September 20th, 2015 by admin

After traveling for around 90 minutes covering a distance of around 70 km from Tanjavur, we reached Gangaikonda Cholapuram . Currently a small village. But it was not so little over 700 years ago. For it was the then capital of the Chola empire. Built by Rajendra Chola I after his great victory in the north of India.

Once we reached there, we saw one has to leave their shoes before entering the temple. So we decided to keep shoes in the car. A shoe stand is available which looks over them on payment. During day time, stone becomes and a carpet has been rolled over the stones leading to the main gate. But does not help. The huge main gate leads to a large Nandi statue made of sand stone. It is one the most decorated Nandi I have ever seen. Little further, on an elevated platform is a small blank Nandi statue. Both these Nandis are facing lord Shiva. To reach the sanctum sanatorium, one has to take stairs from the left or right hand side and go through a beautifully crafted pillared passage. Inside the sanctum sanatorium, only oil lamps are lit. This added to the beauty and mystique when we saw the Shiva linga. The overall structure has some similarity with Brihadeshwara temple in Tanjavur. But Gangaikonda cholapuram temple is smaller in scale.

The temple area is a rectangle in shape and has a fortified boundary wall. Besides the main temple there are nice grass lawn. On the left hand side of the large Nandi, is a statue of lion. My mind ran wild on the thought, whether lion existed in Tamil Nadu around 1000 years back?

We took a walk through the grass lawns while exploring old stone statues and the temple architecture. It is a living temple, that is, prayer to the lord is still performed everyday. It is also home to many birds like pigeons and parrots.

The temple is very nicely maintained. It should on your must visit list, if you tour Kumbakonam / Tanjavur.

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January 16th, 2011 by admin

On the night of 01/01/2011 I called up MMTT travel on the way back from Rameswaram to check if seats for package tour to Kanyakumari is available. To our luck it was available. After reaching Madurai we bought the tickets at MMTT office. Kanyakumari package tour cost per person was Rs 450 but the cost may be less during off season.

Address:

MMTT Tours and Travels
Hotel Ashoka (KPS)
12, Perumal Theppakulam East,
Town Hall Road, Madurai – 625001
Ph: 2340282, 2343572, 4231177
Email: anil_mmtt@yahoo.co.in

After taking our ticket we went to Sai Punjab Da Dhaba located little away from MMTT office. This is a veg restaurant and you will get here authentic north Indian food at reasonable price.

Address:

Sai Punjab Da Dhaba
22, Town Hall road,
Near Canara Bank,
Madurai – 1
Cell: 9626081105, 9488957443

During dinner we received a call that, our bus is ready. Hurriedly we went to said destination and boarded the bus. That was also a mini bus but was better in infrastructure. The bus started around 10.30 pm from Madurai and we reached Kanyakumari around 3.30 am. The bus parked in front of Hotel Shankar’s Guest House. There was no room available there. The other passengers whose stay was also included in the travel were taken by the driver to another hotel in the next by lane. But that hotel is not at all good. Taking the cost factor into account we decided from the beginning that we will not take room and will sit in the bus. However, the driver told that the bus will go to the parking depot and we cant sit in the bus. So with no option we sat at Hotel Sankar’s reception. There the boy offered to give a single room for Rs 500 which will be vacated by 4.30 am. By 5 am we got our room for which I ultimately paid Rs 450 after negotiations.

Address:

Hotel Shankar’s Guest House
Main Road, Kanyakumari – 629702
Ph: 04652 – 246260, 246360

We took bath and by 5.50 am boarded our bus. The driver dropped in front of Hotel Sea View and guided us through a nearby lane to the beach for viewing sunrise. The sea side at most places has been embarked with stone boulders and sitting arrangement has been made. As we reached the site it was still dark and I could see only the lights of Vivekananda Rock Memorial. Soon the sky was getting lighter and one could see the blue sea with Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvallur statue in the backdrop. The sunrise here is amazing as you can see the sun rising as it out of the ocean. This place is amazing for photography as well. After you finish watching sunrise, you can take a stroll on the artificial stone path which goes half km inside the sea. The seaside has two church. Please note that most of the places to see in Kanyakumari are within 1 km radius.

Meanwhile after finishing the sunrise point, we tried to contact the bus driver but was unable to find him anywhere. Also, tried to contact MMTT office and I was provided a number that seems to be of their another bus. This did gave us a scare but we decided not to loose time and start watching places. We kept in mind that we need to reach the hotel by 1 pm. While all these going on we stood in the line for the ferry to Vivekananda Rock Memorial and Thiruvalluvar statue. The ferry service is run by Poompuhar Shipping Corporation Limited – a government of Tamil Nadu enterprise.

Ferry service cost: Rs 20 per person to and fro
Entry fee to Vivekananda Rock Memorial: Rs 10 per person

Everybody boarding the ferry is given a life jacket but most of them do not wear it properly or just hold them on hand. First the ferry took us to the Vivekananda Rock Memorial. While entering inside you will have to open your shoes. You can keep your shoes at the shoe stand. It is said that Swami Vivekananda meditated on this rock after he came back to India from the Parliament of Religions in Chicago, USA in 1893. In 1970 the Ramkishna Misson which Vivekananda founded constructed a memorial in his name on this rock. The Vivekananda Rock Memorial is probably the last land formation in the Indian sub continent. Here you can see a solar time table and a direction finder marked on marbles. First I suggest you go and see the stone statue of Vivekananda by climbing the stairs. Also, from here you can get a bird’s eye view of the beaches of Kanyakumari and surrounding. Amazing place for photography. Then you can go the Vivekananda museum located on the opposite side. Here you can also see the sign of the foot of Devi Kanyakumari. I suggest you do take a walk along the length and breath of this rock island. If you would like to visit the Vivekananda Kendra in Kanyakumari, check the following info:

Vivekananda kendra, Vivekanandapuram, Kanyakumari – 629702
Ph: 04652 – 247012, 246250
Email: info@vkendra.org
Website: www.vkendra.org

Check a video taken during 2004 Tsunami:

Then we were taken to Thiruvalluvar statue. Thiruvalluvar was a saint and poet in the Tamil Sangam era. He wrote the masterpiece Thirukkural. It talks about the code of conduct on how should man live life. The 133 feet of Thiruvalluvar was erected on minor rock island near the confluence of three seas – Indian ocean, Bay of Bengal and Arabian sea. It was built under the supervision of award winning sculpture Dr. V. Ganapthy sethupathi and weighs 7000 tonnes in granite. At the pedestal of Thiruvalluvar statue there is a little balcony where you can sit or walk around. To reach there you will climb some stairs. From here one can get a amazing view of the Kanyakumari beach side and surrounding.

Devi Kanyakumari Temple: Next we went to Devi Kanyakumari temple or Kumari Amman (virgin goddess) temple which located around 100 meters away by the beach side. The deity here also know as Bhagavathy Amman. She is one of the avatar of goddess Durga. I was told that the temple is more than 3000 years old.

Entry to the temple: One can go for the free darshan (view) for which time spent at the queue is long. Rs 20 for special darshan. Also, one of the temple people offered to give me direct darshan (without any queue) for Rs 100. But looks like this was unofficial.

Timings: 4.30 AM to 12.00 noon and 5.30 PM to 8.45 PM

Gandhi Mandapam: Gandhi Mandapam (house) was constructed at the site where his ashes were kept before immersion at the triveni sangam (confluence of three seas – Indian Ocean, bay of Bengal and Arrabian sea). The ashes of the Indian father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi is kept here. On the ground floor there is also a museum describing the life of Gandhiji. The building is built in such a way that on 2nd october (Gandhiji’s birthday) sun rays falls on where the ashes are kept. Gandhiji is said to have visited this place. The monument is a Orissa/Bengal type of temple built near the triveni sangam. Entry is free here. However, you may be expected to give Rs 1 or 2 for keeping shoes at the shoe stand.

Triveni Sangam: Little further was triveni sangam which means confluence of three seas – Bay of Bengal in the east, Arabian sea in the west and Indian ocean in the south. This place is considered very holy by the Hindus and taking bath here is considered very sacred. If you cant take bath at-least sprinkle water on your head.

Adi Sankaracharya Temple: On the opposite side of Triveni sangam is Sankaracharya Temple. Sankaracharya was a Hindu sage who traveled all over India and constructed many temples through out his journey while spreading Hinduism.

There are other places to see which are located outside Kanyakumari. Some of the prominent are Vattakottai Fort, Padmanabhapuram Palace, Pechiparai Dam, Maruthuvazhmalai, Mathur Aqueduct,Thirparappu waterfalls, Udayagiri Fort, St. Francis Xavier’s Church, Suchindrum Temple etc. I could not visit those places, if you have time you should visit them. However, as I mentioned earlier every sightseeing is located within a radius of 1 km.

For buying sea artifacts I suggest Kanyakumari as it is much cheaper here and you should bargain. We finished our sight seeing around 12.30 pm and on the way back to the hotel had lunch at Hotel Hari on the Main road. This hotel has a good simple menu. We ordered Bangra fish fry (sea fish – Rs 45) and rice – dal (Rs 25). Its a no frill hotel you can try. We reached hotel by 1 pm and took rest for sometime. By the time ( 2 pm) we left Kanyakumari it started raining. Keep in mind that during day time even in winter it can be hot and the sun is really scorching. The road from Kanyakumari to Madurai is excellent as it is part of the North – South corridor. Around kanyakumari one can see huge number of windmills which are used to convert wind energy to electricity. A ride/drive by personal vehicle will be amazing. We reached Madurai around 7.45 pm. This time we found a new hotel called Hotel Palace with the help of the bus driver.

Day 1: Trip to Madurai
Day 2: Trip to Rameswaram

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