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

Divya Desam #76 & #77/Thirunavai & Thiruvithuvakode

In the month of May, I had traveled to these places. Back-to-back.  Having Coimbatore as my hometown proved very beneficial in visiting these temples. Traveling by car made it much more easier. The train conveyance, though available, is not so convenient to visit these two temples. You need to start at very early at 0330 hours to catch a train at Podanur Junction (This is a different station and is pretty far from the Coimbatore Junction).  Traveling by buses is definitely not a best option unless you are planning to have a night stay near the temple premises.

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Thiruvithuvakode Temple

 

The sacrament of the idols in the Thirumittakode temple is believed to have been personally conducted by the Pandavas. Each Pandavas have individually carried on rituals for their respective idols. This temple is situated near the banks of a river and this would be a scenic view for the devotees.

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Thiruvithuvakode Temple – Google View

 

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Another view of Thiruvithuvakode Temple

One big surprise or you may call it wonder is that, devotees need to enter the grabha griha (sanctum sanctorum) by crossing over a small stone barricade. Though the reason for this is unknown, it is believed to have been there since the time of the temple erection. This is the first time I have come across such a entrance for a temple.

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Thirunavai Temple

The other temple which is around 35 km far from Thiruvittakode is Thirunaavya. This too is situated across on the banks of Bharathapuzha river. This temple is pretty well-known, guessing by the footfalls I had seen during my visit. The former temple had very few footfalls.

From Coimbatore, it will take a minimum of 3 hours to reach to these two temples. Starting around 5 a.m from Coimbatore, would enable one to visit both the temples by afternoon.

One can very well rely on Google Maps to locate both the temples.

Another important thing that one must always keep in mind is that entry for men into any Kerala temple would be permitted only if he wears a dhoti with a towel wrapped around his shoulders. Sarees, salwars are the garments that would be accepted. Jeans, trousers and shorts would not be entertained.

Happy visiting,  kowthamkumark@gmail.com

Divya Desam #64/Thirukkadigai: My Travel Register

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The view of the temple from afar

This is the temple located far away from Chennai. You need to board a train to Arakkonam and from there you need to board another bus towards Vellore that passes through Sholinghur. This temple is located at the outskirts of the town and you can disembark near the temple.

  • One of the few divya desams in Tamilnadu, that is located on a hillock
  • Periya Koil (Big Temple): With a total of 1305 steps, this hillock is one exciting trek.
  • Chinna Koyil (Small Temple): It has around 400 steps and is situated adjacent to the big temple.
  • The chief deities in Big Temple and Small Temple are Yoga Narasimhar and Yoga Anjaneyar (Hanuman) respectively.

I had boarded a sub-urban train to Arakkonam from Chennai Central at around 06:15 hrs. The journey would be of 120 minutes. From Arakkonam railway station, I took an auto to the central bus stand. Buses to Sholinghur would be very frequent, say for every 5-10 minutes.

Sholinghur is 30 km away from Arakkonam and towards Vellore city. The journey towards SHolinghur would be a maximum of 40 mins. The temple is a very prominent spot and the bus would halt at the temple for a minute 0r two. So locating the temple would be an issue for the devotees.

A huge Anjaneyar (Hanuman) idol would be seen. It marks the spot of the entrance towards the temple. From the main road, one need to travel a distance of 1-2 km towards the hillock. Numerous share autos (fare of Rs.10/-) would be available for travelling this distance.

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The footsteps leading to the temple

From the above picture, you can very well see that the full stretch of the footsteps would be covered by overhead sheets. This is the best part. Considering the hot climatic nature of the town, this would be the greatest relief. Devotees can rest on the side walls and can continue the journey as per their convenience.

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The 300th step

One big precaution that must be taken is to safeguard yourselves from the monkey. You would be finding more monkeys than the devotees throughout the trek uphill. It is advisable not to carry any water bottles or eatables with you. However, if you happen to carry any pooja items make sure that you conceal it properly. Added to it, you can get a stick at the foothills which would be a perfect defence mechanism to be used against the monkeys.

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The temple would be open from 08:00 hrs to 17:00 hrs. There would not be any break in-between. So you can plan your trek accordingly. There is no escaping the scorching sun.

You would be treated with an awesome view of the landscape around. It would be a treater to watch.

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There would be numerous water bottle and food stalls along the trek. So one need not worry about it. The stalls would be found halfway through the trek.

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Resting places along the uphill trek. Cool breezes would help you have a quick refresh.

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Step No. 1305

For more details: Dinamalar & Official website.

Divya Desam #59/Thiruvallur-My Travel Register

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Veeraraghava Perumal Temple

Boarding the sub-urban (local) to Thiruvallur train would be the better option than traveling by buses. Trains to Arrakonam pass through this place. So, there wont be much constraints in conveyance.

The temple is around 4 km from the railway station. Numerous autos and buses would be available. However, share-autos would the apt choice as they would cost Rs. 10/-.

The temple is located in the heart of the city and a large pond is located nearby.

Unlike other Ragnantha Perumal where the right hand would be placed near the head, the deity in this temple is found extending the right hand outside the body of Adisheshan. A sage is seen supporting the hand by his head.

Legend:

  • The Perumal here is Veeraraghava Perumal and he is capable of curing diseases so he is called “Vaithiya Veeraraghavan”.
  • The god married the Thaayar, who borne in this sthalam as the daughter of King Dharmasenan and was named as “Vasumathi”.
  • There is another legend that Lord Shiva got rid of his Brahmahathi Dosha after worshipping Lord Vishnu in this sthala. There is a small Shrine for Lord Shiva in this temple premises.

For more details on timing and other, click here.

Happy visiting !