Tag Archives: Chennai

Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

Enchanting Mysteries of South India

“To traverse beyond the limitations of my mind, I travel to look upon the journey within myself.” With these thoughts, I set off on an adventure of a lifetime. A voyage to the mysterious beauties that unravel the most amazing parts of my country. A travelogue to capture the ‘Incredible India’ down South.

My visit to Tamil Nadu, Pondicherry and Kerala had begun. I had heard from my friends, people didn’t speak anything else but their local languages out there. That made me equally foreign to these lands as anyone else who came from any other country.  To me, this was a challenge and a trip that would be monumental after I had completed it. With solitude on my side, I had decided to explore over 17 superb locations in 15 days. Most importantly, I was going to discover the beautiful culture South India had to offer and document each and every location as a journal on my blog. With a Vernian, inspiration l had to ensure this journey went down in my books as the best one!

It all started with Chennai. From my helpful twitter friends to the conductors and everyone else warmly responding to my requests, helping me out wherever I went in little or broken English they spoke in. Yet always willfully extending their support without any intent but to help me out. With a sultry atmosphere, one I hadn’t anticipated, I started my journey by heading off to Marina Beach. The warm, humid air in Chennai bore a resemblance to the weather that I was used to during the summers in Mumbai. But, in winter, this humidity came to me as a surprise particularly when it was about 20-22 degrees centigrade back home… Nonetheless, my objective was to start off with a beautiful array of sunrise shots to tell a story of this marvel in Chennai! The experience of going to Marina beach, traveling amongst the locals on the train was something I could relate to. Very similar to our Mumbai Locals… Gave me content in the fact that our cities, despite the cultural difference, had a lot in common.

The Marina Beach, Chennai

The rest of Tamil Nadu was a quest for my spiritual journey across the fortresses and temples of the most majestic kinds in the country! From a  mysterious yet wonderful experience in Kancheepuram to satisfying and peaceful tryst with Lord Shiva in Thrichy, every temple had a story of its own. The most appealing temple was, of course, Thanjavur, unique in its own way and its rustic feel gave a  nice ambiance to the story it had to showcase. Different from all the other temples in the state, it had a charm on its own. Ruled by various dynasties from the Cholas to the Nayakas and the Marathas, it gave a completely versatile feel to itself. The grandeur it had was read between the brightness it shone despite the sun setting down upon its face.  Abode to one of the biggest Nandi Statues, the  Brihadeeswara Temple was an enchanting destination.

Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

                                                  Birhadeeswara Temple, Thanjavur

Then there was Rameshwaram. The same island where existed the famous temple of Lord Rama, the mighty king from Ramayana. This was the same location where an army of millions of apes (vanar-sena) built a bridge made out of floating stones engraved with Lord Rama’s name itself. This bridge built to take the army across the borders of India to the Golden Empire of Lanka and wage an epic battle of great proportions upon the demons of this kingdom.

Inside Rameshwaram Temple

Something you can’t forget in Hindu mythology. A battle that spoke to us of the triumph of good over evil! A battle that till today is considered as a conquest of moral right over plain wrong. It was quite an experience, one that I would never forget.

While Tamil Nadu has its own share of spirituality I also enjoyed the beauty, nature, and wildlife at the most amazing waterfalls ever… I sat in a small canoe or sort of a paddle boat to take the streams of Hogennakalu Waterfalls. A noteworthy place with perennially flowing streams of waterfalls. Off the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, one can easily reach this place from Salem by bus and literally take a boat towards the Karnataka border on the disputed Cauvery river. With an aquarium and a crocodile rehabilitation center to its attraction, this place certainly is thronged by children, youngsters and elders alike.

Hogennakal Waterfalls

Finally, Tamil Nadu ended with a short visit to the mystical land of Kanyakumari, popularly known for Triveni Sangam, meeting point of the three oceans that surround the peninsular region of our Incredible India. One that envisages the true feeling of being in touch with the spiritual side of yourself. Known for The Swami Vivekananda memorial rock. A place where the great leader attained enlightenment of sort and found bliss within himself. Visiting the most beautiful temples in our country to being overwhelmed by a sense of spirituality my journey across the state of Tamil Nadu truly gave me an understanding of oneness to myself.

Tamil Nadu certainly took a lot of my time and energy due to constant traveling in state transport buses in this rugged sojourn of mine. Whereas, my stay in Pondicherry was one of great relaxation and unwind. A visit that made me realize how time stood still and made me feel like a recluse of sorts in a land of the unknown.

Pondicherry Beach

The highlight of Pondicherry was tasting delicious food of various cultures dished out at the most amazing restaurants in town. From Chettinad food at the Apache Restaurant to French delicacies at the Le Café, Pondicherry was all about living life with the luxury similar to the tastes of most of the Europeans around. Spending three magical days exploring various parts of Pondicherry on a rented motorbike, places like the French Colony, the museum, Auroville and a lot of shopping streets across various parts of the town gave me the feeling of belongingness to that place. Sipping a beer at the beach restaurant at night, listening to the roaring waves in a calm that gave most frenzied thoughts a form of tranquil made me realize what we miss in our caught-in-a-rut kind of life.

Chettinad Food at Apache

Lastly, being in Kerala, God’s own country was like being in heaven itself. A boat ride in the backwaters of Kerala got me close to nature and made me believe in what their lifestyle stood for… Very quiet, peaceful and serene… The melodious sound of birds chirping in the background and a real feeling of standstill told me a lot about how people loved and lived life in this paradise.

Kerala Backwaters

One of the most memorable trips within Kerala would be my infamous boat ride from Kottayam to Alaphuzza. It’s listed as one of the recommended things to do by Lonely Planet Magazine. From the start, it was memorable especially after gorging on the sumptuous Malabari Parota with Kadala Curry.

Malabari Parota & Kadala Curry

What a way to start off a journey across the Venice of Kerala. Going to Venice has always been my dream… Until I get there, I have to make do with this one! A notable thing we did on our way back was to stop by at the very famous RBLOCK Island. We ate some good food and had local coconut palm beer, also known as Toddy… This Island was manmade by over 5000 villagers led by Mr. Baker. This was done in order to get more land to cultivate paddy… A fantastic place for you to take a pitstop and eat some delicious food.

Lastly, I couldn’t ask for anything better than finishing my trip with a visit to Fort Kochi, a place that will be etched in my memories for its diversity and remarkable beauty, especially with its blend of cultures and religions. The Jew Street and the Paradesi Jewish Synagogue… gave me a mesmerizing feel of being in a place of some rarity. You will find a very different setting out here and experience a different feeling while walking on this street. The Paradesi Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in the Commonwealth of Nations. Then there are the Chinese Fishing Nets, with magnificent fixed installations for an unusual form of fishing makes for great photographs.

Chinese Fishing Nets

The end of my expedition. Traveling around, wandering like a nomad for 15 days. A feeling of bittersweet told me that my journey was over, just like the setting sun when I left Fort Kochi. Indeed at the end of that 15th day, I felt like Phileas Fogg, whose surmounting adventure had successfully come to a fulfilling end. One that I will cherish forever until I come back to soak it in yet again…

P.S This is my writing sample to Glimpse‘s ‘Correspondent Program for Fall 2011‘, Also the shortened version of it is my submission to WorldNomads Travel Writing Scholarship for 2011 which can be read here

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What are the must-see travel destinations in India?

Answer by Srinivas Kulkarni:

India is one of the richest places to travel to when it comes to culture, people, places and beautiful landscapes. There is a rich heritage and culture with diversity across various geographical and social plains in India. I’m a travel blogger  blogging about my Travel Tales… (srinistuff.com) while I’ve been travelling across the country for over five years now and have tried to cover a lot of destinations across the vast geographical plains of India. No matter how much I traverse across the various different parts of the country I feel there’s a lot more to see. With the exception of North East, Jammu & Kashmir, some parts of MP and Gujarat I’ve traveled to a lot of other parts including the famous Himalayas! Here are some of my favorite locations that are must see and one must visit for sure…. These are the places I’ve visited and of the lot, these are my favorite in no particular order 🙂

Trek towards Valley of Flowers and  Hemkund Saheb (Glacier may not be always there…)

The actual Valley of Flowers in Uttarakhand HImalayas

Camp in the tents near Keylong

Paragliding in the Solang Valley

Rohtang Pass enroute Manali

Dalai Lama Temple in Dharamsala/McLeodganj

Shey Palace in Ladakh

Shanti Stupa in Ladakh

Leh Palace in Leh, Ladakh

Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Disket Temple in Nubra Valley in Ladakh

Ride a Bullet to Khardung La in Ladakh *Highest Motorable road 18380 ft

Alchi Gompa – Oldest Monastery in Leh, Ladakh

Indus River Valley in Ladakh

Pangong Tso Lake across Ladakh and China Border

The serene Om beach in Gokarna

Rameshwaram Temple and it’s 1000 Pillars

Chinese Fishing Nets in Fort. Kochi

Boat to Allepy from Kottayam in Kerala

Buland Darwaaza of Fatehpur Sikri

Hawa Mahal in Jaipur

Jain temples of Jaisalmer

The Vintage car museum in Udaipur

Matri Mandir in Auroville

Pondicherry & Auoroville Beach

The Garden City – Bangalore

Visit the Ruins of Hampi – A must visit if you are a fan of archaeology and historic ancient culture.

Stone Chariot in the Vittala Temple

Hazara Rama Temple – Carvings from 10th-13th century of Rama

Lakshmi Narsimha statue

Krishna Temple

Lotus Mahal in Zennana Enclosure… Ancient air conditioned palace

Monolithic Bull, carved out of one Stone

Mythical Lions called Yalli inside Krishna Temple

View the Marina Beach Sunrise in Chennai

Conquer the Mahuli fort during rains in Maharashtra – The Sahayadaris

Charminar in Hyderabad

The Buddha Statue in Lumbini Park in Hyderabad on the Husain Sagar lake

Be part of the Kala Ghoda Festival in Mumbai

Lenayadri Hills in Maharashtra – One of the Ashtavinayaka Temples

Ajanta Ellora Caves in Aurangabad

Badrinath Temple in Uttarakhand

Mana Village and Vasudhara Waterfalls – The last indian Village on Indo Tibet Border

Haridwar for it’s cultural and spiritual expose.

Lakshman Jhoola and the Parmarth Temple in Rishikesh

View Answer on Quora

#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…

The journey begins… #SriniOnTour

All my bags are packed

I’m ready to go…

Standing here outside your door…

Finally, the day is here… The day that I have been so meticulously planning for! I mean, come to think of it, I have never been so organized and well planned on any of the trips… Yet, #SriniOnTour has always been about those amazingly impromptu trips that have been taken… So ya, this time around, there has been a little planning into this one. And why wouldn’t I?? Afterall, it’s going to be something different… than the ones that I’ve already done before. Before I begin, I’d like to give my thanks to @debLPMAG from Lonely Planet, India, @travelwell_in and the entire team for helping me with the nice badge you see up there 🙂 and of course featuring my blog on their website.  http://travelwell.in 🙂 Thanks guys… We are onto something 🙂

 

Live Blogging this trip is something I’m really geared up for. Taking great photos… Blogging, tweeting, twitpicing, facebooking and all that… 😛 A blogumentary, my first… Let’s see where this is headed… Quite a vacation I must say.. (P.S Those who didn’t know, this is my vacation 🙂 Refer: WorkaholicTravel Junkie

 

So what does one pack for such an extensive trip?? After two hours of carefully making sure everything on my checklist has been stuffed into that goozy backpack of mine, I’m hoping that I have the strength and energy to carry it around for 15 days! I mean, that looks small, but it is certainly not a mean feat to carry it around on this hop-skip and jump kind of an adventure!!!

 

Having said that, here’s how my departure looks like. I’m going to take a bus to Bangalore… Leave Mumbai (Chembur) at 6:00 PM and hoping that I reach Bangalore by 2 PM latest by 3 PM. Hoping to catch up with the #FordFigoTour man… @dhempe if he’s free and most importantly if we get time…

 

I’ve calculated it as much… I think if all goes smoothly, I should reach well within time to get my train to Chennai. But If my bus doesn’t reach  Bangalore before 4.25 PM on Christmas, then I’m doomed for sure…:P Well, I have to catch the Chennai Express/Mail that leaves Bangalore by that time…  You never know, what might come my way… that’s the best part about these kind of adventure trips… Just go with the flow and hope all falls into place…

 

So what are the bets like?? Will I reach Bangalore on Time(16.25 PM on 25th Dec) to catch my Chennai train??  If not, what options do I have?

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