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Places to visit In Chennai

Places to visit In Chennai

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Marina Beach, Chennai Overview

Situated in the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu, Marina Beach is a natural urban beach along the Bay of Bengal. The beach is stretched out to a distance of 13 kilometres making it the longest natural urban beach in the country, second largest in the world and also the most crowded beach in India with almost 30,000 visitors a day. Marina beach has statues of heroes from the Tamil culture such as Anna and MGR, a salute to their never-ending efforts to make Tamil Nadu a fast growing city of India. In an attempt to make this beach the hotspot for tourism, an aquarium has also been constructed on the Marina Beach.

With a white sandy shore that looks as though extending to infinity, the landscape of Marina Beach is a mesmerising and serene sight to behold. The beach has a primarily sandy terrain and is a breeding ground for olive ridley sea turtles as well. You could take a walk along the Marina beach with your near and dear ones or even all alone and enjoy the cool evening sea breeze along with a hot plate of crispy sundal and murukku. Watching the sun crawl upwards into the sky or even disappear into the ocean from the beach, is an awe-striking and enchanting experience.

History of the beach

The Marina Beach has an interesting history attached to it. Before the Madras Harbour was built, what the beach was nothing more than a strip of mud infested with mudskippers. The beach was formed a s a result of regular sand deposits towards the present day road until 1881, when the harbour was built. The pristine beauty of the Marina beach was first noticed by Mountstuart Elphinstone Grant Duff, who was the governor of Madras and he commissioned the building of a boulevard along the stretch of sand. From 1881 to 1886, the beach was diligently worked upon and in 1884 it was christened the Madras Marina by Elphinstone himself. A number of structures were added to the Marina beach’s coastline from the 19th century onwards.

Major attractions of Marina beach

The stripline of the Marina beach is lined with a number of attractions and beautiful architectures that you can visit on your trip here. If you are into architecture, the Marina beach road is home to some of the most famous and beautiful British buildings like the University of Madras, Senate-House, Chepauk Palace, Presidency College, P.W.D office and Ice House. There are many statues of Tamil scholars, the Victory of Labour and the Mahatma Gandhi statue which are considered as splendid pieces of art. All these structures are located on the promenade road which was constructed way back in 1884. There is also a 49 meter high Old Light House which provides a panoramic view of the city from its top and is the only light house in India with a lift.

The aquarium in the Marina beach is known for its extraordinary and rare collections of both tropical sea fishes and fresh water fishes. It was the country’s first aquarium and was established in 1909. There is also an Ice House which is situated within the Aquarium and is used to store ice brought from Great Lakes in North America. Another sight worth seeing here is the Velankanni church and the Ashtalakshmi temple which is always filled with tourists. Other structures along the coastline include a statue of Robert Caldwell, Kambar, Illango Adigal, Bharathiar, Kannagi, a statue of Subhash Chandra Bose, G.O Pope, Annie Besant, Bharathidasan, Thiruvalluvar, Swami Vivekananda, Avvaiyar, Veerama Munivar, Kamarajar, Periyar and Sivaji Ganesan.

Activities at Marina Beach

Being a popular spot among tourists and locals alike, a number of different events and celebrations are held at the Marina Beach from time to time. The annual Independence Day and the Republic Day ceremonial parades and air shows are held along the promenade along with the unfurling of the national flag in the Marina. Annual idol-immersion event following the Hindu festival of Vinayaka Chathurthi takes place at the Marina beach, where most of the idols of Lord Ganesh kept on display during the festival in the city are immersed in the sea. The beach is also the venue for several marathon and walkathon campaigns throughout the year conducted for various causes. In addition to these, arrangements for kite flying, beach cricket, swimming pools, skating arena and artificial water fountains are situated at the Marina Beach as well.

Best time to visit Marina Beach

The ideal time to visit the beach is from November to February. During this time the weather is pleasant and you are spared the hot and humid climate that Chennai is infamous for. Morning and evening hours are cooler and more pleasant.

How to Reach Marina Beach

Marina beach stretches from St George Fort to Besant Nagar. If you are travelling by your own vehicle take the North Beach road which leads right to the beach and runs parallel to it. If you are at the Mofussil Koyambedu bus stand you can take a Chennai corporation bus to get the Marina beach. Buses from Coimbet to Paris and from Paris to Marina beach are available as well.

Shopping in Marina Beach

Street food vendors are aplenty at the Marina Beach, and you can buy a variety of snacks to munch on. Other than that, knick – knacks are also sold here quite abundantly.

Tips

  1. Carry sunscreen, sunglasses and water bottles
  2. Wear comfortable footwear
  3. Swimming is not allowed in the sea owing to the dangerous tides. However, designated pools are present in the beach area where you can swim.

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Breezy Beach, Chennai Overview

Breezy Beach lays in the remote and serene neighbourhood of Valmiki Nagar in Chennai. Being smaller and less polluted, its a perfect getaway for anyone looking for a peaceful evening.

This beach is not as popular and known as the Elliots beach, and is hence more quiet and peaceful. Evenings are very pleasant and breezy here, and in the recent years, lots of tourists have been attracted towards this beach for its beauty. Those looking for an amiable, refreshing and breezy place to chill out and have fun, the Breezy beach of Chennai is the place to be.

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Marundeeswarar Temple, Chennai Overview

The magnificent Marundeeswarar Temple, in Tiruvanmiyur, near Chennai has the temple deity Shiva in the form of Marundeeswar or Aushadeeswarar, the God of Medicines. A fine specimen of Dravidian architecture, this temple is a must visit for anyone visiting Chennai or nearby cities. Glorified in the 7th-8th century by Nayanars (Saivite Saints), Tirugnana Sambandar, and Appar, the temple was expanded by the Chola Kingdom in the 11th century. Moreover, given the name, Marundeeswarar Temple has been a place of worship especially for people with diseases and those facing various problems with their health. The prasadam here is a mixture of sacred ash, water, and milk which is believed to cure any ailments. One must visit the temple to encounter the miraculous power it is said to have.

Amongst the many legends associated with the temple, one of them explains why Lord Marundeeswarar is known as he is because he is said to have taught the great Sage Agastya about a magical medicine. The temple is also known for its one and a half ft. self-manifested Shivalinga. It also contains the statues of Lord Vinayaka and Lord Muruga. Furthermore, it hosts many festivals such as Shivrathri, Skanda Sashti, and Vinayaka Chaturti. Hence, the temple even has a festive aura all around the year. Owing to its historical significance, this temple is a serene and peaceful place to be when in or around Chennai.

Legends related to Marundeeswarar Temple

Marundeeswarar temple is a place known for bestowing blessings over the diseased people, in turn, curing them. Legends say that lord Marundeeswarar imparted knowledge about different properties of herbs and plants to sage Agastya on the lands of this temple. Hence getting its name, Marundeeswarar where Marundhu in means medicine and Easwara means God of Medicines.

It is also said that Sage Valmiki, who wrote The Ramayana, visited the Marundeeswarar temple to worship Shiva. The purpose was to correct himself from his past deeds of a robber. He was then blessed by the almighty. After this incident, this place came to be known as Thiruvalmikiyur; the name gradually changed to Thiruvanmiyur where you see the temple today. Presently, there is also a place here in Thiruvanmiyur called Valmiki Nagar dedicated in his honour.

Architecture of Marundeeswarar Temple

The temple is undoubtedly a fine specimen of Dravidian architecture. It has two entrances, one from the West Tank Street and the other on the East Coast Road. Both of these entries are adorned by a 5-tiered gopuram or the gateway tower. The access from the West Tank has three gates whereas the one from East has a single entrance. The speciality found in Marundeeswarar Temple is that The Vimana, the tower above the sanctum sanctorum, of the presiding deity is of an ancient Chaturvastam design. Moreover, it has a 5 tier Rajagopuram, where Pongal-pudding is offered as Nivedhana to the Lord. Besides, it occupies an area of 1 acre. Where various images embellish the pillars, stucco figures beautify the gopurams. The hall or the mandapam housing the Somaskanda form of Lord Shiva has 36 pillars that are ostentatiously craved.

The Marundeeswarar Temple also has smaller Shrines of Lord Ganesha and Murugan. The 3 Ganeshas together control all the three time periods and are situated adjacent to Vedagama Padasalai. Furthermore, a Thirumurai mandapam is present in which Thirumurai has been sung everyday from past 11 years. The shrine of Shiva has the idols of him in his three forms, namely, Thyagaraja, Marundeeswarar, and Nataraja. Thyagaraja and Nataraja are the forms of Lord Shiva in which he is not in the Lingam form. The last shrine is of Marundeeswarar’s consort, Goddess Thirupurasundari, who is Goddess Parvati.

Festivals Celebrated at Marundeeswarar Temple

The temple hosts many festivals around the year, like Panguni Brahmmotsavam in March- April, Shivrathri in February-March, Vinayaka Chaturthi, Skanda Sashti in October-November, and the full moon days, calling them the Kruthika Star Days. visiting during these celebrations will lighten up your visit with more joy and enthusiasm.

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MGR Film City, Chennai Overview

Having been established in the year 1994, a considerably new structure, the MGR Film city is managed by the Government of Tamil Nadu in loving memory of MG Ramachandran who was not only a crowd-pleasing tamil actor but also a longtime CM of Tamil Nadu.

Covering a massive 70 acres at Taramani in Chennai, the MGR Film City is a popular tourist hotspot and the place-to-be for several South Indian films directors. Besides being the best place to catch a glimpse of a popular Tamil actor and the film city also has a film school, indoor and outdoor shooting locations, replicas of village and urban areas, temple, church, mosque, post office, police station, prison, courtroom, and landscaped gardens in Italian, Japanese and Mughal styles. They recently opened the MGR Knowledge Park which has been adding to the attraction.

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Koli Hills, Chennai Overview

With an ominous name which means ?Mountain of Death?, Koli Hills are a mountain range located in the Namakkal district of Tamil Nadu. It is relatively untouched by commercial tourism and therefore has retained most of its natural magnificence.

The mountains are famous for not only their natural beauty but also have religious significance because of the Arappaleshwar Temple which is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The peak is accessible via road as well and the road leading up to it is winding with several twists and turns.

Accommodation

Camping is allowed near Arappaleshwar Temple.

Food availability

Food is available at the base of the trek, therefore you can carry somequick refershments to eat along the way.

Water availability

There are natural sources of water available on the way therefore it is advisable to carry your own water along.

Tips and Tricks

Siddhar Caves, Masi Periyasamy Temple and Falls, Selur Viewpoint and Seekuparai are some of the must visit sights around the Koli Hills

Trek Routes

The trek begins at Puliancholai. Cultivated flat fields end at Puliancholai and forest territory begins beyond this point. The river bed is rocky, flat and wide and the trail goes right next to it. Walk on the along the river until you reach a stage where the river crosses points. The crossings at this stage are easy and you have to simply jump from one rock to another. The first one hour of the trail runs along the river until it forks right and leaves the river behind. Continue walking down this trail. The vegetation becomes thicker and you enter tall shrubs and trees. The trail is gradually begins to ascend for the next 30 minutes. In the next half an hour you come to a clearing from where you can see the Raasipuram town below. This is an indicator of half the trail being completed. From the clearing the trail moves to the right and the ridge line which is your destination is seen. Follow the trail until you reach a few point in the next 20 minutes. Three fourths of the climb has been completed. The last stretch lasts for about thirty minutes and you are required to walk along the ridge. Walk down the trail through the paddy fields. Cross a few houses and take the foot trail which descends into another stream. Cross the stream and in 10 minutes you can see the temple at Kolli Malai. The temple marks the end of the trek. The trek to Koli Hills is not said to be complete until a visit to the Akash Ganga Falls. The falls are located 1070 steps below. There is an entry fee of Rs.10 per head and the last entry time is 3 p.m. At the base is a 10 ft wide pool which has a variable depth of 3ft to 6 ft. Wade/swim through the water holding on to the fixed ropes and get to the base of the water fall.

About Koli Hills

Approx trek time : 3-4 hours

Availability of night trek : Not available

Base Camp : Puliancholai

Days required for the trek : 1 day

Difficulty level : Moderate-Difficult

Height above sea level : Approximately 4200 feet

Nearest Airport : Trichy (140 kms)

Nearest Railhead : Salem

Region : Eastern Ghats

Starting point of trek : Puliancholai

Type : Mountain Trek

How to Reach Koli Hills

  • Rail: The nearest railway station to Kolli Hills is Salem which is located approximately 90 kilometers away. Trichy is also located quite lose. Taxis from Salem or Trichy to Kolli Hills cost around Rs1200 on an average.
  • Road: Kolli Hills is readily accessible by road and is connected to cities such as Chennai and Salem. Salem is well linked to Chennai, Madurai and Trichy by private as well as Government buses. A taxi ride from the bus stand at Salem to Kolli Hills is around 88 kilometers in distance and costs around Rs.1100 on an average.

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Arignar Anna Zoological Park, Chennai Overview

Perhaps one of the most popular picnic spots in Vandalur, Kanchipuram District, the Arignar Zoological Park is an amazing place to discover the flora and fauna of the region. A favourite weekend spot with both children and adults alike, the Arignar Zoo is situated at a distance of 32 kilometres from Chennai city. It is the largest zoo of its kind in South East Asia and is sprawled over an area of 1260 acres. In addition to having an extensive collection of endemic and exotic animals, visitors can experience the wild first hand with a trip to safari parks where lions and deer can be easily spotted.

Housing as many as 138 different species of organisms, this destination is every nature lover’s paradise. Arinagar Anna Zoological Park is home to a variety of animals such as Himalayan brown bear, lion, tiger, elephant and Indian civit cat. The zoo also has a reptile house which houses various species of reptiles including the king cobra, python, viper any much more. In addition to this, they have a small built-in Jurassic park which just adds on to the excitement. Elephant joy rides, children’s park and an education centre are amongst the other special features of the park.

History of Arignar Anna Zoological Park

The conception of the Arignar Anna Zoo happened in 1854 when Edward Green Balfour, the then director of the Government Central Museum at Madras, persuaded the Nawab of the Carnatic to donate his entire animal collection to the museum. The zoo was set up in the year 1855 and was the first public zoo established in India near the central railway station of Chennai. However, the constant increase in the number of visitors prompted a change in the zoo’s location and in 1976 it was moved to Vandalur. Rigorous work was started in the year 1979 and finally on 24 July 1985, the zoo was opened up to the public. The park has drawn its name from the Tamil politician, Mr Arinagar Anna.  According to research, the park witnesses nearly 8,00,000 visitors in a year. The main objective of the park is to create awareness about the conservation of wildlife and try to put an end to the extinction of the endangered species.

Exhibits at Arignar Anna Zoological Park

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park is a safe house for a number of different animals, plants and insect species. Some of these include barking deer, blackbuck, sambar, sangai, nilgai, wolf, tiger, jaguar, hog deer, jackal, hyena, lion, giraffe, camel, otter, llama, elephant, Nilgiri langur, lion-tailed macaque, baboon, Hanuman langur and leaf-capped langur. Endangered and rare species such as Nilgiri macaques, monitor lizard, chimpanzees, European brown bear, Muscovy duck, giraffe, Bengal tiger, white tiger, lemur, macaque, vulture, and star tortoises are also included among the 46 such species here. In addition to the endemic animal species, exotic creatures such as emu and cassowary are also found here. In addition to these, many colourful butterflies thrive in the plantations here.

Sections of Arignar Anna Zoological Park

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park is divided into a different number of sections where you can inspect and learn more about the animals here in an easier way. They are as follows:-

  1. Sanctuary aviaries: There are two aviaries in the Arignar Anna Zoo which are built along the lines of bird sanctuaries in Tamil Nadu. The first one is the Point Calimere Aviary which represents a sanctuary on a bay on the Coromandel Coast while the other is Vedanthangal Sanctuary Aviary represents a sanctuary located in the district of Kanchipuram. Migratory birds such as flamingos, seagulls, teals, storks and herons can be spotted at Point Calimere all year round while Vedanthangal hosts white ibis, painted stork, night heron and grey heron.
  2. Walk-through aviary: The Walk-Through Avery is also built to facilitate the free flight of about 245 species of birds found in the Arignar Anna Zoo. Birds like Alexandrine parakeet, rose-ringed parakeet, blue rock pigeon, common myna, Indian koel, common babbler, White-browed Bulbul, francolin, red-vented bulbul, red-whiskered bulbul, wagtail, pipit, orange-headed thrush, Red-wattled Lapwing, little brown dove and spotted dove can be found frolicking here.
  3. Butterfly House: One of the most endearingly colourful sections of the zoo, the Butterfly house attracts butterflies such as the common Mormon, crimson rose, mottled emigrant, blue tiger, evening brown and lime butterfly. It has been built to simulate the butterflies’ natural habitat and is ornamented with bushes, lianas, streams, waterfall and rock-gardens.
  4. Reptile House: Also known as the Serpentarium, this enclosure has 4 species of poisonous and 10 species of non-poisonous snakes. It contains a total of 104 snakes, including 41 Indian pythons, 21 Burmese pythons and four cobras.
  5. Amphibian House: Interestingly, Arignar Anna Zoo is the only zoo to have a special enclosure dedicated to amphibians. Animals such as Indian tree frog, common Indian toad, Indian bullfrog, Indian cricket frog and Indian pond frog are exhibited at the Amphibian Centre.
  6. Crocodile Enclosure: Crocodiles such as the gharial, marsh crocodile, saltwater crocodile and the American spectacled caiman are exhibited at the Crocodile Enclosure in Arignar Anna Zoo. The park has an impressive collection of six major varieties, namely, Indo-Pacific or the saltwater crocodile, swamp crocodile, Nile crocodile of Africa, Orinoco crocodile, Morelet’s crocodile and American crocodile.
  7. Primate House: Primate House is an all exclusive section dedicated to animals such as lion-tailed macaque, Nilgiri langur, capped langur and chimpanzee.
  8. World of nocturnal animals: Six species of nocturnal animals are found here. One peculiarity of the animals here is that their biological cycles have been modified in such a manner that they are active during the daytime and sleep during the nighttime.

The zoo also has an aquarium, a small mammals house and other sections including the prey-predator concept enclosures and prehistoric animals and insectarium complex.

Safari at Arignar Anna Zoological Park

The Arignar Anna Zoological Park also offers lion safari, gaur safari, elephant safari and deer safari, where you can take a closer look at these animals. You will be taken through the natural habitat of the particular animal who’s safari you choose, and you can learn a lot about the ways of the jungle. The most popular here is the lion safari, which gives you a chance to spot this majestic animal in all its might. The details of the same are as follows:-

Lion Safari Charges

Adults: INR 50

Children: INR 30

Camera Fee: INR 35

Camera Phone Fee: INR  25

Camcorder Fee (Video Camera Fee): INR  150

How to Reach Arignar Anna Zoological Park

Since the zoological park is situated 32 km away from Chennai city, you can take a bus/cab up to the park.

Vandalur is the nearest railway station which is situated 1 km away from the zoological park. You can easily take a cab further and reach the park. 

Tips

  1. It is advisable to not feed the animals in there or hurt them in any manner possible. This might lead to serious repercussions.
  2. Smoking or bringing alcohol inside the park is not allowed.

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VGP Golden Beach, Chennai Overview

Considered as one of the cleanest and beautiful beaches in Chennai, VGP Golden beach is one of the most sought-after destinations in the area by family and friends. This beach is a part of the VGP Universal Kingdom, which is a famous amusement park and lies on the East Coast Road. This mesmerising beach is an appealing part of the Bay of Bengal, with its smooth and silver sand situated on Marina, the second longest beach in the world. The surging waves of the beach and the swaying wind are like music to ears adding to the charm and beauty of this place. The place is also regarded as safe for one to indulge in the act of bathing and swimming in the fresh water shower. Due to its pristine beauty and picturesque landscape this beach is highly preferred by the masses and is also used as a shooting location for movies frequently.

It is a private beach with the uniqueness of an amusement park attached to it namely the VGP Universal Kingdom with a spectacular backdrop of pristine waters. One will witness several people on morning walks or spending time with their loved ones at this beach. The beach is perfect for surfing as well. Children especially love this beach. They can take a cooling dip in the sea, build sand castles or hunt for treasures on the shore. There is no dearth of the fun activities here. The theme park at the VGP Golden Beach also offers an enjoyable experience for the visitors. It is a complete family destination with thrilling adventure rides for both kids and adults. There are many water based rides here as well.

The most popular attractions include the VGP 2000 millennium Tower, Paneer fort and the Statue Man. The park is ideally accessible from the airport, railway station as well as the bus stand. The various amenities available here are online booking of tickets, wheelchair facility, use of debit and credit cards for payments, three food outlets, costume renting, locker facilities, first aid and group discounts. The overall park has 3 sections- the Universal Kingdom, the Aqua Kingdom and the Snow Kingdom.

History of VGP Golden Beach

The history of VGP Golden Beach dates back to 1975. The founders of VGP were in search of something entertaining and adventurous that can be enjoyed by the families during their leisure time. Mr V G Panneerdas visualized this concept and pioneered a whole new experience. It was named the VGP Golden Beach, and within no time it became the most popular destination in southern India. It was followed by the massive undertaking of converting into a full-fledged theme park, incorporating the best rides from USA, Italy, Japan and other countries. In 1997, it was renamed as the VGP Universal Kingdom, and till date, it is India’s largest theme park.

Architecture of VGP Golden Beach

The beach is attached to an amusement park, the VGP Universal Kingdom offering several water-based and adventure rides. VGP 2000 millennium tower, Go Karting, Dashing cars, Water Chutes, Cultural Shows, Dance Musical Performances, aquarium, Jurassic Park and the statue man are some of the main attractions of this theme park.

The VGP Universal Kingdom is spread over an area of 45 acres, complete with the private beach of VGP Golden Beach. It is home to more than 45 rides and a huge water park. One can find massive slides and rides in the water park. Other significant attractions include the Snow Kingdom and the Petting Zoo. The beautiful backdrop and pristine sea impart a surreal ambience to this place. Their mascot is the fun and quirky, Kutti Raja, who is an all-time favourite among the kids.

Entry Fee and Timings for VGP Universal Kingdom

There are two kinds of packages available at the amusement park.

First is the Golden Crown Package that includes the Universal Kingdom and the Aqua Kingdom. In this package, the ticket for Children (height between 90-120 cms) costs INR 450, and for adults, it costs about INR 550.

Second is the Platinum Crown Package that includes Universal Kingdom, Snow Kingdom and the Aqua Kingdom. In this package, the ticket for Children (height between 90-120 cms) costs INR 795, and for adults, it costs about INR 895.

These prices include the rent for swimming costumes, which are a must to access any water-based ride in the amusement park.

The park is open on all days from 11:00 AM till 7:30 PM

Best time to visit VGP Golden Beach

The best time to enjoy the VGP Golden Beach is during the months of October until February when the weather is pleasant.

How to Reach VGP Golden Beach

The VGP beach being quite close to the city, you can easily find auto-rickshaws and buses to reach the destination. Taxis are also readily available if convenience and comfort are your priority. The distance of the amusement park from the airport is about 20 km, from Central Station is 30 km and from Bus Stop is 40 km.

Tips

  1. Carry your swimwear, sunscreen lotion and sunglasses with you.
  2. Make sure to stay away from water during monsoon season and follow all the given guidelines by the authority.
  3. Be careful while taking any water ride or any other adventure ride at the amusement park.
  4. Secure all your loose articles like wallets, cell phones and hats while riding the adventure rides.
  5. Use the safety equipment properly and adhere to all the safety instructions.

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ISKCON (Hare Rama Hare Krishna) Temple, Chennai Overview

 

ISKCON Temple Chennai is a temple devoted to Lord Krishna. It is located on the East Coast Road in southern Chennai. Built on 1.5 acres of land, ISKCON, Chennai is the biggest Radha Krishna temple in Tamil Nadu. It was officially inaugurated on 26 April 2012. The deities revered in the temple include Radha Krishna and lord’s family, including Sri Sri Nitai Gauranga.

ISKCON Temple is located in the Injambakkam region in Thyagaray Nagar of Chennai. It is one of the most popular establishments by the ISKCON society in India. It is a harmonic blend of tradition and modernity in an artistic style, as well as the best of latest scientific technology.

Like all the other ISKCON temples in the world, the main deity here is Lord Sri Krishna Chaitanya whose teachings and life stories are preached here. The deities worshipped in the temple include those of Rukmini and Krishna. The image of deity Satyabhama, one of the eight wives of Krishna, is also housed in the temple premises. Other deities worshipped in the temple include Jagannath, Baladeva, Subhadra, and Gaura-Nitai. ISKCON Chennai also fosters and protects the traditional art and craft of South India.

Architecture of ISKCON Temple in Chennai

The entrance to the temple is noticeable by the illustration of the universe or the bhu-mandala on the marble floor. The temple is built on five levels, with a huge area covering 1.5 acres. Main temple hall of 7,000 square feet is on the first floor, followed by an auditorium for cultural and spiritual programs on the ground floor and a prasadam hall in the basement.

The key objective of the temple is to transform the materialistic minds into a spiritual uniqueness of absolute love. This is vividly epitomised by means of a splendid chandelier that projects several colours on the walls and ceiling. The temple also visually exhibits various vastu shastra features. Near the portico, a devotee can find books and souvenirs on spirituality and Hindu philosophy.

Valluvar Kottam, Chennai Overview

Situated in the beautiful city of Chennai, Valluvar Kottam is a temple chariot like-monument built to honour the renowned classical Tamil poet and saint, Thiruvalluvar. This intricately designed monument was built by Kalaignar M.Karunanidhi during the 1970s to honour the contributions of Thiruvalluvar. A popular Tamil poet and philosopher, he has been attributed with the creation of  Thirukkurals which are hailed as one of the greatest works of Tamil literature. Valluvar Kottam is known for its great architecture, built with innovative layouts and well-thought execution. The sublime beauty of Valluvar Kottam is best experienced during the morning hours when the city is just waking up to the day, or you can make a visit to this destination during the evening hours when the sun is just setting over the horizon. The magnificent design of the Valluvar Kottam is a wonderful sight to behold, which makes it the perfect destination to click a few pictures.

In addition to being an important tourist destination in the city, Valluvar Kottam also plays host to some of the most important exhibitions and events in the city. Handlooms and handicrafts are regularly hosted in the auditorium here which is an air-conditioned facility and is a good way to spend a few hours admiring the artistic beauty of both the what lays inside and outside. The monument is complimented perfectly by a temple car, which is fixed to the floor but is a delightful addition to the edifice. Another interesting fact about the Valluvar Kottam is that you can also see a few saplings here which were planted here by Mother Teresa herself, and are marked by a stone plate marking the year 1984.

History of Valluvar Kottam

Thiruvalluvar is hailed as one of the most important and proficient poets in the history of Tamil literature. Also known as the ‘Divine Poet’, Thiruvalluvar is said to be the greatest Tamil scholar. However, information about his life and times is very limited. Oe theory says that he belonged to a family of weavers, while another states that he belonged to a family of agriculturalists. What is known with surety is that he the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural (short poetry) which include 1330 verses. In order to commemorate the works of this gifted writer, M. Karunanidhi built the Valluvar Kottam in 1975-76 and it has been a modern landmark of Chennai ever since.

About Thirukkurals (small poetry)

Thirukkual is derived from two words” Thiru ” meaning revered and “Kural” which is a poem writing style. Thirukkurals are the most ancient works in the Tamil language. They work as a guide for human morals and betterment in life. It is divided into three sections, among which one deals with right conduct, another focuses on the right manners of conducting worldly affairs and the last one deals with love between men and women. Each chapter of the section has 10 couplets, so a total of 1330 couplets form the final piece. Thus, Thiruvalluvar gives much more importance to righteous living in public life. They have been translated into other languages also.

Architecture of Valluvar Kottam

A magnificent example of Tamilian architecture, Valluvar Kottam is a magnificent edifice that was built by a South Indian architect V. Ganapati Sthapati. As you enter the premises of Valluvar Kottam, you are welcomed by the statue of a lion which itself is embellished with interesting detail. It is seen as a replica of temple chariot in Thiruvarur, and a life-size idol of the Thiruvalluvar has been installed in the 39-metre high chariot at the top of an ancient vehicle called ‘Thaer’. It is believed that as many as 3000 blocks of stone were used to create the facade of this magnificent monument. All of the 1330 verses of the Tamil epic Thirukkural are carved out on the granite columns that have the main auditorium within its bounds. It also has an auditorium that can accommodate 4000 people in one sitting.  An interesting detail about this architecture is that it stands as it is without a base and without the support of any pillars.

How to Reach Valluvar Kottam

Valluvar Kottam is located at the intersection of Kodambakkam High Road and the Village Road. To reach there, you can take buses, taxis and rickshaws as per your convenience. Buses run to and from Valluvar Kottam High Road quite frequently, so you might want to via this mode of transport.  Alternately, you can also drive your way to Valluvar Kottam.

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Akkarai Beach, Chennai Overview

 

The sandy coastline begins from Ennore in the north extending south into Uthandi, leaving one to choose from more than just Marina and Elliot’s beach.

With nicely constructed walkers’ paths,convenient seats, adequate lighting, lush green areas and children’s playgrounds proposed for select beaches initially, there is more to look forward to when you clock in some time for fitness.

Ashtalakshmi Temple, Chennai Overview

Ashtalakshmi Temple, a delightful and soft coloured temple complex, is located in Besant Nagar, in the South Indian state of Chennai. The temple complex is built a few meters away from the Besant beach on the coast of the gorgeous Bay of Bengal. Ashtalakshmi, the Goddess of Wealth and Knowledge resides here and blesses everyone who visits the temple to offer their prayers with a clean soul. Soak in the divine ambience of the temple on the scenic coast of Bay of Bengal and observe the colourful and intricate tiers on the shrines. The serenity is unquestionable and sure to calm jittery nerves of the pilgrims and devotees. Apart from locals, you can also witness tourists flocking in from different parts of the world to enjoy the mesmerizing beauty of the temple.

The Ashtalakshmi Temple complex is built to worship eight avatars of Goddess Lakshmi namely Wealth, Success, Prosperity, Bravery, Courage, Knowledge, Food and Offspring. It was built when Sri Maha Periyaval or the Sage of Kanchi Mutt, Sri Chandrasekara Saraswati Swamigal had wished for it to be constructed. The followers willingly agreed and laid the foundation with utmost devotion. Goddess Lakshmi is known for granting Ashtama Siddhi and Astha Iswaryam which mean eightfold achievements and wealth respectively.

The continuous sound of the ocean waves echo in the temple complex and instantly inculcate a feeling of peace and composure in the devotees bringing them one more step closer to the spiritual world. This place of worship is so magnificent that one has to visit to experience it. The grandiosity of the place can be estimated from the fact that nearly 7 million rupees were spent on the renovation of the temple and over 1.6 million rupees on conducting a religiously important Hindu ceremony named, Jeernotharana Ashtabandana Mahakumbhabhishekam.

History of Ashtalakshmi Temple

Ashtalakshmi Temple was built on the wishes of Sri Chandrasekara Saraswati Swamigal, who was the Maha Periyaval of Kanchi Mutt. The foundation of the temple complex was laid down by the followers in 1974. A sanctification ceremony was celebrated on 5th April 1976 in the presence of Ahobila Mutt Vedhantha Dhesika Yatheendhra Mahadhesikan Swami. It is believed that the region where the temple has been built facing the Bay of Bengal is the birthplace of Goddess Lakshmi.

According to ancient Vedas, when the ocean was swirled during Samudra Manthan by the Devas and Asuras, Goddess Lakshmi who endows wealth and prosperity to her devotees surfaced. It is believed that Mahavishnu, who married Goddess Lakshmi, also married the eight forms of Goddess Lakshmi and they together dwell inside the temple. Hence the name Ashtalakshmi (eight forms of Lakshmi). 

Architecture of Ashtalakshmi Temple

The huge temple complex with length and breadth of nearly 65 feet and 45 feet respectively, stands gracefully adorning the intricate and colourful sanctorum. The complex was constructed in a manner to represent the shape of one of the most sacred symbols for Hindus, the Om. The complex is said to be inspired by the Sundhararaja Perumal Temple in Uthiramerur and was built according to the “Ashtanga Vimana (eight parts)” style.

This ancient temple was built according to the “Ashtanga Vimana (eight parts)” style. The Ashtalakshmi temple comprises of four levels. The shrine dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Vishnu is on the second level. This is the first and the main shrine the devotees are lead to from the entrance. They then take the stairs that lead to the third level of the sanctum and has the shrines of Gajalakshmi, Santhanalakshmi, Vidyalakshmi, Vijayalakshmi. The fourth level consists of a shrine maintained only for Dhanalakshmi. Outside the main shrine, there are shrines of Dhaanya Lakshmi, Aadilakshmi and Sharyalakshmi all on the first level.

Every floor also consists of avatars of Lord Vishnu in various postures – standing, sitting and resting. In addition to this, a standing idol of Lord Vishnu and Goddess Lakshmi can be spotted on the first floor. The temple also consists of a 5.5-foot gold-plated Kalasam on top of the sanctum sanctorum which holds the idol of Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi as the supreme deity of the temple along with 32 other newly installed Kalasam.

Ashtalakshmi Temple Pooja Timings

Suprapadham- 6:30 AM

Kalasandhi- 8:00 AM

Noon Pooja, Uchikalam- 12:00 PM

Evening Pooja, Sayarakcha- 6:00 PM

Night Pooja, Iravu Pooja- 7:30 PM

Arthajama Pooja- 9:00 PM

Festivals Celebrated at Ashtalakshmi Temple

Navaratri: Navaratri is celebrated for nine days in the month of October every year. The nine days are devoted to the auspicious nine avatars of Goddess Durga.

Pavitra Ursavam: Pavitra Ursavam is an annual pooja performed for five days to rectify the mistakes in poojas performed on other days. It is considered to be of religious importance and many believers flock the temple during these five days to seek Goddess Lakshmi’s blessings.

Markazhi month: The Markazi month is considered an auspicious month for spiritual and religious services. It is celebrated from 14th December to 14th January every year and the last day of the month is the festival of Makar Sankranti that Hindus celebrate on 14th January. During this month, the temple is open 05:00 IST onwards for devotees.

Gokulastami: This day marks the birth of Lord Krishna. Special poojas are performed at the temple on the first day and on the second day; the idol of the deity is taken out to celebrate Lord Krishna’s childhood days.

Deepawali: The festival of lights is celebrated with great enthusiasm. The entire temple complex is lit with heartwarming lights and the deities are given holy baths. The day of Lakshmi Poojan is of great importance as it is the day that Goddess Lakshmi appeared from the ocean during Samudra Manthan. Devotees flock the temple to participate in the Sri Lakshmi Kubera Homam and Thirukalyanam for Goddess Mahalakshmi and Lord Vishnu.

Kartigai: On the day of Kartigai, the deities are given oil baths and no other festival is celebrated for 48 days. Devotees lit ghee lamps and perform poojas on this day.

New Year (1st January): The New year is celebrated with great enthusiasm as thousands of devotees want to start their year with the blessings of Goddess Mahalakshmi. The temple opens at 3:00 PM on this day every year.

Best time to visit Ashtalakshmi Temple

The best time to visit the Ashtalaskmi Temple is between November and February as the weather is pleasant during winters and the monsoons can be avoided. 

How to Reach Ashtalakshmi Temple

The Ashtalakshmi temple is situated at a distance of 10 km from central Chennai. The most optimal way to reach the temple is through a taxi which charges around INR 100 for 4 km. Private and Tourist vehicles can also be driven to the beautiful temple complex.

Tips

  1. The Pooja and worship timings may change during the festival season.
  2. Carry enough water to stay hydrated.
  3. There are kiosks nearby to purchase holy offerings.
  4. You could carry enough change to either pay or donate at the temple.
  5. Early mornings are the best time to avoid the crowd and long lines. Visiting the temple on Sundays and festival or bank holidays can also be avoided to avoid the rush.
  6. Visitors are responsible for their own belongings.
  7. Wear conservative clothes and avoid short and revealing clothing.

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Elliot's Beach, Chennai Overview

Elliot’s Beach aka “Besant Nagar Beach” or “Bessie” is located in Besant Nagar, Chennai. It forms the end-point of the Marina Beach shore and is named after Edward Elliot (who was once the Chief Magistrate, Superintendent of Madras and Governor of Chennai during the British times). It has the Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Kovil in the vicinity. The mesmerising beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the city of Chennai. Located towards the south of Marina Beach, an incredibly calm and tranquil place, it does not offer much activity hence, is an ideal spot for long walks. Moreover, the site is perfect for the ones who want to soak their feet in the splashing sea water and lose themselves entirely in the arms of nature.

Elliot’s Beach is quite famous among the tourists as well as the natives of the state. In the colonial times, it was a place limited to white people. The beach is popular with local college students and families. There are many restaurants near the beach with mouth-watering cuisines. There is a police outpost at the beach, and the crowd is managed via all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) to prevent drowning mishaps. Many people drowned at the beach in 2010, seeing which the government sanctioned two more ATVs the very next year.

The beach is often visited by travellers for sunbathing, relaxing and visiting the famous ancient monuments nearby. It is usually less crowded than the famous Marina Beach and hence, preferred by the travellers. During the evening hours, one can spot various youngsters roaming around the beach as this beach offers the perfect retreat, away from the city life of metropolitan.

Karl Schmidt Memorial

Karl Schmidt Memorial is an important landmark on this beach is the Karl Schmidt Memorial which is named after the Dutch sailor who lost his life while saving a drowning swimmer. Elliot’s Beach is one of the cleanest beaches in the city of Chennai. Located towards the south of Marina Beach, an extremely calm and tranquil place, it does not offer much activity hence, is an ideal spot for long walks. Moreover, the ones who want to soak their feet in the splashing sea water and lose themselves completely in the arms of nature, head on. Elliot’s Beach is quite popular among the tourists as well as the natives of the state.

Attractions Near Elliot’s Beach

A significant attraction near Elliot’s Beach is the Ashtalakshmi Temple. This temple is around 20 years old and is endowed with modern style architecture. It is quite distinctive in appearance and appears to be entirely different than other temples of Southern India. It is associated with the eight manifestations of Goddess Mahalakshmi.

Velankanni Church, which is located in the vicinity of the beach is believed to be built in honour of the Lady of Health, who is also famous as Madonna of Velankanni. The Lady of Health is considered to be a holder of miraculous powers. Other interactions include Temples of Tumbikai Aazhwar (Ganesha), Guruvaayurappan, Chakrathaazhwar and Narasimhar (on either side of the same idol), Aanjaneyar and Dhanvantri.

Some famous restaurants near the beach include Ponnuswamy Restaurant, Karaikudi Restaurant, Lee’s Chinese Restaurant and the New Shangri La, a Malaysian restaurant.

Best time to visit Elliot’s Beach

The winter months in Chennai runs from November until February. These months serve as the ideal time to visit Elliot’s beach, as the fresh sea breeze and warmth of the sun makes for the perfect combination. The summer and rainy season here are constituted by scorching heat and humidity and hence are not preferred by the travellers.

How to Reach Elliot’s Beach

The beach is placed at a distance of 60 km from Chennai. It is well connected to the main city via all means of transport. Bus services are also quite prominent in this area, which makes reaching the Elliot’s Beach quite feasible. So, it can be easily accessed via road with buses, taxis, cabs, and auto rickshaws.

Tips

  1. Carry camera, torch and light, and wear fully covered clothes, proper footwear.
  2. Carry munchies, beverages and water along.
  3. Finding a parking spot might be a little tricky here.
  4. Hardly any water sports activities are available at this beach.

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Vivekananda House, Chennai Overview

 

Vivekananda House also popularly known as The Ice House, is a shrine and pilgrimage centre for the admirers and followers of Swami Vivekananda. It is in this house that Swami Vivekananda stayed for six weeks in 1900.

Built way back in 1877 or much earlier, the two-story house is a chef d’oeuvre of Victorian architecture with its distinctive designs of sunburst and saddleback roofs. The bedroom where Vivekananda spent six weeks is now a safe haven for all those who want to meditate and attain inner peace. When here, you can see the table at which he dined, placed beautifully downstairs near the fireplace. Devotees can stroll through the kitchen where he cooked his simple food, the parlor where he spoke and the garden where he frequently played with the children. These materiallistic reminders of the life of Swami Vivekananda breath a new life into the eminent yet simple principles for which he stood all along his life.

Connemara Library, Chennai Overview

The year 1896 witnessed the inauguration of a new and remarkable landmark in the city of Chennai- the Connemara Library, which is a treasure trove of books, newspapers, periodicals and other related texts. The library is a place where you will unquestionably find every text that you can look for. In fact, the Connemara Public Library is one of the four national depository libraries of the country and hence, it receives copies of all books and other texts that published in India. Its history dates back to over hundred years, and till date, the library remains a repository of century-old publications.

The fantastic collection at the Connemara Library includes books, journals, magazines and Braille manuscripts among other texts. Located at Egmore in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, it forms a small part of the Madras museum as well. A new building was added to the library in the year 1973. This new structure boasts of a vast collection of textbooks that a visitor might be looking for. The building has a video room, a periodical hall, a reference room and an entire floor that is solely dedicated to Indian books. The total collection of books in the library goes up to beyond six lakh copies!

The Connemara Library has everything that a literature geek or book lover could wish for. It is thus in no way an overstatement to say that the library is a readers’ heaven. That the library is well maintained adds to the grandeur of the place. The only drawback that one can think of concerning the Connemara Library is that because of the enormous collection of books; the library usually remains crowded.

History of Connemara Library

When the number of books exceeded the storage capacity of the library of the Hailey Bury College in England, a place where Indian civilians are trained; the books were sent to the Madras Government. The government, in turn, handed them over to the Madras Museum. The Madras Museum was then a part of the British Museum Library, and until the year 1890, the books were safely kept here.

In the year 1890, the then governor of Madras, Lord Connemara felt the need to establish a public library in Chennai and to establish the same; he laid the foundation stone on March 22 in 1890.

Finally, on 5 December in 1896, the Connemara Public Library was inaugurated. As is evident, the library is named after Lord Connemara, because of whose efforts the library was actually established.

The Connemara Library came into formal existence as an organization only in the year 1929, when a librarian was appointed. The library was opened too all in the year 1930, and the services included lending and home delivery. In 1950, it gained the status of a state-centred library under the Tamil Nadu Public Libraries Act, 1948 and in 1955, the United Nations recognized it as its depository centre.

Architecture of Connemara Library

The Connemara Library holds a place of pride and prestige in the country not only for its remarkable collection but also because of its exceptional architecture. The library was built on the lines of the British Museum Library and with its ornate wooden carvings and stained glass panels, bears testimony to the old style of British architecture

The entire complex now boasts of buildings that reflect architectural unity, even while demonstrating the various stages of Indo-Saracenic development, right from the Gothic-neo-Byzantine to the Rajput Mughal and Southern Hindu Deccani style.

Another building was added to the main structure in the year 1973. This three storied new building is where all functions of the library now take place. The new building comprises of a textbook section, a reference room, periodicals hall, a Braille library, an entire large floor dedicated to books in Indian languages, a video room, a browsing centre, a permanent book fair centre, an IAS study centre and Xerox facilities.

Collection at Connemara Library

The Connemara Library is home to several rare books of extreme value. Some of the historical acquisitions here include The Bible published in 1608, Accounts of the trade in India by Lockyer (Charles) and a German copy of ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ among others. The old volumes are covered with chiffon cloth to preserve them.

Other than these rare copies, the Connemara Public Library has over six hundred thousand books to choose from. You will find every possible title that you are looking for here, whether it is an Indian publication or a book by a foreign author. From the latest edition of a newly published book to a fifty-year-old text, the library has it all.So, if you an avid reader and love reading books in a quiet environment, the Connemara Library awaits your arrival with open arms.

Connemara Library Timings

The timings of the Connemara Public Library are as follows:

Weekdays (including Saturdays): 9:00 AM to 7:30 PM

Sundays: 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM

The library remains open on all days throughout the year, except on three national holidays (Gandhi Jayanti on 2 October, Republic Day on 26 January and Independence Day on 15 August) and six festival holidays: Vijaydashmi Day, Saraswati Pooja, Tamil New Year Day, Pongal, Christmas and Diwali.

How to Reach Connemara Library

The Connemara Public Library is located on the Pantheon Road, Egmore, near the Madras Museum and Art Gallery. It is just 3 kilometres from Chennai Central. One can quickly reach the library by hiring a rickshaw or rented vehicles.

Tips

  1. The Connemara Library does not require compulsory membership to read books. Any person can sit there and enjoy reading in silence.
  2. You can borrow books from the library by paying a nominal amount as the membership fee. Note that it is mandatory to be a resident of the city to be eligible to be a member.

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Santhome Cathedral Basilica, Chennai Overview

     Santhome Cathedral is a historical and ancient pilgrim centre, which was built during the 14th to the 15th century A D by the then reigning, Portuguese.

The cathedral, near Chennai beach, got its name from St Thomas, the apostle of Jesus Christ. A museum is located in the grounds nearby. It was designed in Neo-Gothic style, favoured by British architects in the late 19th century. The main attraction of the museum is a 16th century map of South Asia. Santhome Cathedral is one of the prominent attractions in Chennai. People with Christian faith visits this place and attend the Mass.

Dakshinachitra Museum, Chennai Overview

Dakshinachitra Museum, located in Chennai, is one of the living-history museums in India. It stores in itself great works of architecture, crafts, performing arts, and lifestyles that belong to South India. The museum has its vision and mission to promote the cultures of South Indian states by making them more engaging and enjoyable for its viewers. It is a project of Madras Craft Foundation which is an NGO that was opened to the public on 14th December 1996. The heritage museum is home to 4,220 artefacts and 1,000,000 pictures. Visiting here will give you an in-depth knowledge of south Indian heritage. You are going to leave with the most magnificent treasures of learning.

Developed in the form of a village, it showcases the traditional lifestyle of South Indians. It is a collection of 18 authentic houses, each having its own contextual exhibition. These homes are purchased, broken down, transported and lastly reconstructed by professional artisans or Stapathis who belong to the places from where the houses are bought. Moreover, Dakshina Chitra itself means the ‘house of south’. So, if you are a person of history, and a person of culture who is deeply attached to its roots this place is for you. Visit Dakshinachitra Museum to explore and learn about the life and history of South India.

History of Dakshinachitra Museum

The museum was started by MCF which was founded by Deborah Thiagarajan in 1984. It is a heritage lifestyle village that displays lives of people in different South Indian states. Thiagarajan visited Chennai (then Madras) in 1970 and sowed the sapling of MCf only to preserve the culture of South. In July 1991, she managed to receive 10 acres of land for this project on 33 years of a lease. Finally, after the collaborative efforts of MCF, government, various industrialists, the Dakshinachitra Museum came into existence. It managed to find long-term donors such as National Folklore Support Centre, Prakriti Foundation, the Crafts Council of India, Office of the Development Commissioner for Handicrafts, Ford Foundation, and Amethyst.

Architecture of Dakshinachitra Museum

The museum is built with 18 heritage houses representing the living style of people from south Indian states – Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Kerala and Karnataka. These homes are the actual houses which were demolished with the permission of original owners and later were brought here only to be built by the architectural students, workers, and carpenters. The Madras crafts Foundation purchased the vernacular styled houses. These ranged between INR 50,000 to INR 1.5 million.

After they were correctly dismantled under the guidance of Stapathis, they were recreated at the given space in their very original form. The roads and other things that existed in the old village went under recreation too. Every good thing faces a lot of criticism, so did the Dakshina Chitra Museum. Many critics say that the old village is stamped with American Consumerism.

Ticket prices for the Dakshinachitra Museum

Indians:

Adult – INR 100 and During Festivals and Weekends – INR 120

Children (5-12 years) – INR 30

Student (13-18 years) – INR 50

Teachers – INR 75 

School Student package – INR 120

Overseas visitors:

Adult – INR 250

Students – INR 70

Collections at Dakshinachitra Museum

The artefacts at the museum are a reflection of daily lives of people living in southern India. By 2014, there were 4,220 of them out of which 3200 are related to art, and 70 belong to contemporary subjects. It also has around 950 objects of clothing showcasing the typical South Indian attire of both men and women. These include clothes made of cotton and silk.

Dakshinachitra Museum also has a selection of journals and books about arts, crafts, anthropology, folklore, and performances of south India. Around 1,000,000 pictures are also displayed in the living-history museum.The information here is imparted in the English language. It highlights the cultural and regional aspects of Brahminical people. You might also learn about the craft traditions that existed in the south Indian heritage homes.

Programmes and Workshops at Dakshinachitra Museum

The museum, as we now know, is a centre of living arts and crafts set up with the sole objective of promoting the preserved heritage of Southern India. Walking on its way to delivering excellent knowledge, it hosts dance performances, workshops for training in crafts such as indigo dying, puppet shows, necklace crafting, and basket weaving.

Not only this, the people trained here get individual certificates for their skills by the Department of the Development Commissioner. Moreover, events of classical dances such as Mohiniyattam, Kuchipudi, and Bharatnatyam, and music also takes place at the centre. Each month comes with new workshops. Every year, at least 15000 students visit the site and leave with fantastic knowledge.

How to Reach Dakshinachitra Museum

It is situated 25 km from the South of Chennai. You can take a cab or a bus to reach the very place. The landmarks for the museum are MGM Dizee World and Sangeetha Hotel. Buses 109, 588, and 599 operate till MGM Dizzee world bus stop. It is at a distance of 200m from the stop.

Tips

  • Do not take eatables inside as they are not permitted. Beside the parking lot, a separate space has been provided for having food.
  • An additional charge of INR 20 is levied for use of still cameras, and INR 70 for video cameras.

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Thousand Lights Mosque, Chennai Overview

The Thousand Lights Mosque of Royapettah, Chennai is among the most esteemed mosques of the city as well as the state of Tamil Nadu. Built in the early 19th century by the Wallajah family of the Carnatic rulers, it is till date a popular gathering place for the daily prayers and festive occasions like Muharram. The site gets its name from the legend that to illuminate the entire prayer hall, right about a thousand oil lamps used to be lit back in the days. One can only imagine how beautiful that outline must have looked against the dark black sky.

The mosque is built in the traditional Islamic pattern with domes and high minarets. It has a large prayer hall for men and a separate smaller one for women. The shrine or Dargah of the mosque is dedicated to Imam Hossein, the grandson of the first prophet Muhammad and a revered figure of the Shia Muslims around the world. The walls of the grand mosque are ornamented with lines taken from the Quran.

The Thousand Lights Mosque is respected among all the Muslim sects, but it is of special significance for the Shia Muslims as it is the home to the chief of the Shia sect of Tamil Nadu. It also has a burial ground inside for the Shia Muslim families. Albeit the mosque is visited throughout the year by men and women offering prayers. It lights up with more noise and grandeur during the revered month of Muharram and even more so on the day of Annual Muharram Festival.

The Thousand Lights Mosque is one of the most significant and revered places of Islamic worship. It is an important spot of pilgrimage for all the Muslim devotees of Tamil Nadu, especially the people who follow the Shia sect of Islam. The locals believe that the Shia followers, who live in the vicinity of the mosque and the entire neighbourhood of Royapettah, belong to the Ahl al-Bayt. It translates in English to the phrase “the People of the House” or “Family of the House”. The term refers to the direct bloodline of the first Islamic prophet and founder, Muhammad. This mosque is like headquarter of Shiite Muslims within the state. Tamil Nadu’s Shia Chief Ghazi Maulana Ghulam Mahadi Khan resides here and also has his office.

Architecture of Thousand Lights Mosque

The Thousand Lights Mosque follows a typical medieval Islamic architecture. The original building has the usual multiple round domes and high minarets. It was the one which was built for the men who gathered there to say their prayers. However, in 1981, another bigger mosque was added to the premises. The looming main structure of this mosque has five inward curving on its roof – one large in the middle and four smaller domes on the four corners, an architectural influence of the middle east. Its towering minarets rise to a height of 64 feet above the above the ground.

On the ground floor of the mosque is the main hall where men offer their daily namaz and gather on occasions. There is a separate room for women. On the second floor, the sanctum sanctorum of the mosque is present, which in common tongue is called Dargah. There are two sanctuaries in that floor. One belongs to Imam Hossein, the prophet’s grandson and the other to Abul Fazl al-Abbas, the son of Ali. Though the old mosque looks a bit worn out and dilapidated compared to the newer and grander one, it has the archaic charm once you step inside. Several walls of the Thousand Lights Mosque are scripted with the texts from the Holy Book of Islam, the Quran. There is also a Shia burial ground inside the mosque premises.

Muharram Celebration at Thousand Lights Mosque

Muharram is by far the most popular festival of Muslims, not just here but all-over the world. However, unlike the major festivals of other religion, this is not a merry one. The first day of Muharram marks the Muslim New Year and the tenth day is the date of the Karbala carnage where Muhammad’s grandson Imam Hossein gave his life.

On the Annual Muharram Festival Day on the tenth, the followers mourn the death of Imam Hossain and participate in a communal grievance, or matam. Even though the occasion is tragic, the mosque looks very beautiful with all the lights and the gathering of people in whites on the day of Muharram.

How to Reach Thousand Lights Mosque

Within the city of Chennai, it is very easy to get conveyance to get to the Thousand Lights Mosque. It is located in central Chennai in the Royapettah neighbourhood in Anna Salai, right near the Peters Road and Mount Road crossing. It is quite well known and a landmark for the surrounding places. Any public transport, hired vehicle or cabs will take you there.

Tips

  • Remove your shoes before entering the mosque. Look around if there are any shoe counters which would keep your shoes safe in exchange for reasonable rates.
  • Cover as much skin as possible – it is applicable for both men and women. Dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees.
  • Be quiet and respectful if you are there to see the architecture and not to pray, because many people will be there for spiritual purposes.

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Madras Crocodile Bank Trust, Chennai Overview

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is the brainchild of revered herpetologist and wildlife activist Romulus ‘Rom’ Whitaker – an initiative to keep the fading species of crocs in subcontinent safe. Initially, the Croc Bank was built to keep the crocodiles safe and help them breed and multiply until they were fit enough to be returned to their natural habitat, and thus replenish the nature’s stock. However, due to lessening wilderness, this practice has been stopped. They are now given home in the Crocodile Bank itself and are open for the public six days of the week.

The Madras Crocodile Bank is not to be confused with a zoo. Yes, you can certainly take a look at the reptiles in captivity. However, unlike a zoo, this has a much more in-depth operation through ex-situ and in-situ conservation. Right now, it is home to around 17 croc subspecies and some other reptiles like frogs, lizards, snakes, and turtles as well, some of which have been listed by IUCN as critically endangered. Visitors can witness all these slithering species at one place and also indulge in the various fun activities that the park has arranged for its guests like the night safari, guided tours, and feeding programmes. The Croc Bank is a great place to spend a day of learning, witnessing rare wilderness and having fun at the same time. If you are a wildlife enthusiast and activist and want to make a difference, you can volunteer for programmes, make donations or adopt an animal too from the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust.

The Irulas at Crocodile Madras Bank Trust

The Irulas which are an Indian tribe residing in the southern forest villages and famous for their snake-hunting skills are a quintessential part of the park. Whitaker formed an industrial cooperative with them, where they as a society help in hunting snakes and extracting venom from them before letting them loose again. This venom is sold to the anti-venom industries to manufacture snakebite medicines.

Activities at Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

Feeding of Jaws III

One of the biggest attractions of the park is a saltwater crocodile called Jaws III ? the famous giant shark monster from the movies. It got its name from its 16 feet length, almost a ton weight and fierce nature. It is the largest captive crocodile in the country. Thanks to his violent behaviour, he had to be kept in a separate enclosure without any female mate ? he would chase everyone out. Nevertheless, he is the most prominent celebrity of the park. Every Sunday afternoon at 4:30 PM, his feeding is opened for the public to see. It is an excellent opportunity for visitors to witness the majestic beast at its meal.

There are other feeding programmes at 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM and 5:30 PM as well.

Underwater Gharial Exhibit

There is an exhibit with a magnificent gharial in an aquarium which is maintained much like its natural habitat, along with companions like freshwater turtles and schools of fish for the creature to feed on. It is an experience to see the gharial move around with its wild grace amidst the green water and weeds.

Overnight Adventure Camp

The Croc Bank lets you spend a night and two days in the park as a part of their tourism and education activities. In these two days, you can sit through interactive seminars about herpetology, go for a walk on nature trails and experience snake hunting with the Irula people. A minimum of 6 people are needed to arrange the overnight stay.

Zoo Keeper for a day

You can become a zookeeper for a day and assist the train caretakers by getting inside the enclosures and feed the reptiles. No need to worry, you will be under supervision and protection of professionals throughout.

Guided Tours and Anecdotes

The guides of the Croc Bank facility will take you around the place, sharing their own experiences and anecdotes with each of the reptiles and other exciting stories that happened in the park. They will also talk about the various species and their unique characteristic, eating and breeding habits and so on.

Night Safari

The night environment in the Crocodile Bank is nothing like the day. In the night safari, the visitors can experience the never-seen-before side of these aquatic reptiles. In the comfort of the silence of darkness, they indulge in their territorial disputes, mating, and other activities around their enclosure ponds.

The night safari guests can see all these first-hand. They will be provided with torches and escorted around the park by trained guides, so there is nothing to worry about. The hundreds of glowing red eyes in the dark is a chilling experience – one that you will remember your whole life.

Conserved Species at Crocodile Madras Bank Trust

The park was originally started for the three species of crocodiles found in India ? the muggers, saltwater or estuarine crocodiles and the very rare gharial or the Gangetic crocodiles. Other than that, there are 11 more croc species from around the world which are kept here, like the American alligators, spectacled caiman, dwarf crocs, freshwater crocs, African slender-snouted croc, Nile crocs and the endangered Siamese crocodile and some more. The Bank also has many other reptile species like snakes, lizards, frogs, and turtles.

Among the snakes, there are the cobra, viper and krait among the venomous ones, and boa, keelback, rat snake and pythons among the non-venomous ones. The place also houses geckos, monitors, chameleons, common lizards and a variety of frogs and toads as free-ranging reptiles. The Bank has also collected new species of caimans and crocodiles found in the rainforests of South America. Anacondas have also been added to the captive display. In 2016, four Komodo dragons from New York were brought and added to the exhibit list.

Crocodile Madras Bank Trust Field Trips

The Madras Crocodile Bank lets schools and colleges arrange field trips and excursion for their students. Students specializing in biology, especially in herpetology, will have a great academic as well as fun experience at the Bank.

Crocodile Madras Bank Trust History

Back when hunting was still a popular sport in India, and no environmental or wildlife laws were there to protect them, crocodile hunting grew to be an excellent source of entertainment among the hunters. However, when the Indian Government passed the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, the three subspecies of crocodiles found in India was listed under its protection. However, it was not enough to replenish the almost wiped out croc population of the subcontinent.

In such a time, Romulus and Zai Whitaker founded the Crocodile Bank in 1976 to help the government serve the purpose by running a private crocodile reserve of their own. This later became the Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpetology in 2003 after it took in snakes, lizards, and turtles as well. Romulus is a several award winner herpetologist, and Zai is an author, but both of them are equally enthusiastic about wildlife conservation and activism, especially reptiles.

How to Reach Madras Crocodile Bank Trust

The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust is located around 45 km south of Chennai, along the beautiful Bay of Bengal. Any bus, taxi or auto-rickshaw that goes via the East Coast Road can be availed to reach the place. You can also hire your own vehicle in case you are going for the night safari. You will not have to worry about your trip home.

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Madras War Cemetery, Chennai Overview

The Madras War Cemetery, right in the heart of the city of Chennai, is a recognition of the glory as well as horrors of the war our ancestors have fought to make this world a more peaceful place. In short, it houses the last remains of around 855 martyrs who laid down their precious lives at the battlefronts in the devastating Second World War and also a Memorial stone for 1000 more who died fighting in the Great War before that. In 1952, the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the Indian Government together established this cemetery to commemorate those who died to save our lives. Among the tombstones, there are three non-World War martyrs and a small memorial for a sea merchant as well. It must be remembered that the headstones are not only of soldiers who fought but of doctors, nurses and other support staffs as well.

Top class maintenance by the authorities has kept the cemetery in great shape. Even though it has its roots in a sad and bloody past, the cemetery lawn feels like a serene and peaceful place for the dead to rest. It hosts the Armistice Day homage every year on November 11 with wreath offerings and Guard of Honours. Anybody interested in war-time history or wants to pay their respect to the martyrs should visit the Madras War Cemetery. It is not only a remembrance but a tangible proof of the cost of war.

History of Madras War Cemetery

The Madras War Cemetery is home to the remains of 855 martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the line of duty during the World War II. The graves are of the soldiers who mainly belonged to the cantonments in the south and south-eastern part of the country and were sent all across the world to fight. However, there are burials of 14 Australians and 5 New Zealanders as well.

In 1952, one year after India became an independent Republic, the Madras War Cemetery was established by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC). The cemetery remembers those members of the Indo-British army who fought and died for the Allied forces in the Second World War at various parts of the world. There is also a War Memorial, which commemorates more than 1000 departed soldiers of the Great War of 1914-1918. For the current generation, this is a great as well as a sad remembrance of the past. The primly maintained place pays due respect to those who laid down their lives for the civilians.

Things To Do at Madras War Cemetery

The Madras War Cemetery is not a place to do a lot of things, but to take a walk down the tragic lane of history. The site, however, is impeccably maintained. So it is a great spot to spend an afternoon relaxing and also paying some respect to those whose graves lie here. If you are interested in the World War era, then this place will be a great treat for you. Otherwise, the silence and quietude make for an ideal retreat from the noise and crowd of the outside. The greenery of the lawn and the ivy-wrapped pillars also offer enticing backgrounds for photoshoots. However, whatever you do, do not cause harm to any property or untidy the place.

Architecture of Madras War Cemetery

You have probably seen many such war cemeteries in English movies or TV shows. That is because all the CWGC war cemeteries or memorials look the same, just with different names. The cemetery welcomes you with the Stone of Remembrance made of stark white marble says the words ‘Their Name Liveth Forevermore’ – meaning to say that all those who have fallen for their country shall be remembered forever through generations. Right in the middle of the ground, amidst a trimmed patch of lawn, stands the Cross of the Sacrifice, which is a looming white Cross set up high on an octagonal platform. The cross bears a bronze sword along the shaft. This is a typical monument in all the large CWGC cemeteries around the Commonwealth countries.

Around the Stone of Remembrance and the Cross, the burials of the martyrs of World War II are arranged in a disciplined manner, just like they used to stand during their services in the armed forces. The rear end of the cemetery is reserved for the memorial stone of World War I soldiers. No actual remains are buried here, but just the names of those who are buried elsewhere in the country but their graves cannot be appropriately maintained forever are etched on the memorial. About 855 martyrs of the World War II have their names written down in the grave markers in this cemetery, and 1039 plaques more in the memorial for the British martyrs of World War I. All the tombstones are made of white marble.

The name of the deceased, their Date of Death and the age at which they passed away is carved on the stones, along with their designation, the regiment they served, and the logo of the Force above all the words. Each stone also has an epitaph dedicated to the person at the bottom. The place is maintained in a Lawn Cemetery style. The grass is trimmed and mowed, short and soft as a green carpet. There are two sets of pillars on both sides of the cross, forming a beautiful shadowy and cavernous corridor. The posts are covered with lovely Ivies, and you can even see flowers blooming on some of them.

Armistice Day at Madras War Cemetery

Every year on November 11, the Armistice Day is celebrated here in memory of the war and the blood it shed. November 11 is the day on which the Armistice between the Allies and Germany brought about an end to the World War I, in 1919. In the Madras War Cemetery, a formal event is held each year, and a prominent personality is invited to attend the occasion as a chief guest. Wreaths of flowers are laid at the Stone of Remembrance, the Cross of Sacrifice and the Memorial of the First World War. Once the wreaths are laid, and the bugle is sounded, the attendees do their salutes, the Guard of Honour reverse arms and two minutes of silence is observed for the soul of those departed. In the end, the present crowd pays their homage to the dead.

How to Reach Madras War Cemetery

The restricted area of Madras War Cemetery is located within 5 kilometres of the Chennai airport, right near the trade centre. Being at the heart of the city’s hustle and bustle, any public bus will ferry you to the cemetery on Mount Poonamalle Road. You could also hire a cab or a private vehicle for the convenience of the ride.

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Fort St. George, Chennai Overview

The origin of the great white structure of Fort St. George is inextricable from the history of the city of Chennai itself. Popularly called the ‘White Town’, the sole purpose of establishing the massive fort compound was to establish a British stronghold in the Coromandel Coast and the rest of south India. With Fort St. George as a British headquarter, it was easier to develop the many small towns and villages in Tamil Nadu. The now bustling city of Chennai grew up around this fort during this time, under the British-conferred name Madras.

The magnificent fort happens to be the first in many aspects in the entire era or British rule in India. The fort itself is the first British garrison settlement in India. It also houses the first British official residential complex, the Clive House which was the home of the Commander-in-chief and the orchestrator of British India, Lord Robert Clive. St Mary’s Church inside the fortress is also the oldest Anglican Church, not only in India but among all the landmasses east of Suez.

The grand fort is now protected by the Archaeological Survey of India and the station of Tamil Nadu Government. The administrative branches and legislative assembly are housed in here today. However, the church and a museum are open for the common public to visit and understand the significance of this fort in the history of India. The building which houses the museum used to be the location for the Madras Bank since 1795. However, after independence, it is serving as a large collection house of more than 3600 artefacts dating back to the entire period of the British rule – weapons, letters, coins, silverware, ceremonial dresses, medals, some personal items of the residents of the fort and many more.

History of Fort St. George

During the middle of the 17th century, Chennai was a busy place for trade and commerce, and the competition was stiff between the French, Dutch and British East India Companies. To bring about their monopoly over the other colonisers, British representatives Francis Day and Andrew Cogan purchased land along the part of the coast which is now the famous Marina Beach from the local rulers.

The construction of the fort was completed in 1644 and was named after the Patron Saint of England, Saint George. It later became the centre of the Madras Presidency, the oldest province of British India. In the course of time, Fort St. George has seen some severe battles, many of which were instigated by the French and some by the ruler of Mysore Empire, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan.

Fort St. George Church

The church within the fort premises is called St. Mary’s Church which is the oldest Anglican church in India. It was built a couple of decades after the fort itself, around 1678 and 1680 as per the orders of the then Agent of Madras, Streynsham Master. In the graveyard of this church, some of the oldest British tombstones of India are buried. They belong to the earliest residents of the White Town. St. Mary’s Church is known for being the venue of the weddings of Robert Clive, and Governor Elihu Yale, who later went on to be the first benefactor of Yale University in the United States.

Fort St. George Museum

The building which houses the museum at present was built at least a century later than the rest of the fort area. In 1795, Madras Bank started its business in this building. The second floor hall was used for public meetings, lotteries and certain entertainment purposes of the upper class British. The museum keeps many memorabilia of the colonial period of British, French, Scottish and Indian origin. Medals, weapons, coins, uniforms, royal dresses and some original letters, including some written by Clive and Lord Cornwallis are kept. The two main attractions of the museum are the larger than life statue of Cornwallis and the first ever Indian flag that was hoisted after the declaration of independence. Public is allowed to see the preserved flag but not to take pictures. The ramparts of the museum are decorated with canons used by Mysore ruler Tipu Sultan.

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Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, Chennai Overview

Shirdi Sai Baba temple in Chennai is among the most visited and respected places of worship In Tamil Nadu as well as India. The resident deity of the temple, Sai Baba of Shirdi, was an esteemed saint of the 18th century and the stories of his origin and teachings are mostly born out of folklore. However, Sai Baba later became the center of a cult called All India Sai Samaj, and the temple acts as the headquarters for the community. The Samaj was found in the 1940s by Narasimha Swamiji, and the same person founded the temple as well in 1952. The temple now has followers and devotees in hundreds of thousands. Every year, a large number of people pay their tributes to the mysterious saint – even celebrities and public figures are a part of his following.

Sai Baba is recognised as one of those spiritual reformers who does not have ties to any particular god of any religion but is a figure of worship himself. So, there are no religious restrictions imposed upon those who visit the temple. In fact, this temple has fixed days and hours for reading Islamic text Quran and the book of Christianity, the Holy Bible – something that you will not find in any other spiritual establishment.

Another unique feature of the Sai Baba Temple is that it still has a part of the flame that was lit by Sai Baba in Shirdi to mark his contribution to the society. Every Sunday, devotees pay tribute to Sai Baba and his work by worshipping the flame with Agni Puja. The temple offers a peaceful retreat for anyone, whether or not they are followers of the saint. The premises welcome people of any faith with open arms. Anyone who takes an interest in listening to holy texts or spiritual songs can spend some time here in the calm and serene environment.

Legend of Shirdi Sai Baba

Shirdi Sai Baba was a holy saint who was born in Shirdi to a Hindu family and brought up by a Muslim Fakir. However, when he grew up and turned into a spiritual person himself, he disapproved of the concepts of one’s ethical or religious roots and claimed love to be at the core of all. There are famous folklores about him foretelling the future and causing miracles. He often did his preaching with metaphorical stories, and his answers to his followers were shrouded in mystery.

History of Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

The Shirdi Sai Baba Temple of Mylapore was built by Narasimha Swami from Salem, a lawyer by profession and an ardent follower of Shirdi Sai Baba spiritually. He used to worship a picture of Sai Baba under a tamarind tree in the exact location where the temple stands today. Due to some reason, the place of reverence had to be shifted to a house in Nanjunda Rao Colony. However, soon Sai Baba’s picture came back to its original location.

Narasimha Swami established the All India Sai Samaj in the 1940s. He started the magazine Sai Sudha in June 1940, where he talked about the stories and ideas of Sai Baba in his excellent writing. He went around the country preaching on Sai Baba’s life, his teachings and his principles. He managed to propagate about Sai Baba wide and far and managed to gather quite a large following with his excellent oration. Later, he established the temple in 1952 with the help of a donation from his friend J.D. Pannalal, a merchant and made it the headquarters of his community ? All India Sai Samaj.

This temple is one of the most revered establishments within the Sai community of India. In the beginning, it was the same picture that Swamiji worshipped that was put in the sanctum for all devotees to worship. However, in 1987, another devotee, Sri Muthu Venkatraman installed the beautiful white marble statue that now stands in the temple.

Architecture of Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

The temple of Sai Baba is made of striking white marble, with a golden arch on the wall of the shrine. The new idol of Sai Baba installed later is also made of white marble, which sits on a throne of sparkling silver. A huge picture of Sai Baba hangs right above the sanctum sanctorum. There are places segregated for the followers to sit or stand on both sides of the aisle that leads to the sanctum. The temple carries of Sai Baba’s legacy, and as a remembrance, there is a fire which is said to be a part of the original flame that was lit by him at Shirdi. There are shrines of Lord Rama and Lord Krishna – the two epic reincarnations of Lord Vishnu. The temple also houses the final resting tomb of Narasimha Swamiji.

Unique Feature of Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

The temple upholds the religious harmony preached by Sai Baba with dedication. The authorities not only welcome people of all faiths, but there are arrangements for religious activities as well. On every Thursday, a Muslim saint reads out the holy text of Islam – Quran at 4:30 PM. Thursdays are busy days in the temple, as there are also Hindu bhajans and kirtans, as well as the 1000 people feast or annadhanam on every Thursday. On Sundays, the Bible is read out loud following the Christian tradition of Sunday Mass Service. The eternal flame of Shirdi is also worshipped on Sundays called Agni Puja.

Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Festivals

Other than every Thursday which invites a big crowd every week for the bhajans and annadhanam, there are some other festivals celebrated in the temple as well. Navaratri is celebrated in a big way, with particular attention on the tenth and final Mahasamadhi Day on Vijaya Dashami. Other than that, Guru Purnima, the day when devotees worship their spiritual masters, is also celebrated. Sai Baba asked his followers to observe his birthday on every Ram Navami ? so that day is given special recognition. The birth anniversary of founder Sri Narasimha Swamiji is also celebrated on every August 21.

How to Reach Shirdi Sai Baba Temple

The Shirdi Sai Baba temple is in Mylapore, which is a very popular area of Chennai. The temple is well connected with buses, autos and cabs. If you are a non-Tamil speaking person and do not want to risk public transport, hire a car from the hotel and it will not take more than half an hour to reach from the heart of Chennai city.

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MGM Dizzee World, Chennai Overview

MGM Dizzee World is one of the largest and oldest amusement parks in India. It boasts of having had given its visitors some unique experiences, many of which were first-timers. It brought Jurong’s Bird Show from Singapore to India way back in 1999. It also had a hot air balloon ride in 1998, and even though it sounds unbelievable, there were arrangements for picking up and dropping visitors on a helicopter back in 2000 – probably the first time in the history of entertainment park business.

All the rides in MGM Dizzee World are created and engineered keeping in mind the visitors’ enjoyment. There are extreme level thrill rides, but nice and enjoyable ones are there too. The park has something for all age group. There are a plethora of children’s rides scattered all around the park, as well as activities that other members of the family can enjoy. The amusement park offers an ideal venue for a tremendous day-out excursion with your family and kids. It also has an aqua park, fitted with various fun-filled rides and activities like artificial ocean waves, which you can enjoy with your friends and family.

Thriller & Adventure Rides at MGM Dizzee World

MGM Dizzee World is full of adventure and high thrill rides. Some of them are traditional ones, which you have seen before in many places like the water coaster, star wheel and big wheel which are varieties of the old-school Ferris wheel, Disco Saucer, Dodgem Car and the crowd-favorite Caribbean Swing –  tese are popular crowds of MGM Dizzee World. However, it is the other high thrill rides that visit this amusement park worth your money. Among the best rides that will give you an adrenaline rush, a few are:

Creeper Bug: Sitting chairs attached at the end of a giant spider and the legs spin round as well as go up and down.

Kamikaze Ranger: A G-force ride where there are riding seats at the end of two beams which form an X going up and coming down using gravity and the two cars cross each other in mid-air.

Nilgiri Express: A train car with individual seats that takes you spinning around like a carousel.

Revolution: A giant rotating cage where you will be pinned to the sides, and the whole ride starts to rotate with both sides taking a turn and rising into the air like a toppling bowl.

Rock o Plane: A different take on a Ferris wheel where there is a star like design within the circle.

Roll o Roll: A high adrenaline ride, where you will be sitting inside a circular car which will rotate around itself, as the whole ride also spins around.

Rolling Thunder: This will take you on an extremely high thrill adventure ride on a two loop roller coaster with the cars spiraling up the track and then facing a sudden drop.

Tomb Raider: Another roller coaster train ride with four-seater cars.

Wave Swinger: You will be sitting on a chair that is hung with ropes as the ride spins around swinging you in the air along with it.

Children’s Ride at MGM Dizzee World

The big thriller rides might be too scary and unsafe for the small children. So, the park has arrangements for them as well, so that your tiny tots can have just as much fun. Batman Jet, Caterpillar, Jurassic Train, Mini Slambam, Rough Rider, Scooty Ride are all the car and train rides for the kids. There are some more funny ones as well. Shoe House, Stone House and Mushroom House are entertaining places, and the kids will be safe on their own too.

There are a few exciting rides made suitable for young kids also so that they do not feel left out in the adventure. Elephant Safari, Kid’s Dodgem, Rocket Tower and Tora Spin are few of them. Granny Bug is a carousel designed for the children where the horses are low height, and everything is very colourful. Cup Saucer is the best among all the children’s rides. Though it is only a carousel of sorts, the seats all look like teacups and are placed on saucers, and at the centre, there is a big teapot around which the cups rotate. The whole ride looks like a big round tea tray.

The Dizzee Express is a water-based ride for the children, which swishes through water, but it is much safer than water coaster.

Family Rides at MGM Dizzee World

MGM Dizzee World is not all about thrill rides and kid’s fun. There are several options where the whole family can have fun together.

Carnival Games: You can play small, silly games like the dart or throwing the ball and win exciting prizes.

Imagine: It is a simulation ride where you can enjoy various movements as if you were inside a real-life video game.

The water park: A large area of MGM Dizzee World is the water park. There is a huge splash pool along with a false waterfall, a mini ocean where artificial waves are created so that you can have as much fun as in a beach and there are various water rides as well.

Other than these, there are paddle boating, regular carousel, Fun World – gaming arcade where you can put in coins in the machine and play games, and a whole lot of other fun rides.

Facilties at MGM Dizzee World

Car Parking

The parking lot is right opposite the main entrance to MGM Dizzee World. It can accommodate 500 cars, 50 buses and 750 two-wheelers at a time. The parking area has 24×7 security, washroom facilities and availability of drinking water.

Eating Options

The amusement park has a vegetarian food court called Fortyellow. It serves delicious vegetarian dishes and has a capacity of seating 500 guests together. There is also a themed multicuisine restaurant which can cater to 300 guests at a time.

Cab Service

Fast Track is the travelling partner of MGM Dizzee World. So, if you hire a Fast Track cab to arrive at the venue, you will be getting a 20% discount on entry fare. There is a booth of the cab agency at the park as well, from where you can rent a taxi to get back to your hotel or residence.

Other than these, MGM Dizzee World has the regular customer care and first aid kiosks in various spots inside the park. The water park has separate changing rooms and washrooms.

How to Reach MGM Dizzee World

MGM Dizzee World is situated around 35 kilometres from the main city of Chennai. It is right on the much popular East Coast Road. So, you can reach there using public buses. However, if you are more comfortable with cars or cabs, you can avail that too. Travelling by Fast Track cabs will get you discount on entry ticket.

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Royapuram Fishing Harbour, Chennai Overview

Under the administration of Chennai Port Trust, Royapuram Fishing Harbour is one of the most popular fishing grounds in Chennai. Located in a region which is famous for seafood, this harbour surely has its name among the busiest fishing hubs of Tamil Nadu. If you visit the Royapuram Fishing Harbour, you will almost always find the place crowded with different types of fishing vessels. From the full length, 45 feet boats to the smallest of catamarans, you will see them all.

Run by mostly the local fishing community, the harbour holds a daily sale quantity of 200 tonnes. A unique feature of the Royapuram Fishing Harbour is the auction hall, where most of the day’s catch is sold off for further retail selling. The hall gets a footfall of more than 30,000 every day. Not just local fishmongers, but wholesale traders from neighbouring states like Kerala and Karnataka also visit to stock top quality sea fish. Almost 30 percent of the catch is sold away to the other states; the remaining is sold off to the local sellers. If you are a fan of the Pisces, you definitely should visit this place.

Here and there you will find heaps of shimmering, silvery saltwater fish as well as crustaceans, all caught fresh and soon to be sold off to the highest bidder in the auction hall. You cannot get a share from here, but you can certainly go around clicking as many pictures as you want of the fishermen doing their daily chores. For doing a bit of shopping on your own, visit the Kasimedu Fishing Harbour Market, adjacent to the harbour, with around 90 stalls selling all varieties – seer, Pomfret, prawn, lobsters, shark, sardine, crab, silver bellies, carangids, mackerel and even snails, oysters and mussels. If you are interested in shipbuilding, you can witness a glimpse of it at the pier area where fishing boats are built to cater to the fishermen of the harbour.

History of Royapuram Fishing Harbour

The harbour was created in 1975, and the fishing harbour was established in 1984. However, the place has been a fishing ground since the 1700s, when fishermen and women community migrated here from Chepauk village during the rule of the British East India Company. Even though the harbour took a major hit during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, both to the wharf area as well as to many trawlers stationed there, it recovered soon to continue its regular business. At present, the harbour houses around 1400 boats, which is much more than the actual capacity for which it was built.

How to Reach Royapuram Fishing Harbour

The Royapuram Fishing House is situated in the Kasimedu Village along the coast. Since public transport is limited in the wee hours of the morning, you can drive yourself or hire a car and head towards the Beach station or Parry’s Corner.

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Santhome Church, Chennai Overview

The significance of San Thome Church is unparalleled in the history of Christianity in India. The church, which was once constructed as a mausoleum in memory of Saint Thomas, has now grown to be a Basilica, as stated by the then Pope in 1956. San Thome Church is among the only three in the world that house the tombs of one of Christ’s original disciples. The other two are St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City and Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain.

If you visit the St Thomas Church in Mylapore, you will be stepping into a historical tale that will take you back a couple of centuries. Beneath the towering white structure of the basilica minor lies the last remains of the saint, who once used to be one of the twelve apostles of Christ and came over to India in 52 AD to spread the religion. He is considered to be the patron saint of Christianity in India, as he converted a large population of locals in Kerala and Tamil Nadu with his wise words and preaching, and formed the community which now calls themselves Syrian Christians. The museum inside the church displays souvenirs of the great saint and his legend so that the visitors can be acquainted with the glorious past of San Thome Church.

San Thome Church Mass Timings

The masses and rosary sessions take place on scheduled time from Monday to Saturday at:

Regular Mass at the Main and Tomb Chapels: 5:45 AM

Rosary: 6:15 AM

Mass in English: 11:00 AM

Mass in Tamil (Crypt Chapel): 5:30 PM

Benediction: 5:45 PM

Rosary: 6:15 PM

Mass in Tamil on Sundays: 6.00 AM

Legend of San Thome Church

The legendary past of this church is what makes it so special a place to visit. More than the history of the physical structure of the basilica, it is about the saint whose grave lies buried here underneath the building. As per the legend of Saint Thomas, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ, the man himself had landed at Muziris (near Kodungallur in present-day Kerala) around 52 AD to spread the word of God in the Orient. He preached Christianity along the Malabar Coast for a decade before travelling towards the eastern shore.

As the myth goes, he loved to spend time in the Mylapore area of Tamil Nadu, in a cave atop a small hillock, which is now named after his holiness. It is said that on the top of this mound, now called St Thomas Mount, a lance pierced through his back and took his life. His remains are said to be lying underneath the San Thome Church today, which makes this a place of pilgrimage, especially for the Syrian Christians of India.

History of San Thome Church

The previous legend about Saint Thomas, the apostle, brings us straight to the actual history of the church. In 1522-23, a group of Portuguese explorers brought the remains of Saint Thomas to this spot where the church now stands, from the Christian village of San Thome and constructed the very first structure atop it. It attained the status of cathedral in 1606. However, it was not until 1896 that the church rose to its due prominence.

Three years prior to that, the then Bishop of Mylapore, His Excellency Dom Henrique Jose Reed da Silva, took it upon himself to build a proper tomb in memory of Saint Thomas. Thus, the new church building was constructed, with an additional smaller tower right above the spot where the remains of the apostle rest. It was consecrated in 1896 by da Silva, who also happens to be the first Bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese in India. In 1956, the then Pope Pius XII himself gave the church the stature of a Basilica Minor. This church, now a basilica, is probably the most important shrine in the establishment and progress of Christianity in India.

Main Attractions at San Thome Church

The tomb of Saint Thomas: The sacred crypt tomb of Saint Thomas is marked with a second tower, built when the church was renovated in 1893-96. Inside the church, a statue of Saint Thomas is displayed to be lying down in his final resting position, inside a glass case. The tomb is decorated with flowers and candles every day, along with Holy Water. It is kept inside a chapel, where the devotees can sit in peace and pay their respect. This is an important spot in the church to visit as this is what makes it a holy shrine.

The museum of antiquities: San Thome Church has a museum on its premises housing multiple memorabilia and other antique displays related to the life and work of Saint Thomas. There is a display case holding the great apostle’s fingerprints. It is among the rarest of museum collections in all of India. There are wall paintings as well, depicting the life, missionary work and death of the saint. His discipleship with Jesus, his coming to India and baptising the local villages of Kerala and Tamil Nadu, his work in the Mylapore region and ultimately his death by the lance – everything is told in a story-like manner on the wall paintings. The 2000-year-old lance that killed the saint is itself cased in and displayed as an artefact. Other than that, an episcopal chair, a piece of the saint’s bone and a stone receptacle are also showcased. At the rear end of the basilica, there is a rare and antique sundial, which has been brought here from the earlier site of his grave.

Charity activities by the church: Every year during the Christmas and Easter season, the church takes donations from members as well as non-members in cash and kind both, to serve the underprivileged communities of the neighbouring areas. From November to December and from March to April, around 500 festival kits including clothes, books and other essential commodities are distributed in these areas. So, if you are visiting the church during this period, you can contribute to the noble cause whether or not you follow the faith.

Architecture of San Thome Church

The San Thome Basilica is built in typical neo-gothic architectural style, complete with enormous windows and tinted panes in them. The outer façade of the church is stark white, and it looms over the surrounding lawn with sheer grandeur. The interior is lined up with wooden pews, while the aisle leads up to the crucified Jesus and a statue of Saint Thomas beside him. A sparkling chandelier hangs over the chancel, and along with several other hanging lights, it illuminates the whole nave and altar.

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Kapaleeswarar Temple, Chennai Overview

Kapaleeshwarar temple is a holy shrine of Shiva in Mylapore, Chennai. Originally built by the mighty Pallavas, Portuguese explorers destroyed the temple and rebuilt it in around the 16th century once again by the Vijayanagar kings. A visit to this temple will be an experience enriched with a glimpse into Tamil religious culture and the lovely architectural combination of the two styles – Dravidian and Vijaynagari, complete with towering Gopurams. There is also a sacred tank on the western side.

As expected, the temple has quite a few legends about it, which are till date upheld by the authorities in the form of sculptures and inscriptions. In fact, to commemorate the myth of Goddess Parvati worshipping Shiva at this place as a fowl, there is a couple of peahen and peacock kept as a pet inside the temple premises. The regal temple also remembers the Tamil Shaivite saint poets Nayaars and has shrines for each one of them. All the 63 idols of the poets are paid due respect in the Brahmotsav festival that takes place every year somewhere between mid-March to mid-April.

Legend of Kapaleeswarar Temple

The spot where the temple stands have numerous myths and legends told about it. One of the most popular ones is the penance of Shiva’s consort Goddess Parvati. It is said that she turned into a peahen because of a curse and came down here to pray to the Lord to get back her form.

Another legend is related to the etymology of the temple’s name. The word ‘kapalam’ means head and ‘eeswara’ means the Lord or Lord Shiva in this case. This name has its roots in the story of Lord Shiva and Brahma, where the two gods met at Kailash Mountain. Brahma did not show due respect to Shiva, and out of rage, Shiva removed one of his four heads and took away his power to create life. To please Shiva, Brahma came down to this place, established a Shivalinga and worshipped him.

History of Kapaleeswarar Temple

Like many other temples which date back to the old times, the origin of the Kapaleeswarar Temple cannot be stated with conviction. However, scholarly studies are of the statement that it was originally built in 7th century CE by the Pallavas who were ruling over south India at that point. The temple is mentioned in the Saiva canonical stories Tevaram written by the Shaivite saints Nayanars of the same century.

In those tales, the temple is said to have been situated along the seashore of Mylapore, but the current structure now stands a good 1-1.5 kilometre inland. This discrepancy gave birth to the idea that the original temple which was built by the Pallavas was actually near the coast. However, when the Portuguese landed here, they demolished the temple, and from the remains of the ruins of the ancient structure, the current one was constructed by the Vijayanagar kings. The Tuluva Dynasty rebuilt the Kapaleeswarar temple sometime in the 16th century.

Architecture of Kapaleeswarar Temple

The Kapaleeshwarar temple was originally built in authentic Dravidian style, but later Vijaynagari style was mixed with it when it was relocated. Inside the premises, there are some shrines, but the main temples belong to Kapaleeswarar form of Lord Shiva, represented by a Shivalinga and Goddess Parvati who is called Karpagambal here, meaning the Goddess of the Wish-Yielding Tree. The story of the legend of Parvati worshipping Shiva as a peahen is represented in a stone carving in a small shrine under a Punnai tree or Sthala Vriksha in the courtyard.

There are also inscriptions dating back to the 12th century inside the temple, thus proving right the fact that this temple was indeed formed with parts of the older one. It has two colossal gates with stucco figures all-over it, called Gopurams. These gates are typical to any south Indian temple. On the eastern side, the gate is 120 feet or 40 metres high and looms over the street where it stands. The western Gopuram is smaller in size, but it faces the sacred tank. Do not miss the pet peacock and peahen kept in a cage in the temple premise, as a tribute to the legend of Parvati worshipping her consort in the form of a peahen.

Kapaleeswarar Temple Festival

The biggest and most revered festival of the temple is the annual Brahmotsavam, which takes place in the Tamil month of Panguni. The nine-day long spring festival starts with flag hoisting or Dwajarohanam, then the chariot procession of the deities or the therotsavam, followed by Arupathimoovar on the eighth day, and finally concluded by Tirukkalyanam or the marriage between Kapaleeswarar and Karpagambal.

The chariot procession involves the idols of Shiva and Parvati being adorned in new clothes and jewellery and are taken on a different vahana each day around the sacred tank near the western Gopuram. The most important event is Arupathimoovar on the eighth day. This day is a tribute to the 63 Nayanar saints, who dedicated their lives towards telling the stories of Lord Shiva and spreading them among the pass. On this day, idols of all the 63 saints follow the chariot of Lord Shiva and Parvati around the tank. If you visit the temple on this day, you will find a huge crowd in there, and many of them waiting their turn to touch the chariot and pull it for blessings.

How to Reach Kapaleeswarar Temple

Mylapore is one of the busiest areas of Chennai and is thus very well connected from all other areas of the city. You can take a bus or a train to Mylapore if you are comfortable with public transport. Otherwise, hire a cab or a car to take you to the location. The temple is only 6.4 km away from Chennai railway station. You can take a mode of transport from there as well.

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Vadapalani Murugan Temple, Chennai Overview

Vadapalani Murugan Temple is one of the most frequented places of worship for Hindus in Chennai. It has its roots fixed in numerous legends and myths, especially about its founder and first priest Annaswamy Naikar. He had a dream about this deed he must do for his good as well as the benefit of the society, and thus he started worshipping Lord Murugan at his home instead of trying to find him elsewhere. This small shrine was later transformed into the colossal premise with multiple deities that you can see today. The temple is known for helping devotees finding solutions to life’s problems. People come here seeking answers to their marital, academic and professional problems. Many devotees claim that worshipping here has assisted them to get over the trouble and find peace in life.

It is also believed that worshipping Lord Murugan here is as pious as praying to him at the original Palani temple. If someone is unable to visit the original abode, they can pay their respects here, and Murugan will bless them all the same. Vadapalani Murugan Temple has a rich history and an ornate architecture and is also enriched with people’s faiths from all-over the country. If you visit the temple on any of the days of the special festivals, you will get to see the popularity Murugan has in this place.

Legend of Vadapalani Murugan Temple

The popular legend of the Vadapalani temple says that its founder Annaswamy Naikar traveled far and wide across south India in search of Murugan’s blessing and a cure for his chronic stomach pain. One day a sage appeared in his dreams and directed him to find the Lord in his own home. Annaswamy followed his advice and came back home to worship his lord twice daily. He sacrificed his tongue at the Thiruthani shrine of Murugan, and that cured his long-lasting ailment.

One day he went for pilgrimage to the Palani temple of Lord Murugan which is one of the six holy abodes of Murugan and on his way back, he found a picture of the god and was so awestruck by it that he brought it home. He set up the photo as his deity and put up a thatched roof to make it a shrine. This is where he attained the power of ‘arul vaakku’ by Murugan’s blessings and began to solve the devotees’ problems, or so the local folklore goes.

History of Vadapalani Murugan Temple

The original temple of the deity of Vadapalani Murugan shrine was a small thatched hut under which Annaswamy Naikar paid his respects and worshipped a picture of Lord Murugan with all his devotion. In around 1890, this temple was built at the spot where it still stands. He was the orchestrator, founder and the first priest of the temple. The shrine gained its popularity because of Annaswamy’s ‘arul vaakku’ or foretelling and healing powers. It was believed by the devotees of the temple that his sacred words were solutions to their different problems in life like marriage troubles, failure in examinations, unemployment, ailments and so on.

His disciple Rathinaswamy Chettiyar took upon himself the responsibility to build this house of worship, and after Annaswamy passed away, he became the chieftain and the priest of the temple. Legend says he was also blessed with the ability to speak the words of solution while being in a trance. Later on in 1920, the temple was refurbished, and the Rajagopuram on the Inner Ring Road was also built. Over the last century, it has gained popularity mainly because of the patronage of south Indian film stars. They come here often to pay respect and pray for their new movies.

Architecture of Vadapalani Murugan Temple

The temple’s architecture follows the traditional style of south Indian temples, complete with the Rajagopuram with several stucco figures, many of them are poses of the classical dance form Bharatnatyam. There are numerous deities residing within the premises of Vadapalani Murugan Temple, like Ganesh or Vinayaka, Lord Shiva, Meenakshi Amman, Sanmuga, Kali, Bhairava, Dakshinamurti, Mahalakshmi and so on. The idol of Lor Murugan is the chief deity amongst all, and he resides in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple.

The one speciality of the deity is that he stands with his footwear, which is a symbolism of shedding one’s arrogance. He also stands with one foot forward, and myth says it is because the Lord is rushing to help his followers. A fig tree is considered to be the holy tree of this temple, where devotees tie strings to pray for fulfilment of their wishes. They also offer sacrifices, garments as well as gold and silver as a price. There is a hall which is used for marriages. More than 7000 couples tie knot here each year, blessed by the Murugan.

Vadapalani Murugan Temple Festivals

Vaikasi and Brahmotsav: The Brahmotsave is celebrated in a grand manner at the temple during the Vaikasi month for 11 days. It begins on the day of Visakam Nakshatram and the Lord’s awakening. The seventh day is special because theLord’ss chariot is taken out fora procession. It ends with the Vidaiyatri Urchavam.

Purattasi: This is the Tamil version of Navaratri, when Amman is worshipped for 9 days, along with the other deities of the temple. It ends with the parivettai uchavam and procession of Vijaya Dashami.

Iypasi: This is the celebration of the victory of goodness over evil. Lor Murugan defeated and killed demon Suran on the sixth day of the crescent moon during the Iypasi month of Tamil calendar. This day marks the Kanda Shashthi, and on this day the events of the victory, or as they call it, Sura Samhara will be recreated by the devotee as a part of the festivities. The seventh day marks the wedding of Murugan to Valli and Deyvaanai, his two consorts and is called Subramanyar Thiru Kalyanam. On the remaining three days, the procession of the main deity Swami Purappaaddu takes place.

Margazhi: Udal Urchavam is commenced on the tenth day of Thiruvadharai Urchavam on the Pournami of the Margazhi month.

Panguni: Panguni Uthiram lathcharchanai goes on for ten days and is over on the Panguni Uthram day. This is followed by the departure of Vadapalani Andavar in the evening. A deepam festival takes place after this for 3 days.

Vadapalani Murugan Temple Timings

The gates of the temple are open from 5:00 AM till 12:00 PM and again from 4:00 PM to 9:00 PM every day.

Exceptions are made on the days of Maha Kandha Sashti, Krithikai month, Vaigasi Visakam, Thaipoosam, Panguni Uthram, the first day of Sithirai, English New year. On these days, the gates are open all day and night so that devotees can visit no matter when they come. Many people choose occasions to visit the temple for faraway places and this is done to let them all have a chance to seek blessings of Murugan.

The temple witnesses the five regular pujas daily.

Palliyarai: 5:30 AM

Kala Shanthi Puja: 6:30 AM

Uchi Kaala Puja: 12:00 PM

Sayaraksha Puja: 5:00 PM

Arthajama Pooja: 9:00 PM

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Express Avenue, Chennai Overview

 

Express Avenue is a mall in Royapettah of Chennai, owned, developed and promoted by Express Infrastructure. Inaugurated in 2010, the mall stands on a total land area of around 10 acres. The premise includes commercial and hospitality sectors as well. E Hotel is the name of the 4-star boutique luxury-lodging, which caters to the guests all year long with its 44 room capacity but the mall is the main attraction of the place. Along with numerous retail outlets and around ten anchor shops like H&M, Pantaloons, Lifestyle and Big Bazar, on different floors of the mall, Express Avenue also has the largest gaming arcade of south India – Games The Shop and the city’s largest cinema multiplex Escape. The gaming shop offers consoles like PS4, PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Nintendo Wii and NDS, as well as software for the consoles. The cineplex is an eight-screen one, designed by California based artist Giovanni Castor. The mall also has kid’s play zone called Funcity and a 5D theatre by Pix.

If you are looking for good eating options, Express Avenue mall has that as well. The food court, or EA Garden, as it is called, serves at more than 25 food counters, including international chains like KFC and Pizza Hut. The other cuisines include south India, north Indian, American, Italian, street food and so on. There are lounge bars and pubs as well, like Entrée and Elixir, but they are a part of the hotel premise. You can visit them if you want to. There are parking facilities too, spread over three levels of basement and giving room to 2,000 cars and motorbikes.

The EA Bot at Express Avenue

The latest addition to the dazzling interiors of the Express Avenue mall is the bot that assists the visitors to find their way around the shops. The EA bot was launched in April 2017 as a customer assistant device. It roams around on its own being deployed along the central atrium by the authorities on different floors of the mall complex. The robot works on Artificial Intelligence and thus can process the image of the visitors as well as of the shops. The bot approaches the customers and greets them with its recorded mechanical voice. On its screen, you can find the shops you are looking for as well as the latest deals, sales or offer any of the outlets might have. EA assistant will guide you to the shop of your choice all by its own. They are autonomous and will remind you a bit of the bot from Star Wars.

T Nagar, Chennai Overview

T Nagar is one of the busiest neighbourhoods in Chennai, and also the most crowded one. It serves as a commercial and economic hub, as well as a residential area. T Nagar is essentially a complete commercial crux within Chennai in itself. It does not have many attractions, but you will come across a plethora of retail shops lined up on every main road and arterial streets. The neighbourhood mostly trades in traditional south Indian textiles and gold jewellery shops. Usman Road is famous for its stretch of jewellery shops, while the Pondy Bazaar area deals with a number famous apparel stores selling silk saris and other garments, as well as roadside shops. Other than that, there are a few parks and religious places, which you can pay a visit to if you feel like. There are some parks too for a peaceful afternoon stroll.

The T Nagar area grew up in between the years 1923 and 1925. It was constructed by the Madras Presidency Government of the Raja of Panagal as a part of the Madras Town Planning Act, 1920. The main area was named after the then party leader Sir P. Theagarya Chetty, and the streets and localities after different dignitaries. After the Long Tank, which formed the western boundary of the city was drained out in 1923, the Mambalam Zamindari situated to its west relinquished. From its southern part, the neighbourhood was carved out.

Shopping in T Nagar

A major portion of T Nagar is devoted towards shopping. In fact for people who do not live there, it is a mostly a shopping destination. You will find a vast range or products, in equally enormous range of quality and prices. From street hawkers to high-end shops you will get everything.

Usman Road: An arterial street in T Nagar, Usman Road is the home to several small and big jewellery shops – both local and high-end brands. This street accounts for almost 70-80percentt of the city’s business in gold. Gold shops, and sometimes silver, gems and other materials too, are set up one after the other throughout the Usman Road. There are global brands like Tanishq, Malabar Gold and Diamonds and Joyalukkas Jewellery, as well as local brands like Lalitha Jewellery, Shree Gold and Saravana Jewellery.

Pondy Bazaar: This is a complete and wholesome shopping area near Sir Thyagaraya Road. Here, you will find almost everything that you want to shop for. It has many outlets of global brands as well, but the main attractions are the hawkers and the street shops. Under thatched roofs and tarps, hawkers have set up shops selling everything from shoes, junk jewellery, saris to toys, gadgets and home décor items. Second-hand books are also sold at a discount. These shops do not have any fixed price and thus are open for your bargaining.

Saravana Stores: It is the most prominent commercial supermarket in the area. If you cannot find anything in the crowded streets of T Nagar, you will most certainly find it here, no matter how small or big. The store has five floors, and individual stores selling everything from A to Z. There is a shop called Naidu Hall, which was formerly focussed on undergarments, but now sells garments of all sorts.

T Nagar Restaurants

Murugan Idli Shop, Sangeetha Restaurant, BR Mathsya and Hot Chips are some of the best vegetarian options you have in T Nagar. Anjappar Chettinad Restaurant, Thambi Villas and Dindigul Thalappakatti Restaurant which is there since 1957 and serves the best home-style biryani are for the non-veg lovers.

Sightseeing in T Nagar

If shopping is not really your forte, then T Nagar has no dearth of other places to visit either.

Panagal Park

Located at the centre, Panagal Park is a popular location among the locals of T Nagar. Built by Raja of Panagal, and thus the name, it was revamped by the Corporation in 2008. With the renovation, it got all the new features like a walkway, a landscaped garden and children’s play area. There is a sitting gallery too, for older adults to enjoy afternoons. You can take rest here in between shopping sessions.

Natesan Park

Yet another refreshingly green patch of land, the only additional specialities Natesan Park has is the skating rink and a yoga deck. The 4-acre land boasts a range of shrubs and trees. It is a good place to get some fresh air.

Dr MGR Memorial House

If you take an interest in Tamil politics and its history, you might as well pay a visit to the memorial house for its 1977 to 1987 chief minister, legendary Maruthur Gopala Ramachandran. The memorial displays photos, documents and other memorabilia of his political career as well as some personal moments.

Religious Shrines

A religious-minded person will find multiple shrines to visit in T Nagar area if they want to pay a visit. There is a Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam temple for Lord Balaji on Venkatanarayana Road, and Kasi Vishwanathar temple and Shiva-Vishnu temple with both the deities near the bus depot. There are both catholic and protestant churches, and mosques too within the few kilometres radius of T Nagar.

History of T Nagar

The first major establishment of the area was a park, named after Panagal. Before that, it got a railway line from Egmore to Kancheepuram in 1911. Finally, after Pondy Bazar made an appearance in the area, it started to grow as a commercial and residential centre. The first shop of T Nagar was the textile showroom of Nalli Chinnaswami Chetty in 1928, which was later known as Kancheepuram Silk Sari shop. Even though the locality had to be evacuated during the Second World War because of the danger of Japanese air bombing, it has long gone back to the axis around which the bustling everyday activities go on unhindered.

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Parthasarathy Temple, Chennai Overview

Parthasarathy Temple, located in Triplicane area of Chennai, is a structure more than 1000 years old, standing in the heart of the bustling city. Dedicated to different avatars of Lord Vishnu within the many shrines of the temple, it attracts thousands of Vaishanvite followers from all across the country. The temple gets its name from the charioteer version of Lord Krishna when he drove the vehicle of Arjuna in the war. Parthasarathy Temple is classified as one of the 108 Divya Desams or holy shrines dedicated to Vishnu, as mentioned in the canonical Tamil literature penned down by the Alvar saints of the 6th-9th century, known as Divya Prabandha.

The temple houses five different forms of Vishnu – Narasimha, Rama, Gajendra Varadaraja, Ranganatha and Krishna. In Tamil, they have different names for these. There are numerous additional shrines as well, enclosed within the 8th-century Dravidian architecture. Chennai is a popular city for the followers of Vishnu to carry out a pilgrimage to because of the many temples devoted to that faith. Parthasarathy temple is one of the oldest among them, and also one of the most popular. The number of legends that are associated with the structure and its historical past is fascinating, and the stories are interesting as well.

Legend of Parthasarathy Temple

There are numerous mythological stories and references related to Parthasarathy temple. One of the popular stories is that the Saptarshi, or the seven celestial sages from the Hindu mythology used to worship the five deities of this temple. The deity of Parthasarathy inside the temple also has a legend of its own and is referred to in the great epic Mahabharata. The name comes from the Sanskrit words ‘partha’ which is the other name of Arjuna and ‘sarthi’ which means a charioteer. Since Krishna was the charioteer of Arjuna in the Kurukshetra war of Mahabharata, he was called Parthasarathy. The deity of the lord has scar marks in the face, which is a hat tip to the injuries Krishna sustained during the fight of Arjuna and Bhishma.

There is yet another legend, involving King Sumati and sage Atreya. The sage was looking for a place to do his meditation and Vedavyas sent him to this place, which was called Brindaranya Kshetram, along with the idol of Parthasarathy form of Krishna. This is also where King Sumati was doing his penance to see the Parthasarathy image of the lord. Upon the arrival of the sage, his desire was met, and he established a shrine here to worship the Lord.

Parthasarathy Temple History

The Parthasarathy Temple is one of the oldest architectural structures in Chennai. Originally built in the 8th century CE by the Pallava ruler Narasimhavarman I, it was later on extended and renovated by the Vijayanagara kings in around the 15th century. There are inscriptions inside the temple that talk about the contributions of both the dynasties. The temple is also mentioned with much glorification in the Divya Prabandha, and the ancient Tamil canon works on Vaishnavism. These were written by the Alwar saints between the 6th and 9th century. It is said that earlier in the days, the pilgrims coming down from the legendary Tirupati temple to take a bath in the sea on the days of Solar or Lunar eclipse used to break journey here and rest.

Architecture of Parthasarathy Temple

The Parthasarathy temple follows typical Dravidian architecture, complete with gopurams (gate towers) and mandapas (halls) with intricate carvings and stucco figures. The structure has five main deities over and above the main Parthasarathy shrine – Sri Ranganatha, Sri Rama, Sri Gajendra Varadaraja, Sri Narasimha and Sri Vedavalli Thayar. There is an additional shrine which deserves mention ? the shrine of Andal. She was the only female saint among the group of 12 Vaishnavite Alwars.

The sanctum sanctorum has the idol of Parthasarathy or Sri Venkatakrishna Swamy, surrounded by his consort Rukmani, his brother Balaram, friend Satyaki, son Prathymnan and grandson Anirudhan. Together the five warriors make the Pancha Veera and conform to many stories from Mahabharata or the Vaishnav canonical works. The temple has a holy tank, which is said to be the birthplace of Goddess Mahalaxmi, Vishnu’s consort. The locals believe that the tank was built upon 5 sacred wells, which consisted of holy water. The masi theppam festival or float festival is conducted in this tank.

Parthasarathy Temple Festivals

The Parthasarathy temple follows the Thenkalai sect of Vaishnavite faith and thus follows the rules of vaikanasa aagama. In the month of Chittirai, it celebrates the Brahmotsavam festival with grandeur. This falls around April to May in the English calendar. In the same month, the Udayavar Uthsavam is also celebrated in a big way. The month of Vaigasi is for the Sri Varadarajar uthsavam, Sri Nammalwar uthsavam (vaigasi-visagam) and Vasanthothsavam, while in the month of Aani, during June – July, Sri Narasimha is worshipped with very much vigour. There are also festivals for Ramanuja during April ? May and Manavalamamunigal during October – November. Pilgrims also visit the temples on the Marghazi festival of Vaikunta Ekadasi and the Masi Theppam (floating) festival.

Parthasarathy Temple Annadhanam

The temple conducts moral classes for children on Sundays and food donation or annadhanam every day for a 100 people. The donor can choose which day they wish to conduct their annadhanam.

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Anjaneyar Temple Nanganallur, Chennai Overview

Viswaroopa Adhivyadhihara Sri Bhaktha Anjaneyaswami Temple is located around 10 kilometres away from the heart of the city, in a locality called Nanganallur. Commonly called the Anjaneya Temple in short, it gets its name from its principal deity, Lord Hanuman. He is also called Anjaneya, because he is the son of Anjana, the young Vanara (monkey) woman, and after him, the temple is named. The cornerstone of the temple was laid around 1989 by a group of devout Anjaneya followers – Sri Maruti Bhakta Samajan. It was finally open for the public in 1995. The most important aspect of the temple is its 32 feet idol. Lord Hanuman has been shaped out of single granite stone and then given shape.

The temple is not very rich in history, but it sure respects it. The presence of both Lord Rama and Lord Krishna in the temple is a nod to that. It is a must see place not only for those who are devotees of Anjaneya or Hanuman but anyone who wants to get a glimpse of a different sort of temple other than Vishnu and Shiva, which are common in Chennai.

Legend of Anjaneyar Temple Nanganallur

The temple itself is only a little more than a couple of decades old. However, the deity of the shrine is apparently a central figure in multiple mythological stories. Within the temple premises, there are temples of both Rama and Krishna, which is a reference to Lord Hanuman being present in both the great epics of Hindu religion – Ramayana and Mahabharata. Hanuman was the ardent ‘Ram-bhakt’ in Ramayana, and he was quintessential in Rama winning the battle against Ravana in Lanka.

The lord made a comeback in the Mahabharata and revealed his identity to Bheema. Both of them were sons of the God of Air or Vayu, and thus were brothers by blood. The two met when Bheema was on his way to find a lake, from where he would collect the flowers with the hypnotizing smell that his wife Draupadi demanded. There, Hanuman promised Bheema that he would look over the Pandavas, and perch himself atop Arjuna’s chariot during the war.

History of Anjaneyar Temple Nanganallur

The temple was established as per the wishes of a community who were staunch devotees of Lord Hanuman and ardent followers of his path. Sri Maruti Bhakta Samajan is the name of the group. They constructed the towering idol of the deity in 1989, and after the creation of the temple, the shrine and the idol were consecrated in 1995. Ever since, Anjaneya bhakts (devotees) have been visiting the temple every year in large numbers. The main enthusiasts behind the temple were Sri Raghavendra Swami and Sri Kanchi Paramacharyar. It was their spiritual calling to construct the building for their worshipped god. The temple has now been taken over by the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Department.

Architecture of Anjaneyar Temple Nanganallur

The main attraction of the temple is the huge deity of Lord Hanuman, carved out of a single piece of granite. The colossal deity stands 322 feet tall, in dark black color, towering over the rest of the shrines and the devotees. Its specialty lies in the fact that it has been sculpted out of a singular stone piece, without any breakpoint or streamline. In height, it is only second to the idol of Hanuman at Panchavati near Puducherry.

The temple tower of the deity is equally high, almost 90 feet. The sanctum sanctorum connects with the other shrines in the premise via corridors around itself. Among the other shrines, one is for Sri Rama, Laxmana, and Sita. He is connected with Hanuman all the time, and his presence in any temple of Maruti is inevitable. Rama is shown as the protector and ruler here; in the form, Hanuman respects and worships him. So, he has carried a bow and is called Kothanda Rama. But to pay respect to the fact that Hanuman was present in both the epics, Ramayana and Mahabharata, a Lord Krishna Sannidhi is also built. His two queens Rukmini and Satyabhama accompanies Lord Krishna. Hanumana graced the flag of Arjuna’s chariot to save it from any harm or destruction from the opponents Kauravas.

There are two more, smaller shrines present in the north-east part of the temple. Lord Vinayaka or Ganesh and to the left of that shrine, on another platform Naga or the snake lord is established. The abode of Saint Raghavendra is also present, facing the shrine of Lord Krishna. The mandapam or the hall for devotees to gather and offer their prayers is large, and many people together can stand in it.

Anjaneyar Temple Festivals

Around five major festivals are grandly celebrated in the temple. One is Ramnavami, which is the birthdate of Lord Rama. It is given the highest amount of importance, only second to Hanuman Jayanti. It is the day Hanuman was born to Anjana blessed by Lord Vayu. The nine days and Vijayadashami or the Navratri festivals is also celebrated here, with much vigor. Sri Krishna Jayanti, marking the birth of Lord Krishna in Mathura and Pavitrotsavam are also big occasions in Viswaroopa Adhivyadhihara Sri Bhaktha Anjaneyaswami Temple.

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