CENTRES IN TAMILNADU, INDIA
MADURAI: Madurai, originally known as Madhurapuri
got its name from the falling of divine nectar from
Lord Shiva's rocks. This ancient city has been a centre
of learning and pilgrimage for centuries.
It was the capital of the Pandyan Kings. The Chola
emperors captured the city in the 10th century A.D.
The Pandyas regained their rule in the 12th century
only to lose it to the Muslim invaders under Malik
Kafur. The Vijaynagar kings of Hampi defated Malik
Kafur. After the fall of Vijaynagar, in 1565, the
Nayaks ruled Madurai till 1781 A.D. Major portion
of the Meenakshi temple was constructed during the
During the rule of the Nayaks Madurai
became the cultural centre of the Tamil people. In
1781, Maduri passed on to the East India Company.
The company demolished the fort surrounding the city
and filled in the moat. Four streets, the Veli streets,
which were constructed on top of the fill, till today,
define the limits of the old city.
Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple
of Pilgrims visit the Meenakshi Temple everyday. The
soaring high gopurams of the temple stand as landmarks
of the city. The gopurams are adorned by colourful icons
of gods, goddesses, animals and mythical figures. The
temple has four entrances and occupies an area of around
six hectors. The Parvati sanctum is not accessible to
men-Hindus. The museum called the Temple Art Gallery
is located within the complex containing stone and brass
It is an
important pilgrim centre and a holy place for Saivaites
as the famous Nataraja Temple is located here.
||Dedicated to Lord Nataraja,
this ancient temple of the Cholas is unique not
only because it is devoted solely to the art of
Bharatanatyam, but also it is one of the rare
temples where Shiva is represented by an idol
rather than the customary Lingam. Spread over
an area of 40 acres with a gopuram on each side,
the temple is distinguished by five sabhas or
temple stands as an example of Dravidian architectural
brilliance. The dancing poseof Lord Shiva in the form
of Nataraja (The Dancing God) is so elegant and graceful
that the sight stays alive in the memory of the onlookers
for a lifetime. Shiva and Vishnu are enshrined under
one roof which is a rare phenomenon. Chidambaram is
one of the fine Shaivite Mukti Sthalams, the others
being Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvanaikaval.
A person of any race or religion can visit the temple.
Nataraja Temple : The Nataraja temple
covers an area of 40 acres. One of the ancient temples
of Tamil Nadu, the Nataraja temple has a gold plated
roof. The presiding deity is Akasa Lingam- the Lingam
of space. The lord is worshipped in different temples
as representing the five elements - earth, water, wind,
fire and space. A unique feature of Chidambaram is that
there is no lingam made of stone in the sanctum of the
temple because Shiva was seen in his formless form.
Details of Natyashastra (the Bible of Indian dances)
are carved on one of the four tall gopurams (40.8 metres).
108 Bharatanatyam dance poses can also been seen on
The secret of Chidambaram or Chidambara Rahasyam is
another interesting facet of this temple town. The union
of the Lord and his spouse forms a Chakra (wheel) which
is invisible. Symbolising this chakra, a garland of
Bilva leaves is hung in the temple.
The Sivakamiamman temple, the Sivaganga tank, the thousand
pillar hall are the other important features of the
Kali Temple : This temple is situated on the northern
end of the town. It was built by Kopperunjingan, who
ruled between 1229 AD and 1278 AD.
there are just about 126 temples remaining in Kanchi
and a few more in its outskirts. The city was the capital
of the Early Cholas as far back as the 2nd century BC
and a Pallava capital between the 6th and 8th centuries.
illustrious past, it is not surprising that Kanchi was
a major seat of Tamil learning as well as an important
place of pilgrimage for, now hold your breath, Buddhists,
Jains and Hindus. Yes, Kanchi occupies pride of place
amongst the pious Buddhists, Jains and Hindus. Today,
apart from its temples, this small town is also known
for its thriving handloom industry. The silk weavers
of Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago have given
it an enviable reputation as the producer of the best
silk saris in the country. Woven from pure mulberry
silk, the saris in dazzling colours are embellished
with fine gold thread (zari) and are available in every
imaginable design and variety, which can make the job
of selection quite challenging.
pilgrimage places in India, here too, temple festivals
are held throughout the year and apart from the temple
car (ratha) festivals which are held in January, April
and May, there are other days when the idols in the
temples are taken out in procession on their respective
vahanas or vehicles.
Kanyakumari lies at
the southernmost tip of India at the confluence of the
Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal.
This exotic location is famous for its temples and 'sunrise
and sunset' points.
|The Kanyakumari Temple
or the Kumari Amman Temple on the shore, is dedicated
to a manifestation of Paravati, Shiva's consort,
as a virgin. Parvati did penance to win the heart
of Lord Shiva.
The Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built in 1970 in
memory of Swami Vivekananda, stands on one of
the rocks, called Sri Padaparai, where the footprints
of virgin goddess are to be seen
The shore temples of
Mahabalipuram are famous all over the world. This village
is situated on the Bay of Bengal at 58 kms from Madras.
The Pallavas, Patrons of Tamil culture made it as their
second capital. Most of the rock carvings and temples
here were done during the reign of Narsimha Veman I
and II. These rock carvings and temples lack grandeur,
yet, it is their simplicity that captivates every eye.
The romantic theme of the shore temple is simply fabulous.
It is one of the most photographed monument of India.
The scene in the night when the monuments are floodlit,
is so brilliant that, words cannot justify the beauty.
The carvings depict scenes from day to day life.
The stone carving art at Mahabalipuram can be divided
into four categories :- open air bas - relief's, structured
temples, man-made caves and rathas ('chariots' carved
from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots
used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna's Penance
and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the
centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers
over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen
man-made caves in different stages of completion are
also seen, scattered through the area.
Rameshwaram is an island
situated in the gulf of manner at the very tip of the
Indian peninsula. A very important pilgrim centre of
the Indians. Rameshwaram is the place from where Lord
Rama, built a bridge across the sea to rescue his consort
Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. This is also the place
where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to cleanse away the
sin of killing Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites
visit this pilgrimage which is known as the Varanasi
The Chola regime brought
glory to Tanjavur in the period between 10th and 14th
centuries. It is situated at 55 km east of Trichy and
is also the headquarters of the district of the same
Tanjavur is well known for its traditional handicrafts
- art plates, bell metal castings, silk carpets, pith
work, bronze icons, and classical Indian musical instruments.
Sri Brihadisvara Temple : Raja Raja Chola I built
this temple in the 10th century. The frescoes of the
sanctum are comparable to those in the Ajanta Caves.
A gigantic statue of Nandi Bull, protects the sanctum.
The Palace : The Palace, adjacent to the temple is
a vast structure of outstanding architecture built
partly by the Nayaks around 1550 AD, and partly by
Tirchy, as Tiruchirapalli
is commonly known as, lies 320 km to the south of Chennai
on the banks of the Cauvery. The long history of Trichy
track back to pre-Christian era. The Cholas, the Pandyas,
the Pallavas and the Vijaynagar Kings o Hampi, have
ruled over this place. In the 12th century, the Cholas
were defeated by the Vijaynagar Kings, who could withstand
the Muslim attack. Half a century later, the Nayaks
were in power. They established the Rock Fort and developed
it as the trading city.
Rock Fort Temple : The temple is manifested
on a rock that is 83 metres tall. There are 437 steep
steps to reach the temple. Enroute to the temple is
the Sri Thayumanaswamy temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.
It has a 100- pillared hall, and a vimana covered with
gold. On the southern facade of the rock, many beautifully
carved rock-cut temples of the Pallava period are found.
Non Hindus are not allowed into the Sanctum. The Nayaks
who built this temple also developed the city.
Tiruvanaikkaval : The Jambukeshwara temple, here, is
dedicated to Shiva, and it houses five concentric walls,
and seven gopurams. once an elephant worshipped Lord
Shiva under the holy Jambu tree and hance the name Jambukeshwar.
Shiva Lingam is partially submerged in water which flows
from an underground spring.
Srirangam (Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple) : This magnificent
temple complex is situated at 3 km from the Rock Fort.
This is one of the finest temples in South India dedicated
to Lord Vishnu and is probably the largest temple complex
in the whole of India. This 13th century temple is surrounded
by 7 concrete walls with 21 gopurams. Non-Hindus are
not allowed into the gold topped Sanctum but can visit
as far as the sixth wall. The whole place is very fascinating
and sets you crave for more. There is a small museum
containing sculptures within, the temple precincts.
Vayaloor : Vayaloor is located on the outskirts of
Tiruchirapalli. There is a small Lord Muruga temple,
set amidst the lush green vegetation.
St. John's Church : Built in 1812, this Church has
louvred doors, which when opened, turns the church into
an airy pavilion. The brilliant architecture of the
church is a treat to the eyes.
Kumbakonam known as
Temple City because of the presence of 108 temples in
this town, is the second bigger town in Thanjavur District,
also . It is located about 313 Kilometres away from
madras on the south, about 90Kms. from Tiruchy on the
east and about 40kms from Thanjavur on the North East.
The town is bounded by two rivers - " River Cauvery"
on the north and "River Arasalar" on the south.
Kumbakonam is the temple city of South
India situated in Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu.
It is a fertile area on the banks of river Cauvery and
one of its tributaries Arasalaru. The city is famous
for the "Mahamaham" festival that is celebrated
once in 12 years in the Mahamaham tank located in the
heart of it. Kumbakonam is flooded with temples of large
size. There are as many as sixty temples, in and around
Kumbakonam within 40 Kms. of radius.
|Velangani also known as the Mecca of South
Asian Christianity is situated on the Coromandel Coast,
in south India.
It is here that in 1560, Virgin Mary is said to have
appeared to a shepherd, asking him for milk to quench
the thirst of baby Jesus. When the shepherd returned
to his master, after performing the good deed, his pitcher
kept filling up with milk. Consequently, a small thatched
chapel was built at the site. At the end of the 16th
century, Virgin Mary materialised again, in front of
a lame boy, who, after the divine visitation, regained
the use of his limbs. This occasioned the construction
of an actual church.
The legends that go behind the construction of this
Church are many. The church is dedicated to 'Our Lady
of Health', Virgin Mary. Ever since some sailors were
saved from a ship wreckage by Virgin Mary, three centuries
ago, in Velangani, this place has earned the reputation
of curing Maladies and sicknesses. Every year a fascinating
festival (29th August to 8th September) is held and
pilgrims from all over the globe flock to Velangini
to offer their prayers in various forms. Hindus form
a considerable part of the pilgrims.
The Armenian Church : Built, in 1772, on the site of
the Armenian cemetery, this church houses a magnificent
belfry - 6 bells, claimed to be the largest bells in
St.Mary's Church : The first anglican church in India,
it was built in 1678-79 in Fort St.George . The original
rectangular building was about 60 ft. by 90 ft. Its
outer walls were 4 ft thick and its roof 2 ft. thick
and bomb proof. It's treasures are the altar piece,
a large painting of the last supper, a 1660 bible and
Santhome Basilica : This church is located on the southern
end of Marina Beach. A rare church raised on the tomb
of St. Thomas, an apostle of Christ, it has in its possession
a small hand bone of Thomas and the head of a lance
which brought him down. Renovated in the early 1970s,
this Basilica draws huge crowds. There is a beautiful
stained glass window at the basilica which portrays
the story of St. Thomas and the central hall has 14
wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of
Christ. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin
Mary which is believed to have been brought from Portugal
C.S.I. Holy Cross Church : More than 120 years old,
it was originally called the Perambur Railway Church,
when it was under the railway authorities. It earlier
had a predominantly Anglo-Indian congregation though
now there are also families from other southern states.
St.Thomas Mount : Legand has it that Thomas, an apostle
of Christ, preached atop the hill here. He is said to
have been killed on this 300 ft. high mount. The paintings
of 'The Holy Lady and The Child' and 'Our Lady of Expectations'
exhibited in this church are believed to have been done
by St. Thomas.
St.Andrews Church : Called `The Queen of Scottish Churches
in the East', the church has finely etched white Doric
columns, black and white tiled marble roof, and a high,
sky-blue dome of enviable beauty. On the inner surface
of the dome, constellations of stars, as they can be
viewed in Scotland, are painted realistically.
St. George's Cathedral : A striking piece of architecture,
the St. George's Cathdral was built in 1815. It has
a towering 45m spire and lonic columns. The highlight
of this Cathedral is the graveyard just adjacent to
it with its guard rail made up of war emblems - muskets,
bayonets etc. - of the capture of Srirangapatnam in
Descanso : Lying amidst the cultural and religious
centre of Mylapore on St. Mary's Road, this 17th century
church is said to have been the place where St. Thomas
took rest and also served the people.
Big Mosque : Hidden behind the modern buildings on
Triplicane High Road, this renowned place of worship
for muslims, built in 1795, is a marvellous granite
Thousand Lights Mosque : Close to the Anna flyover
on Mount Road lies this mosque on 3 acres of land. Renovated
a couple of times this century, it has two tall minarets
and a separate place of worship for women.
|The holy place for sikhs, Sri
Guru Nanak Sat Sangh Sabha is remarkable for its serene
Jain Temple : A striking contrast to the rock hewn
temples of Tamilnadu is the Jain temple at T Nagar.
The two-tiered, 70' high temple is built of lime-and-soapstone
and marble giving it a dazzling appearance.
Bah'a'i Centre : Another place of worship in T Nagar,
though not as well known as its lotus-shaped counter
part in Delhi. A place of solemnity, sobriety and peace.