Sunday, November 29, 2009

Places, unvisited

I have lived in three (or four) cities so far and I have noticed that there are a few places around in each that I thought would be nice to visit, but never visited in spite of all the time that I was there. All this dawns late. Leave alone other places or states where I sightsee, the cities where I lived in are ignored probably because of familiarity which is captured in the adage 'Familiarity breeds contempt'.

The textile city, Coimbatore has its share with probably Siruvaani ranking at the top and maybe Thadaagam and Anaikatti following close. Coimbatore has the sweetest water that I have ever tasted. That comes in from the Siruvaani reservoir around 30+ kms from Coimbatore. The problem with soft water is in bathing, as the soap seems to love the water so much and doesn't wash off. :)The closest I was to there was a wonderful childhood trip to Alaanthurai, a village on the banks of the Noyyal river (Does it run still, at least in season?) which is on the way to Siruvaani. Thadaagam (Anuvavi Subramaniar Temple) is there because of stories told by one of my primary school classmates about that place (memories in stone about a Murugan (Subramanya) temple, lots of steps to climb and the mendicants et al) and Anaikatti (a forest reserve) are places that I saw only on bus-boards when at school, but still loved them for the Calvinesque flights of fantasy. Those places are inside forests and are elephant territory. The Anaikatti mountain range was visible from our home and it's peak always was a point of intrigue to me. Beyond Anaikatti after around 40 kms comes the Silent Valley range in Kerala.

The temple city, Madurai has a few on my list including the Thirumalai Naik Mahal. The place which finds a presence in Maniratnam's Bombay (the song, Kannaalaney in Tamil/Kehena Hai Kya in Hindi). I don't know if the place is good or bad, but having been in Madurai for a long time, that is a black mark. Never visited the Alanganallur Jallikattu, which finds its name in the papers in January and is Tamil Nadu's equivalent of the Spanish bullfight, but with bulls let loose on a crowd of bull-fighters. I side with PETA, but this is something that I think that flavours Madurai as a region. Maybe irrelevant, but I haven't seen Subramaniyapuram, the movie. For all its gore, the movie seems to have recreated the Madurai of yore very authentically. The beautiful temples around Madurai, like Thirumoghur or Thiruvaadhavur. These two temples were close to where I lived but I have visited Thirumoghur only once and loved the raw mango that had fallen on the prakaaram. Another is the campus of Madurai Kamaraj University. I never even ventured in that direction. :-( And the biggest of them all, I have never seen the Chithirai Thiruvizha (Chitra Festival), in person, a gala 12 day event that concludes in the marriage of Meenakshi, the Goddess Supreme of Madurai. The legend has it that Sundareswarar and Meenakshi (incarnations of Shiva and Parvati) are getting married at Madurai which is visited by all Gods. Sundararaja Perumal (an incarnation of Vishnu), who is the brother of Meenakshi comes from his abode (the Azhagar Kovil temple at the foothills of Azhagar Malai) around 20 kms from Madurai to give her hand in marriage. He grants boons to all those whom he sees, being so happy at the marriage of his sister as he comes towards Madurai and therefore gets delayed. This phase is called Edhir Sevai (Reception Welcome, crudely translated) which is a celebration as the procession winds to the city stopping at the many mantapams that have been erected all along the route. As he enters Vaigai river to cross it, he hears that the marriage is over (Meenakshi being given in hand to Sundareswarar by Koodal Azhagar, another incarnation of Vishnu) before he reaches the venue and turns back. The crowds are seen to be believed. Meenakshi Amman temple is always a joy to visit for the architecture and the vastness of the temple and the streets around. Look at the base of any of the Gopurams and look skyward at the towers and you realize how significant you are in the scheme of things.

My adopted city(!) Thanjavur, the rice-bowl of Tamil Nadu, to which I love my visits anytime more than anybody else at home :-). I haven't yet been to Saraswathi Mahal library there or to Thiruvaiyaaru for the Rama temple. There are lots of places around there which are worth a visit. Have visited a lot of them, but there are always hidden gems. Drive out of Thanjavur along the Cauvery belt and it looks green-washed (like Mandya near Mysore). Acres and acres of paddy and winding roads through it. Green swamp after swamp. Visited Siththannavaasal, famed for its wall paintings, near Pudukottai, sometime back. The place was good and remote, but marred at places by vandals scribbling their name on the rocks or the all-too-common "I love you"s which has led the Archaeological Department to cordon off sections of the cave. We don't know how to preserve history. :-( But to ASI's credit, you should see the Brihadeeswarar Temple in the night or evenings. So gloriously lit and it looks ethereal from the prakaarams around. The temple gopuram is clothed in a color that reflects beautifully off the aged colored stones that form the temple. On pournamis (full moon days), it is so lovely that I don't have words.

Bangalore/Bengaluru. City of my first breath. I am all so comfortable with South Bangalore, visited most of the places with very few exceptions, but the other 3 directions almost draw a blank except for passing through when we go somewhere or to visit some distant relations once in a blue-moon. Long list of "should be visited" here. The Visveswarayya Museum (in spite of all complaints about non-maintenance), watching a cricket match at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, visiting the Nehru Planetarium, take a leisurely walk on the Mahatma Gandhi Road end to end. My office abuts M G Road, but the times I walk along M G Road are not leisurely at all. Now even more messier because of the Metro Rail work. And there is the Cubbon Park, Ramohalli banyan tree, Nrityagram at Hesaraghatta. A few random visits towards Malleswaram, Rajajinagar. Went to an office outing yesterday in North Bangalore on the Tumkur Road and the city has changed and how!. I don't know how the people in those areas cope, but it is a mess with all kinds of construction. I used to travel the leg towards Tumkur (almost 60 kms one way) for my final semester project at TVS Electronics and it used to be a lovely and smooth ride. Now it an awful crawl.

One thing I have figured out from all this is that I seem to love temples and forests. :-) So, more kshetraadanam (pilgrimage) in store for me later.

All copyrights for photos duly acknowledged.


Swaram said...

Oh this serves as a ready reckoner if we visit these places :)
I have seen the first three places mentioned, but only the main temples. The last I visited Coimbatore there was when in school - just transit when we were travelling from Kodai to Mysore. My aunt stays there and we plan to visit sometime soon. Shud make it a point to visit the places u have mentioned.

Bangalore, I have roamed around each and every corner. So, u must have already visited the Bull temple and Gavi Gangadareswera temple in Bangalore. Another one worth seeing is the Dakshina mukha Nandi teertha in Malleswaram where water from the mouth of the Nandi falls directly on the Siva Linga. Vijay vittala temple in Nelmangala is very nice :)

gils said...

hey nice post...blore kita sriranganathar temple onnu irukku..chk for tht ...nice one it is..aprum sawan durga nu oru rock climbin plc an chakaleshpurnu inoru trekkin spot iruku..chk thm too

savitha said...

Nice recollection,there....
There are a lots of places around Kovai. Athirampalli falls, kallaru and lots others....These places are abound in nature's beauty, try going there, if possible, too!!

RamMmm said...

@Swaram - Shall go the Malleswaram temple some time. I have seen it, gone close to it, but never entered it. :-( The Nelamangala temple was visited arond 3-4 years back and maybe a good time again to visit. Nice place. I dread the traffic on Tumkur Road now as I saw it in person on Friday. :-( The park behind Bull temple is one of my favs. Lots of memories there and just across the park, is my parents' house. Basavanagudi is home, almost :-)

And Swaram, these are places left unvisited in the cities mentioned. The 'visit' list surely is long. Coimbatore has a lot of places around. I can recollect only temples. :) Perur (Shiva temple), Marudhamalai (Subramanya temple), Kamakshi Amman temple (the Goddess there just shines, as they call, significant Tejas) etc. I need to jog my memory for more.

RamMmm said...

@gils - Are you referring to Srirangapatnam, close to Mysore (Aadhi Ranga)? There is the Ranganathaswamy temple on the way to Shivanasamudram falls (Madhya Ranga). I have also been to the Anthya Ranga, which is nothing but Srirangam, Trichy.

There is also a ancient Vishnu temple at Mallur near Channapatna on the B'lore-Mysore highway. This temple is famous for the Ambey Kaal Krishna (thavazhum krishna) in addition to the main deity, Aprameya Swamy/Aravindhavalli Thaayar. Beautiful place. This is where Purandaradaasa sang the 'Jagadhodhaarana, Adisithaley Yashodha' song.

Savandurga, should be yes, and good for a real climb. Think it is close to Tumkur and can be finished in a day.

Sakleshpur, maybe one day for that walk on the railway tracks through the forest near to Kukke. That trek is out of the world, from the photos that I have seen and I have driven from Kukke Subramanya to Sakleshpur through Bisle ghats. My hair stands on end as I recollect that. What a trip!!!

Thanks for pointing out. Lemme see.

RamMmm said...

@Savitha - Athirampalli, Interestingly the song that was on the car audio before I landed at office was 'Enna saththam indha neram' from Punnagai Mannan. Somehow haven't visited there. I have not visited Kallaru. Is it on the Kerala side or the Mettupalayam-Ooty road?

There is also the Isha Yoga center (Velliangiri) on the way to Siruvaani.

Maybe a visit to all these places can be scheduled if I make it to Coimbatore some time. Have a few relatives over there.

Swaram said...

Oh wow! Ur parents stay in such a beautiful place :)

RamMmm said...

:-) Almost everything you want at a stone's throw away. :-D

Srivats said...

Lovely collection I think I have been to few places mentioned but not all, would keep it in my mind. Madurai mahal!! awww kannalaney song dhaan gyaabagam varudhu ;P

The soap and water thing, I guess its hard water with different ph level :P

RamMmm said...

Kannalaney song was wonderful. Only certain directors are able to get the best of music directors and Maniratnam is the best example. Look at his movies under Ilaiyaraaja or A R Rahman. He gets wonderful music out of them.

:-) back to Chemistry days :-)
More dissolved minerals in hard water (Mg+, Ca+), but less of it in soft water and Na+ instead of Mg+ and Ca+. Looked up Wikipedia and then transported to what was done in 12th std (or was it in grad 1st year?), like titration, molarity etc etc. :-)

Nicholas Ferns said...

Able to see these places through your description. Quite vivid and have been to Anuvavi Subramania koil, Anaikatti, 2 years stayed at Alandurai, cause i studied at Karunya Institute. Sweet memories. The water was so soft, chill and sweet at Kovai courtrallam