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Rameshwaram (also spelt as Rameswaram)
is a pilgrimage centre of nationwide importance, as Rama is said to have
worshipped Shiva here on his way back from SriLanka. The temple is in the
island of Rameshwaram, the Banares of the South , connected to the mainland
by a bridge. The deity here constitutes one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of India.
The Sacred Pilgrimage To Rameshwaram
A pilgrimage to Rameshwaram is among the important injunctions laid on the
Hindu from time immemorial. The great temple of Sri Ramanatha is connected
by tradition with Kashi. A pilgrimage to Kashi is not considered complete
without a pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. In olden days groups of pilgrims, many
of them quite old, walked huge distances to the two temples, taking months
and years, and some failing to survive the rigours and dangers of such
incredibly long journeys. Men and women knew this cost might be exacted of
them, but they repaid it cheerfully.
The Rameshwaram pilgrimage has long been a tradition in South India,
particularly in Tamil Nadu, and has passed into folklore. Many kings of old
prided themselves on having planted columns of victory in
Rameshwaram-Krishna III the Rashtrakuta, in the 10th century; the Hoysala,
Vishnuvardhana, in the 12th century.
The temple 264m east to west and 200m north to south, and with three
Prakaras, two big Gopuras and two more unfinished ones, faces east, a few
metres from the sea. It contains two Lingas under worship. There are
innumerable other shrines and twenty-two "Tirthas" (also spelt as
Teerthas), or sacred bathing places.
At the main eastern entrance stands a huge Gopura of nine storeys and 38.4m
high. The outermost, or third, corridor, 196m long and 120.4 wide, is one of
the achievements of the Hindu artist down the ages. There are about four
thousand pillars, each 3.7m high. All are located on a platform 1.5m high.
They look like an orderly, petrified forest.
A huge Nandi, 6.7m long and 5m high, stands beyond the second Prakara. It
is made of 'Sudai', a material used for sculptures on Gopuras. On either
side of it there are portraits of two of the Nayaks, Visvanatha and
The western Gopura is smaller than the eastern, but still impressive, being
24m high. On the northern and southern sides there are unfinished Gopuras.
5-km south of the temple is Sethu, where there is a celebrated temple of
Sri Anjaneya, and where, tradition holds, Sri Rama built a bridge to Sri
Lanka. In Devipatnam, or Navapashanam, also by the sea, there are nine
stones visible at low tide. It is believed that they were set up by Sri Rama
to represent the nine planets, the Navagrahas.
How To Get There
Air : The nearest airport is at Madurai, at a distance of
Rail : Rameshwaram is well connected by trains from all
the major cities of India.
Road : State transport buses are available from the
railway station to the various places in and around Rameshwaram. For local
transportation taxis, auto-rickshaws, cycle-rickshaws and tongas are
available. Also city bus service is available in the island.
Temple Town Of Tamil Nadu
at a distance of 58-km from Chennai, Mahabalipuram has everything that makes
a site memorable; tradition, history, piety, western annals, and current
importance as a centre of tourism.
Name Of The Site
The proper name of the site is "Mamallapuram", after Mamalla, an
honorific of the Pallava king, Narasimha Varman I (630-668), who created the
earliest of its monuments. But it is popularly called "Mahabalipuram",
or "The city of Bali", whom Lord Vishnu chastised for his pride
and of whom there is a relief in one of the excavated temples here.
The history of Mahabalipuram dates back to two thousand years, it contains
nearly forty monuments of different types including an "open air bas
relief" which is the largest in the world, for centuries it has been a
centre of pilgrimage, it figures in the early annals of the British search
for the picturesque in India in the 18th century, today it attracts shoals
of foreigners in search of relaxation and sea bathing, and most strange of
all, it has an atomic power plant for neighbour. A small library has been
written on it. Over its history and that of its monuments a number of
scholarly controversies rage.
Mahabalipuram was already a centre of pilgrimage when, in the 7th century
Mamalla made it a seaport and began to make temples fashioned of rock. It
was through Mahabalipuram that many Indian colonists, who included sages and
artists, migrated to Southeast Asia. Sri Lanka's national chronicle, the "Mahavamsa"
testifies to this fact.
Mahabalipuram- A Classical Site Of Indian Historical Archaeology
When the first British visitors went to Mahabalipuram in the eighteenth
century, they found the monuments under sand, a few completely so. It must
have fallen into neglect after the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire or, at
least, Vijayanagar authority. It had prospered under the Cholas and their
successors until about the seventeenth century. Europe knew of it as early
as the 13th century when, following Marco Polo's visit, it appears in the
Catalan Map of 1275.
The first European to mention it directly, but with no personal knowledge,
of it, did so in 1582. The first English visitor was William Chambers in
1788. Following this, earnest antiquarians from Madras puzzled over it. One
of them, Colin Mackenzie, dug out some of the monuments from sand and
deputed assistants to collect its traditions and coins. In this way
Mahabalipuram became one of the classical sites of Indian historical
How to get there
Chennai (58-km) is the nearest airport with both
domestic and international terminus. Chennai is connected with all the major
places in India through the numerous domestic flights. International flights
operate from various parts of the world to Chennai.
The nearest railway stations are Chengalpattu
(29-km) and Chennai (58-km). From these stations one has to take road to
reach the Mahabalipuram.
Buses are available from Pondicherry, Kanchipuram,
Chengalpattu and Chennai to Mahabalipuram daily. The road to Mahabalipuram
is good. Tourists can also hire a taxi from Chennai.
Udhagamandalam (Ooty), the capital of
Nilgiri district, is popularly known as the "Queen of hill stations'
among the tourist circuits. It is situated at a distance of 105 km away from
Coimbatore. The height of the hills in the Nilgiri range varies between 2280
and 2290 metres, the highest peak being Doddabetta at a height of 2623
History Of This Beautiful Hill Resort
It is believed that the name Nila, has been in use for over 800 years
since, the King of the Hoysalas Vishnu Vardhana, who ruled from 1104 to 1141
AD seized the Nilgiris Plateau. His general Ponisia recorded this fact in
1117 AD with mention of Todas. The name Nilgiri was due to the blue haze,
which envelops the range with most distant hills of considerable size.
This Nilgiri territory came into possession of the East India Company as
part of the ceded lands, held by Tipu Sultan, by the treaty of
Srirangapatnam in 1799. Rev. Jacome Forico, a priest was the first European
who visited Nilgiris in 1603 and released his notes about the place and
people of Nilgiris. In 1812 surveyor William Keys and Macmohan visited the
top of the plateau.
In 1818, Wishand Kindersley, Assistant and Second Assistant to Collector of
Coimbatore visited this spot and submitted their experience report to the
Collector of Coimbatore Mr. John Sullivan. Settlement in Udhagamandalam
began in 1822 with the construction of the Stone House by John Sullivan, the
then Collector of Coimbatore. The bungalow, which is locally called "Kal
Bangla", is one of the landmarks of Udhagamandalam and is now the
Chamber of the Principal of the Government Arts College.
The establishment of numerous tea estates made Ooty famous. Lofty
mountains, dense forest, sprawling grasslands and miles and miles of tea
gardens greet the passengers on most routes. The annual Tea and Tourism
Festival attracts crowds in huge numbers. Visit Ooty during this festival,
when tea lovers from all over the world converge. An occasion not to be
missed! Visit Indian Hillstations
Botanical gardens are a major tourist attraction for those who visit Ooty,
one of the most popular hill stations of India. They sprawl over 50-acre and
lie on the lower slopes of Doddabetta peak, which is the highest point in
Ooty. Marquis of Tweeddale established these gardens in the year 1848.
The gardens are formally laid out with lily ponds, and there are clipped
bushes in the form of elephants, with raised trunks. One can find a thousand
different species of plants including some thirty types of eucalyptus in
these gardens. There is also a fossilised tree trunk, which is said to be 20
million years old. Towards the eastern part of the garden there is a wooden
house made of logs known as "Toda Mund", which provides an
About 1-km distance there is an artificial lake with a charming look, which
was formed in 1824 by Mr. John Sullivan, the then Collector of Coimbatore.
Doddabetta is the highest peak (2623 meters) in the Nilgiris, which is
about 10-km from Ooty. It is a beautiful place lying between the junction of
the Western and Eastern Ghats and offers a beautiful view of the Nilgiri
hill ranges. It is surrounded by dense Sholas.
At a distance of 1-km from the Lake there is a Deer Park, which is worth
How To Get There
Air : Coimbatore, 105 km from Ooty, is the nearest
Rail : Ooty is on the narrow gauge railway, connected to
Mettupalayam (47 km), which is directly connected to Coimbatore and Chennai.
The famous toy train connects Ooty with Mettupalayam and Coonoor.
Road : A good network of roads and national highways
connect Ooty with all major towns and cities. There are regular bus services
to and from Coimbatore, Trichy, Bangalore, Madurai, Kanyakumari, Mysore,
Palghat, Calicut, Tirupati and other important destinations in South India.
Ooty is also well connected with major cities of Kerala and Karnataka.
Entertainment In Ooty
The Nilgiris are a trekker's paradise. Landscaped by nature, the hills
abound in trek for lovers of nature. There are treks and treks in whichever
direction you turn and from whichever point you start. A trek can be full of
thrill, excitement and adventure and a way of seeing and enjoying nature in
all its beauty and splendour.
Udhagamandalam (Ooty) offers several trek routes, which vary in distance,
altitudes and terrain. There is a base camp at Parsons valley, from where
one can start trekking to various points within Western Ghats. The down
hills of Western Ghats on the North ends up with meeting the extensions of
Eastern Ghats, where the sprawling Mudumalai Sanctuary lies which opens
vistas for adventure tourists.
Trekking pamphlets are available with the Nilgiri Wildlife and Environment
Association (NWLEA). There are guides who have sound knowledge of certain
areas. If necessary, their services may be hired. And for further details
contact the Tourist Information Office at Charring Cross, Ooty.
Hang-glidng courses are also organised during March to May every year, with
the assistance of the Department of Tourism. Contact the Tourist Officer,
Ooty for assistance.
Goad Trout, Carp and mixed water fishing is possible in various streams and
lakes of Ooty. The Assistance Director of Fisheries issues the fishing
Historical Significance :
Remained The Capital Of Pandayan
Empire Till 14th Century.
Main Attractions :
Meenakshi Temple, Koodal Azhagar
Temple, Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
Festive Attractions :
Meenakshi Kalyanam In April-May And
The Teppam Festival
Madurai or the "city of nectar" is the oldest and second largest
city of Tamil Nadu. This city is located on Vaigai River and was the capital
of Pandyan rulers till the 14th century. The Pandyan king, Kulasekhara had
built a gorgeous temple around which he created a lotus shaped city.
Mythology says when city was being named; Lord Shiva blessed the city and
its people. On the auspicious occasion some Divine nectar ("Madhu")
fell from the matted locks of Shiva and hence the city was named "Madhurapuri".
This sacred town of south attracts thousands of pilgrims and visitors from
India as well as abroad.
Madurai's Pilgrimage - Meenakshi Temple
life of Madurai revolves around the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. This
magnificently carved temple is the main attraction of Madurai and its huge
Gopurams towers over the city. Meenakshi temple has a thousand pillared
'Mandapam'. Precisely there are 985 pillars and each of them is delicately
and exquisitely carved. Among these are the musical pillars, which produce
music when tapped. Surprisingly, these musical pillars are carved out of a
single granite rock. The temple has been a hub of Tamil culture and has been
sponsoring literature, art, music, and dance in the region for a long time.
The temple also has an art museum. The city apart from temple is crammed
with shops, street markets and temples, pilgrims choultries, hotels and
restaurants. Though Madurai is considered as pilgrimage but it has also
developed as a business centre and is famed for its traditional handicrafts
in bronze and brass.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
An excellent example of Dravidian Architecture, the Meenakshi Temple
attracts devotees from all over India and Tourist from all over the world.
One can climb to the southern Gopuram of the temple to get a great view of
Koodal Azhaar Temple
One of the most ancient temples in Madurai, Koodal Azhagar temple is
dedicated to Lord Vishnu. In this temple he is seen in various postures
sitting, standing, reclining one over the other. There are intricate
woodcarvings in here, including one of Lord Rama's coronation.
Vandiyur Kanmoy Tourist Complex
This is an ideal picnic spot with TTDC providing boathouses restaurants
Thirumalai Nayak Mahal
This palace is an excellent example of Indo-Sarcenic architecture. It was
built in 1523 AD and originally was four times larger than what it is today.
The gardens, the defensive wall all have gone and what remains are the main
entrance gate, the dancing hall and the main hall. Lord Napier renovated the
palace in 1866-72 and later further restoration works were carried on.
Today, the main attraction of the palace is light and sound show, which is
based on the life of "Tirumalai Nayak" and "Silapathikaram".
Vanditur Mariamman Teppakulam
This huge tank is covers an area equal to the six of Meenakshi temple.
Tirumalai Nayak built it in 1646. It is said that channels from the Vaigai
River connect the tank. Today, this tank remains empty for most of the year
except during the Teppam Festival.
The Gandhi Museum
The museum was initially the palace of Rani Mangammal. It gives a clear
account of the history of Independence movement of India. This museum also
tells some little known facts about Gandhiji but the real piece of Gandhi
Memorabilia is the blood stained Dhoti, which he was wearing at the time of
his assassination. The local government museum is also situated over here.
The small bookshop offers plenty of reading material from Gandhiji's works.
This is one of the abodes of Lord Sundareshwara, a rock cut temple carved
out of a mountain, just 8-km from the city.
This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is located 18-km northeast of
Madurai on a picturesque hilltop. The gold image of Azhagar travels for the
Celestial marriage during the Chithirai festival.
On the same hills of Azhagar Koilthis is again one of the six abodes of
Vaigai dam is surrounded by well-manicured gardens and has come up as a
popular picnic spots, just 70-km from Madurai.
One of the best hill stations in India and one of the few in South India,
Kodaikkanal or Kodai is a very beautiful place near Madurai. It takes just
121-km of travel to reach Kodai. Kodai is located 2,130 m above the sea
level in the Western Ghats.
Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary
One of the well-known wildlife sanctuaries in the south, Periyar sanctuary
attracts a large number of nature lovers every year. Also called the Tekkadi
wildlife sanctuary, this place is appropriate to watch and observe the
animals in their natural habitat. The forest of this sanctuary slope into
the man made lake at the bottom of the hill
The tea estates on the slopes of the Western Ghats nestles Megamalai. This
lovely place is bound to capture your imagination. Good place to stay and
enjoy a lovely surrounding. One can also watch the animals roaming in the
forest, which are close to Megamalai, Just 130-km from Madurai.
123-km from Madurai city is Suruli falls, which are located in a
picturesque area. It is an ideal spot and an excellent picnic spot to spend
Courtallam is located about 167-km on the Western Ghats and is an excellent
health resort in this part of the country. This place is also known as the
'Spa of the South'. Courtallam is located just 160-km from Madurai. This
place has got nine splendid waterfalls, which attracts a large number of
visitors. TTDC offers here a boathouse accommodation apart from the
118-km from Madurai is the temple dedicated to Lord Subramanyam. The temple
is located on top of a hill 180 meter high. The temple attracts many
devotees and people coming to Madurai do not miss visiting Palani. From the
hill top one gets an excellent view of the nearby area.
This ideal picnic spot is located just 8-km from Madurai.
Kumbakkarai Water Falls
This place serves as the base camp for the trekkers who venture in the
hills of Kodai. Kumbakkarai Water Falls are 105-km from Madurai and form an
excellent picnic spot. Waterfall surrounded by forests combined with the
pristine beauty of the hills creates a very soothing atmosphere.
How To Get There
Madurai has its own airport and there are flights,
which connect the city with Chennai, Tiruchirappalli. The airline services
have at least one flight daily from Madurai to Chennai. From there one can
take flight to anywhere in India.
Madurai has one of the major railway junctions of
South India. It is connected with the all the major tourist as well as
religious places in Tamil Nadu. Though there are not many trains, which
connect the city with major cities of India such as, Madurai is easily
accessible from any part of the nation.
There are good motorable roads, which connect this,
second largest city of Tamil Nadu with other parts of the state as well as
other places in India. Madurai has five bus stands, which cater to the needs
of the people.
Madurai has got a wide range of accommodation, varying from reasonable ones
to luxurious that cater for the flocks of pilgrims and tourists. Most of the
reasonable places to stay are located at Town Hall Road and West Perumal
Maistry Street, not far from the railway station.
Other Tourist Info
Fairs & Festivals
Most important festival of Madurai is the sacred wedding ceremony of
Goddess Meenakshi and Lord Sundareshwar. This festival is held during March
-April. During this festival the city displays a colourful and joyous mood.
Images of the divine couple are taken around the city in a tastefully
decorated chariot, amidst the presence of a huge gathering of devotees. The
notes of Nadaswaram and drums further aggravate the festive ambience.
The annual float festival marks the images of Meenakshi and her consort
floating on the Mariamman tank on an illuminated raft bedecked with flowers.
As such there are festivals throughout the year in Madurai. All most 11 big
annual festivals are celebrated in Madurai, which are spread through the
year with exception of the monsoon months.
Madurai has been a textile center since ages. The streets and lanes are
lines with shops and tailors offering readymade as well as fabric material
manufactured in Madurai. The Puthu Mandapam, an old pillared hall along the
entrance to Meenakshi temple is popular among the visitors and locals for
the cotton fabric and the Batiks. The lovely Sungundi Sarees are in great
demand among Indian women. Collectors are delighted to have the Brass lamps
Premier shopping areas are Chithirai, Avanimoola, Puthumandapam and
Thevangu Chetty Choultry. The handicrafts Emporiums of the states are also
here, which offer a varied range of handicrafts from all over the India.
The climate of Madurai is warm. The temperature seldom comes below 20°
C even during the winters. The rainfall is very frequent and spread
throughout the year, just like the flow of pilgrims and tourists is the same
during the year.
About 1.23 Million
Coimbatore - 227-km
Kanyakumari - 253-km
Tekkadi - 137-km
Courtalam - 160-km
Kodaikkanal - 121-km