Monthly Archives: December 2010

Hogennakal – Beyond Bliss…

This is one place that you should never miss… especially if you are on the either side of the border… Across the Tamil Nadu / Karnataka Border, you can go and visit this place… Beautiful falls where many movies have shot their panaromic scenes, Roja for one… Remember Dil Hain Chotta Sa??

 

Well anyways, so I rose up early in the morning and decided to head towards Hogennakal. The best way to reach there is to catch a direct bus from Salem Bus station, else you also have an option of going to Dharmapuri and from there to Hogennakalu. P.S It’s also the place where Veerappan used to dwell somewhere in the deep jungles near the Karnataka & Tamil Nadu Border…

 

Dosa @ Salem

Dosa @ Salem

 

My early morning breakfast, where I ate a really amazing double dosa 🙂 While I was doing that, this guy was like a ‘Masterchef’ dishing out some Malabari Parota… he was so quick in making them that you would just awe at the whole experience…

 

Malabari Parota

Malabari Parota

That’s the Malabari Parota I didn’t eat 😛

 

Visit the Aquarium, right near the Bus Stand… as soon as you reach Hogennakal,  after about a 3 hours ride on the bus, which by the way just costs Rs.  26, thanks to the truly inexpensive and amazing Tamil Nadu State Transportation 🙂

 

Tiger Shark

Tiger Shark

American Chillidos

American Chillidos

Another Gold Fish

Gold Fish

Crocodile Park

Crocodile Park & Rehabilitation Center

 

This is one thing you have got to visit… You can see the crocodiles up close and personal, is a completely different experience… A lot of them are severly injured… Of course, due to fights amongst themselves. But the real fear of this animal strikes you in the eye… even though they are lazy and slow, they are some creatures not to mess with… P.S Entry to this center is Rs. 1. 1 Km from Bus stand…

 

Ferocious JAWS

Ferocious JAWS

 

Once you are done with the crocodile park, head straight to the Main falls… On the way, you can take a few pics of scenic falls, but really, don’t bother as you will get great views when you go down and take a ride in the single oar boat… They also serve, cold drinks and chips on other boats around you.. 🙂

 

Gateway to Heaven

Gateway to Heaven

 

 

Hogenakkal Waterfalls - Up Close

Hogenakkal Waterfalls - Up Close

 

 

Too Close

 

Beauty n Bliss...

Beauty n Bliss...

 

 

Sunset on my way back

Sunset on my way back

I just love the Sun… Which photographer doesn’t??? But truly, this place is a must visit… You should go there once at least… 🙂

Share

Advertisements

Chidambaram – Natrajar temple…

Chidambaram from Pondicherry was just one – two hours away… So I decided to check it out before I check out of Pondicherry. I must say, after being in Pondicherry for two days, I just didn’t feel like saying adeiu to Pondy… It has a magical aura to it, that makes you want to stay back… But, leave that I had to…

You get a lot of buses from Pondicherry bus stand to Chidambaram, shouldn’t be that difficult a task… When I left, it was kind of cloudy and the route to Chidambaram is really beautiful, pleasant I  must say…

Meadows Enroute Chidambaram

Meadows Enroute Chidambaram

Very pleasant sight this is… you will find plenty of these sights enroute Chidambaram… If it’s cloudy and cool breeze blowing in your face, it’s all the more relaxing.. 🙂

Plenty of Farms enroute Chidambaram

Plenty of Farms enroute Chidambaram

With these farms, who needs farmville 😛

Pretty Hut

Pretty Hut

Trying to get a snap of these huts was a difficult task, especially when the bus was moving so fast… But luckily got one 🙂

This is a humble devotee of Lord Rajnikanth

This is a humble devotee of Lord Rajnikanth

Somewhere inside the town.. I come across a humble devotee of Lord Rajnikanth… What a pleasure to meet him! 😛

Natraja Temple

Natraja Temple

Although the temple looks ordinary and small in this picture, you have got to be there to witness how humongous and magnificent the temple is. True to it’s nature, the Natraja stands tall…

Temple inside the temple

Temple inside the temple

The true beauty of the temple is its interiors, besides this temple within a temple, there are a lot more attributes inside the temple that really classify it as one of the best Lord Shiva temples… And like most others, inside you will find a lot of serenity and cold!

Pillars of strength

Pillars of strength

Truly the aesthetics match up to the standard temples of the blessed devotees of Shiva!

Beauty of the Curves
Beauty of the Curves

As elsewhere, the carvings and the sculptures are deeply ingrained and the curves have their own beauty. They tell a story in itself…

Peace to the divine

Peace to the divine

What more do you expect when you have 33 crores of GODs within you… as they say in Hindu mythology… truly divine and serene…

 

Temple Bell
Temple Bell
Rustic
Rustic

Some info about the temple (Courtesy http://www.chidambaram.net ) The temple located in the centre of the town covers an area of 40 acres. Is is one of the ancient temples of Tamil Nadu. The roof of the sanctum sanctrorum is covered with gold plates. The presiding deity of the temple is represented by air, one of the five elements of the universe and is known as Akasa Lingam. The Eastern tower rises to a height of 40.8 metres. 108 Bharatha Natyam Dance gesture can be seen on the Eastern tower as well as on Western tower. The Northern tower rises to height of 42.4 metres.The Sivakamiamman temple, the Sivaganga tank, the thousand pillar hall are other important features of the Temple.

 

Share

Auroville – The city of dawn

Auroville: a dream: there should be somewhere on earth a place which no nation could claim as its own, where all human beings of good will who have a sincere aspiration, could live freely as citizens of the world and obey one single authority, that of the supreme truth; a place of peace concord & harmony… The Mother

 

So there are actually two reasons why I decided to do this separate post on Auroville…

 

1. There is certainly a lot more to tell about Auroville as a part of itself and wanted it to be read for what it’s real beauty is…rather than mixing it up with Pondicherry.

 

2. Trying a different style of Travel Blogging, much popular amongst most travel bloggers. i.e A running photo commentary (New touch to this blogumentary)

 

So before I begin my running photo blogumentary, just a few insights on Auroville courtsey – tourism.pondicherry.gov.in

 

Auroville was conceived as a place of research into the ideal of human unity by the Mother, the spiritual collaborator of Sri Aurobindo. The idea is to build a futuristic city where people of goodwill can live together in peace and progressive harmony, above all creeds, all politics and all nationalities. Auroville came into existence in 1968. Its Charter says, “To live in Auroville one must be a willing servitor of the Divine Consciousness”, and describes it as “belonging to nobody in particular, but to humanity as a whole”; as a place “of constant progress”; and as “a bridge between the past and the future.”

 

Located around 8 kms north-west of Puducherry, Auroville was designed by the French architect Roger Anger. Around 2,000 people live there in settlements with names like Grace, Fraternity, Fertile, Certitude and Transformation. Nearly two-thirds of the residents are non-Indians.

***

AuroVille Beach

That is Auroville beach… The beauty and the serenity of this beach is what attracted me while riding on the bike, I took a slight detour and headed off to see what it’s all about. Hardly anyone on the beach this place was true bliss!!

Lotus Lake

As I head into Auroville, when I approach the villages while enroute Matri Mandir (Golden Globe Temple) as most of you would know, I stumble across this Lotus Lake, too bad none of them have bloomed, but it’s quite a sight by itself… Next stop is the visiting center / Matri Mandir of Auroville (Matri means Mother… for those who don’t know)

Shopping for Peace

Inside the visiting center, you can shop for some spirituality and peace… Something most people throng here for, besides the souvenirs of course… The fragrance of the auro candles, the beautiful blissful serenity is amazing… Once you are done with shopping here you can head on the first floor where you get free passes to the Matri Mandir, before watching a short introductory video on Auroville. A short 10 minutes film which leaves you mesmerized and truly feels great while watching it, sitting down on the carpet in an empty hall.. Spiritually rejuvenating…

Cycle Stand

This enroute a 1KM walk to the viewing point of Matri Mandir… You go there walking amongst beauty of the nature… Truly amazing the whole 1KM hike… You feel rejuvenated already.

Walking Shelters

You will find many such walking shelters to protect you from sun, rain, heat… not that it is something that you really think about especially inside the beauty of this place… The whole walk is in itself a brilliant experience…

Living in Peace with Nature

This beautiful centipede was strolling around in peace… that is when I decided to capture it in my box… Photo Box 🙂

A close view of Nature's Beauty

You will find these and many more on your way to the Matri mandir… True nature’s beauty making Auroville what it is from wasteland to a green revolution..

Matri Mandir

 

Finally after reaching the Matri Mandir, you can’t help but awe the whole structure.  The central Matrimandir, which is not a temple but a place for individual silent concentration, is set in an area of 62 acres at the centre of the emerging township, and is seen as “a symbol of the Divine’s answer to man’s aspiration for perfection. Union with the Divine manifesting in a progressive human unity.”

 

During the inauguration ceremony of Auroville on 28th February 1968 , soil from 124 countries was placed in a lotus-shaped urn and mixed to symbolize universal oneness. This urn is today sited at the centre of an Amphitheatre in the Matrimandir Gardens . The Matrimandir’s 12-sided white marble Inner Chamber has a 70 cms diameter optical-quality glass globe at its centre, onto which a shaft of sunlight is focused by way of a roof-mounted heliostat. The light falling on the globe acts as a focal aid to concentration.

 

The Auroville Visitors Centre (Ph: 0413 – 2622239) is located near Bharat Nivas, the Indian national pavilion in Auroville’s International Zone, and is open from 0930 to 1730 hrs every day. This Centre has a permanent exhibition on the history and philosophy of the project, an Information Service offering books, brochures and leaflets on various aspects of Auroville, three boutiques, a bookshop, and a cafeteria providing refreshments and international cuisine.

 

Mushroom Tart and Mashed Potato Salad

Mushroom Tart and Mashed Potato Salad

 

And this is what I had in the cafeteria there, which by the way is run by volunteers of Auroville and the proceeds of all of it goes to the maintainence of Auroville…

 

All said and done, this was a trip I thoroughly enjoyed, the bike ride in a slight drizzle on a road covered on both sides with the tree, the spiritually refreshing video of auroville or the profound quotes inside the museum of the visiting center… All made me re-evaluate the way we human beings are living our lives… Truly, ‘we are the citizens of the world’ and that is the only thing that should matter… Peace…

all assets, all properties belong to auroville & auroville belongs to humanity as a whole #aurovillequotes #SriniOnTour

A new spirit of oneness will take hold of the human race#aurovilleauotes #SriniOnTour

 

Share

Pondicherry – Give Time a break…

…..There stands Francois Dupleix. Not too far away is Joan of Arc. It’s a trip down France as one crosses symmetrically aligned streets in puducherry. The Portuguese have been here. So have the Dutch.. The Danes. The English And the French. And here I am now…

 

Truly a place that is a must visit on any given day… As soon as I left from Chennai, I realized… this is it man, Pondicherry is certainly going to be one of the most remarkable places to visit in this #SriniOnTour… I remember Pondicherry, Auroville from our History and English textbooks way back in school. Always used to wonder after reading about the place, how the whole experience of living in a colonized place would be… How the place is diverse and yet united across the Bay of Bengal… How there are people of various nationalities that throng the place, yet are comfortable for it’s as if their own country…

 

As soon as I reached Pondicherry bus stand, I headed off to Rangapillai Street, not so far away from the Pondicherry beach (Beach Street) Thankfully @ttvijay said he’d help me out with the accomodations, otherwise it would have been a task to get one easily, especially since it’s season time and talking in tamil isn’t an art I’ve mastered, nor do I know fluent French yet… not that they would know french, but you know… So here I was finally… touchdown Pondicherry at last. After I settled down, I decided to take a look around and see what’s in store for me? Surprisingly, most of the places in Pondicherry, important ones… are really close to each other. So it’s kind of a good thing for you…especially if you rent a bike there… Yes, you can do that, just opposite to the Rangapillai street, you’ll get a lot of bikes for 200 bucks, which is farely cheap, considering in Goa, they just charge you whatever they feel like…

 

So one of the things I had made sure I’d do… is go and eat at the Appachi restaurant! Yes, that’s the legendary restaurant that dishes out Chettinad food… Man, and I should say, SPICY Chettinad Food… And I can tell you, having tasted it, there’s certainly a reason for me to go gaga about the place. The decor is also very homely, starting from the roof to interiors, it feels as if you are in someone’s house in a village of Chettinad. [Chettinad food, now is one of the many reasons why people get to know Chettinad. Chettinad food is essentially spicy, with a standard full meal consisting of cooked dhal, eggplant (brinjal) curry, drumstick sambarghee for flavouring rice, and sweet meats likepayasam and paal paniyaram. “Kara kolambu” is a highly regarded south Indian sambar. Chettinad delicacy:Aadi kummayam, its a mouth watering delicacy for the sweet toothed ones, made from pulses.] (Wikipedia)

 

The next day was tour de Pondicherry and Auroville. But before that I made sure that I get up really early in the morning and get some really, and I mean really great shots of the Sunrise to actually make a Sunrise collage… This time, the beach was really near the hotel I was staying at…So, no getting lost or confused about any stations… Parks or Park towns 😛

 

But as they say… In the world where Mr. Murphy exists, you have got to follow one thumb rule… ‘Expect the unexpected’ and viola… the clouds thronged the sky till the sun came up and spoiled my plans of getting myself a sunrise collage… Nonetheless, got some really brilliant shots and hope that my collage dream is fulfilled somewhere down the road…on #SriniOnTour.

 

Another thing about Pondicherry is the beauty of it’s French section of the town. In French Town the roads are flanked by colonial style buildings with long compound walls and statelygates, behind which life unfolds. The facades have often vertical columns and tall windows and are coloured cream, yellow and pink. (tourism.pondicherry.gov) The beauty still remains and strikes you charmingly in the face 🙂

 

Truly, staying in Pondicherry and especially riding around on the bike exploring the town, I really felt like giving time a break… And that is one of the reason why I’m one day behind my schedule on the trip… Anyways, I hope to catch up soon, but for now I’ll relax, unwind and just chill… What do you think?

 

P.S I will be writing another post completely on my experience in Auroville… Do wait for that one 🙂

 

Share

God works in Mysterious ways… Kancheepuram tales

So, after the Marina beach was done with, I had decided to go to Kancheepuram! Then I saw a couple of tweets one from @BwahahaO_o and @Shradzberry that I must visit Mahabalipuram and it’s something that I should not miss.  So I had my lunch and I was almost set to head to Mahabalipuram. I asked around and they said, you can go to Mahabalipuram via Broadway or Koyembedu. These are the two hubs where you get buses to most places. I must say up until now, the transportation in Tamil Nadu has really impressed me. Incidentally, Tamil Nadu has the 3rd best commutes in the world. Wow!! So, anyways, I was all set to head to Mahabalipuram and probably do Kancheepuram later, maybe the next day.

 

So anyways, I get this call from @BwahahaO_o earlier @WhatdBeep earlier @Oyebehendetakke aka Shreyans Deora aka Skid and God alone knows how many more names he has :P. He says, he’ll try to arrange for a car and we both can go to Kancheepuram or Mahabalipuram… or both… So he speaks to his dad, his dad tried to hook us up with someone in the temple so that we don’t have to stand in a huge queue etc etc.. So after going back and forth about what we should do… and spending almost an hour of conversation with @BwahahaO_o and his dad over the phone, we finally decide to do Kancheepuram and leave Mahabalipuram for the next day…

Clicked by @BwahahaO_o

Ok, now, from 1:00 PM, it’s 2:oo PM, @BwahahaO_o says he’ll meet me at Chennai central in half an hour… I wait for him, looking around and wondering what to do, besides tweeting of course… I keep observing people on a warm Sunday. Chennai central is buzzing at this time. Auto drivers haggling people to come sit in their auto, and people nodding their head choosing to walk the other way.

 

So I’m waiting… It’s 2:30 PM, I call him up and he says, he’d be there in 5-10 minutes… time flies by and it’s 3:30 PM and still no sign of @BwahahaO_o I tweet out to him @BwahahaO_o:  Dude..WTH are you?? I wud have reached Mahabalipuram by now #SriniOnTour

 

After a long wait, I decide to head to Mahabalipuram myself… at least I could reacht there before sunset and get great pics… I take a bus to broadway which by the way costs just Rs. 2.  I don’t know anywhere else a ticket would cost that much.  So I’m on the bus, off to Broadway and then to Mahabalipuram… guess what @BwahahaO_o calls me up.

“Where are you dude?”

“Headed to broadway… You didn’t come, so I thought of going to Mahabalipuram”

“Oh, So what do we do?, I’ve been to Mahabalipuram many times.. don’t want to go there…”

So then we figure it out and decide to meet at Koyembedu… and after an hour of going back and forth… we finally meet. It’s almost 4:00 PM and the journey to Kancheepuram is about 1.5 hours… As we head off, @BwahahaO_o apologizes to me and says, Sorry man, it got so late… looks like we won’t get good pics of the sunset. I just tell him “Everything happens for a reason buddy…Wait and Watch”

 

Kancheepuram Arrived

 

So as soon as we arrive at Kancheepuram, the first thing I wanna do is to (EAT) I’m really hungry and that is the only thing that seemed most logical at that point, of course, visiting the temples was on the agenda… So anyways, for the first time I get to have Idiappayam Kuruma, very delicious vegetables and appayam made out of rice paste. Really delicious!

 

“Everything happens for a reason..” Well now we know why… It was a huge celebration and Sankalp in the temple… There were prayers, mantras and japas going on (recitals) We realize that the lord of the temple is being worshipped and he will be taken on a procession in a chariot… A golden chariot which is glaring in front of us, beautifully lit at night… I look around, ask if it’s okay to take photos of the chariot!!! I get a go ahead from a swamiji (priest)  nearby.

 

So, I’m all set to take some really nice pictures and… suddenly, the trumpets, the dhols and the tablas start blowing… There is a huge c crowd all of a sudden.. that starts flocking the chariot. Everyone starts taking pictures as the Kamakshi goddess has arrived… They get her statue outside and mount her on the chariot.. The procession has begun… I’m awed by the aura of the chariot and he beautiful colors they have on the goddess…

 

As I’m taking a few snaps with my Canon 1000D DSLR camera, I see the head preist waving to me… I first think that  he’s forbidding me to take pictures… then I see him smiling… and he’s calling me out. I got a little confused, maybe he wants to know something and then suddenly, it strikes me.. amongst everyone else who’s shooting with their mobile cameras, digicams, I’m the only one with a professional camera around. So he calls me up and asks me to take a few pictures of his guest besides the chariot and shoot a few pictures of the procession itself. He requests me to email it to him.. Yes email, I see the email ID as he hands me the card. (I say to myself, wonder if he’s on facebook… it would be easier for him to take those pictures then :P) Anyways, I tell him I will and I’m about to head to the queue to take darshan…when he asks me.

 

“Have you taken the Darshan?” (Have you visited the temple?)

“No, not yet sir, just going”

“How many of you are there?”

“Two”

“Come, I’ll arrange for someone to take you inside…”

“Everything happens for a reason…”

 

What do you think about the whole incident??

 

Share

Park or Park Town?? – Marina Beach and More…

With barely two hours of sleep, I woke up at 4:55 AM in the morning… I had set three alarms just to make sure that I get up on time… On time to catch the Sunrise at Marina Beach… Last night, I had got a lot of instructions from @adivik2000 as I mentioned earlier… It was time to test my memory and see if I could remember anything… Most importantly, had to make sure that I get to the beach before the sun had risen completely…

 

So there I was, all wide and awake, despite the lack of sleep. After all couldn’t miss the early morning sunris of Marina Beach! So I set out to go to Park Town Station, which I was told to go to in our conversations. So while I’m at the signal, I ask the traffic cop where the station is, he directs me across the highway and I keep walking… Suddenly I see Park Station, (I remember Aditya @adivik2000) telling me, there are two stations, Park and Park Town…) I ask around for Park Town and all the guys direct me to this station. Well, to my pleasant surprise, I see the station and also see  a train which is going to ‘Beach Station’

 

That means, I have got the right station, right?? Wrong… I also recollect, Aditya telling me to get to Lighthouse station, but that is only after I’ve boarded the train and also seen the tweet from him… Bah, too late… Looks like I was going to miss the sunrise… So I have to take another ticket and board a train to Lighthouse, which is max 10 minutes from here…

 

Now, I know what others feel like in Mumbai, when they get confused between Matunga and Matunga Rd… Anyways, having said that I finally reach the Lighthouse station… Viola! Right on time to catch the Sunrise…!

 

One of the best things about Marina beach is how the waves talk to you… They can literally whisper in your ears and show you what truly, bliss means. Close your eyes and listen to the sound and the calm against the shore… You’d be in a different world altogether. This is what we want to cherish more than anything. More than the pictures I took, this experience left a mental picture and a video in my head, which I can always go back to and enjoy!

 

Have you guys felt this way ever?

 

Share

#SriniOnTour – First pit stop…Chennai

 

#SriniOnTour so far – Mumbai – Bangalore – Chennai (1st PitStop)


“Finally, here at the mecca of Lord Rajnikanth worshippers!!!” That is what my Facebook status read as soon as I alighted at Chennai central. As I had mentioned in my earlier post, was worried about getting the train at Bangalore… Thankfully, the train was late by 1 hr, not that it mattered, as I had anyways reached the station before 4:00 PM. Nonetheless, the train journey was really fantastic. If anyone wants to go from Bangalore to Chennai, then Shatabdi is what I recommend! IRCTC has done a really great job in terms of the service, the comfort of this train. The food was great too!! Best part about it was, that it just kept coming… First, the samosas, sandwich, appy and a sweet dish. Then breadsticks and butter, followed by soup… You think that was it?? How about the fantabulous dinner you see in one of the pictures above! Great stuff, truly.

 

So here I was, finally at Chennai central at 10:00 PM on a Christmas that was about to end… At the first impression, I got confused… #SriniOnTour has just begun, why do I feel like I’m back to Mumbai?? Yes, the weather was humid, the station buzzing, just like C.S.T… or V.T as I’d like to call it… In fact, Mumbai weather had gone cold about 20 degrees  C at night. But surprisigly or not, there was no trace of cold in Chennai when I touched down.

 

I gave a call to @adivik2000 who had been helping me out with directions to Marina beach! Well, that was the plan in the morning, but until then I also had to find out a place to stay overnight. Which was very easy, with Aditya around… (Yes that’s his name) Turned out, he was around… He looked a little different from his twitter DP, maybe because of his recent haircut 🙂 Well, a short meeting, but great to have met him finally!

 

And what are the odds… @pradx came to drop me off in Mumbai and @adivik2000 came to receive me!! Both of them are from South! That’s just not it… @android_ajit gave me a crash course in Tamil and says he can help me out with Malyalam as well… I’m already loving South India!!  So great to have such friends especially if you are touring alone…

 

So the plan as of now is to take some rest… Get up early in the morning at 5:00 AM and get some great snaps of the Sunrise at Marina Beach… I’ve been told it’s very beautiful in the morning. I’m hoping I wake up early and get there on time… 🙂 Till then I leave you with a few insights on Marina Beach a little pre-tour research that I had done on http://everlater.com/srinistuff (Courtesy : Wikipedia & Tamil Nadu Tourism)

 

Marina Beach

Image Courtesy: Insomniac’s Observatory

Marina Beach  is located on the eastern side of Chennai, adjoining the Bay of Bengal. Watching the sun set and rise from the beach is an enthralling experience. Though bathing and swimming can be dangerous, as the undercurrent is very strong, even then people come for swimming here. In the evenings, the beach is virtually a fair ground with various kinds of entertainment and food stalls lining the beach.

 

Hope to get some really great snaps of the beach tomorrow morning and some places in Chennai…