The Big Temple was constructed by Raja Raja Chola I, the greatest king of the Chola dynasty between AD 985 and 1014. The Chola dynasty were Shaivites. Vijayalaya Chola who envisioned "The Chola Empire" ruled around AD 850. Raja Raja Chola I was the greatest warrior and administrator in the Chola dynasty. King Raja Raja Cholan was the most successfull in expanding their empire. The Big Temple was an expression of the success of Raja Raja Chola's empire. This temple is also called as Brahadeeswara Temple or Peruvudaiyar Kovil or Rajarajeswaram. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage site known as the "Great Living Chola Temples”.
King Raja Raja Cholan had the main temple built completely with granite. It is hard to imagine how, in that age, more than 130,000 tones of granite was brought to the temple site, especially given that there is no granite quarry within a hundred kilometers of the temple site. Another stunning architectural feat is the Vimana / Shikhara - the spire atop the temple. The beautiful lotus shaped stone of the Big Temple weighs a stunning 80 tons. We can but marvel at the engineering mastermind who managed to hoist an 80 ton carved rock up a 212 feet tower back in the 11th century.
Acknowledged as Dakshina Kailasam, this is a Saivite shrine of prodigious significance, This Tiruvaiyaru Temple is a enormous temple with fiveprakarams, and several mandapas and sculptural work. Somaskandar (Olokamaveedivitankar) here is of importance. The town of Tiruvaiyaru is known more for the samadhi of one of theleadingcomposers in the Karnatic Music idiom, Saint Tyagaraja. The Saptastana temples of Tiruvaiyaru are Tiruppazhanam, Tiruchottruturai, Tiruvedikkudi, Tirukkandiyur, Tiruppanturai Tillaistanam and Tiruvaiyaru. Tiruvaiyaru is considered to be the 51st in thesuccessions of Tevara Stalams in the Chola kingdom situated north of the river Kaveri.
This magnificent Tiruvaiyaru Temple with five prakarams and a 7 tiered Rajagopuram covers a 15 acre area. Somaskandar (Ologamaaaveedivitankar) is kept in a separate shrine in the 2nd prakaram, nearby to the Japesa Mandapam (Kukti Mandapam). The Shiva yoga Dakshinamurthy shrine is also of great significance here. The shrine to Ambala Darmasamvardhini Amman has two prakarams by itself. . The external prakaram houses the Dakshinakailasam, and the Uttara Kailasam.To symbolize the primeval nature of Sound – Nada Bhrammam, there are spots in this temple designed to produce echos. The Shivalingam here bears a resemblance to that at Tiruvarur.
The temple has been in existence from time immemorial. The presiding deity is a self-manifested one . Renovations and expansions have been done during the reigns of different rulers over the centuries. Lord Shiva is worshipped as the presiding deity here based on the Saivaite philosophy that Lord Shiva is pervading everywhere and Lord Saneeswar is worshipped primarily. The temple is so significant that Lord Shiva blessed Lord Saneeswara here after taking bath in the temple tank called Nala Theertham. The story behind this is, the celestial Gods called Devas wanted to marry the Princess of the Nishadha Kingdom , Damayanthi. But she married another King called Nalan. The furious Devas complained to Saneeswar and he made Nalan’s life miserable for seven and half years. At last, Nalan arrived at Thirunallar and worshipped Lord Shiva present in the name of Lord Dharbaranyeswarar. He got rid of all his problems and got a promise from Lord Saneeswara that whoever comes to this place and worship him, should not be affected by any difficulties. So is the sacred temple very popular among the devotees across the country.
Greatness of Temple:
This temple is one of the Navagraha Temples where Lord Saneeswar is worshipped. Saneeswar is the symbol of will power and courage. Devotees throng this temple throughout the year to worship Lord Sukran. They offer black colored clothes and cereals and pray to the God to protect them from the planetary transitions.
The deity in this temple is so significant that the curses of celestial Gods called Devas and have got relieved after worshipping this Lord Dharbaranyeswarar. As Lord Shiva is pervasive everywhere, he is in the name of Lord Dharbaranyeswarar blessing His devotees along with His consort Goddess Pranambigai.
Transit day of Lord Saneeswar from one Zodiac sign to the other which happens every two and a half years is celebrated in a pomp manner with lakhs of devotees worshipping Him to protect them from any ill effects. Mahasivaratri, Margazhi Thiruvadhirai and Ippasi Annabhishekham are the major festivals celebrated in this temple besides the regular poojas and rituals. Car festivals are celebrated during every special occasion and the deity is taken in procession around the temple and streets.
Nearby Tourist Attractions:
Karaikal, Pondicherry beach, Auroville, Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Special note (Timings):
Daily ritual of anointing the Presiding deity in the sanctum at 06.00 AM Special prayers and poojas are offered on Saturdays as Saturday is very auspicious for Lord Saneeswar
A flight of 417 steps, carved on the 273 feet high hillock, leads to the threshold of Rock Fort complex. This archaic rock dates back, billion centuries ago, and still now stands majestically in the core of Trichy.
The Rock Fort complex houses two shrines, one dedicated to Lord Siva and other to Lord Ganesha. The architecture is purely Dravidian and has a tint of Nayak style. Though the buildings are hoary, they never lose their peculiarity and continue to awestruck the audience. Red stones and rocks occupy the major construction materials. The very first entrance is adorned by the colossal Manicka Vinayagar, with his ever loving face and adorable belly. The audience hall next to it has many intricate paintings of Lord Vinayagar and can accommodate huge mob. This fort has served for many empires during war times. The panoramic view from the apex of this hillock will cast chill down your spine.
The Pallava king, Mahendra Varma 1, laid the first stone to this temple and completed it in 7th century AD. This Fort is used by Nayaks, Pallavas and other rulers during war time.
There is no entrance fee for visitors, but you have to pay Rs 5 if you take camera with you and Rs 250 for Video camera.
The temple is kept open from 5 am to 12.30 am then from 4 pm to 4.30 pm
Nearby Tourist Places:
Trichy has lot more place to visit, including Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple in Srirangam, and St. Lourdes Church, Brahmapureeswarar Temple, Kallanai Dam and Samayapuram Mariamman Temple.
In the City of Salvation, Thiruvannamalai, stands the majestic temple representing one of the Five elements of the cosmic elements of the earth, “Fire”. The huge mountain itself is worshipped as Lord Shiva and the architecturally beautiful temple is more than thousand years old built by the Early Chola Emperors. Lord Shiva is believed to have manifested himself as a huge column of fire as a spiritual revelation that God is omnipresent.
From the Hindu mythology, references state that, Once, there was a conflict for superiority between Lord Brahma and Vishnu and Lord Shiva appeared before them as a huge column of fire suggesting them to find out his feet and head. Vishnu chose to go down and Brahma went upwards. The column of fire was so huge that both could not succeed in their attempts. While Vishnu conceded his defeat, Brahma lied that he went atop and he was punished suitably. Yet another story is that when there was a love tiff between Lord Shiva and His consort Parvati, she playfully covered his eyes. Though it was for a very short span, the entire world was in dark and came to a standstill. Lord Shiva appeared as a huge column of fire atop the Thriuvannmalai Hill to light up the world and everything resumed normal.
The temple is more than thousand years built in the 9th century. But the saivaite saints have been glorifying the Thiruvannamalai mountain even before that as we could refer to the songs in the 7th century saivaite canon called Thevaram. The temple has been patronized by various Kings and also it has stood against the invasions made by Kings of other religions.
The architectural styles followed in the Chola and Pallava dynasties are well reflected in this temple. The four gateway towers mark the territory of the total area of 25 acres sprawling inside the temple complex
The Royal Mansion – Padmanabapuram palace is being included in the tentative list of “ UNESCO World Heritage Sites” in South India.
An exemplar of Kerala architecture, magnificent wooden palace of 16th century, Padmanabhapuram Palace is located in at Padmanabhapuram Fort, close to the town of Thuckalay in Kanyakumari, on the road from Kulasekaram to Thuckalay. It is about 20 km from Nagercoil and about 65 kilometers from Trivandrum is a good example for a traditional timber construction.
The palace complex is inside an old granite fortress around four kilometers long. The palace is located at the foot of the Veli Hills, which form a part of the Western Ghats. The palace was constructed around 1601 CE by Iravi Varma Kulasekhara Perumal who ruled Travancore between 1592 CE and 1609 CE.
The maker of modern Travancore Anizham Thirunal Marthandavarma ( CE 1706 -1758 ) who ruled Travancore from CE1729 to 1758 rebuilt the palace around 1750. King Marthaanda Varma dedicated the kingdom to his family deity Sree Padmanabha, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and ruled the kingdom as Padmanabha dasa or servant of Lord Padmanabha. Hence the name Padmanabhapuram or City of Lord Padmanabha.
In the late 18th century,precisely in 1795 CE the capital of Travancore was shifted from here to Trivandrum and the place lost its former glory. However, the palace complex continues to be one of the best examples of traditional Kerala architecture, and some portions of the sprawling complex are also the hallmark of traditional Kerala style architecture
The antique interiors are replete with intricate rosewood carvings and sculptured decor. The palace also contains 17th and 18th century murals. One can see: the musical bow in mahogany, windows with coloured mica, royal chairs with Chinese carvings, 'Thaikkottaram' or the Queen Mother's palace with painted ceilings, rose wood and teak carved ceilings with 90 different floral designs.
Durbar Hall of the palace has a with a shiny black floor specially made from a combination of egg white, jaggery lime, burnt coconut, charcoal and river sand, granite tubs to cool curd and buttermilk, secret underground passages, the King's bedroom with a four poster medicinal bed, mural paintings, pictures of Lord Krishna, hanging brass lanterns lit continuously since the 18th century, open air swimming bath, granite dance hall, Saraswathi (goddess of knowledge) temple, large earthen urns, room for scribes and accountants, carved figures on columns holding oil lamps, pooja (worship) rooms with jackfruit tree columns, fish carvings on the ceilings, enormous teak beams, Belgian mirrors and an outer cyclopean stone wall fitted together without mortar.
Visitors to the palace are often overwhelmed by the royal splendor of erstwhile Travancore. Though the palace is situated in Kanyakumari district of Tamilnadu State, it comes under the Government of Kerala's administration.
Visiting hours: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on all days except Mondays and national holidays
The investigations of the team will be aired on the Science Channel in a show called What on Earth in an episode called Ancient Land Bridge. The Promo aired by the science channel uses satellite imagery from NASA and other pieces of evidence to prove the existence of Ram Setu. The promo explains that the rocks connecting India and Sri Lanka are sitting on a sandbar, also known as a shoal and the investigators believe that the sandbar is natural, but the stones sitting on top of that sandbar, are not.
The promo features Dr Alan Lester, a renowned Geologist, who says that “there are Hindu legends that Lord Rama placed a bridge here connecting India to Sri Lanka”. He further adds “there are stones that have been brought from afar and set on top of sand bar island chain". The ‘string of pearl’ as one investigator puts it, connects Dhanushkodi in India with Mannar Island in Sri Lanka. To ascertain the legitimacy of the findings, the researchers used techniques to date the sand and the stones. An Archaeologist featuring in the promo, Chelsea Rose says, “the rocks on top of the sand actually predate the sand”. Scientific analysis reveals, claimed the promo, that the rocks are 7,000 years old but the sand is only 4,000 years old.
Tanjore palace holds great admiration among visitor. This palace is built by Nayaks in the year 1550 AD and partly by Marathas. The threshold of this palace is a grand one with many beautiful sculptures. The fortitude that encloses the palace is very huge with two grand gateways.
The beauty of the palace is the eight stories building located in the southern side of the palace. This tall tower is called as Goodagopuram which is 190 ft high. This tower acts as the watch tower during the war time and to spy the enemy’s invasion by the Tanjavur kings.
There are two durbar hall are present inside the palace, these durbar halls are used as the court room by the Nayakas and Marathas. There is a great library named as Saraswathi Mahal which stocks millions of rare edition books in all India languages. There are about 30,433 Sanskrit palm manuscripts and 6,426 volumes of journals.
There is yet another tower like structure built by the Nayakas with six stories. This towers is to help the Nayak worship Lord Ranganathan, from this tower during the rule of British. There is a music hall to which is a replica of Madurai Thirumala Nayak Mahal.
As the name implies, Dakshinachitra Museum portrays the culture and lifestyle of the southern states of India, especially the villages which are at the verge of extinction. Obviously, the globalization has the direct and huge impact on the livelihood of the Indian Villages. Due to large scale migrations from Rural to Urban for employment and other reasons, the villages are gradually getting evacuated. Dhakshinachitra Museum is an excellent initiative to preserve the culture, heritage and tradition of the people who have lived for generations in the villages and left their foot prints there. The museum is situated in Muttukadu, along the East Coast Road, which is at a walkable distance from the MGM Dizzee World in the outskirts of Chennai.
The museum mainly focuses on the lifestyle and culture of the four southern states of India namely, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. The houses which were about to be sold and those to be demolished were bought and taken down to the museum campus and the renovation works were done by the artisans in an exhaustive manner. Then the houses emerged as exactly as they were in their hometowns. The vernacular lifestyle followed by them, the household articles used by them and the essential articles which played a vital or trivial role in their lives have been collected or made anew and kept in the respective houses. There are eighteen such heritage houses in this museum which will really be a feast to our eyes. We can know the age old tradition and heritage of the people of all the four states under single roof. It will be a wonderful experience to witness the basic principle of India “Unity in Diversity”. People with different caste, creed, color and lifestyles, food habits live in the same country and proudly identify themselves as Indians.
If you take the houses in Tamil Nadu, Brahmin House, Tradiitonal Merchant House, Silk Weavers’ House, Farmers’ house and Potters’ house have been reconstructed in this museum. They look like exactly the original houses in the respective parts of the villages. The Cyrian Christian house, Calicut house, Traditional Trivandrum Hindu house and the Granary have been the choices for Kerala. The houses taken from the Karnataka state are the samples from Chikmagalur and the house of the famous Illkal weavers. The house representing those of coastal Andhra Pradesh and Ikat house form the portion of Andhra Pradesh. the houses have been reconstructed with so much care that not even a minute detail is missed.
Apart from the heritage houses, you have lot more places to visit in the Dakshinachitra Museum. There are weekly workshops conducted the visitors during the weekends. You can try with your hands the simple arts and crafts on your tour around the museum. Traditional games like board games, spin tops are available for engaging your kids and they can also learn a new style of playing games. Theme based exhibitions are conducted and the visitors can have a deep insight of the rich tradition of the southern states.
There are very good facilities in the museum apart from the above. Conservations labs, Library, Open Air Theatre, Ceramic center, crafts shop and craft bazaar are some of the interesting places to visit. To facilitate the visitors, spacious guest houses at reasonable rates and a restaurant are functioning in the premises. Week end workshops for school children and teachers are also conducted on various themes.
Come and visit Dhakshinachitra where you can know the tradition, culture and lifestyle of south indian villages which have been the pioneers in civilization in many aspects.The heritage homes, artefacts, the items exhibited in the crafts bazaar and the workshops are the places where the South Indian Villages are still alive !
Except on Tuesdays, on all other days from 10 am to 6pm.
The 17th century citadel, depicting the aesthetic sense of the Nayak Dynasty is the Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal at Madurai, the sleepless city in the down south of Tamil Nadu. The king Thirumalai Nayakkar of the Nayak Dynasty built this everlasting engineering wonder which has got a proud place among the tourist spots of Tamil Nadu. Originally it was the residence and Durbar Hall of the Royal Family. When Nayaks were ruling Madurai, there were Dutch, Portughese and European Traders visiting Madurai. The King is believed to have employed the Italian Architects for the construction of this masterpiece. It is built deploying a blend of Indian and Italian Architectural styles. This palace is situated 2 kms north east of the famous Madurai Meenakshi Amman Temple. The original buildings were four times bigger than the present day architecture and many parts of the buildings have got ruined due to the invasions and natural disasters. Today we are able to visit only the Grand Entrance, Main Hall and the Dance Hall as the reminiscent of the palace.
The King, while constructing this palace, wanted it to be the grandest of South India and an icon too. Besides the Italian styles, Islamic styles of architecture can also be seen in various parts of this palace. The interior of this palace is comparatively unbeatable with any of the contemporary buildings in India and the exterior is more gorgeous in style and architecture. Thirumalai Nayakkar mahal is known for its huge pillars where each pillar is 82 feet high with a width of 19 feet.
The palace is bifurcated into two vast areas called Swarga Vilasam and Ranga Vilasam. The residence of the Royal family, Shrines, Shopping complexes, armery, palanquin place were once housed inside these two portions. Among all, the central Courtyard and the Dance Hall are the major center of attractions for the visitors. Whoever visits the Mahal, upon entering the palace stands spell bound looking at the fascinating Central Courtyard which is unimanginably huge measuring about 42,000 sq ft. the central dome in this courtyard is supported by the stone ribs and the massive pillars which is really an architectural masterpiece of Nayak Dynasty.
Post-Independence of India, this palace is declared as the National Monument and is maintained by the Tamil Nadu Archeological Department. The pillars and the huge halls of the palace attract people from cinema industry and almost on all days, you can see some cinema shooting is going on in the Courtyard. Besides these things, there are light and sound shows conducted depicting the story of the epic Silppathikaram. It is about the story of the lady legend Kannagi who burnt the Madurai City for the injustice done to her and her husband.
It is worth paying a visit to this fascinating age old monument, Tirumalai Nayakkar Mahal, portraying the culture, tradition and rich heritage of Tamil Nadu.
The mahal is kept open to visitors on all days from 9 AM to 5PM with a lunch break for half an hour between 1PM and 1.30 PM.
Sound & Light Show Time:
6.45 PM to 7.35 PM in English
8.00 PM to 8.50 PM in Tamil
The Chettiars refers to the ancient Nattukottai Chettiars of the state of Tamil Nadu who formed a formidably rich community during the nineteenth century and their mansions stand testimony to their wealth even today. The Chettinad region where they were settled comprised of 96 settlements, out of which only 73 villages and two towns exist today, covering an area of roughly 1,550 sq km.
The Chettiars made their money primarily as international traders and later on from banking and finance. They were the pioneers of modern banking system in India and were at the peak of their economic power during the nineteenth and early twentieth century and were essential to the South Indian economy. The wealth they amassed was showcased in the extravagant homes they built and lavishly overflowed with exotic stuff from the countries they visited. You wouldn’t be surprised to find a typical Chettiar mansion boasting of huge Burmese wood pillars, satin wood paneling from Sri Lanka, Marble from Italy and Belgium, elaborate chandeliers and mirrors from Belgium and France, cast iron and steel from England, tiles from Japan and Germany, etc. With their money to back them, they required the best in everything and imported expertise not only from other parts of India, but also from places as far away as Italy.
The Chettinad region consists of about 10,000-15,000 palatial mansions with the international ‘Art Deco’ architectural style, which became unique to this region. But these Chettiars were smart people and since they had settled in a hot semi-arid region, they designed their houses accordingly. Even as far back as the nineteenth century, they had mastered the rules of urban planning and used the north-south/east-west grid pattern that also included rainwater-harvesting facilities. Their villages are patterned on a north-south axis while the houses are aligned east-west. This type of configuration ensured that the series of central courtyards in these homes were always shady, cool and naturally lit.
The materials they used for building their homes were also dependent on the climate and hence they built their homes with thick outer brick walls, lime plastering, and multiple layers of terracotta roof and inner wall tiling; marble and stone floorings worked their own share of magic in keeping these mansions cool throughout the year. Another unique feature of their homes was the series of central courtyards that ran through the center of the houses; they were designed in such an amazing way that from the front entrance door or first courtyard, you can see straight through to the backdoor through a series of courtyards. These courtyards were used for social events including festivals, births, weddings, etc. The women and children had their own private courtyard towards the back of the house, where multiple generations of the females of the family hobnobbed and worked together. The courtyards had a verandah running round it with doors opening into double rooms for each family, as well as for storage and prayer rooms, etc.
The best way to experience the extravagant lifestyle of these Chettiars would be to spend some time in one of their mansions – try the 108-year-old Chidambara Vilas hotel and you won’t ever forget the awesome experience of magnificent living in these Chettinad mansions! Getting there is easy with airport access available in nearby Madurai and Trichy. Railway connections would take you straight to Karaikudi town or use the super highways to get to this heritage region.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is located at Kanyakumari where the Arabian Sea and Bay of Bengal merge with the great Indian Ocean. The Vivekananda Rock has been dedicated to the Indian Philosopher Vivekananda who had spent his days trying to awake the Indians from their state of stupor. Vivekananda dedicated most of his life trying to awaken the inner soul of man. Built in 1970, the Vivekananda Rock Memorial is one of the finest pieces of human endeavor at architecture in Southern India. Situated on a rock island, Vivekananda Rock Memorial is a major tourist attraction in Kanyakumari and houses the statue of the great preacher Swami Vivekananda.
People believe that Swami Vivekananda swam to this small rocky island and meditated here in his quest for enlightenment. The Shripada Mandapam, having a study hall and a museum, and the Vivekananda Mandapam add to the spiritual significance and purity of the memorial.
Opening Closing Time
9 am to 5:30 pm (Daily)
Rs. 20 per person
Gangaikondacholapuram TempleGangaikonda Cholapuram Temple is an architectural work of genius. Located at Thanjavur (Tanjore) in Tamil Nadu, Gangaikondacholapuram can be reached easily through regular buses that are available from the main towns and cities of Tamil Nadu. In the early 11th century, the temple got built by Rajendra Chola, who was the son and successor of Rajaraja Chola. The voluptuous temple stands next to the famous Brihadisvara temple at Tanjore. Gangaikonda Cholapuram is regarded as the reproduction of Brihadisvara Temple that was built by Rajaraja Chola, father of Rajendra Chola. Gangai Konda Cholapuram was erected to outshine the temple made by the father. The temple is renowned for having the biggest Shivalingam in the Southern part of India.
The sanctum sanctorum embraces the four meter high lingam (phallic form) of Lord Shiva. To provide a private worship area for the royal family, the sanctum is encircled with two walls. The stately entrance of the sanctum is adorned by the beautiful image of Goddess Saraswati. The influence of Chalukyas is also reflected from the icons of 'Suryapita' (Sun worship) and 'Navagrahs' (Nine planets). The meticulous accounts of the Cholas are inscribed on the copper plates and temple walls. Preferred place of crowned heads, the exotic structure took approximately nine years to complete. Gangaikondacholapuram has been plundered for several times, but the architectural and sculptural wealth remained alive. The temple was erected to extol the accomplishments of a combatant king. Gangaikondacholapuram is a tribute to the architects and artisans, who created this spectacular testament.
For about 250 years, Chola clan ruled over a large part of South India. In those times, the Chola dynasty was at its apex and conquered many a parts of the northern territory. The wealth was brimming due to the outcome of their booming war operations. On one of the expeditions, Rajendra Chola brought Ganga water in a golden pot and consecrated the reservoir 'Ponneri or Cholaganga'. Consequently, Rajendra was titled as 'Gangaikondan' (the one who brought the Ganges). The king wanted to erect a 'larger than life' temple correspondent to the Brihadeeswara Temple. During 1020 - 29 AD, Gangaikondacholapuram saw its construction.
The superb architecture of the temple boasts of a 9 storey vimanam that extends to the height of 185 feet. Facing the east direction, Gangai Konda Cholapuram embraces incredible sculptures and carvings. Not less than 54.86m in height, the temple structure follows the style of Brihadisvara Temple. The whole temple is thrived with rich and intricate carvings that are exclusive to Chola style of artistry. Known to comprise a little northern style, the structure embraces intricate carvings in the Vimanams.
The architecture is a portrayal of complex carvings on the hard granite stones, irrespective of the simple style of Cholas. Mind-blowing sculptures adorn the walls and ceilings of Gangaikondacholapuram. The creativity of sculptors is reflected in the figures of dancing Nataraja and peaceful Saraswati. However, the sculptures erected here are as artistic as found in any other temples of Cholas. The most interesting are of Shiva-Parvati, Ardhanareshwar (the man-woman manifestation of Lord Shiva) and Ganesha. The colossal shrine also addresses several significant bronzes of the Chola age.SSS
Mamallapuram, also known as Mahabalipuram, was an important port town during India’s early history and developed as a key center for artistic activity under the patronage of the Pallava rulers. Nrasimhavarman I, who took the epithet Mamalla (meaning “great warrior”), ruled for about 38 years beginning in 630 C.E. and sponsored a large number of rock-cut monuments at Mamallapuram, including cave shrines, monolithic temples, and large sculptures carved out of boulders. While the Pallava kings primarily worshipped the god Shiva, they also supported the creation of temples dedicated to other Hindu gods and goddesses and to other religious traditions such as Jainism. The Pallava rulers were particularly inspired by the growing personal devotional movement known as bhakti, in which worshippers approach the divine as a cherished child or loved one.
Indian temple architecture can be broadly divided into two schools: the Nagara, or the North Indian tradition, and the Dravidian, or South Indian style of architecture. Both Nagara and Dravidian temples consist of a main shrine (vimana) which houses the inner sanctum known as grabha griha (literally “womb chamber”), topped by a pyramidal tower known as a shikhara.
The entrance to the temple complex is from the western gateway, facing the smaller Shiva shrine. On each side of the gateway stand door guardians known as dvarapalas who welcome visitors to the complex and mark the site as sacred. The smaller Vishnu temple sits between the two Shiva shrines, connecting the two. It has a rectangular plan with a flat roof and houses a carved image of the god Vishnu sleeping. Images of Vishnu reclining or sleeping on the cosmic serpent Shesha-Ananta, appear throughout Indian art. While the artists who made this carving did not include a depiction of Shesha-Ananta, it is possible that originally the rock was painted to include the snake. The shrine walls have carvings depicting the life stories of Vishnu and one of his avatars, Krishna.
Like the Vishnu shrine, the two Shiva shrines include rich sculptural depictions on both their inner and outer walls. The large Shiva shrine faces east, and has a square plan with a sanctum and a small pillared porch known as a mandapa. At the center of the shrine is a lingam, the aniconic form of Shiva in the shape of a phallus. Though the temple is not a site of active worship today, visitors can sometimes be seen worshipping and offering flowers to the lingam, bringing the sacred site back to life.
The rich sculptural program seen throughout the three shrines continues on the outer walls of the Shore Temple, facing the sea. Years of wind and water have worn away the details of these carvings, much in the same way that the sea erodes and shapes boulders over centuries. A row of seated bulls appear at the entrance wall (prakara) of the larger Shiva shrine. These bulls represent Nandi, the vahana or vehicle of the god Shiva. Nandi is believed to be the guardian of Shiva’s home in the Himalayas, Mount Kailasha, and a seated Nandi sculpture is an essential part of a Shiva temple.
Shiva temple is located a little higher than Vishnu temple, closer to the eastern end of hillock. Temple consists of rock-cut mandapa. At the eastern end there is sanctum sanctorum of cubical form cut inside the mandapa. Mandapa contains four pillars - two rear pillars are connected with arched brick work with sculptures of Muruga and Vinayaga behind, on a raised platform.
South wall of mandapam contains Saptamatrika panel showing 7 goddesses sitting between Ganesha and Veerbadra. West wall is adorned with a group of deities - Muruga, Sankaranarayana and the lion vehicle of Korravai in the centre. Entrance in the shrine is guarded by sculptures of two dvarapalas – guards (Mazhuvadiyar and Tirisulakar) resting on heavy clubs. The floor of the shrine is 2,11 x 2,10 m large, height is 1,90 m. Shrine contains lingam which also is cut out of mother rock.
The rock-cut temple contains huge amount of artwork - beautiful reliefs and sculptures, often covered with painted stucco. Paintings cover walls and ceiling. The presiding deity of this temple is Perumal, popular another name of Vishnu in Tamil Nadu. Temple though contains many more shrines for Vishnu, Shiva and other deities. Rock-cut temple itself consists of mukha-mandapa (verandah), ardha-mandapa (entrance chamber) and sanctum sanctorum (the main shrine). The ancient temple is entered through a row of two square pillars and pilasters at each side. Nearly whole surface inside the temple is covered with sculptures and reliefs, stucco and paintings.
One wall is covered with a sculptural group showing the presiding deity – Kanniraintha Perumal (Vishnu) together with his consort Lakshmi (Nachiyar). Vishnu is holding a sangu (sacred conch) and chakra. They are joined by Brahma and Shiva as well as Nrsimhadeva and various other murtis (divinities). This relief is covered with stucco and painted. While the rock-cut cave has been made in the 8th – 9th century AD, stucco and paintings seem to be much younger – from the 16th – 17th century AD.
Gingee Fort also Known as the "Troy of the East" by the British, Gingee Fort rises out of the Tamilian plains. Lying in Villupuram District of Tamil Nadu, the fort is 160 kilometres from the state capital, Chennai, and is close to the Union Territory of Puducherry. Locals have given the fort some notable names such as Senji, Chenji, Jinji or Senchi Fort. The majestic fort has three different hilltop citadels and a massive boundary of thick walls and cliffs. Owing to its enormous structure the fort is fortified to the extent that Shivaji, the Maratha king, named it as the "most impregnable fortress in India." Visiting the fort makes one learn the reason for why it has been called by such influential names. As you reach the fort, you realise that it has been located at the most strategic location which made it difficult for the enemies to enter its premise. The fort indeed is a result of genius minds.
The pages of this fort's history have many accounts. The Mackenzie manuscripts behold the one such sources of Gingee Fort's construction. Going by the words of historian Narayan, a small village called Melacerri, situated 4.8 km away from Gingee has some traces of fortifications of the fort dating back to 1200 AD. The history behind its construction lies in the hands of Ananda Kon, a person belonging to Konar, the shepherd community who had accidentally found a treasure in the cavities of the Western hill while he was grazing his sheep. With this finding, Ananda made himself the head of a small group of warriors, and after defeating the petty rulers from nearby villages, he went on to build a little fortress on Kamalagiri. He renamed it to Anandagiri after himself.
History of the Gingee Fort:
The Konars ruled Gingee from 1190 to 1330 AD. Kobilingan, a chief of some nearby place belonging to the Kurumbur succeeded the Konars. He then lost the throne to the powerful Cholas. Since then Gingee has been in different hands, beginning from that of Cholas and ending to the British, the Kurumbur, Vijayanagar empire, Marathas, Sultans, and Carnatic nawabs all have been the rulers of these majestic walls.
During the 9th century, the site was built by Cholas, modified by Kurumburs, and re-modified by Vijayanagar clan in the 13th century. Another account says that the fort was constructed between 15-16th century by the Gingee Nayaks, and was strengthened by the Maratha king, Shivaji in 1667 AD. After the Marathas, Moghuls, and Carnatic nawabs, the fort lost itself to French in 1750 and then to British in 1761. Lastly, Raja Desinghu ruled the Chenji during the 18th century after which it was probably abandoned.
Architecture of the Gingee Fort:
The Gingee Fort has a massive architecture. The complex is on three hillocks namely, Krishnagiri to the north side, Rajagiri to the west and Chandrayandurg to the southeast. Though the three hills have their separate citadels, they together form a fort complex. What connects them is an enormous triangle from north to south formed with bastions and gateways. These ways give access to the most protected parts of the fort as well. The fort walls are high as 13 km enclosed by the three hills which are connected by walls surrounding an area of around 11 km sq. There is a seven-storeyed Kalyana Mahal or the marriage hall, prison cells, granaries, and a temple dedicated to its presiding goddess called Chenjiamman within the intricacies of the fort. It also contains a sacred pond, Aanaikulam. The walls are a mixture of the naturally hilly terrain comprising the Krishnagiri, Chakkilidrug and Rajagiri hills, while the gaps are sealed with the main wall measuring 66 ft in thickness.
Salem is the fifth largest city in Tamil Nadu and is located 159 km northeast of Coimbatore. It is a busy commercial spot and also a major textile and steel manufacturer. The mangoes that grow here are the sweetest of all and so there is a great demand for Salem Mangoes. This industrial city is surrounded by enchanting mountains and also has some cool tourist spots in and around the city.
This is a dry land, getting scarce rainfall every year. The climate is moderate and the temperature ranges between 37°C - 25°C.
Places to Visit
Behold the mesmerizing hills of Yercaud. It's a spectacular show to see the lush orange groves and verdant coffee plantation. This hill gets its name from the lake nearby. Relish your holidays in this splendid land.
Mettur takes pride in being one of the largest dams in India. This grand dam was built in 1934. This is the major water source for the people in Salem and other nearby cities. As this dam is in the border of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, it is always the bone of contention between two states.
Servarayan hills are the range of mountains towering near Salem. These hills are an apt place for trekking and mountain climbing. Flora and fauna flourishes in this mountain and there are also a tribal community living in the dense zone of the forest.
Dharmapuri got its own identity as a separate state on 02.10.1965, until then it was a part of Salem. Later in 2004 it was again bifurcated into Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. This divided land stays in the northwestern corner of India and is encircled by Thiruvannamalai and Villupuram district on the east. The spiritual river Kaveri flows in the outskirts of the town. There are few tourist spot in and around this city.
Climate is neither too hot nor too cold. The maximum temperature recorded is 38°C and the minimum temperature recorded is 12°C and it is warm throughout the year.
Get entranced by the mind blowing beauty of Hogenakkal falls which is 46km away from the main city. The gushing water of Kaveri enters Tamil Nadu at this threshold. It is a perfect place to encounter the natural scenic and to relax on the country made dinghies (parisal).
This temple is housed in the Harur district with Lord Siva as its presiding lord. Legend has it that the water falls near the temple is created by Lord Rama to do Abhishekam for Lord Shiva.
This is also a noteworthy temple in this town and is dedicated to lord Siva. The unique sculptures, paintings and mainly the ‘hanging Pillar’ attract many tourists.
This petite town is located 7km away from the town. A skeleton of an ancient fort and Chenraya Perumal temple and Kalabhairava temple are some of the tourist spots here.
Coimbatore is known as the Manchester of India for its textile industries. It is mainly a transport junction for travelers and a convenient stop if you are heading to the hill station of Ooty or Kodaikanal. Coimbatore is an easy going place with plenty of accommodation and eating options. It is also a best tourist spot with lot of places to see around.
Coimbatore has the best topography. Being in the South-Western side of Tamil-Nadu it is encompassed by Western Ghats and filled with greens everywhere. This beautiful city sits on the banks of Noyyal River.
Lovely embrace of the cold breeze and the not so hot sun make Coimbatore one of the pleasing cities in Tamil Nadu. The temperature is around 35°C - 18°C throughout the year.
Stunning 3 feet statue of Lord Murugan showers his blessing on his pious devotees from his sanctum at Marudamalai temple. A 30 minutes travel will take you to this nature friendly hillock. The top view from this temple is mind blowing.
Parambikulam Wildlife Sanctuary:
This tranquil forest is stashed between Kerala and Tamil Nadu border. The lucky ones can witness Tigers, Lions and Elephants on road. This forest sprawls across the area of 285sq km.
Siruvani water falls has the tastiest water in world. It is the main water source for Coimbatore people. This entrancing silver cascade is situated 35 km west from Coimbatore and is worth a visit.
Have a bash in the water games of Black Thunder that is situated in the foot of Nilgiris sprawling across 75 acres in Mettupalayam. This amusement park has 49 water games and lots of dry games and it will entertain you to the core.
Isha Yoga Center:
This is one of the Coimbatore’s icons; the splendid doom shaped building is situated at the foot hills of Velliangiri Mountains in Coimbatore. The spiritual spirit showers from the idol of Dhyanalinga erected here. This place is filled with complete tranquility paving way for peaceful meditation.
Chennai is the heart beat of Tamil Nadu. It can’t be tagged as one, as it has in it the modernity of Bombay, tradition of Kerala, spirit of Delhi and the style of Goa. Sun hits this land with lots of love and so all days here are sunny days. It also takes pride in having the world’s second largest beach and it is a perfect spot for a sojourn. There are good deals of tourist places in and around Chennai, which are worth a visit.
South & West Chennai, previously mostly residential, are now becoming commercial with upcoming firms & call centres. The city is fast expanding in the south & in the west.
Art and music dwells in the land of Chennai and that is why it is called the Musical and Cultural capital of India. There are plenty of art galleries and music schools in Chennai among which Kalakshetra is hailed as one of the best dance schools in India.
It is a major trade center, being well linked by road, rail and air to important cities besides being a sea port. Compared to the other major metros of India, it is far less congested and polluted.
Chennai is a tropical land and the climate is mostly sultry. The normal temperature is around 40°C - 30°C during summer and around 30°C - 24°C during winter. Rain is a rare guest to Chennai.
Festivals and Fares:
Apart from the hustle and bustle of Chennai city life, there lie the colorful cultural festivals of Chennai. The cosmopolitan people get out of their mundane life and groom their tradition by commemorating lots of festivals and fares.
Behold the majestic statue of Lord Nataraja ‘The Cosmic dancer’ in Chidambaram near Chennai. Every year on the eve of Natyanjali momentous tribute is paid to Nataraja. This eve lasts for five long days in the month of February.
Dance and Music Festival:
Dancers and Singers from all over India participate in this ‘Margazhi Festival of Dance and Music’ to exhibit their talents and to hail their traditional art. This festival falls in the month of mid-December. It is a feast to our eyes and ears to see artist’s excellent performance on the stage.
Travel and Tour Festival:
Each and every year Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation conducts tour fair in Island Ground in order to promote the tourism interests among people. In this festival many tour and honeymoon packages are given at offers.
Pongal is a kind of ‘Thanksgiving’ festival to the Sun God for his blessings upon the farmers and their crops. This fete is celebrated during the month of January. It is a three days eve and one of the days is spent as a reverence to the cows and bulls that have helped the farmers.
There are still more minor festivals celebrated in Chennai some of them are Mamallapuram, Arubathimoovar, Mahamaham, Velankanni, Kanthuri, Chithirai, Saral-Vizha, and Navratri.
Chennai’s renowned and cherished Kapaleeswarar temple is the chief land mark of Mylapore. The prime idol is the Lord Siva in the form of Lingam .This temple is mostly buzzed with devotees on Mondays and Fridays. The dazzling 12 days celebration of Bhramotsavam during the month of March is a splendor sight to see.
Snake Park at Guindy will surely cast a chill down your spine. This eerie park has a wide range of snakes and reptiles. There is also a session where they show a practical demonstration of venom extraction.
Marina is the world’s second largest beach. The pleasant promenades running along the sugar-white sands of the beach adds feather to Marina and a peaceful stroll in the old promenade popularly known as “Cupid’s Bow” will take you to the seventh heaven. Its never ending shores draws a million to marvel at the swarm of people spending their time on the lap of Marina.
This is the India’s largest artist commune. This village was erected by the artists without any financial help from the government. This archive has a wide collection of intricate paintings, meticulously done sculptures and beautifully emblazoned art works. Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this awesome place.
The Anna Centenary Library:
It is the apt place for bookworms. This enormous library takes pride in being one of the largest libraries in Asia. Behold the nine stories modern building which houses about 500,000 books and piles of magazines from across the world.
Other Nearby :
Besant Nagar beach, Santhome beach, Vandalore zoo, Bharathiyar illam and Valluvar Kottam are few other places to visit.
Kanyakumari is in the foot of Indian Peninsula and is the southernmost tip. The mesmerizing Sea and enchanting mountains make this city a perfect place for a complete break from the rat race. It is one of the favorite tourists spot in Tamil Nadu with lots of places to see around.
The mind blowing sun rise and sun set are a special features here and a lot of heads gather along the shore in early morning to admire this rare show. It is also the store house of art and architecture since many centuries ago. Many monuments have been erected in order to venerate many notable personalities.
Climate in summer is between 35°C - 28°C.
Vivekananda Rock Memorial:
Vivekananda rock memorial stands atop a rock in Vavathurai. As the name suggests, this stunning monument was built in reverence to Swami Vivekananda. There is meditation hall and a book store with profound collection of Vivekananda books.
Behold the smashing 133 feet statue of Thiruvalluvar beaming with pride. The sculpture is meticulously done to the extent that each feet of the statue represent one chapter in Thirukkural. This art is submitted to the veteran Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar.
Gandhi Mandapam is built to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi ‘The Father of Our Nation’. The builders have used a different architectural style so that on second of October the first ray of the sun falls on this building at the perfect place where Gandhi’s ashes have been kept.
Tsunami Memorial Park:
This memorial was built in memory of the people who have died in the tsunami, which had brought drastic changes in many countries including India and had gulped about 3lakh people. This monument is so very exclusive and so is appreciated by all.
Bhagavathi Amman Temple:
This 3000 years old temple is in the shores of Laccadive Sea and is dedicated to Goddess Durga. This temple is one among 108 houses of Shakthi and is considered to be extremely powerful.
Other places to see:
There are some more places of interest in and around Kanyakumari including Kamaraj memorial and Ayya Vaikundar Nizhal Thangal.
The princess of hill stations in Tamil Nadu, where the mother nature is blissed with the spectacular beauty drenching the people in happiness and surprise is Kodaikanal, situated in the South Indian State, Tamil Nadu. Established as a refuge for the British Royale to escaped from the scorching sun, Kodaikanal has now become the top notch tourist destination flocked by thousands of tourists round the year. Kodaikanal is a hill station synonymous to the unmatched pristine beauty which can never be experienced in any of the other hill stations. Kodaikanal is situated in the Palani Hills which is an offshoot of the Western Ghats. The hill station which is arguably a terribly tranquil place is at a height of 2133mts loved for its serene beauty and intoxicating aroma.
To reach Kodaikanal, you can choose either of the two roads, one is the Kodai Ghst Road arting from the small town called Batlagundu and leads to Kodaikanal. It is a well maintained road, wonderfully laid by the British with only two hairpin bends on the gradient. The other one emanating from Palani is the Palani-Ghat road with twenty one hairpin bends. Rat Tail Falls View, Silver Cascade, the artificially made Kodai Lake, Upper Lake View, Green Valley view, Pillar Rocks, Guna Caves, Moir point, Berijam lake are the never to be missed spots in Kodaikanal. The panoramic view of the plains and the scenic beauty of the mountains can be enjoyed in the place called Coakers walk.
It will not be a tall claim to say Kodaikanal is a “Paradise on Earth” . See it to believe it.
The rice bowl of Tamil Nadu, the powerful capital of the Medieval Chola Period, the birth place for many art forms of Tamil Nadu is Thanjavur, in the down south of Tamil Nadu. Thanjavur has been under the various reigns right from the early Cholas till the Maratha Bonsleys. The city has contributed to many forms of arts in Tamil Nadu, to name a few, the Paintings of Tanjore, the Dolls and the fine tuning of the Classical Barathanatyam styles.
After the Pandyas ruling the city for a long time, the throne was recaptured by the popular Medieval Chola King Vijayalaya and the city remained to be the power center for more than 300 years. The Nayak Kings who were famous for the patronage of arts and music, while ruling the city have contributed more to the development of art and culture. The city on the Cauvery Delta has been a prominent place for agriculture and catered to the people all over Tamil Nadu. There are many interesting places to visit in Thanjavur. The city is one of the major tourist attractions of Tamil Nadu. The South Zone Cultural Center instituted by the Government is keen in promoting and preserving the cultural heritage of India. It will be surprising to know that, in such a small city, Thanjavur, there exists five museums portraying the life style of the different dynasties. The Archeological Museum, Tamil University Museum, Saraswathy Mahal Library Museum, Nayak Darbar Hall Museum and the Raja Raja Chola Museum are the places where we can witness several preserved idols, palm leaf scripts and other valuable possessions.
The most important monument to be visited in Thanjavur is the Brahadeeswarar Temple popularly known as the Big Temple. It is recognized as the World Heritge Site by UNESCO in 1987. The temple was built by the Medieval King Raja Raja Cholan during the 11th Century. Even after thousand years, it stands as an Engineering Marvel and the technology deployed in building the huge Lingam and the single stone tomb atop the tower is still a mystery. The other places of interest are the Saraswathy Mahal Library housed inside the Thanjavur Palace. It was instituted in 1700. The Library has a collection of 30,000 manuscripts including those written on palm leaves. The entire library is only a reference section where amazing information on Indian and British literatures and contents on other subjects are preserved in their original form.
The darbar hall of the Maratha Palace is yet another important place to visit. The huge halls and the long corridors are worth paying a visit. The next place to visit in the city is the Sivaganga Park which was opened to Public in the mid of 18th century. The Tamil University situated in the outskirts of the city caters to the researchers on langauages and lexicography. The buildings in the University has been constructed in such a way that the aerial view of the university is in the form of the word “Tamil” written in Tamil.
Come and enjoy the mesmerizing architecture of the Big Temple and the other fascinating tourist attractions of the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu, Thanjavur !
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