Monthly Archives: May 2011

Kanchipuram

BangaloreKanchi – 2 day trip (Sept 2009)

We made this trip during the 2009 Dassera festival. And this has possibly been one of the best trips we have taken up, esp the most organized one….

We took a bus from Bangalore’s Shantinagar Bus Station. As there are no volvo buses between the 2 places, the trip can best be described as “an experience”. 🙂 We took the Rajahamsa service, which left at around 9pm and reached at around 3.30am at Kanchi.

The bus stop is right in front of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, and not the main bus stop. In fact, when wee got off, we though the Peetham poster was just an adevertisement poster, not the entrance!!! Here you have a lot of auto-wallahs haggling the price of a trip. Almost no one ever uses the meters in the autos. So one has to be careful when dealing with them. We however struck gold with Karthik, our auto driver. Over the period of the 2 days we stayed here, he was of great help.

We stayed at Hotel Jayabala International. Its a clean, inexpensive place. Its biggest advantage is 2-fold. One: its located above Saravana Bhavan, which is one of the best South Indian eateries. Secondly, most of the Silk Sari emporiums are located on the same street, Mahatma Gandhi Road.

The First Day:

We took darsanam of Kamakshi Ammavaru. It was a nice experience. When we spoke to the priest inside the temple, we could arrange for passes for abhishekam for the next day.

Kanchipuram is divided into Vishnu Kanchi & Shiva Kanchi. There are temples associated with each diety as named.

We then went to Ekambaresawar temple, which is part of Vishnu Kanchi. This huge temple complex is spead over an area of  12 hectares.  One of the highlights of this temple is “Aayiram Kaal Mandapam” the thousand pillar mandapam with 1008 Sivalingams.  The temple per se is located around a “sthala-virutcham”, a tree which gives 4 types on mangoes. This tree has been around for over 3500 years. The story goes that Parvati performed penance under the mango tree in front of a Lingam made of sand. This is also the reason why no abhishekam is performed on the Lingam, as it is made of sand.

This lingam is also one of the “Panchabhoota” Lingams, signifying the element of Earth – Prithvi Lingam.

The next temple we visited was the Varadaraja Swamy Temple.  This temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Varadaraja Swamy.  The “original” idol of Varadarajaswamy is made of “Fig” of 10mtrs height and is kept imersed in the temple  tank. This idol is taken out once in 40yrs for a period of 48days. The last time it was taken out was 1979, so the next time still is some time away. 🙂

The temple itself is divided into various section or prakarams. Lord Varadaraja Swamy  resides in the upper prakaram. The only problem with getting there, is the massive crowd, and the narrowness of the steps and passage. It takes anywhere upwards of an hour to get darshan of the Lord.  On the way uout, you are directed to a room where on the ceiling are 3 lizards, the Sun & Moon are fixed. The largest lizard is made of gold (bangaram balli), the next of silver (vendi balli), and the last of brass. Steps lead to the top where you can touch these and come down again. The thought is that touching these idols will cleanse you of your sins.

The last stop for the day was the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. This is situated directly in front of the lane leading to the temple. We were truely surprised at the simplicity of the structure. The Kanchi Mutt had become famous and influential under the leadedrship of Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Sawmi. It is now being led by Sri Jayendra Saraswathi Swami & Sri Shankara Vijendra Saraswathi.

We entered into a small temple, where offering are made. Behind the temple itself, along side the diety in the temple we take a path to the back. This is an open courtyard with a large open hall, and rooms at the back. We met Sri Jayendra Saraswathi in one of these rooms, which are kept open during specific times for the Swami to meet people. In front of this courtyard and room is the Brindavanam of Sr Chanradsekharendra Saraswathi Swami. In thevenings, the Kamakshi Temple elephant is brought in to pay obeisance to the Brindavanam and the temple in these premises. Overall, it was an unforgettable experience.

We ended the day by walking on MG Road, where the hotel is located, and all the sari shops are located. We bought a 3 saris in a shop, but it was truely an exercise in restraint to stop at 3!! 🙂 However, a lot of shop claim to be co-operative societies and are frauds. So one has to be really careful when shopping at the sari shops here.

The Second Day:

The next day started at around 5am, which was the time we had to get to the Kanchi Kamakshi temple for the morning Abhishekam. This is an experience that I can never have enough words to describe, one of the most beautiful sights, one that I can never forget.

This was followed by a trip by auto to almost all parts of Kanchi. We had this booklet written by Tamarapu Sampath Kumar, who gave details of almost all temples in kanchi. The list, as we managed to see, was:

  • Vishnu Kanchi
    • Adikesava Perumal temple
    • Pandavadhoota Perumal temple
    • Ulagalanda Perumal temple
    • Vijayaraghava Perumal
  • Siva Kanchi
    • Kailashnathar temple
    • Sri Kacchapeswara temple
    • Kachi Anaikthangapadam temple

This was followed by a trip to a weaver’s house, and home shop. The purchases we made here were really good.  When we finally reached the hotel, we also went over to Co-opTex which has a showroom nearby. The rates here are by far the best you can find in Kanchi. The saris are all provided with SilkMark, and also have a standard discount price. In all, its a good bargain for Kanjeevaram saris.

At the end of our trip, we needed to buy bus tickets at the bus station. here, our auto driver, Karthik, was of great help. He managed to speak to the bus conductor, and get us good seats. The buses here get filled within minutes of opening the doors. Also there is no ticket counter where you are assured of a seat; all tickets are given by the concerned bus conductor!!

We caught the 8pm bus, and reached Bangalore by 4am. It was truely a great experience! 🙂

Categories: Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

Mysore

Bangalore – Mysore – 1 day trip (24th April 2011)

The trip to Chamundeshwari Temple is one that we had been trying to make, with not much success. Finally, it came about a few weeks back.

We went through a travel agent, with one of their daily trip packages from Bangalore to Mysore. The best obviously would be the Incredible India tour (govt sponsered). But since ours was a last-minute trip, we got in a local tour.

The starting point for all the tour buses to Mysore start at Marathahalli at around 6-6.30am. At the junction you would normally see about 5-6 buses lined up on the roadside. These buses have various pick-up points through the city. So by the time one actually leaves the city its almost 9am.

The first stop is for breakfast at a small restaurant called Woodland Avenue on the highway at around 10am. All buses stop at the same points for food. So its definately a battle for time and space at these places. 🙂

The first tourist stop was Channapatna. Most wood carved toys in india come from here. They are typically brightly coloured, and come in a multitude of toys, deco pieces, and handicrafts.  We picked up some bright;y coloured show peices and keychains. The prices is reasonable, and definately less than what we have to pay if buying in Bangalore.

The next stop was Srirangapatnam. This was the summer capital of Tipu Sultan. It is also home to the famous Ranganadha Swamy temple. The whole place lies within a fortress. Most of the walls have fallen down, but you can still see the major doorways and battlements.

The tour guide points out the various entrances and exits from the fortress. And also interesting views, but doesnt necessarily stop at any of them. So you have to have your camera ready if u want pictures!

First view is of the Jumma Masjid, and imposing white structure. 2nd view is of the ruined palace of Tipu Sultan. Apprently, once Tipu Sultan was killed, the British soldies ransacked and burnt down this palace. You can now see only the bare ruins of the place.At neither of these places, the tourist bus stops.

Finally we reach the Ranganadha Swamy temple. Here we were given about 20 mins to have darshan and come back. While normally this is more than sufficient time, we went on a holiday. Which basically translates to huge, unruly crowds. The tour guide warned us that if the queue is too long, pplease take darshan from outside and come back. We, of course joined the said crowds for the darshan. By God’s Grace, we were able to get proper darshan and come back to the bus within the stipulated time.

From here, wee cross over the River Cauvery, on towards Mysore.

In Mysore, the tour bus first stops for lunch. This is at a restuarant named Leela Residency. Both North-Indian and South-Indian thalis are served here. The best part is that the food is piping hot. The worst is that all the buses reach at approx same time, leaving you waiting to get a table.

A few furlongs ahead is the St. Philomena’s Church. This is a major tourist and religious point. The church itself is built in the Neo-Gothic style, and is impressive to look at. 

The next stop is the Cauvery Emporiom for sliks and handicraft shopping.

(i just realised: At every major point the sequence seems to be the same – food, shopping, finally sight-seeing!!!)

Next we reached the famous Mysore Palace, also known as Amba Vilas. Note: if you want to go through both the old and new palaces, better to go by yourself, rather than tour bus. The tour guide discourages you from going to the old palace saying there is nothing much to see. The new palace has 4 major sights to see: The stained glass ceiling, the central courtyard, the palace of dolls, and the main Sabha of the Wodeyar.  However, if you look carefully, you will notice the ivory inlaid doors, and glass work in the panels and floors. Again, time is short, so one has to rush through the whole experience.

The second-last stop on the trip is the Chamundeshwari Temple, situated on the Chamundi Hills. The parking lot is about 1/2 km from the actual temple. The entrance has a statue of  Mahishasura. At the temple proper, there are 2 ticets available: Rs. 20/- and Rs. 100/-. One can also avail of the free darshan. You can also give an offering of coconuts and flowers that can be bought outside the temple. We took the Rs. 20/- darshan, and were able to have a good darshan, and rather fast too.

Behind the temple, not know to too many people, is the temple of Sri Mahabaleshwara, a temple of Shiva and Consort of Chamundeshari Devi. A simple stone temple, its definately worth a visit.

The final stop for the day is the Brindavan Gardens and the Krishnarajasagar Dam. It is a 20 min stop and the biggest disappointment of this trip. The short time-span gives you just enough time to walk all the way to the musical fountain, watch it for 10 mins, and walk back to the bus. The musical fountain is beautiful, but after the first 2 sound-tracks, it becomes repetitive.

You cannot see the dam, except a glmpse from the road, nor the rest of the famous gardens.

Also beware of pickpockets. As you would reach the gardens only after dark, it is a haven for pickpockets. 2-3 people unobtrusively surround you, seemingly talking on the phone or some such thing, preventing you from moving for a couple of minutes, enough time for the pickpocket to slice through your bag with a blade. Thats exactly what happened with us. Thankfully, the handbag in question was a sturdy model with various layers and pockets, preventing the thief for actually stealing anything. Only after reaching the bus did we notice the deep cuts in the bag.

On the way back, the bus stops finally for dinner on the highway for about 30 mins. After that its a straight trip back to Bangalore, reaching the final point of Marathahalli at about 11pm.

Categories: Karnataka, Mysore | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment