva
  • The temple was renovated during the period of Krishnadeva Raya 
  • It is a Rahu-Ketu parihara sthalam
  • It is considered as equivalent to Kalahasti

Legend:

As per the legend, the sage named Vyagrapada wanted to perform pooja to Lord Shiva with Bilva leaves. He was searching for a place where there would be a lot of Bilva trees and he at last found out this site. He wished his legs to be converted to that of tiger's and Shiva fulfilled his wish. He got tiger's legs using which he was able to pluck flowers and leaves faster to perform pooja. From then onwards, he was called as Vyagrapada. 

Later a King came to this region and heard about Vyagrapada. He built a temple for Shiva in this place and also named the region as Puliyur Kottam. (The words Vyagra in Sanskrit and Puli in Tamil mean tiger).


History:

It is believed to be at least 700 years old. As per the inscriptions, the temple was renovated during the reign of Krishnadeva Raya.  


Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has a small three tiered Raja gopura. 

The east facing sanctum enshrines Shiv Linga named as Adipureeswarar.

The south facing shrine of the Goddess Shanta Nayaki is found in the maha mandap area of the sanctum.

At the entrance of the sanctum, the idols of Ganesha and Subramanya are situated.


The small flag staff, bali peetha and Nandi mandap are found facing towards the main shrine.

The wall around the shrine of Shiva has Nardana Vinayaka, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Vishnu Durga as the Koshta idols.

The wall around the shrine of Shanta Nayaki has Kamakshi, Lakshmi and Saraswati as the Koshta idols.

The following sub-shrines are located in the prakara:


  • Maha Ganapati
  • Subramanya-Valli-Devasena
  • Hanuman
  • 63 Nayanmars
  • Navagraha
  • Nataraj-Sivakami
  • Utsav idols such as two pairs of Somaskanda, two pairs of Uma-Chandrasekhar, Subramanya, Ganesha, etc
  • Chandikeshwara
The idols that are found in the temple include:
  • Surya and Chandra facing towards the main shrine
  • Vyagrapada and Patanjali facing towards the main shrine (it is one of those temples believed to be visited by these two sages)
  • Swarna Akarshana Bhairav with his consort
  • Navagraha
  • Rahu and Ketu along with Ganesha
  • Ganesha and Sekkilar
  • Bhairav in maha mandap area
  • Bhairav in the prakara
  • Sharabheshwara


There is a section where five sacred Bilva trees are found together. Few Nagas and other such idols are kept under those trees.

A very big temple tank is located on crossing the high road.

Happy travelling.

April 25, 2016

Somamangalam Somnath Ishwar Temple

Site Name: Somnath Ishwar Temple
Site Type: Hindu ancient temple
Location:   Somamangalam, Near Chennai, Tamil Nadu state, India
Highlights: One of Navagraha Sthalams in Chennai
Nearest Railway Station: Tambaram
Nearest Airport: Chennai
How to reach: Well connected by road from Tambaram and Chennai
Hotel: A lot of options across Chennai
Restaurants:  A lot of options across Chennai and Tambaram

Somamangalam is a small locality located near Tambaram, which in turn is located near Chennai in Tamil Nadu state of India. The locality has an ancient Chola period temple called as Somnath Ishwar Temple. Let us explore about this architecturally beautiful temple in this article.


Highlights:

  • God Somnath Ishwar
  • Goddess Kamakshi
  • Sthala Vruksha (Sacred Tree) - Sara Kondrai (yellow laburnum)
  • Sthala Teerth (Holy Tank) - Soma Teerth
  • One of Navagraha Sthalams in Chennai
  • Soma (Chandra) Sthalam
  • Ancient Chola period Gaja prshtha temple
  • Koshta idols such as Dakshinamurti, Vishnu and Brahma are found along with their vahans
  • Nandi is facing its backside to Shiva
  • The stone image as well as the utsav idol of Skanda is in the form of Brahma Shasta
  • The unique Chatura Tandav posture of Nataraj

Legend:

As per the legend, Chandra was cursed by his father in law Daksha to wither and die. Chandra came to this site and took bath in the temple tank. He prayed to Lord Shiva in this site and got rid of his curse. Hence, Lord Shiva is named as Somnath Ishwar in this site. Soma is another name for Chandra, the Moon deity. 

As per another legend, a Chola King was constructing this temple. At that time, the place was invaded by the enemies. As his soldiers were involved in the temple construction, the King did not have anyone to face the enemies. He prayed to Lord Shiva. Shiva asked Nandi, the holy bull vahan of Shiva, to fight the enemies. He turned towards the east direction and blew down all the enemies without moving away from his place. Lord Shiva asked Nandi not to face back so that he can protect the site from the enemies forever. There is slightly a different version of the same legend which states that Nandi got very proud of himself as he was able to win the enemies without even moving from its place. So, Shiva did not allow Nandi to move back and face towards him.


History:


The temple was built by Kulotunga Chola in 1073 CE. 

The historic name of the site is very long. If you cannot read this, move to the next paragrah please. :-) It is Jayankonda Chola Mandalaththu Chenkattuk Kottaththu Maganoor Nattu Chomangalamana Rajasigamani Chaturvedi Mangalam. 

Temple Layout:

The east facing temple has entrance at the south direction. There is no gopura. The temple tank called as Chandeeswara Teerth is found in front of the temple. The other tank called as Soma Teerth is found at the distance of around 500 m from this temple. The temple is maintained by ASI.


It is a beautiful Chola period temple. ASI, in the name of renovation, has painted the temple in bright color, which looks odd.

Sanctum

The east facing sanctum enshrines big Shiv Linga called as Somnath Ishwar. The entrance of the sanctum has a small idol of Ganesha. The vimana is Gaja prshtha style.

Brahma Shasta Utsav idol

The small Maha mandap area houses some of the utsav idols that include the rare Kartikeya in the form of Brahma Shasta. When Brahma failed to perform his duty properly, Kartikeya punished Brahma and took over his duty. Hence, he is called as Brahma Shasta. In this form, he holds Akshara Mala and Kamandalu (sacred pot) and not any weapon. It is rare to find this form of Kartikeya. However, it is the rarest thing to find a metal utsav idol of Kartikeya in this form. The other temples depict Brahma Shasta form only as stone idols.


Chatura Tandav Nataraj

Another interesting utsav idol found here is that of Nataraj. Unlike his typical dance posture found in the other temples, here he is in different style of posture, which is called as Chatura Tandav posture. His two upper arms hold Damaru (drum) and Kaalagni (flame cup) as usual. However, his lower hand is raised in Abhaya mudra and the other lower arm drops loosely. His legs are bent at knees to form a square. This is very unique and rare idol.

Nandi

Flag staff and bali peetha are found facing towards the main shrine as usual. However, Nandi is facing in the direction as Shiva in this temple, which is another unique feature. 

Brahma Shasta


There is a mandap adjacent to the main shrine. In fact, we can enter into the main shrine only through this mandap. This mandap has a very beautiful idol of Ganesha. There are three Chola period stone idols found in this mandap. They are Brahma, Vishnu and Kartikeya. If you notice carefully Kartikeya, he is not in his usual form but in the form of Brahma Shasta. 


There is a sub-shrine in this mandap that is dedicated to a beautiful Kandaswami idol. Again, he is also in the form of Brahma Shasta.

This temple has totally three Brahma Shasta idols, which is something that cannot be found anywhere else.

Kamakshi


The Goddess of the temple is Kamakshi. She is found in a separate south facing shrine which has a front side mandap. At the entrance of this shrine, the idols of Ganesha and Kartikeya are situated.

Koshta idols


The Koshta idols of the temple are extremely beautiful. Ganehsa, Dakshinamurti, Vishnu, Brahma and Durga are found as the Koshta (niche) idols. Chandikeshwara is found in his usual place.

One more uniqueness of this temple is that the Koshta deities are found along with their respective vaahans. Dakshinamurti's sculpture has a miniature image of Nandi; similarly, Vishnu has Garud below him and Brahma has swan below him.


Other Deities


The prakara is vast in area with open space. The sub-shrines of Ganesha and Murugan with his consorts are situated here.

Facing towards the sanctum, the sub-shrines of Chandra and Surya are found. Chandra is big and prominent idol. 

The sub-shrines of Bhairav and Navagraha are also situated in the prakara. 

A Shiv Linga under the sculpted holy tree is found and is called as Vruksha Lingam. 

Happy travelling.