September 28th, 2015 by admin

The seat of the Maratha rulers at Thanjavur has a good collection of items from history. At the palace, saw a diverse collection of coins from various periods of the past. Take a look:

September 25th, 2015 by admin

Brihadeeshwara temple, also know as the Big temple is probably one of the best temples in the world. No wonder, it is a UNESCO world heritage site.

Address:

Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu

Timings:

6:00 am – 12:30 pm and 4:00 – 8:30 pm

Entry fees: Free

Note: Parking available on the opposite side of the temple (on the other side of the road)

We planned to see the temple in the late afternoon as that would allow us to see it in both daylight and night. As we proceeded towards the temple, we were welcomed by a huge arch. From the second arch onwards on has to walk barefoot, so either leave your shoes in your personal vehicle or at the shoe stand available at the temple for Rs 2. If you have any bag, there will be a checking at the second arch. Entry to the temple is free. Once we crossed the second arch, we could see the full view of the temple and its splendor. The arches were positioned such that one can see the Nandi sitting on a platform facing Lord Shiva. From here one has to climb a small platform on which the Nandi sat. From here some steps straight took us to the main sanctum. The elevated platform of the main temple and Nandi forms the center of the rectangle.

During day its hot but as the sun was setting the weather started to cool down. A gentle breeze started to blow all over the temple. We took a walk around the main temple exploring it. At dark a different view of the temple came alive and was a treat to the eyes. We sat on the nicely maintained grass lawn to enjoy the view around and thinking about the temple.

The construction of the temple was started by great Chola emperor Rajaraja I in 1003 AD and was completed in 1010 AD. The design of the temple is an engineering marvel and whoever has designed it was an architect per excellence. The temple was designed to represent a cosmic structure called the Mahameru. The temple is dedicated to lord Shiva represented by a 3.66 meter high linga. The area of the temple is a rectangle in shape. The vimana soars to a height of 60.96 meters and the stone Shikara (8 pieces) at the top weighs 81.284 tonnes. The inner scantum is a square and there is a circumambulatory passage around it like most south Indian temples. Along with the main temple, the complex has 5 sub shrines for Chandikeshava, Amman, Subhramanya, Ganesha and Karuvur devar – the royal priest. There are two mandapas for Nataraj and Nandi. The beautiful Nandi has been chessiled for a single granite rock. Two gopuras Rajarajan thiruvasal and Keralantaka are of the same period as the main temple and the arch is of the Maratha period. The walls have numerous inscriptions from the period of Chola, Pandaya, Vijaynagar, Nayaka and Maratha rulers. From the writings it can be seen that the temple was patronized by various rulers and received generous donations.

If anyone ask me to describe this temple, I would say – “It is a poetry written in stones”. Go there in leisure and you wont complain.

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.

To view more pictures visit, Travelingbeats Photo Gallery.

July 7th, 2015 by admin

Need information on tourism in India or some emergency help while you are in India, call the Incredible India tourist helpline number: 1800111363 or 1363. This number seems to be toll free even from mobile phone. The helpline is available 24×7. Earlier it was available only in English and Hindi. I was told that the helpline would be available in 12 other language but there is no time frame when that will be launched. The website: http://www.incredibleindia.org/ is already available in German, Russian, Chinese, Arabic, French, Korean, Japanese and Spanish, apart from English and Hindi.

So any tourist India local or foreigner traveling to India, can call this number for any info or emergency help.

India Tourist Helpline: 1800111363 or 1363

In my conversation with the helpline, I found them pretty helpful.

June 8th, 2015 by admin

Yesterday a new bus services has been started between Kolkata ( capital of Indian stage of West Bengal) and Agartala ( capital of India state of Tripura ). The significance of this bus service is that it is an international bus services which will use territory of Bangladesh during its journey. The northeastern part of India is landlocked and has to use the chicken’s neck area to connect to India for any sort of land travel. So if one has to travel to Kolkata from Agartala it takes almost 2 days by land route covering a distance of around 1650 KM. This also leads to more expenditure as there is no direct train or bus service. One would have to reach Guwahati and board a train to Kolkata. This results in a day’s halt in Guwahati and hence more expenditure. Wheres the direct distance of Agartala and Kolkata is around only 451 KM. This new direct bus services will not only reduce travel time, it will also save fuel and other expenditure. On the other hand Bangladesh will probably earn revenue on road usage. This is a win – win situation.

It is a great unlocking of the future possibilities!!

India PM Narendra Modi, Bangladesh PM Seikh Hasina and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee together flagged off the bus from Dhaka towards its onward journey.

The bus will be run alternatively from both sides by West Bengal Surface Transport Corporation LTD and Tripura Road Transport Corporation (TRTC). The bus from Kolkata would leave from Karunamoyee International Bus Terminus, Salt Lake and The travel time would be around 14 to 16 hours. Times of India reported that ticket cost would be Rs 2000. This is also a great news for travelers who are looking to travel to north eastern part of India. With reduced travel time, one can put more time in sightseeing. However, to avail this service one must have a passport and apply for transit visa to travel through Bangladesh.

Bus service has started but I could not find any info where one can buy ticket. Online ticket purchase is probably is not available now. Both the state government should either make tickets available for purchase online on their portals or should collaborate with private ticket selling platforms. This will make it easy for travelers and help in planning for travelers who are not from Kolkata and Agartala.  Looking forward to make a journey on this route one day!

May 31st, 2015 by admin

Tipu Sultan was probably the last independent king of the Mysore kingdom. His arms and armour has recently found its way to auction in London for 6 million pounds last month (23rd April). A lot of this artifacts were probably taken to UK during the British rule of India. However, this do not make UK the owner of this items. This items should have been returned to India, who is the rightful owner. These artifacts place is not at auctions, rather should be at a museum for public display. International law says if anyone discovers any antique item in a country, they can study them and need to return them to the country of origin after creating a replica. But we keep on hearing Indian historical items getting auctioned at Southby’s, Bonhams and such. The government of India should take strong steps to bring such items back to India and detest such auction houses to deal in such items of national history.

Tipu’s personal sword which has a tiger head and laced with precious stones was bought by liquor baron Vijay Mallya in 2004 at an auction in London and brought to India. The point I am trying to make is that this items are our heritage and should stay in the country. The government of India should talk to the country concerned. People at large also can raise this via social media.

Take a look at the pictures of some of the items: click here.

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