Sunday, February 14, 2010


My fascination for fortress will be everlasting. I had read so much about Gingee Fort and its strategic part played in the annals of history that i made up to visit the same on 25/1/10, clubbing the repubic day holiday. We had a packed program with checking out Vellore Fort, Tiruvanamalai temple and rushed to Gingee by bus. Our anxiety began when we came to know that there is no cloak room, so we quickly took a risk and deposited our luggage in a small tea hotel. We reached the ticket counter at Gingee Fort, which is manned by ASI staff and paid Rs 5 enterance ticket per head. If we had been a little late the counter would have been closed and so our effort of reaching Gingee. So the saying goes Fortune favours the brave, but i advice my friends it is better not to take a chance. Gingee fort tour takes up an entire day almost, better to arrive early and leave early.
Route : Gingee can reached from Chennai via Tindivanam by train and bus. The total distance is 160 km on a beautiful highway. If one likes to try an alernative route from Bangalore, it can be covered via Vellore, Tiruvanamalai and Gingee. The distance from Vellore to Tiruvanamali which is 70 kms and from there Gingee is another 40 kms. We took this route to cover Gingee.

Etymology : The name Gingee is actually pronounced as Genji, which in Tulu means Crab. Remember the main sponsorers of Fort construction were the Vijayanagar Kings. There are other versions such as the place is named after the Virgin sisters. Senjiamman temple is dedicated to one of the seven sisters. Another fable points towards the episode of Sanjeevi being procured by Lord Hanuman from these hillocks, to save Lord Laxman who was lying injured in the war against Ravan. The hillocks were known as Sengiri, which meant Red hills. Another tale relates the name to Singavaram, wherein Vaishnav diety is supposed to be headquartered. The most common accepted tradition is that of Senjiamman who is worshipped in one of the shrines located on the hillock. The name stuck as a dedication to this virgin diety who is supposed to have committed suicide to escape the tormentors.

Gingee FORT : The fort is spread over 3 hillocks with over 9 kms circumferance. This area being strategic was well endowed with water resources, granary, temple, barracks, Palace, Moat etc. It also contained paddy fields which were cultivated with natural rain water. There are two main enterance to the Fort, one is on the eastern side called as Pondicherry gate and other on the northern front named as Arcot or Delhi gate.

The fort is originally built by Ananda Kone around 1200 AD, who were the original chieftans of Gingee. Earlier to this citadel Cholas seemed to have a strategic interest in this locale from the 9th century, may be a watch tower to protect against enemy invasion. The first citadel at Rajagiri was built by Ananda Kone and later Krishna Kone built the second citadel in 1240 AD, who was the successor to Ananda kone. Later these chieftans became feudatories of the Hoysala empire under Virasomeshwara ( 1235 - 1254 AD ). The Ranganatha temple located on the Rajagiri hills seems to have been constucted during the Hoysala period. There is one more temple known as Kamalakanni Amman enroute to Rajgiri.

Venkatramana Temple : This temple was built during Vijaynagar times. It was built by Muthyalu Nayaka ( 1540 - 1550 AD ) This massive temple has a huge gopuram and a mantap in front of the temple where a pond would have been located in ancient times. After the fall of Vijaynagar empire in 1565 AD, many of the subsidiaries re-located to different places such as Penkonda, Chandragiri and Gingee. Gingee must have been a partial storehouse for the treasures accumulated by the kings. The Nayaks who were subsidiary of the Vijayanagar protected the royalty and continued to rule this territory.

Meanwhile Nawab of Arcot started gaining prominence with the headquaters at Arcot. Raja Desingh ( 1714 AD ) who ascended the throne at Gingee rebelled against the Nawabs and refused to pay tax to his overlords. He was brutally defeated by the Nawabs and the entire fort was taken over. The heroic Desingh was given a decent funeral with his wife committing sati on the pyre of her husband.

Some monolithic pillars well carved were taken away by the French to be relocated in Pondicherry to be used as decor for Dupleix statue, who was the governor during the French occupation of Gingee in 1761 AD.

Palace Complex : Who destroyed the palace complex at Gingee seems to be mystery which needs to be solved. In 1676 AD Shivaji maharaj captured the forts of Vellore and Gingee. Gingee served as Maratha capital for 9 years during the war period. Some of the wealth was obviously taken away by Shivaji to strengthen his empire. He installed Desingh ( Tej singh )who belonged to the Maratha clan. The Nawabs of Arcot, who were descendents of Bijapur sultans obviously occupied the Gingee after defeating Raja Desingh. In 1674 the sultans of Bijapur raided Gingee and almost destroyed majority of its edifices. It was a deadly blow to the sprawling capital of Gingee. The palace seems to have been destroyed during the warfare with French by the Nawabs with cannon fire. All the remaining wealth was looted by the French, some were salvaged by the Nawabs. The palace naturally became a target of vandalism by the French soldiers who conquered this place. The French handed over this territory to Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan in 1772 upto 1790 they reigned along with the help of the Nawab of Arcot. Subsequently after the defeat of Tipu sultan, the British took over the FORT, and by 1823 due to insalubrity of this area they vacated the Fortress and it was in ruins by 1823. The British had a firm base in the form of Fort St George.
Venugopalswami Temple : This temple is located near the western gate of the Inner Fortress. Besides the temple is the Kalyana Mahal which is a multi-storeyed building with pyramid type of rooftop. This edifice was used to preserve grains in a dry condition in certain chambers. It was also used as resting place during the torrid summer for the royalty.
Venkatrama Temple : This temple is the largest edifice with the Gingee fort complex, and the temple was constructed by Muthyalu Nayaka ( 1540 to 1550 AD ). The complex contains number of Tamil inscriptions revealing the endowment to the temple. Many of the pillars were pillaged and taken away to decorate Dupliex statute in Pondicherry.
Overall a visit to Gingee fort will unfold history like never before, from the Jains,Hoysalas, Vijayanagar emperors to Nayaks, Desingh, Shivaji, Mughals, Nawabs of arcot, French, Tipu Sultan and the British. One requires to be prepared for a hard trek uphill, better be prepared with Sunscreen, Salt and glucose and bites to recoup. Umbrella and cap would protect one s skull from being overheated. The entire area is desolated and reminds one of the numerous wars fought in the surroundings

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mahabalipuram, a pallavan heritage


It was a news to me when I read that Mahabalipuram was built on the wealth amassed from destruction of Vatapi by the Pallavan King. The capital of Chalukyas was Badami ( Vatapi old name ) which was ransacked for its supreme wealth and grandeur. Mahamallan Narasimha Pallavan defeated the Chalukyan emperor Pulakesin II in the battles of Manimangalam and Pariyalam in 642 AD. Pulakesin II died defending his capital on the battlefield. The rivarly between the Chalukyas and Pallavas seemed to be legendary with constant warfare between them for supremacy of reign over the South. It can be assumed that booty looted from Badami was so tremendous that it had to be carried by a caravan consisting of 20 elephants and 80 horses. A store house was built by Mahamalla to safely protect the jewellry in Mahabalipuram.

Modern historians point out that Pulakesin II marched with a huge army in 620 AD and defeated the Pallavan king Mahendravarman and looted the wealth of Kanchi. This scenario seems to be unlikely, since Kanchipuram possessing that sort of wealth base was impossible. Whereas Badami and surrounding areas were filled with gold and diamond mines. The only place where gold was available was Kolar, which was ruled by the Ganga dynasty. Further on my visit to Kanchi i found that most of the monuments in the temples were intact, some have crumbled due to aging rather than loot and arson. It is therefore highly improbable that Pulakesin II came with the idea of looting the wealth of Kanchipuram. Being patrons of art Chalukyan emperor Vikramaditya who defeated the Pallavas once again in 674 AD to avenge their defeat did not resort to enmass destruction, if it were to be true than entire Mahabalipuram would not have remained so.


The Pallava kings had established Mahabalipuram as a sea port to have trading links with China, Arabs and Greeks. Infact the antecedents point out to trading links to earlier times with Roman empire and later to European. It can be pointed out that Pallavan kings were inspired by Chalukyan architecture and wanted to surpass them in their own capital and nearby areas.

Mahabalipuram was an ideal locale with plenty of granite available with skilled artisans to build an edifice of mammoth proportions. The symbol of Lion & elephant was used to display the power of the kings. Thus began the chiselling of the hillocks in the fashion of Badami, which had set the trend. The Mahabharat and Ramayan became an ideal background story for the artisan of times to display their chiselling skills. In fact I strongly suspect that many artisans from Badami migrated to Mahabalipuram in the absense of sufficient work after completing the edifices at Badami.

This place was earlier referred to as city of SEVEN PAGODAS or placee of seven temples. But unfortunately Tsunami in 1341 AD seems to have submerged the majority of the Pagodas and Palaces built around the seashore, with element of nature sparing only one seashore temple for future generation to relish. How ironic, another Tsunami in 2004 has helped to uncover the remains of lost monuments.

The credit for construction or patronage for building all the monuments should go to the following Pallavan Kings Mahendra Varman ( 580-630 AD ) and his famous progeny Mahamallan Narasimha Varman ( 630 - 668 AD ) grandson Mahendra Varman ( 668 - 672 AD ) Great grandson Parmeswara Varman ( 672 - 700 AD ) and Narasimha Varman II also known as Raja simha ( 700 - 728 AD ). Krishnadevaraya ( 1509 - 1529 AD ) too contributed his might by his unfinished gopuram on the hillock, which is known as Rayagopuram.

Monuments of Mahabalipuram received world heritage status in 1984 from UNESCO. This propelled action for resurrection and maintainence of the open air museum. In 1991 when we visited Mahabalipuram in the peak of summer, it was scorching heat, which refrained us from thoroughly exploring the site. But we saw a sea change with greenary embedded into the site, which made it more pleasant. An umbrella is must to cover the entire stretch of monuments to protect oneself from searing heat.

Sightseeing @ Mahabalipuram :

1. ARJUNA's Penance
2. Pandava Cave
3. Krishna Mantap
4. Krishna's Butterball
5. Trimurthi Cave
6. Elephant Group
7. Ganesh Rath
8. Varaha Mantap
9. Raya Gopuram/Tower
10. Lion Throne
11. Mahishamardini Cave
12. Adi Varaha Mantap
13. Lighthouse
14. Five Raths
15. Scupture shopping
16. Tiger cave
17. Athiranachanda Cave
18. Vishnu Temple
19. Shore Temple
20 Beach

ARJUNA'S PENANCE : It is biggest Bas relief monument in the world, hewd from a monolithic rock. The entire structure was devised with a concept of open air theatre stage. Just imagine a drama being unfolded in front of an audience. The pandav cave which is situated besides acts as an indoor stage and the bas relief acts as an outdoor scenary.

I wonder why this masterpiece is called Arjuna's penance, there is sculpture of an old man ( Arjuna ) standing on one foot with ribs exposed praying to Lord, presumably Shiva to grant him the boon. ( Arjuna is presumably praying for the mighty Pasupati weapon to defeat the Kauravs ) The entire facade is filled with wild animals such Lion, Elephant, Deer, Serpants, and even domesticated animals like cat and mouse. It can be compared to a comic strip or ancient form of story telling. Another theory is that this bas relief is actually a personification of the poet Bharavi's masterpiece Kiratarjuniyam

Adjecent to the main relief there is a sculpture of monkey checking lice on its baby's head, which represents the real jungle scenario. The rest of story seems to be untold as it were. The headless sculptures is obviously vandalised by some treasure collector. Some historians ascribe the headless figures to the Pallavan king Mahendra Varman and others.


The cave adjescent to Arjuna's Penance bas relief is called Pandav Cave. This cave is largely unfinished and resembles a Buddhist vihara. The sculptures on the wall resemble a crowded market place, with various human forms and scenes from the life of a farmer with milking scene being the centre of attraction. On the right side one can assume the characters from Mahabharat.


This cave is located adjescent to Pandav Cave towards the left. Basically this cave too resembles a buddhist vihara which may have been converted to Krishna's cave. The life style of Krishna is depicted with cattle being the centre of attraction. Lord Krishna is depicted as effortlessly lifting the Govardhan mountain, along with female cowherds. It depicts a typical rural atmosphere.

There is a scene of lovers holding each others hands in unison apart from the flora and fauna of the jungle. Thus the love for nature is abundant among the artisans of the times.


A huge chunk of rock situated on the hillock looks like a butter ball on a typical masala dosa. This rocky structure is a photo shoot location for couples, students and family members.

In fact the rock looks to be precariously oscillating and about to trickle down, but it is firmly embedded with a flat surface. It is obviously an optical illusion created by nature. It is located to the north of the Arjuna Penance. The land in front has been beautifully landscaped with grass and trees. It was earlier barren and used to emit lot of heat making it a natural sauna centre.


This cave temple lies just behind Arjuna Penance. The pillars are beautifully designed with Lions or wild boars anchoring the structure. The cave seems to have been scooped out of a rock surface.

Inside the cave one can find varha depicted to represent Lord Vishnu. All the 10 avatars of Vishnu is being exposed with wild boar being the prominent one, implying the branding of the cave.


An unfinished agenda for constructing a massive tower on the edge of the hillock. This gopuram belongs to the Vijaynagar era, wherein the attempt was made to construct two gopurams signifying the granduer of the era. It may have been left incomplete due to the lack of sponsorship after the collapse of Vijaynagar empire.

This Gopuram seems to have been commissioned by Krishnadevaraya during the fag end of this reign in 1528, to glory the reign of his empire. He died leaving leaving behind the unfinished gopuram on Mahabalipuram and the later rulers did not have the inclination to finish the majestic structure. If only this gopuram along with the gopuram in front of the Vishnu temple had to be completed the granduer of Mahabalipuram would have scaled the heights of Hampi or even the Sphinx.


This complex was a part of the grand seven pagodas. The credit for construction of the shore temple should go to Pallava King Rajasimha ( 700 - 728 AD ) This temple which is situated bang on the sea shore is dedicated to Lord Shiva. This structure may have inspired Raja Raja Chola to build his Brihadeswara in a grandeur scale. The architects of the yesteryears were obviously aware of the vagaries of the nature and naturally the temple was designed to deflect the wind velocity and soak up the heavy rainfall.

The entire structure withstood the ferocity of the Tsunami speaks volume about the rigidity of construction. It seems to be literally built out of the rocks outgrown from the sea bed by reclaiming some land. Such formation can be seen if one visits Kaup, which gives an idea of the converting ordinary rocks into extra-ordinary monuments. The outer enclosures are filled with Nandi and Lion which may be a later addition to add value to the monument.

There are three temples in this shore complex, one is dedicated to Lord Shiva, with a broken Lingam, another is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and third one is dedicated to Durga, with the Lion type of sculpture.

On the precints of this shore temple miniature shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva have been excavated by ASI. This was accidentally discovered in 1990. The wild boar has been vandalised. Has it been subject to ransacking by the Chalukyan king. It is most unlikely despite some historians claim. Some claim that Vikramaditya I ( 655- 681 AD ) and avenged the defeat of his father Pulakesin II. He exacted revenge by destroying the boar symbol, which was sculpted in prostration to the Pallavan rulers. Hence the Chalukyan emperor must have hacked it. It was subsequently restored by the rulers or ASI.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Navagraha temples of Kumbakonam

According to hindu beliefs planets impact each and every individual right from the moment of one's birth unto his death. If one takes the re-birth theory into consideration, the previous birth also influences life on earth in the current birth.

Location : How to cover Navagraha temples which is spread over distance of 200 kms in round trip. If one is travelling by train one has get down at Mylatdurai and cover the eastern portion of the trip including chidambaram and Velankani. Then move to Kumbakkonam and cover the rest of the Navagraha temples. Otherwise if one wants to cover only Navagraha temples it can be covered from the base of Kumbakkonam. It is best to hire a cab to quickly cover all the temples, otherwise one may require as many as 4 days by bus.

According to traditional belief, Saint Galava was a famous astrologer who derieved his knowledge after performing penance at the foothills of Vindyas. He found on examination of his own horoscope that the evil influence of planets was affecting his health. He decided to get rid of the Navagraha Dosa caused by the Planets. Thus he requested the royalty to commission construction of the Navagraha temples. Thus he and his descendents got rid of the evil influence of the planets.

While on journey we met a Rajasthani family who were advised by their guru to undertake 3 trips to get rid of the Guru dosha. The intricacy of the trip was divided between the sisters and brother. The belief was strong which would help the sisters marry and brother to get rid of his problem in his business.

SURYA TEMPLE : This temple is dedicated to the Sun (star) around which all other planets revolve. The influence of weaker Sun would lead to diseases such as Typhoid, Lack of strength in bones, Eye problem etc. The prescribed remedy according to the priests are in form of fasting on Sundays, donating a cow and worship of Surya.

This temple is located 12km away from the base town of Kumbakkonam and the nearest Railhead is Aduthurai.

This temple even though not very impressive in construction has all the nine Grahas surrounding the temple. All the navagrahas are small mantaps, which are miniature and built in a jagged manner. One circumabulation around these temples will help a devotee to mitigate his doshas.

This temple is built courtsey Chola King Koluthunga during the 12th century, which has been renovated many a times due to crumbling edifice.

This Shiva temple is dedicted to planet Venus. Planet Venus dosha leads to lack of harmony in married life, diseases arising out of cold etc. The remedy for warding the evil effects of Venus suggested is by wearing diamond jewellery and giving bengal grams, white dress and silver article as gift.

This temple is located 18 km away from Kumbakonam. After visiting this temple one can proceed to Suryan temple.

RAHU TEMPLE ( Thirunageshwar ) : This huge temple is built by Gandaraditya Chola son of Parnataka chola I. It is spread over 15 acres, towering Gopurams and several mantaps. There are as many 12 theertams in this place.

Rahu Kalam is generally an inauspicious time, wherein no constructive activity should begin or inaugrated. It is better to avoid the influences of the planetary dichotomy. Generally Rahu influences stock trading and speculative activity. Remedy for Rahu dosa is in the form of wearing gemstone which honey coloured hessonite. One can get rid of their evil effects by feeding the ants too.

The location of this temple is approximately 6 kms away from Kumbakkonam.

CHEVVAI or Vaidheeswaran Temple : This temple is associated with the zodiac planet of Mars. This planet influences Aries and Scorpian zodiac, which is normally for 7 years. The general troubles associated with this planet are rift with siblings, repayment of loans associated with house and land, rheumatism and arthritis, late marriage, healing of wounds, tumours, fractures etc. Gnerally the mitigation is ensured by praying to Lord Ganesh, wearing red dress and gemstone.

LOCATION : This temple is located approximately 13 km from Mylatdurai. The route is enroute to Chidambaram via Srikali. Chidambaram is 23 kms from this place.

This temple is quite huge with fortified walls. The temple is guarded by Bhairava on the East, Veerabhadra on west , Ganesh on the south and goddess kali on the North.

The principle diety is Lord Vaidyanathar. The temple is dedicated to Mars planet. Lord Shiva is worshipped only after midnight.

The temple is of ancient origin and it has been renovated from time to time by Vikrama Cholea, Vira Rajendra Pandya, Achyta Nayak and Maratha prince Thulaja. The temple stands right in the middle of the town, with a beatiful gopuram, and the rays of the sun falls on the linga on a particular day of the year for a few days. The sacred tree associated with this place is neem tree ( margosa ) which has special medicinal properties. The original shrine is located under the neem tree. It is believed by throwing jaggery chunk into the pond ensures immunity for all the maladies.

There is another temple at Sirukudi where the ruling diety is Mangalanayaki, which is known to cure disease, even the Muslims visit this temple.

temple is another famous temple located approx 3 kms away from Vaidheeswaran temple. It is famous for the birth place of saint Thirugnana Sambhandar, first among Shiv Sama Acharyas.

Budhan Temple ( Mercury ) :
This temple ( Tiruvenkadu ) was closed on account of death of a family member related to temple trust. We could not visit the temple which was closed for mourning. Mercury is considered lord of knowledge.

Budha dosha is generally for 17 years, and is the lord of Virgo. Generally mercury influences an individuals education stature. Fasting on Wednesday, giving gold as gift, chanting of Vishnu mantras, ensures placating the budha dosha.

The temple is located under a banyan tree. The mother is worshipped by childless couple for blessing them with an issue. Sukravara Amma is also worshipped in this temple.

Those wishing to be blessed with a child should take bath in all the three tanks for fulfillment of their longing. He who takes bath in the waters of all three tanks of Thiruvenkadu shall bear children and their wishes shall bear fruit.

Location : This temple is located 10 kms from Srikali temple and approximately 32 kms from Chidambaram. Better to visit Chidambaram and on return one can visit this temple since Chidambaram Nataraja temple closes at 12.

KETHU TEMPLE ( Keezhaperumpallam Temple ) : This temple can be covered depending on the timing if one is on the round trip after having lunch. One can visit Poompuhar museum and beach and spend their time accordingly. The Dansborg fort is located nearby too, which is known as Tarangalpadi, which too has a beautiful beach.

Kethu determines whether one will attain Moksha or not. Generally kethu affects one for 7 years. Kethu blesses one with wisdom, graces with good children, and bless one to live in a foreign country. Ketu cures leprosy, TB, skin disease and fever.

There are mythical tales of a snake whose life was not fully ebbed. Lord Shiva seemed to have sucked the poison from the snake. The snake begged for forgiveness to retrieve its venom.

SHANI TEMPLE ( Saturn ) : This temple is also known as Tirunellur temple. This temple is dedicated to SATURN. This planet influences one for 19 years. He is the lord of constellations of Capricon and Aquarius. It also determines the longevity of human being. Those who are perturbed should worship Lord Hanuman and Lord Vishnu to get rid of their fear. They should worship with Til oil, donate yel, wear blue stone ( amentyst for acquarians ) and a dark dress. Once they worship at Tirnallur most of their problems will diminish.

The temple is located in Kariakal, which is under the jurisdiction of Pondicherry. Booze is available in plenty which is sold cheap due to lower duties. It is around 8 km away from kariakal town. Now one can decide whether one would like to proceed towards Velankani or towards Rahu temple depending on the belief.

We were unable to cover GURU AND CHANDRAN during our visit maybe next trip we will be able to make up the rest of the Navagraha ciruit. We were able to cover thiruvavur and saraswathi temple enroute back to our base town at Mayilatdurai.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marina beach is the widest beach in the World

On 19th April we were fortunate to revisit the world famous Marina Beach in Chennai. Even I had a misconception that Marina was the longest beach in the world, but nevertheless it is credited for being the widest beach in the world with 437 meters

The beach stretches from Fort St. George in the north upto Besant Nagar, Adyar South a distance of nearly 12 kms. The entire stretch of nearly four kms is well maintained with pedestrian footpath and two way traffic. There are two memorials for DMK founder C.N. Annadurai and AIDMK founder and legendary actor M.G.Ramachandran. Apart from these monumental structures, there are number of statues installed on the pavement such as M.K Gandhi,

Delete Photo Thiruvalluvar, Actor Shivaji, and Symbolic statue of Labour. The promenade along the beach area is known as Kamarajar Salai.
Marina beach precincts have been used by political parties to conduct meetings to address vast assemblage of crowd in the past. The beach can easily accommodate more than a lakh comfortably. Generally the meetings were held during the night in floodlights. . There was a permanent stage known as Seerani Arangam which was demolished by govt. Ms Jayalalitha, ex CM of T.N. inorder to maintain the beach environs. The crowd would assemble to enjoy their outings more so because of the eateries dished out by foodstalls on the beach. My favourite dish was sundal ( made out of boiled kabuli channa with mango slices ) in olden days. Tenga Manga Patani Sundal...screamed the vendors.

Nowerdays one can relish very economical fried fish and prawns with local masala added to taste. The oil content may not be healthy in lieu of re-used oil. But nevertheless a small quantity is quite tasty because of the freshness of the fish. There is a vendor who sells fresh water dug out of the beach sand. The water surprisingly is potable and not very salty. He charges Rs 5 a bottle, once again, one may feel slightly perturbed drinking the water but it is perfectly safe. None of us fell sick after drinking this water proves the fact that water is consumable.
One finds plenty of youngsters use Marina surroundings to play tennis ball cricket in the mornings. If one wants to have a drinks break, the vendors are ready to serve tea, coffee, cold drinks, mineral water, lime soda etc to quench the thirst. There are plenty of food stalls who carry out brisk business from evening till 8 pm in the night.

Jogging and morning walkers hit the beach pavement regularly. The idyllic setting with plenty of parking facility lures young and old to Marina beach. In terms of privacy Marina beach offers plenty of space, newly married couple and lovers throng Marina beach. Very few people venture into the water for swimming since the currents are strong and it can be risky, and unfortunately there are no bay watchers too for rescue act. However our bravehearts Mazhar and Azam literally splashed themselves in the waters for sake of photography session. They even requested Santosh and myself not to post some of their bare chested photos. Lol

There are merry- go- around and other make shift play themes for children on Marina. In fact these fabricated play themes can be a good shoot ops. We clicked plenty of photos with their background. One greedy guy wanted to fleece us and he shouted at us. Luckily I intervened and checked with him, he wanted Rs 5/- for using his equipment for taking photos, I obliged and he was happy.
Artificial Waterfall : In Sept 2005 a 34 feet tall artificial waterfall was inaugurated as a part of the Chennai forever initiative. The project was commissioned with a budgeted expense of 15 lakhs
Aquarium : A small aquarium is located near the memorial which displays different species of fishes. An entry ticket is charged for tourist.

On DEC 26, 2004 Tsunami battered the Marina beach leaving 206 people dead, but spared majority of the tourist since it stuck early morning at 8.30 am. But we found that the traces of fear had almost vanished among the visitors. Marina is really a symbol of the Chennaites spirit of survival amidst adversity. If one is lucky, one can have a view of sand castles and artistic structures and figurine of religious gods neatly etched on marina sand.

Epilouge :
Many a love stories have been witnessed by MARINA BEACH and the sands of time will witness many more to come. Maybe the seeds are sown for many more reviews on this lovely destination.

Touring in and around Kanyakumari

Bhagavathi ammal Temple

According to a legend, Banasura, the king of Demons, sought a boon from Lord Shiva that he could be vanquished only by a virgin. The Devas invoked Goddess Parashakti too redeem them, Unable to bear the harassment of the Asura king. Shakti came to kanyakumari as a virgin girl and did penance on the shores.

Lord Shiva of Suchindrum wished to marry the Goddess, and the wedding was fixed for an auspicious hour before dawn. Narada, realising that the marriage will spoil the end of Banasura, falsely heralded the break of dawn by assuming the form of a cock, even as the wedding party was on its way to kanyakumari. The Divine wedding did not take place, since the auspicious moment had bypassed. Lord Shiva returned to Suchindrum disappointed. The Devi also resumed her penance on the rock, now known as Sripadaparai, a few hundred metres offshore.

Meanwhile, Banasura heard about the beauty of the girl and came to request Her hand in marriage. When Devi rejected the idea, the demon king decided to win her by force. This led to a fierce battle, in which the Goddess killed the demon. The relieved Devas returned blessed the Devi and turned her into goddess Bhagavathi Ammal. The temple seems to have been erected during the Pandyan times.

The Sripadaparai is now known as Swami Vivekananda Rock, where the holy feet of the Goddess is enshrined.The tradition here is to take a holy dip at the bathing ghat at the confluence of the three seas. There are about 25 Theerthams on the shores.


In honour of our dear father of the nation a memorial was set up at Kanyakumari in 1956. Mahatma Gandhi’s ash was immersed in the sea @ Kanyakumari in 1948. An urn containing the ashes of the Mahatma is kept in this memorial for the public to pay homage. The monument is exactly designed to receive the sunshine through the roof on 2nd OCT miday on the memorial urn.

Enterance to this monument is free and it is open from 7 am to 7 pm daily.


The philosopher wrote Thirukkural which is published in three portions, the first book is known as aram ( the way or dharma ) the second one on porul ( which meant materialistic world or artha ) and last is inbam ( love or kama ). Thiruvalluvar has been recognized as the greatest poet and philosopher of TN.
The Mahatma commented on Thirukkural “ I wanted to learn Tamil, only to enable me to study Valluvars Thirukkural through his mother tongue itself…….only a few of us know the name of Thiruvalluvar. There is no one who has given such treasure of wisdom like him. It is a text-book of indispensable authority on moral life. The maxims of Valluvar has touched my soul."

A memorial statue has been constructed adjescent to the Vivekanada memorial. Thirvalluvar stands 95 feet tall and the pedestal is around 38 feet an overall height of 133 feet above the sea level, stands taller than the Vivekananda Memorial for obvious reason being son of the soil. The entire Thirukkural has been etched on the walls of the memorial leading to the Thiruvalluvars statue on the roof. There are 140 easy paced steps to climb to reach the footsteps of the great poet.

The chief sculptor of this edifice is Dr Ganapathi V Sthapathi, the vital statistics of this memorial can be brief summarized as follows :

Height of the statue : 95 feet

Weight of the statue : 2000 tonnes

Total gross weight : 7000 tonnes

Total steps one way : 70 steps

Chief Sculptor : Dr Ganapathi V Sthapathi.

Year of Inaugration : First January 2000

Kamaraj memorial & exhibition :

This memorial is dedicated to the great freedom fighter from TN. He was former chief minister of TN and President of the un-divided congress. He was popular as the Black Gandhi among the mass, and considered to be a king maker in the congress hierarchy. There are numerous black and white pictures of Kamaraj in this memorial. One of them is with his protégé MGR and another shows him wielding a cricket bat. He is shown along with Gandhi family moving to various constituency. His ashes are kept in the urn after immersion, which the public pay their homage even today from TN.

OPEN : 7 am to 7 pm Enterance Free

Wandering Monk Memorial

This memorial is dedicated to Swami Vivekananda. The life history of Swamis various achievement and his life style has been exposed in this exhibition. It is situated close the main town circle, wherein the free bus shuttles from the ashram to city at half an hour interval. Enterance fee is nominal, no photography is allowed inside.

Baywatch and Wax Museum :

It is a wholesome powerpacked entertainment park for an entire family. There are many fun loaded rides such as Sky cab, Bumping car, Columbus,Milky way, Giant wheel, Crazy chairs and kids pool are worth mentioning. India’s first wax museum on the lines of Madam Tussauds London has been established here.

Government Museum :

The government Museum is situated on the Beach road. There is a number of collection of artifacts from South Indian temples. This is one of the must see place in Kanyakumari. There is a lighthouse situated on the opposite side.

Holiday : Friday and Second Saturday : Fee : adult Rs 5 children Rs 3 and foreigner Rs 100.

Gunghanathaswamy Temple :

This temple is built by the king Raja Raja chola almost 900 years ago. The inscriptions point out to different periods in 1038, 1045 and 1048 AD. This temple is located close to the railway station.

Vattakottai FORT

This magnificient circular Fort is situated 7 km away from Kanyakumari. The Fort was built by Marthanda varma and strengthened by Dutch General De Lannoy during the reign of Marthandavarma ( 1729-58). The Fort has been landscaped beautifully by the ASI. A tunnel connecting to the palace of Padmanabhapuram was supposed to have been built for the royal to move around with maximum safety. However this has been closed due to vandalism. There is an emblem of the fish which obviously points to Pandyan Kings suzerenity over this Fort. One can have a beautiful view of the beach and a lighthouse in a distance. Cannons were place on the slots of the wall surrounding the Fort, which have been removed. Overall the Fort is so well maintained that it serves as a picnic spot for visitors. One more Fort nearby seems to have been destroyed by the British colonel Lee in 1806.

Udaygiri Fort :

The Fort has been re-built during the reign of Marthandavarman of the Venad dynasty during 1741-44. Once again the Dutch general De Lannoy was commissioned to build the Fort. There is a memorial of De Lannoy situated in this Fort. Being a bio-diversity area, there are some deers, birds and animals in the zoological park developed. It has a neat Tank right in the centre. If one walks across one comes to a rocky hill, which can be used for trekking there is supposed to be a temple on the top. But we aborted the attempt for paucity of time.


An elegant palace built with brick and mortar, along with liberal use of teak wood and brick tiles for roofing has been constructed by Marthanda Varma in 1744 AD after demolishing the mud Kaikulam Palace. The Kaikulam Fort and Palace was renamed Padmanabapuram palace as a dedication to Lord Padmanabha.

The Travancore Royal family followed matrilineal system of succession. The kings were succeeded by their sisters son. The old Princely state of Travancore was developed from the ancient kingdom of Venad which occupied western portion of Indian Peninsula. This kingdom formed as descendants of the ancient Chera Kings, whose celeberated capital is now known as Kodungalloor.

ANCIENT CLOCK The entrance to the main edifice is controlled by another ornamental gateway with retainers for watch and ward. The gabled entrance has wooden ceiling profusely ornamented with lotus medallions. The most striking feature of the entrance is the clock-tower which is one of the oldest in India erected in 1832 A.D. and still continues to be in working order. The clocks chiming is heard around the surroundings as far 3 km in the night time.

The first floor the Poomuham has a council chamber or Mantrasala which is meant for holding discussions with ministers and prominent citizens. The floor off this hall, which is polished with the admixture of coconut shell ashes, eggs fermented in molasses and lime reflects the figure like a mirror. Next to the Mantrasala is the Dancing Hall which was used exclusively for the members of the royal family.

Adjacent to the Council Chamber and to the south of dancing hall is the dinning hall called “Uttupura”, with two floors (the ground and the first) each measuring roughly 78 by 6 metres and it would accommodate about 2000 people at a time. Feeding of about 2000 poor persons, it is said, was done here every day and so the king was called ”Dharmaraja”.

The most attractive building in the whole palace is the ‘Uppirika Malika’ which consists of three storied. ‘Uppirika’ is the abbreviated term of ‘Muppirika’ which means the residence of the eldest member of the family. A wooden cot is erected on the top most floor in the belief that “Lord Vishnu” the chief deity. The first floor contains a wooden cot made of 64 medicinal plants, on which Maharaja used to sleep. The medicinal cot was presented to Maharaja “Marthanda Varma” by the Dutch East India Company in 1750, as a mark of friendship. Entry to the second and third floor is not allowed due to structural weakness. Certain artifacts are alleged to have been stored here. All the staircases are wooden.

To the west of the Zuppirika Mandapa is the Navarathri Mandapa which is a spacious hall of exquisitely beautiful granite pillars with drooping pendants reminiscent of the Nayakar style of architecture. In the Navarathri Mandapa, performances of Bharatha Natya and musical recitals took place in the royal presence.

Currently the Palace is maintained and managed jointly by the Government of Kerala and TN under the administrative control of Govt of Kerala, being located in TN. Padmanabapuram palace is both beautiful and function designed to suit the humid weather conditions prevailing with high roofs. The building is always cool and quiet from inside. Most of the material used were domestic such as Laterite stones, Teak wood, burnt bricks, granite and Lime. The shiny black polish on the floor was created from a combo of charcoal produced from coconut shell, lime, white from egg and various other vegetable extracts. In order to preserve the polish visitors are not allowed to wear shoe or slippers inside the palace.

The rooms on the ground level was mainly used for storage. On the first floor the main dwelling for the kings were prevalent. The bathrooms had sewage connection passing through concealed channels. Lighting of the palace during the night was provided by Lamps.

There are temples in the court yard of the palace, they are Ramaswamy temple, Subramanya and Sarasvathy temple. Ancient painting, Wooden cots and chars, along with visitors durbar, etc are beautifully erected. The ventilation is of high class.

A museum is also constructed by the ASI in keeping with the splendour architecture of the palace housing various artifacts.


Entry Fee Rs 25 for Adult & Rs.10 for Children.

Fees for Foreigners : Adult Rs 200 & Children Rs 50

Video and Camera Fee are Rs 1500 & Rs 25 Respectively

Separate fee for Car parking

Closed : Mondays

Mathoor Hanging Bridge :

This hanging bridge is the largest and tallest trough bridge in Asia. It is spread over 1 km in length with a width of 7 feet. It was constructed in 1966 under the instruction of Kamaraj, for bring succour to the people of the district. The bridge is constructed across the river bed of periyar. The water is transported in the canal over the bridge from one side of the hillock to the other side. A small childrens park and bathing platform is put up below the bridge. It is one of the tourist places.

Tirparappu Water falls :

This water falls is located 13 km away from Pechiparai dam. The water falls from a height of 50 feet, and the force of the fall can be tremendous. There are separate enclosures for men, women and children for bathing. There is a old Shiva temple with strong fortifications, but may be closed between 1 and 5 due to absence of the priest. This temple seems to built during the period of Cheras.

The lord after destroying the demon of dhaksin took the form of Veerabhadra and resided here. Veerabhadra is one of the fierce form of Lord Shiva. This temple is one of the shivalaya temples. There are many old inscriptions in this temple including the one of the pandiya king dated ninth century.


The celebrated St.Xavier visited the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu from Goa, he never missed the opportunity of visiting Kottar in Kanniyakumari district which was a celebrated commercial centre at that time. During his stay at Kottar, he used to worship St. Mary in the small temple. He was popularly known as “Valiya Pandaram” among the people of Kottar. While he was at Kottar, he averted the invasion of Padagas on the people of Venad which was appreciated by the king, who became closer to the Priest. In recognition of Xavier’s services, the king allotted a land to him for the purpose of constructing a catholic church at Kottar. There was already a church in 1544 in the same place, where the St. Xavier’s church stands now.

The church records show that the church was built in the year 1600 A.D. In the year 1865, the Church was enlarged and the shrine of our lady was also renovated and vaulted over. In 1930, the church was raised to the status of a Cathedral.

In 1942, in commemoration of the fourth centenary of the arrival of St.Xavier in India, a beautiful tower to the saint, a grotto to Out Blessed Mother and a small shrine to St. Ignatius who sent him to India were constructed in the Cathedral premises. In 1955, the church was further extended and the chapel of Our Lady was incorporated into the enlarged church.

The Church of St. Xavier enjoys a great fame as a place of miracles from early times. The annual festival is celebrated during the month of November – December lasting for 10 days.


There is a durgha named ‘Peer Mohamed Oliyullah Durgha’ at Thuckalay named after the great philosopher Mohamed Appa, who was born in Tenkasi of Tirunelveli District. After spending sometime in spiritual pursuits in Peermedu of Kerala State he came and stayed at Thuckalay. Being a Tamil poet of great eminence, he wrote many books on philosophy. He had intimate relationship with the Kings of Chera dynasty. It is said that he laid foundation stone for the Padmanabhapuram Granite Fort.

The Anniversary of the great philosopher poet is celebrated every year on a grand scale on the full moon day in the month of Rajap. Both the people of Kerala and Tamil Nadu attend the celebrations on large numbers irrespective of their caste, creed and religion.


Chitharal is a small village situated at a distance of 7 Kms., from Marthandam and 45 Kms, from Kanyakumari. The village is accessible by road from Kuzhithurai on NH47 via Arumanai, a distance of about 12 kms. From Chitaral junction there is a cartable road (2 km) running upto the foot of the hill. A trekking path 2 to 3 m wide, winding up to a distance of half a kilometer lands the visitor at the cave temple entry point.

It is famous for the Rock-cut temple. Hillock at Chitharal has a cave containing Rock-cut sculptures of Thirthankaras and attendent deities carved inside and outside dating back to 9th Century A.D. It was converted into Bhagavathy Temple in the 13th Century A.D. Cars and Vans can go upto the foot of the hill. One has to walk for about 10 minutes to reach the temple. The Jain images have been preserved Central Archeological Survey of India


The famous beach at Muttom is located about 16 kms from Nagercoil and 32 kms from Kanyakumari. Muttom is famous for its beautiful landscaping and high rocks dipping into the sea at the beach-side. The sun set view point at Muttom is one of the most Panoramic view points in the district. Another attraction of Muttom is the century old light-house built by the British. However so far this beautiful beach has always been unsafe for the tourists since the rocks on which tourists go to see the sea view are slippery and a number of fatal accidents have occurred over the past few years. The district administration, decided to put protective stainless steel fencing across the entire dangerous areas and also to put up small open huts at the rock tops for the tourists to sit and watch the massive sea waves leisurely with protection from sun and rain. The fencing work and the small huts have already been completed to the delight of the tourists who mob the beach in hundreds during week ends. Sitting benches have also been constructed in a circle for the elders to chit-chat, relax and enjoy the sun set. Seeing the response of the tourists, the district administration has sanctioned for the construction of a toilet complex, a small shopping complex and a children's park at a cost of Rs.11.60 lakhs and there are plans to undertake sculpture - works across the rocks to add to the ambience of the area.