In the 7th century by the Pallava King, Narasimha varman I, also known as Mamalla, "Great Wrestler", this spectacular site, situated on the Bay of Bengal, extends across a boulder strewn landscape and comprise rock cur caves and monolithic shrines structural temples and huge bas-reliefs that are considered the greatest examples of Pallava art. The stone-carving tradition that created these wonders is still alive in the many workshops scattered around the village.
The Spectacular Shore Temple, perched dramatically on a promontory by the sea, has survived the ravages of time and erosion. It was built by mamalla for vishnu, while the two shiva shrines were added by Mamalla's Successor Narashima Varman II. The Temple has a low boundary wall, with rows of seated nandis surrounding it. Placed inside are a reclining Vishnu a 16- Faceted polished linga and reliefs of somaskanda composite form of shiva with his consort parvati and sons Skanda and Ganesha
There is a sculpture museum where the visitors could see thousands of sculptures by the local artisans who work with rocks, metal, brass, wood and cement. This is a renowned beach resort. Luxurious accommodations are available on the beach front.
The early morning is the best time to walk around the site, especially for the best light on Bhagiratha's Penance. There are now plenty of budget hotels and breezy beachside cafes. Mamallapuram occupies an important position being one of the most visited historic sights of South India. The sculptures here illustrate stories from mythology and illustrate the development of South Indian (Dravidian) temple style.
Chidambaram or Thillai, a holy place for saivaites holds the famous Nataraja Temple of the cholas dedicated to Lord Nataraja. It is a unique piligrim centre devoted to Bharatanatyam where shiva is represented by an idol rather than the customary Lingam.
The temple is distinguished by five sachas with the eastern gopuram 40.8 m high, the western gopurm 42.4m high and with a total area of 40 acres. The idol is installed in the Kanaka Sabha with gold-plated roof shrines dedicated to Ganesha, Subramanya and Lord Vishnu are also seen.
Gangaikondacholapuram was once the capital of the Chola King Rajendra-I. The temple, 35km north of Kumbakonam, was built by the Chola Emperor Rajendra I (1012-44 A.D) in the style of (land with the same name as) the Brihadiswara Temple at Tanjavur, built by his father. The mandapa and sanctuary are raised on a high platform, oriented west to east and climbed by steps.
At the centre of the shrine is a huge lingam on a round stand. Later additions were made in the 15th century by the Nayaks. The ornate tower is almost 55m high and is said to weigh 80 tonnes. Opposite, to the east, a huge Nandi sits looking back towards the tower. Within the recesses of the temple walls stand many beautiful statues, including those of Ganesh, Nataraja and Harihara. The whole site has now been restored. It is well worth visiting, (temple opens at 6am to noon & 4pm to 8-30pm)
Thanjavur (200 kms. south of Pondicherry), the most enchanting district, reputed as the 'Rice Bowl' of TamilNadu, is well known for holding magnificent creations and temples. As the capital of the Cholas, it rose to dizzying heights becoming the centre of Tamil learning and culture. The Tamil University, situated here is devoted to the growth of Tamil literature.
The Brahadeeshwarar temple or the Big Temple, built by Raja Raja Chola is a finest contribution to Dravidian temple architecture. Upholding it's uniqueness, the temple has the 64.'8m tall, 14 tiered pyramid shaped Vimanam soaring high which the gopuram remains stunted. The Vimanam is topped by a huge monolithic cupolas carved out from an 81.3 tonne block of granite, characterised in such a way that the shadow of the cupolas never falls on the ground. The gigantic Mahalingam and the massive second largest monolithic Nandi in the counry keep the "bigness" of the temple. Adjacent to it, is the Palace holding Raja Raja Chola Art Gallery(stone & bronze sculptures), Saraswathi Mahal Iibrary(bver 30,000 Indian and European manuscripts) and the Sangeetha Mahal. The Schwartz Church, built in honour of revered Schwartz of Denmark, present East of the palace also adds glory.
Tanjore (or Thanjavur or Thanjavoor) paintings have a very rich heritage. This style of painting has been followed widely by the people in Southern Tamil Nadu for the past two centuries. The art flourished in Tanjavoor, pronounced Tanjore, the capital city of the Chola dynasty, and thus got its name. Maratha princes, Nayaks of Vijaynagar dynasty, Rajus communities of Tanjore and Trichi and Naidus of Madurai patronized the art of Tanjore painting from 16 to 18th centuries. Tanjore paintings are deeply rooted in tradition and still innovative within limits. This art is sacred and dedicated.The paintings are notable for their adornment in the form of semi-precious stones, pearls, glass pieces and gold. The rich vibrant colors, dashes of gold, semi-precious stones and fine artistic work are characteristics of these paintings.
The small town of Dharasuram is 4km west of Kumbakonam. Its Airateswara Temple, built by Raja Raja II (1146-63), is a superb example of 12th century Chola Architecture. The temple is fronted by columns with unique miniature sculptures. In the 14th century, the row of large statues around the temple was replaced with brick and concrete statues similar to those found at the Tanjavur Temple.
Many were removed to the art gallery in the Raja's Palace at Tanjavur, but have since been returned to Dharasuram. The remaining empty niches are awaiting their replacements. The remarkable sculptures depict, among other things, Shiva as Kankalamurti - the mendicant. Stories from the epics are also depicted by the sculptures. At the main shrine, a huge decorated lingam stands, the natural light illuminating it from sunrise to sunset.
Kumbakonam is one of the most important temple cities in India. It is the second biggest town in Tanjore district. It is identified with many ancient temples. Kumbeswarar temple is a Saivaite temple which is situated in the heart of the town. Mahamagam festival is celebrated once in 12 years during the Tamil month of Masi (February-March) is an important festival of this town. During this festival, lakhs of pilgrim gather at kumbakonam and take a holy bath in the sacred Mahamagam tank which is in the centre of the town.
There are about 40 temples in and around Kumbakonam. The nine navagraha temples are at the reachable distance from Kumbakonam. So it is said to be a religious town. Kumbakonam is also famous for textile industiy especially in silk and famous for manufacturing Brass Pooja articles and utensils. It is famous for its Kuthuvilakku, statues in Brass and stainless utensils also. Kumbakonam betelnuts & Suparis are famous throughout of Tamilnadu.
Kumbakonam Arts College is one of the best colleges in Tamil Nadu. It was considered as "The Cambridge Of South India". It is here the famous Mathematician Ramanujam studied.
The Small Temple Town of Kanchipuram, or Kanchi, as it is popularly known is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. From the 6th to the 8th centuries, it was the capital of the pallavas who built numerous temples here and founded universities for higher learning. Roayal Patronage from the succeeding Chola, Pandya and Vijayanagar dynasties further consolidated the city's reputation as a religious and commercial centre.
Kanchipuram is sacred to Shaivites( devotees of Shiva) as well as to vaishnavites ( Worshippers of Vishnu). The town is thus divided into two distinct zones, with the Shaivite temples to the north and the vaishnavite temples to the Southeast.
It also has an important Devi (goddess) temple the Kamakshi Temple situated north east of the bus stand. Dedicated to kamakshi or the "loving-eyed" Parvati, the temple was rebuilt in the 14th Century, during the Vijayanagar Period. It has four colourful gopuras and the main sanctum has a gold-plated roof.
The Kailasanatha Temple to the west of the bus stand, is the oldest and greatest structure in the town. Built in the early 8th century by rajasimha the last great Pallava King, this Shiva temple is surrounded by 58 smaller shrines, each with splendid carvings of the various representations of Shiva. The recently discovered frescose here are the earlist in South India. The Sanctum has a circumambulatory passage with great symbolic meaning seven steps ( indicating seven births) lead to a dark passage and a narow outlet
The Great Ekambaresh vara Temple on car Street, constructed originally by the pallavas, has a 16-pillared mandapa in front of it, was added later by the Vijayanagar Kings. This is one of the five Panchalinga Shrines and houses a linga made of earth legend saya that the goddess Kamakshi as part of her penance for disturbing shiva's meditation created this linga with earth taken from under a mango tree. Lingas abound in the corridors of the temple complex, while on the western side of the shrine standes the sacred mango tree, said to be 3,000 years old.
The Vaikuntha Perumal temple near the railway station, is one of the 18 temples dedicated to Vishnu, erected by Varman II ( 731-96). This unique structure has three main sanctums, built one on top of the other. Each of them enshrines an image of Vishnu in a different form - standing, sitting and reclining. The hall in the lower shrine has panels depicting the genealogy, coronations and martial conquest of the Pallava Kings.
The Varadaraja Temple on Gandhi Road, is the town's main Vishnu temple. The chief deity in the form of Vishnu is known as varadaraja (The "King who Bestows Benediction"). It is believed that the temple stands on the site where Brahma performed a Yagna ( Sacrifice) to invoke Vishnu's presence. Among the temple's jewels, the valuable gold necklace is said to have been presented by Robert Clive. It adorns the deity during the Garuda Festival. Kanchipuram, famous for its silk is also the seat of one of the four Shankaracharyas. They belong to the long line of head priests of the matha (religious centre) founded by the 9th century philosopher-saint Adi Shankaracharya.
Sri Aranganathaswamy temple, situated at Srirangam about 3 kms from the Rock Fort is surrounded by seven concentric walls with 21 gopurams and constructed by the Cheras, Pandyas, Cholas, Hoysalas and Viijayanagars. The temple features a gold-topped sanctum with the largest gopuram in the first wall on the southern side measuring 73m and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Fascinating Bazaars, Brahmin's houses and shoe deposits are seen in & around the fourth wall. Past this, is the information centre, where a panoramic view of the entire complex and a small museum containing sculptures is seen. An annual Car Festival in January and the Vaikunda Ekadasi in mid-December are celebrated.
The fourth largest city in the state was under the rule of the Cholas, Pallavas, Pandyas and finally after its decline in 1565 fell in the hands of theNayaks of Madurai, the Marathas, the Nawabs of Carnatic, the French and finally the British. But Trichy prospered under the Nayaks of Madurai, and is built around the Rock Fort. Also, there are several Churches, Colleges and Missions. The most famous landmark is an 83m high rock, the only outcrop and one of the oldest in the world. A top is the Ucchi Pillayar Koil dedicated to Lord Vinayaka and the Thayumanaswami temple dedicated to Lord Siva.
Still known as Trichy, an abbreviation of its British period name of Trichinopoly, this historical city is in the heart land of Tamilnadu stands on the south bank of the Kaveri River, now it is an important industrial centre.
The tour of Tiruchirapalli described here begins at the great rock that form the focus of the world city. The ascent of the rock ends at a small Ganesa Temple. The rock is sourrounded by crowded streets and shops, with a large tank on the west. The imposing Cathedral of our Lady of Lourdes, a Neo-Gothic church consecrated in 1841, stands on the opposite side of the road.
Meenakshi-Sundareswarar Temple, located at the heart of Madurai is the very centre of the cultural and religious lives of the people of Madurai who wake up at the chant of hymns at the temple. The most important moment in Madurai is the Chitrai Festival in April/May when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareswara is celebrated.
The temple was built by Kulasekara Pandya and later rebuilt by Tirumalai Nayak. It includes 12 gopurams, eight inner and four outer ones. The southern gopuram(48.4m high, with 1500 sculptures) and the Rajagopuram(174 sq.ft.base) are the most spectacular. In the Ashta Shakthi Mandapam.'the sculpted pillars tell the life history of Meenakshi.
Thiruvannamalai located at the foot of the sacred Annamalai or Arunachala Hill is 105 kms from Pondicherry and 185 kms from Chennai. It is one of the most important pilgrim centres in India. Five different temples were dedicated to Lord Shiva for worshipping Him in the form of five elements of nature namely earth, water, wind, fire and ether. The Arunachaleshwara Temple in Thiruvannamalai is one of the Panchabootha Sthalas and Lord Shiva is worshipped here in the form of fire.
Arunachaleswara Temple: The gigantic temple is at the foot of the sacred Annamalai or Arunachala Hill. It is one of the biggest temples in India. Lofty towers of the Arunachaleswara temple, the stucco figures and the carved stone sculptures are as admirable testimony to the Dravidian architecture and the skills of the master craftsmen of the past. The temple is located on a sprawling 25 acre land covering several shrines, Mandapams, corridors and other such enclosures each adorned with massive pillars with sculptures aesthetically carved. A huge hall here has a thousand pillars, each elegantly carved and orderly installed speak of the planning skills of the engineers of the yesteryears. The compound wall of the temple runs to a length of 1320 metres.
The Arunachala Hill and Karthigai Deepam Festival: The 274 feet high hill is considered to be the embodiment of Lord Shiva Himself. According to one legend, Shiva appeared as a column of fire on Arunachala Hill in Thiruvannamalai creating the original symbol of Lingam on Karthigai day in the Tamil month of Karthigai (Mid November - Mid December). To mark the occasion Karthigai Deepam is lighted on that day. The Karthigai Deepam festival though celebrated all over die counTry, has a special significance in this town. The festival is celebrated for 10 days. On the tenth day of the festival which culminates on the full moon day, the Jyothi or huge fire is lit on the hill. It is a great spectacle as well as Sanctic activity to witness the festival, more particularly, the Jyothi. The Jyothi is visible from a distance of 20 kms. The fire symbolises Shiva's light that eradicates the darkness and the evil.
Full moon days,rather nights, every month witnesses religious fervour of devotees from far and near, thronging in hundred of thousands to walk around the Hill through a route of about 14 kms as the faith is that begets boon of prosperity and drives away the evil influences. There are about 360 water resources in the hills. Among them the Brahma Theertham and the Sivagangai Theerdiam in the temple and Agni and Indra Theerthams in the hills are the most important. There are four main Rajagopurams in the four directions. The eastern tower has a height of 65 metres. The three Saivite saints Thriugnanasambandar, Appar and Manickavasagar have sung the glory of the Almighty here. This temple is also linked widi the life of Saint Arunagiri who is the author of "Thiruppugazh" sung in praise of Muruga. There are numerous temples and ashrams including those of Ramana Maharishi and Seshadri Swamigal and 'Guhai Namsivayar Temple and Skandashramam.Tiruvannamalai is also where Sri Ramana Maharishi the famed 20th Century Saint, spent 54 years in meditation. The Sri Ramana maharishi Ashram near Arunachala Hill, is an internationally renowned spiritual centre that attracts devotees from all walks of life It is believed that the Arunachaleswara temple in Thiruvannamalai is a haven for saints and sages.
Gingee is a panchayat town in Villupuram district (erstwhile South Arcot district) in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. The nearest town with a railway station is Tindivanam, 28 km away.Gingee is located between three hills covering a perimeter of 3 km.
Gingee is famous for its Gingee Fort, a popular tourist attraction. The Fort in Gingee was built by the Chola dynasty in 13th century. In 1638, Gingee came under the control of Bijapur Sultanate from Vijayanagar. In 1677, it was under the control of Maratha king Shivaji. In 1690, it changed to be under Mughal, under whose rule it became the headquarters of Arcot. It changed hands to the French in 1750, and then to the British in 1762. In the 18th century, it was occupied again by the French for 11 years. During this time, many sculptural aspects of Gingee were shifted to Pondicherry by the French.
To visit Gingee fort, guides are available from archaeological office which is on the way to the fort. The office is open for visitors from 9:00 to 17:00.
Neyveli is a mining and power generation township in Cuddalore district in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.. It is 52 km west of Puducherry (Pondicherry) and 197 km south of Chennai. The township was developed after mining of lignite started under the Neyveli Lignite Corporation (NLC) in 1956. Today the township covers 53 square kilometres provide around 21,000 houses for the employees.
The Neyveli Lignite Corporation is a public sector enterprise operating out of Neyveli. A large percentage of the thermal power generated in Tamil Nadu comes from the power plants in Neyveli, more than 2500 MegaWatts.
The sight of the huge construction cranes digging dirt to unearth lignite is a sight worth watching. Moreover it is a good place for tourism, with tourist interests being the Afforestaion complex and mining sites. However permission to visit these places is selective. Neyveli has a beautiful eco-friendly park which ranks in the international level, named as "Nehru Park" in Block 8. Many tourists come during their vacations. It has a wonderful airport but incidentally has no commercial flights. The Natarajar Temple has the largest Bronze idol and is the first in Asia. Many natural sceneries are there to visit and it will be worth spending some time here.
Also the Book Fair is the yearly event conducted by the NLC from 1998,with around 200 publishers taking part in the event. Many other related events are conducted like feliciting writers, book discussions, debates, Dramas etc, during the 10 day course of the book fair
Safety Week is a week long event conducted by various departments of the NLC, exhibiting the best practices of Safety to be followed in workplace.