I haven't been everywhere, but its on list. – Susan Sontag
A family trip was long overdue and mommy wanted to visit Tirupati. Three generations travelling together made it difficult to pick and choose destinations which would keep all entertained. We decided to club Chennai with Tirupati for convenience of transport and stay. A new city teaches you a lot of things, some learning to take home. 🙂
And in a land of unknown (read : unknown language, unknown roads rather unknown city) it was of great help that we had our good friends who guided and helped us make a memorable trip. (So first tip I would give is to always seek help of your friends from the city you visit.)
We landed in Chennai early morning at 7.30. Choosing January as the month of travel helped us beat the Chennai heat. Chennai is relatively less hot during this time. As we came to know the seasons in Chennai are: Hot, Hotter and Hottest! 😉 My dads good friend, had arranged for a pickup and our cab was waiting when we reached. We were driven to Kotturpuram near Guindy.
The housing system in Chennai still comprised of low rises and bungalows, unlike Pune-Mumbai. We had a warm welcome and a hot breakfast. We had the first of the south-Indian meal here, the first of the numerous Idli’s and filter kapi’s to follow 😀
I also loved the rice flour rangolis that adorn the porch of the houses in Chennai.
While the elders rested, we went to the Guindy national park, close by. This is a small park close tot he IIT campus and have the deer roam freely in the park. It has other birds and monkeys and few other animals to keep company. It was a refresher for the little one as he was tired of being clamped down in one place during the flight.
We then headed to the hotel we were booked in. The New woodland hotel. It was a nice budget hotel. We had south-Indian thali for lunch and had a small nap, after which we visited the Birla Planetarium & Periyar Science and Technology Museum. This place had great stuff but wasn’t well maintained. It had the Dinosaurs evolution park which was an instant hit with my kiddo. We did not stay for the planetarium show as we had other places to cover.
The next place was the Kapaleeswar Temple, in Mylapore, this is an 8th Century Pallava Temple. The temple ‘Gopuram’ or tower is made in the characteristic Dravidian style of architecture. Dedicated of Lord Shiva, this temple has some beautiful sculptures. The people from the South to India, I believe are more religious than the other parts of India, we got to witness this fact by observing the large number of people that had thronged to the temples to pray at start the new year, while the rest of the world partied the 31st night and slept through the 1st. 😀
Also observed were the huge and colorful garlands that decorated the temple alleys. These are very peculiar of the south. I love these colorful sights 😀
We then visited the Marina Beach. This is the second longest beach in the world with 13kms length. We strolled along the beach for a while. The bay of Bengal, I feel is very fierce and uninviting. I would rather just sit and watch it from far. It was a rather long day and we headed back to the hotel for another South-Indian meal of dosas and filter kapi. We were in love with the “Filter kapi” here and we sipped on it day in and day out.
Today we opted for a one day Chennai Mamallapuram tour from the TTDC. TTDC has good package offers at reasonable price. The tour left at 9.00 A.M and returned on the same day by 6 p.m.
It started with the Marundeeswarar Temple and Iskcon Temple. The interesting places were the “Dakshinachitra”. DakshinaChitra is a center for the living traditions of art, folk performing arts, craft and architecture of India with an emphasis on the traditions of South India. You can explore 17 heritage houses, amble along recreated streetscapes, explore contextual exhibitions, interact with typical village artisans and witness folk performances set in an authentic ambiance. For more details you can visit their site: http://www.dakshinachitra.net/index.htm
Another hot favorite from the tour was the “Crocodile bank” . The Madras Crocodile Bank Trust and Center for Herpetology is one of the largest reptile zoos in the world. They have a variety of species of crocodiles and we get to see them in hundreds here :D. There are also some variety of tortoise here. Fun time for the kids!
We then headed to the Muttukkadu Boating and had a small ride down the lake.
We also visited the Mammallapuram world hertiage which has the : “five rathas” and the “shore temple.” There are about nine monolithic temples at Mahabalipuram. They are the unique contribution of the Pallavas to Indian Art. The monolithic temples are called locally as Ratha (Chariot) as they resemble the processional chariots of a temple. The Five rathas, the best of all monolithic temples, are hewn out of a huge boulder. You can visit the site of Archaeological Survey of India for more details: http://asi.nic.in/asi_monu_whs_mahabalipuram_monolithic.asp
Thus ended the second and eventful day in Chennai. 😀
Today we went to visit the temples of Kanchipuram. I name this day as “Temple run” as we reached this place around 10.15 and were told that the temples close at 12.30, due to which we were literally running against time to cover the three important temples here. It sounds manageable in the given time but let me tell you these temples are really huge.
Varadharaja Perumal Temple: It was built in 1053. Varadharaja Perumal Temple or Hastagiri or Attiyuran is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Another significant features of the temple are beautifully carved lizards and gilded with gold, over the sanctum.
Kamakshi Amman Temple: The temple was most probably built by the Pallava kings, whose capital was Kanchipuram, around 6 C.E. The main deity, Kamakshi, is seated in a majestic Padmasana, an yogic posture signifying peace and prosperity, instead of the traditional standing pose.
Inside the temple was this majestic elephant painted with designs and symbols. He would give “Ashirwad” by placing his trunk on your head after you place 5 Rs on his trunk. My son made us spend quite a bucks here 😉
Ekambareswarar Temple: Here, Lord Shiva is worshiped as Earth or Prithvi, one of the five elements. The dimensions of this temple are reflected in its 20-acre spread and its tall south gopuram, which soars to a height of 58.5m.
We were hungry by now and headed to the “Saravanaa bhavan” for lunch. Post lunch we shopped sarees in silk and cotton and then after another round of “Filter kapi” headed back to Chennai where we headed for an early dinner and some good rest as tomorrow was a looong day!
We were up and ready early morning at 4.15 am when our cab arrived. We headed to Balaji temple. We stopped for breakfast on the way and had another round of idli’s and filter kapi. 😀 . We reached Tirumala around 9 am and it involved a series of scanning and checking on the way. It is now a one way road that leads to the top to Tirumala and another one way road which leads you down back to Tirupati. A funny mandate here is that one should drive no quicker than 20 mins UP, and 40 mins DOWN, else one is fined heftily. We took the 300Rs queue to have darshan and joined the line around 9.15am. After the initial run in the cages, we landed in the cage number 21 where we were stuck for another 1.30 hrs before we were again lined up and moving forward chanting “GooooVinda” throughout. It took us another 1.15 hrs to move into the Gabharam, where we got a glimpse of The LORD, balaji. Within seconds we were pushed forward and then we were out. We then bought and collected the Laddus-prasadam and were waiting for the driver at the pre-decided spot. We were feeling lost due to absence of the mobile phones, which had been kept in the cab itself. So used to the cells now, that a few hours without them feel like ages 😉
Post darshan, we had another round of idli-dosa-filter-kapi, then visited Papavinasam , the place where all the devotees frequents with the belief that a holy dip would redeem them from their sins. The reservoir near the dam restricts the water flow in this theertham.
We then went to the Padmavati temple at Tiruchanoor, also known as Alamelumangapuram, which is about 5 km from Tirupati. The temple of Sri Padmavathi Devi, the consort of Lord Sri Venkateswara is situated here. It is said that a visit to Tirumala is fruitful only after visiting the Sri Padmavathi Devi temple.
Another temple run thus completed and we headed back to the hotel.
This was a free day. With nothing planned, we just relaxed. We went to my friends place for lunch. After an endless series of idli-filter-kapi we were treated with some home made yummy pav-bhaji. We hogged like this is the first time we had pav-bhaji 😉 After spending time with Ranju and her sweet little angels we retired back. ( I feel so bad I completely forgot to capture the meet inspite of carrying the camera! 😦 )
Evening was again a dinner with dads friend Mr Annamalai, with a light south-indian meal. We then thanked and concluded our Chennai trip.
Next day we boarded flight back to Pune and were home by 2.30pm.
|Date: 1st Jan 2014 to 6th Jan 2014Places covered: Chennai, Kanchipuram, Tirupati-TirumalaTransport: Pune-Chennai-Pune by flight (Indigo Airlines) and Innova for travelling in Chennai.Travelers: Three senior citizens, 2 young adults(:)) and 1 kid.
Stay: New Woodlands hotel, Chennai, during the entire stay.