Temples of Tamilnadu – 2009 Big trip – Part II


Andaman Nicobar & Tamilnadu trip

This is Part II of the 2009 Big trip where we covered the Temples of Tamilnadu.

>>>Part I of the 2009 Big trip – covering Andaman & Nicobar, Port Blair & the Havelock Island trip is at this link

The long drive part of the trip started from the 24th of Sep 09. The route followed is as below:

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

From Port Blair, it was an uneventful flight and we reached Chennai by around 11.00am and took a taxi to our relative’s house where we had parked our car. After an early lunch, we bid goodbye and started off on the second part of our big trip – driving around in Tamilnadu.

Why so many temples covered?

Well… temples were the focal point of arts, crafts and traditions during the ancient times. They are living museums showcasing the work of the best craftsmen from those times.

Sangeetha had already been to some of these places in the past… and she would speak about the huge temples, the extraordinary carvings etc. Also, I had seen quite a few documentaries on TV and read a few books on Temples of Tamilnadu and was keenly looking forward to seeing them myself. That is the story behind this itinerary.

We had an early lunch and by 12.30pm we were ready to hit the road for the driving part of our trip. We asked around and reached the East Coast Road that goes towards Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

We have already been to Mahabalipuram and Pondicherry during a previous trip, so they were not on our must-see list for this time. Our plan was to by-pass Mahabalipuram, stop in Pondicherry for some food and tea in the evening and proceed towards Chidambaram.

A small stop at the ‘Tiger Cave’ that is just beside the road, a few kilometers before Mahabalipuram…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

An interesting looking bird we saw near the caves…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

More birds, in the back-waters that line the ECR…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

We came across this board about the ‘Alambarai fort’ which is around 10 – 12 kms deviation from the main road. I was keen on seeing the fort; Sangeetha said “I haven’t heard or read about this fort anywhere”; so we decided to check it out…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

The fort is right next to the beach; however it is totally in ruins. Nothing much remains except for a few walls…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

You can get a good view of the sea from here though…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Next stop, Pondicherry! The cops here still use the funny looking cap that is a relic from the French era…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Though it has been quite a while since we had last been to Pondy, we still could remember the route to the French quarter…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

We stopped at the Promenade hotel for tea and Pizza…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

They serve a range of excellent thin crust oven fresh pizzas…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Yummy!

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

The beach-road does tend to get a little crowded towards the evening, since it is a popular hangout for the locals and tourists alike…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

There are a number of eateries to suit all budgets and the avenue is dotted with historical buildings from the French colonial era.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

After a small stroll around this place, we were ready to move on to our destination for the day; Chidambaram…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

We reached Chidambaram by around 7.45pm, found a lodge quite close to the main temple, parked the car and proceeded towards the temple for a darshan.

Our modus-operandi throughout the trip was to finish off with the darshan as fast as possible, usually on the night that we arrive there. The next morning we would just explore the temple and the monuments around at a leisurely pace.

Since we were travelling during the ‘Dussehra’ or ‘Navarathri’ period, most temples were open till quite late into the night, which suited us fine. Else most of these places shut by 8pm.

Chidambaram is the place where Shiva is worshipped in the form of ‘Nataraja’; and the idol is incredibly beautiful! Chidambaram is also one of the five holiest Shiva temples. This Wikipedia link provides extensive info: Chidambaram Temple – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The main entrance gopuram of the temple…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

After a quick darshan, we found a restaurant for dinner. In many places in Tamilnadu, meals are not served at night. Dinner usually consists of dosa / uthapam / idly etc.

Bangles by the roadside…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Walked back to the hotel and we shut down for the night by around 10.30pm. We planned to wake up really early the next day to check out the temple and proceed further.

 

25th Sep 2009 – Chidambaram, GangaikondaCholapuram, Darasuram, Kumbakonam, Tanjore.

We were up and out by 7.00am on the 25th and proceeded towards the Chidambaram temple.

If you are wondering whatever happened to the Trekkers what were manufactured by Hindustan Motors, looks like most of them wound up in Tamilnadu; and were mostly bought by driving schools. We came across a number of these vehicles in good running condition around TN, mostly with ‘L’ boards stuck to them.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

The temple entrance gopuram in daylight…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

More pics from outside the temple complex. Each temple in TN has its own rule book when it comes to photography. In some places they’ll allow you unfettered access to take pics anywhere (Except the main deity.) In other places the totally prohibit carrying cameras into the temples. In a few other places you need to buy a camera ticket…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

After spending some time in Chidambaram, we headed off towards Gangaikonda cholapuram. A lot of info about this place is available here: Gangaikonda Cholapuram – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Pics from the temple; which does bear a strong resemblance to the Tanjore Brihadeshwara temple. This temple was once surrounded by a massive fortification wall, which was dismantled by the British, who used the stones for constructing a Anaicut (Dam) across a river nearby.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Next we headed towards Kumbakonam. A small town that literally has a temple in every other street. We had listed down a few temples which are architecturally and artistically significant and planned our visit around them.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Drove through Kumbakonam to visit Darasuram first and then spend the rest of the day in Kumbakonam.

Darasuram is famous for the ‘Airavteshwara temple’ which features in UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. More info here: Darasuram – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A very beautiful temple, with intricate carvings…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

And remnants of ancient paintings; created using natural colors and pigments…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Some more pics from in and around the temple…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

There are also quite a few handloom silk units in and around Darasuram. We walked around a little into the streets around the temple and found one. The folks were sweet enough to take a few minutes off to explain ‘how things work!’

I had always assumed that a handloom is a relatively simple machine. But in reality, it is extremely complex. The loom is actually a programmable device, with the design inputs being fed in via punched cards.

There are cards which specify the design of the top and bottom borders of the saree, cards which generate the main section design and another set of complex cards for the pallu.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Depending on the complexity of the design, a single silk saree takes anywhere between 5 to 20 days to weave…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

We were back in Kumbakonam by lunch time. Had plate meals in a small hotel and worked out a plan of action. We realized that the places we wanted to see were located with a few square Kms of the town. Since finding our way around + finding a parking place after we reached the places was going to be a pain, we just parked the car near the first place we wanted to see and hired an auto.

Caught hold of an auto guy, told him about the list of places we wanted to see, asked him how much time it would take to cover all of these and the best order to follow… and then asked him how much would he charge if he were to take us around to all of these places.Started with 200/- and negotiated it down to 175/- and we were all set. He would take us to a temple and wait for us.

Many of the temples in Kumbakonam are spread over a large area. So the corridors in some of the temple complexes are used as markets. And the temple compound is used as a thoroughfare… if you want to go to the other street, just hold your slippers in your hand and walk through the temple compound instead of the longer route around it.

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Dolls; which are quite popular in Karnataka & Tamilnadu, displayed as part of Dussehra festivities…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Just a random pic…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

In most places in the interiors of Tamilnadu, everything and everybody shuts down at around 12.30pm; and it is siesta time till around 4.00pm. So plan your trip taking this into consideration…

Andaman Nicobar and Tamilnadu road trip

Contd…




4 comments to...
“Temples of Tamilnadu – 2009 Big trip – Part II”
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VivekRaj

Excellent trip… Enjoyed a lot. . . .


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Ashok Kumar

wonderful picture, all the temples monuments and preventable one.


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Ashok Kumar

wonderful picture, all the temples monuments and protect all.


Avatar
Ashok Kumar

wonderful picture, protect all the temples & monument.
They can create very hard in future.




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