Mandagapattu – The forgotten legacy of first ever rock-cut cave temple of Tamil Kingdom

Whispers from my beautiful past....

Tamil Nadu is rightly called the ‘Land of Temples’ with thousands of temples of various Tamil dynasties adding to the beauty of the land. A trip down south takes us down the memory lane of the great Tamil rulers who have built the magnificent stone structures, brick temples and cave temples across Tamil Nadu that have stood the test of time and survived thousands of years. If stones could talk, the carvings of the great temples of Tamil Nadu would reveal the secrets of the ancestral past. As we admire the Tamil kings for their creativity, architecture, urban planning, administration and their practices, their farsightedness to inscribe valuable information in the temples for the future generations, requires a special mention.

IMG_20170423_222932 Sasi from “Walkwithus” sharing details on the evolution of temples in Tamil Nadu

In March 2017, around 20 of us in CTC (Chennai Trekking Club) signed up for…

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Sangla – A hidden gem of Kinnaur

Whispers from my beautiful past....

Visiting Kinnaur and spending some time with locals was high on my bucket list for a long time. Finally, I got a chance to check out Sangla valley before our Lamkhaga Pass trek in May 2017, thanks to the impeccable planning of Gautam Baliga ji. On 18th of May, Gautam, Aashish and I boarded the only Shimla to Sangla direct bus to reach our destination for the day – the Sangla valley.

IMG_20170705_184353 Mesmerizing views on the way to Sangla

After an 8 to 9-hour journey in the HRTC bus, we reached Sangla at 5 pm. Tucked in the lower Himalayas in the district of Kinnaur, the Sangla valley is one of the most picturesque valleys in Himachal, located around 25 kms away from the Indo-Tibet border. Sangla derives it names from a Tibetan word Sangala which means “passage of light”.

IMG_20170705_184704 Sangla – A blend of culture and natural beauty

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Exploring the ancient Kamru village

Whispers from my beautiful past....

Nestled in the hills of lesser Himalayas and about a 2 km hike from Sangla, Kamru is a blend of heritage and natural beauty. While, we get to see the most beautiful landscapes in Sangla valley, the best view of its splendour could be seen from the top of the Kamru fort. After a night stay in Sangla valley, Gautham, Aashish and I started early the next day to explore Kamru.

IMG_20170707_224350 Kamru village and Kamru fort as seen Sangla valley

IMG_20170707_224922 Stepping into the historic Kamru village

As we ascended up slowly and reached the Kamru Badhri Vishal mandir, we met Hariram ji, an elderly locallite of Kamru village, serving as the postmaster there. After getting to know that we were heading to Harshil via Lamkhaga pass, he couldn’t resist sharing his experience of crossing the pass way back in 1980s/1990s with me and Aashish.

IMG_20170519_070746253 Entry to Badri Vishal Mandir in…

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Chitkul – The scenic last village of Hindustan

Whispers from my beautiful past....

The sign board read “हिंदुस्तान का आखरी ढाबा” (The last dhaba of Hindustan) as we reached Chitkul after witnessing some amazing views in Sangla and Rakcham. The 22km journey from Sangla to Chitkul is nothing short of a roller coaster ride when it’s done with HRTC buses, thanks to the bumpy pathways. With a lot of tourists flocking this village every day, it isn’t the same remote and peaceful village it used to be several years back as a lot of commercial guest houses and eateries have come in here. Though Chitkul is a lovely place, it’s first view may seem to a dampener after Sangla and Kamru in terms of natural beauty after all the buzz about Chitkul. Some irresponsible tourism and rampant construction has made this village a thriving business for few.

IMG_20170711_153707 The dhaba was nowhere to be seen, but the board still remains

The best part of…

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The roller coaster ride along the world’s deadliest roads in Kinnaur

Whispers from my beautiful past....

Himachal is the home to some of the world’s deadliest roads. The roads carved out of the rocks, the sharp blind turns, n number of hair pin bends, the sudden elevation gain within a matter of hours, fog, bad weather, cloud bursts, the chain waterfalls along the roads and the unexpected landslides are bound to give you the heebie-jeebies.

IMG_20170713_164414_702 While the tempos and SUVs crawl along the turns, the HRTC buses are at ease in the hair-pin bends, thanks to the skilled HRTC drivers.

It is said that straight roads don’t make the skilful drivers. While the tempos and SUVs crawl along the turns, the HRTC buses are at ease in the hair-pin bends, thanks to the skilled HRTC drivers.

IMG_20170714_134111 The roads in Kinnaur and Spiti are an engineering marvel

IMG_20170714_132828 Tarnada dhak – The gateway to Kinnaur along NH22

I started my month long adventure in Himalayas in mid-May with…

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Kaza to Manali – A ride through heaven

Whispers from my beautiful past....

The ride across Kaza to Manali route in early June is just magical. I might just go on adding endless list of adjectives to describe the beauty of the virgin landscape along this route. After a memorable sojourn in Spiti, I got a chance to ride through the Kaza to Manali route hardly 4-5 days after the Kunzum pass opened up for vehicles.

IMG_20170714_145724 The breathtaking view of Key Monastery from Rangrik was backed by the earthy scent from the previous day’s rains the day I started from Kaza

Thanks to the heavy rains in the evenings, the weather was pleasant with the fresh smell of earth all the way to Rangrik. I had reserved a seat in a shared jeep from Kaza to Manali the previous day. With the company of three Gujarathi brothers, few locals of Kullu and Spiti and a teacher from Panipat, we started our long drive…

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Divya Desam #101/Koodal Azhagar

Koodal Azhagar

Location: Madurai. It is in the heart of the city. 1.5 km away from the Periyar Bus Stand.

  • Koodal Azhagar is believed to have appeared to slay the demon Somuka who abducted the four Vedas. The temple follows Thenkalai tradition of worship.
  • As per Hindu legend, a ruler named Vallabhadeva went incognito everyday to know about the lives of people under him. During one of his visits, a scholar told him that the ultimate goal in life is to “collect provisions in summer and save for winter”, which also meant that one should work during his younger days and save for his old age. Vallabadeva was not convinced and he set this as a competition among scholars to make him realize the true value of life. Vishnucitta, who would later go on to become Periazhwar, one of the twelve most revered saints of Vaishnava sect, came to Madurai from Srivilliputhur. He was believed to have been directed by the heavenly words of Vishnu and he expouned the sacred verses. He explained the concepts of Hitham and Purushartham from Vedas and proclaimed that attained the feet of Narayana could lead to salvation. Vallabhadeva was pleased with the explanation and he awarded a bag of gold to Visnucitta. It is believed that the current gopuram of Srivilliputhur Temple, was built by Periazhwar with the gold won.
  • The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is Ashtanga in architecture, which has eight parts, namely, Adhistana (base), three Padas(struct), Prashthana (limb), Griva(leading struct), Shikara (cylindrical holder) and Stupi (top portion)
  • The vimana, the shrine over the sanctum is Ashtanga in architecture, which has eight parts, namely, Adhistana (base), three Padas(struct), Prashthana (limb), Griva(leading struct), Shikara (cylindrical holder) and Stupi (top portion). The Ashtanga Vimana is found in only three places, namely, the Uthiramerur, Thirukoshtiyur and Cheranmadevi temples.
  • The place is mentioned to be significant during four ages namely, Satya Yuga, Treta Yuga, Dwapar Yuga and Kali Yuga. The temple has Navagrahas, the nine planetary deities, which are otherwise found only in Shiva temples. It indicates the co-existence of Shaivite and Vaishnavite cultures during the medieval period