My first morning in Madurai - the temple city and befittingly, I made my first trip to the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai and I was truly feeling blessed. This temple is dedicated to Shiva- Parvati and the chief deity here is Meenakshi, the other name for Parvati. Madurai is synonymous with the temple and tourists visiting Madurai have the Meenakshi Temple definitely on their agenda. The popularity of the temple is such that it is estimated that close to 15,000 visitors come to the temple every day while on Fridays the number increases by another 10,000. The temple has prominent reference in the Tamil literature and it continues to hold a very significant position in the lives of all the people who live in Madurai and also for the people who visit Madurai for whatever reason.
The temple architecture is very important since it is allegedly believed that the city of Madurai has been redesigned in accordance with the Shilpa Shastras and also in reference with the shape of the temple. The temple is one of the few temples that have four gateways or gopurams as they are called, in the four directions. The gopurams are adorned by miniature carvings that have depictions of animals, demons and Gods. It is also believed that the temple has always been in the center of the city like a lotus and the streets emanating from the temple premise are like its petals. I was in awe of the aura that the temple generated. It is like this inseparable part without which nothing would click in Madurai. Like an old guardian under whose custody Madurai flourished or breathed.
I ventured around the Meenakshi Temple, Madurai and came across the Temple Tank. Much has been written online about this temple tank and it still remains a mystery to me how the temple tank is considered a judge for the literary works. It is believed that the poorly written transcripts would sink in the tank while the better ones would float! With so much history and in the presence of such divinity, I may have lost track of time. But it was lunch time and I made my way to the Murugan Idli Shop, Madurai.
Thirumalai Nayakar Mahal, Madurai : We indian attend countless wedding ceremonies every year. This time I was in tamil nadu to attend a cousin's wedding. It as supposed to a boring trip, thats when I came up with a travel plan and took my family to thirumalai nayakar mahal in Madurai. It was built in Dravidian style. It is one of the classiest and most beautiful place I have ever visited.
Life has a way of binding you sometimes. Though my work pressures as a pharmacist is not so pressing that I cannot take intermittent breaks yet formulating plans and moving away from responsibilities are generally very difficult. So when a certain plan materializes, I make sure that no hurdle should come in my way and my vacation. I have always been the spokesperson of my family since childhood; easygoing, frank and talkative is the way most describe me. Visiting new places and learning about their history remain my passion and the trip to Madurai was my ticket to visit the ancient city and I was excited beyond words. It all commenced with my train travel from Bangalore to Madurai by Tuticorin Express and it was as though on cue, I got a holiday from work too. I had the whole day at my disposal to pack for my trip.
The train was to depart from the station around 9:20 in the evening and I was bang on time to take my reserved seat for the travel. The railway station was abuzz with activity; people moving hither thither purposefully to embark on the journeys of their choices for their respective reasons. I often think that it would be very interesting to take a small corner in the railway platform one of these days and observe the people passing by, see their mannerisms and their hustle. It can reveal so much about them, but only if I had that kind of free time. But this day was special, I was to go to Madurai, and my itinerary had already been chalked out, every little detail planned. I prefer it this way because it gives me a certain control over the situations and also make me anticipate things.
It was an overnight journey and I would reach Madurai at about 7:20 in the morning. I had every intention to sleep off all through my journey so there would likely be no events to write about my train travel from Bangalore to Madurai by Tuticorin Express. But once in Madurai, I would write all about my choice of hotel - the Sangam Hotel Madurai.
I barely get a chance to travel but when I do, my best companion has always been a book to read enroute. I prefer reading novels which are quick and easy to relate to like Five Point Someone and Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.
In my journey by the train, I happened to see the book ‘Life Is What You Make Of It’ at one of the bookstalls. What followed next was an exciting train journey coupled with an enjoyable book to read..Bliss! Here is a quick review.
Book Review :
About The Author
Preeti Shenoy is a new age author and artist. This is her second book which is published. The author is also a poet and her poetry has also been published. She is a fine writer who uses simple language to speak directly to the readers.
The lead role in the book is played by Ankita who is in her early 20s. She is right now on her way to the doctor. She has a past that haunts her and spoils her present. The story begins with her travel to the doctor. This is a good start to the story as it keeps the reader wondering why is she heading to the doctor? It also makes the people wonder what will happen next.
The reader first gets to read the letter exchanged between Vaibhav and Ankita. Over a period of time, the story slowly reveals to us that Ankita’s parents are pretty orthodox. They lay down several restrictions on Ankita preventing her to maintain contact with her friends.
In her college, she meets the second man Abhi and develops a soft corner for him. This seems funny and makes the reader question the genuinity of her love for Vaibhav. After the college, she decides to move into another city for post graduation. She is willing to compromise on Vaibhav for a better career.
It is when she is scoring brilliantly in her career that her parents discover old love letters, creating an issue out of it. This makes her suffer a mental failure leading to her situation today.
The major plus point of the story is the simplicity with which the whole story is presented. The person can easily relate to the story.
It is just a one time read. There are many loose ends and confusions at many spots.
Kayal - Le Royal Meridien Chennai : Le Royal Meridien is one of the besthotels located in the capital city Chennai. It has won awards like 'Innovative HR Practices 2003' and 'Best Business Hotel in Asia Pacific'. The location of this hotel is away from the city traffic and close to the airport making it a great option for tourists.
After leaving Arignar Anna Zoological Park, we had our lunch. I had heard about Government Museum Chennai from some of my friends who had travelled to Chennai before. We caught an auto rickshaw and reached Egmore where the museum was located. The building itself has a grand look on scale of fabulousness. The museum was built in the year 1851 and is the second oldest museum in India spread over more than 16 acres of land.
Government museum, Chennai displays many national treasures, under sections like Art, Anthropology, Archeology, Botany, Geology and Zoology. There is also a Children’s Museum. Children’s museum attracts more than 1000’s of visitors daily. Art gallery majorly consists of paintings of sculptures. Chennai museum is also the proud owner of few Raja Ravi Varma paintings. There are also many antiquities under the archeological section. Bronze figures collection in the museum takes you through a guided tour through the religious and cultural India. One can also find many stone sculptures in the museum. Mediaeval metal and stone inscription gives you an insight towards the rich Tamil country dynasties that flourished during a long time in south India.
For the science lovers there are museum also possess a zoological and botany section. There are many interesting skeletal displays including 60 feet long Great Indian Baleena Whale that washed ashore in Mangalore in 1847. Geological section provides general information about geological structure of south India and displays samples of scientifically important rocks. There is also a children’s museum which apparently attracts lot of regular visitors. Children’s Museum seems to have been set up with an intention to provide education in a pleasant way. Children usually find it interesting due to the recreational value the museum provides. There are live size Tyrannosaurus and Stegosaurus in the museum.
It took us more than 4 hours to complete visiting all that Government Museum Chennai has to offer. I wish we had come with more time. From all the vacations I had in the past, this one with friends turned out to be one I would never forget. We had to catch the train back home next day early in the morning. But I had also made up my mind that I will be visiting Chennai again, maybe alone next time.
Chennai Shopping Centre Chennai : If you are a shopping freak, Chennai has lots to offer. You must make sure that you visit the Chennai Citi Centre which is a huge mall situated at Mylapore. It was established in the year 2006 and it has been doing well ever since. Chennai is a great place if you plan to do shopping in the south.
After a good night sleep I was woken up with fresh breeze which took away all my tiredness. We had an authentic Tamilian breakfast from the hotel and left to our next destination, yet again a park, yes my love for animals and trees is never ending. Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai, located within the city limits, was the next in our itinerary.
We reached the park in less than 45 minutes which is located in Vandalur, hence the park is also known as ‘Vandalur Zoo’. The zoo is officially named after the famous Tamil politician Aringar Anna. The zoological park is the oldest public zoo in the country dating back 1855 spread over an area of almost 1500 acres which includes a rehabilitation and rescue centre within the park. We hired a local guide for better navigation in the zoo who proudly said that the zoo boasts of more than 1500 species of animals including mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians, insects and fishes. He added that many animals in the zoo were endangered and kept under special supervision. We took our entrance tickets and entered the majestic zoo with our digital cameras.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai has clean and well maintained pathways covered with trees along its path. The park also consists of a beautiful lake named as Otteri located in the north western part of the park. As I took a stroll in the park I saw some gorgeous wildlife ranging from Lion, Elephant, Deer, Monkeys and large variety of deer. The park is also home to lovely birds including night heron, cormorants, egrets, dabchicks, open bill stork, white ibis moorhen etc whose chirping was quite soothing to my ears. I found dense vegetation in the park which supports more than fifty species of Butterflies. There are three separate parks for Lion, Gaur and Deer which have been created on a hilly terrain.
Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai has many enclosures with huge gates with the park’s name embedded on the main entrance. I took photographs as much as my camera could handle and left the park by afternoon to our next and last destination, the Government Museum in Chennai.
Fort St. George was founded in the year of 1639 at the south coastal city of Madras and was built in the memory and honor of England’s patron saint, St. George. In no time Fort Museum, Chennai became the domain of merchant activity and has been so since then, as it faces the sea and some of the fishing villages. With a number of attacks in the period of 18th century, the fort stands with a stronghold of 6 meters wall and today it serves as the headquarters in the department of administration of Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and till now acts as barracks for troops to transport to various places of South India and the Andaman’s.
Inside the Fort we saw a monument named as St. Mary’s Church, which is among the oldest church of India. Wellesley House consists of Governor and other officials paintings. Several art galleries over there depict the history and roots of the tradition and culture of various Indian communities. We were welcomed and greeted by Lord Cornwallis’s marble statue. It is the hub of arms like pistols and rifles, daggers, cannon shots, baton helmets, swords, mortars, petard, etc which were used for attacking opposing enemies in Madras during the World Wars. Next was the Uniform and Medals Gallery which encompasses the uniforms of British Army and their various ranks, ceremonial dresses of the bodyguards of Madras Government, 64 medals which were issued to the soldiers of the British Government to pay honor to their bravery and courage shown by them in the battlefield etc. Other galleries which are categorized according to the events and accessories are Portrait Gallery, Miscellany Gallery, Prints and Document Gallery and The Indo French Gallery.
Though the Fort Museum, Chennai was so gigantic in its assortment and collection but we did get the time to have a glance of everything in short span of time and further left for San Thome Church, Chennai.We left the place planning to visit the next place. We all enjoyed the Museum and the surroundings well.
Elliot's Beach, Chennai : Edward Elliot Beach is also alternately referred to as the Besant Nagar Beach. It forms the end of Marina Beach. Ashtalakshmi Kovil and Vellakanni Church are some religious locations close to the beach. This is a great hang-out location for youngsters. You may struggle to find parking near the beach on weekends. The beach is fully crowded with young and old.
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Sharing is what I always believe in, since childhood I have been most expressive kid in my family. Making new friends, jelling up with people, traveling or participating in any event, I have always been in the fore front. Hello friends this is Soumya Shetty a Pharmacist, I love reading, travelling to places, visiting spiritual places the rich history behind the existence attracts me. Moreover, at the same time I too enjoy shopping with friends, movies, food, and parties. Most importantly, “sharing” so here is crazy Soumu sharing her experiences and life with you friends. Hope you would like being part of my life’s journey.