Thursday, March 30, 2006

travel around the south

mar 30th

all this talk about the south reminded me of my plans to travel around and visit temples and other important places in south india. one of these days...

maybe some of you folks can advise me.

1. karnataka. this is my favorite state in the union, for its diverse tourist attractions: the temples, coorg, the karavalli coastline, the game sanctuaries, etc.

i have been to belur/halebid and i enjoyed the beauty of the temples even though they were desecrated by mohammedans.

i really liked the kollur mookambika temple in the western ghats near mangalore.

i have been to hampi/vijayanagar and i had tears in my eyes about the wanton destruction visited upon what was the largest and richest city in the world.

i have been planning to go to badami/pattadakkal/aihole but i guess the only good time to go is in the winter, is that true? i went to hampi in december and it was still quite hot then. what is a good time to go to that part of karnataka?

one of these days i think i'll drive up the malabar coast to the konkan coast to goa, or maybe take the konkan railroad.

2. tamil nadu. i have been to a number of temples, and my favorite temple of all is chidambaram. liked srirangam and tiruvannamalai and kanchipuram and madurai meenakshi, but chidambaram -- that's special. also liked kodaikanal and auroville. i have enjoyed driving in the southern districtsnear madurai, off the beaten tracks, on the smaller highways.

3. andhra. i have only been to hyderabad and tirupati, but would like to go to the buddhist ruins in amaravati as well as to kalahasti for the (water?) lingam. any other suggestions?


Kaunteya said...

Hi Rajeev,
As luck may have it, i will be visiting Cochin next month.
This will be my first time in Kerela. I will stay put for about a month there.

Any words of wisdom for my visit to "God's own country"?

I was looking at the official website

Not surprisingly it talks a lot of Churches to visit.

Periyar wildlife it seems is around 5-6 hrs from there... I was hoping to go there... But not sure since i will have only weekends for myself..

Can Kerelites on this forum help me with food that i should try? Anything in Veg ?

Ragz said...

In Andhra:

Nagarjuna Konda -- Buddhist Center
Annavaram -- Satyanaraya Swamy
Mantralayam -- Raghavendra Swamy
Chandragiri Fort -- Capital of Vijayanagara Empire?

I haven't been to any of these places, just heard and read about them.

Hari said...

Nov-Jan is the best time to visit any of north/north-interior Karnataka. But the climate will be similar to what you felt in Hampi in December. I grew up in Hospet (near Hampi) and that was cold for us :)
I do not know when (which year) you visited Hampi. In the recent years a lot of new temples and such that were escavated. I heard it is worth a visit (its been 8+ years since my last visit to Hampi; so I have not seen them myself).

If you have not been to Sringeri, Gokarna and/or Dharamasthala, I am sure you will like them.


lazysusan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
KapiDhwaja said...

Rajeev, Kalahasti in Andhra is Shiva in the form of 'Vayu' lingam. Great temple. While there, visit the Patala Vinayaka temple within the Shiva temple precincts. In Andhra also visit Bhadrachalam Sri Rama temple, and take bath in the Godavari flowing nearby. Then there is Srisailam Shiva temple near Hyderabad, made famous by Adi Sankara's visit and composing of poems in honor of the deity.

In Tamil Nadu, my favorite Shiva temple is Chidambaram too. I especially like it when those 2 massive Temple bells ring during pooja and arathi for the Lord six times a day. Then visit Trichy Tiruvanaikaval Shiva temple where the Lord is in the form of 'Water' Lingam. One of the best temples constructed by the Cholas architecturally.

Then about within 100 kms from there, go to Tiruvarur Shiva temple. You won't beleive the size and grandeur of this temple. There are so many other ancient, great Shiva temples in Tamil Nadu, that it would probably take years to visit all of them.

I'll let you know more as I start recollecting.

In Karnataka, do visit Sringeri Sharada Peetam, installed by Adi Sankara. I haven't been there, I believe the whole place is lush green.

bodhi dharma said...

Sree Kala Hasti = The lingam has Shiva (sree) , Kalasarpa (kala), Elephant (hasti).
Visiting Kala-hasti is supposed to reduce the Kala-sarpa dhosham. (This dhosham cannot be eliminated but only be reduced - it's a dhosham due to previous birth's papams.) It's the only temple in S. India for the purpose.

Yeah kerala hindus are slowly getting ethnically cleansed by the terroriizing so-called minority communities. hindus and their temples are not important for the present rulers who practice aparthied.

From cochin, Chottanikkara devi temple is nearby. It'll be a good experience. Guruvayoor would be 3 hrs from there. Down south, Chakkulathukavu devi (here there is a week-long yaagam next month) , Mannarassala in Harippad, Sree Padmanabha temple, Attukal bhagavathi, Thozhuvancode devi, Sivagiri etc.
visit the temples section in

Try the hindu sadya for lunch. available in most restaurants, ask for 'oon' as in noon without first n. Enjoy the Dosa, idli, puttu, or appam for breakfast.

Kaunteya said...

Thanks a lot bodhi dharma.

KapiDhwaja said...

Kaunteya, if you plan to visit Guruvayoor Sri Krishna temple, then don't forget to visit the great Shiva temple at Thrisoor where Adi Sankara's parents prayed for a child. If you have time, you can also visit the 3 Shiva temples installed by Sage Parashurama which is probably within 100 kms from Cochin. I assure you, if you take this trip, you will be amazed at the sheer greenery of the woods near these 3 temples.

bodhi dharma said...

oh I forgot some good kerala items-
1)tapioca curry ('kappa') - it would be good with fish curry. otherwise also you could have.

2)try rice porridge (kanji) ,prepared with coconut milk and payar (green moong dal?) and mango pickle.

for snacks try banana fry (vazhakka appam) or banana chips or onion vada with tea would love them

someone said...

You might also want to take a look at Baba budangiri, the Ayodhya of Karnataka. I try to read up more about it, but information appears to be so sparse, especially on the net.

It's probably best to visit Hampi in october, worst to visit in may. One thing I remember about visiting Hampi as a kid and, in fact, a lot of ancient temples I visited, is how all faces, and sometimes hands, of the idols and sculptures had been hacked off. That's vicious. The official lines go that "miscreants" did that to the sculptures, but we all know who the "miscreants" were. But as a kid I used to think it was one of us who did that, probably due to carelesness of the locals and government officials. That's one of the main bad effects of not writing the truth about history - not only do you not know about the crimes committed against your ancestors, you actually blame your *ancestors* for those crimes. For eg, you look at the poverty in India and think we were always like this. But this is probably stuff for another post.

Kaunteya said...

Thanks KapiDwaja,

I am actually looking at spending time on the beech. A couple of drinks and gold-flake. :-) That used to be my brand during hostel days...

Thanks bodhi dharma, for all the delicacies you mentioned.. will certainly try most of them..

KapiDhwaja said...

Beach is good Kaunteya. You defintely want to rent a house-boat to gently float around the beautiful back-waters of kerala. The boatman would catch fish & cook you a meal too if you prefer. And yes, you can take your drinks & Gold Flake to the boat too.:-)
Beware that there are crocs in a lot of backwaters in Kerala.

Madhwa said...

When you visit Karnataka, don't forget to visit Udipi! Udipi is known for its famed Krishna temple established by Madhwacharya. I am not sure whether you will good Masala dosas and idlis in Udipi itself as all the cooks that the mutt churns are all serving in hotels outside Udipi :-)

Nagaraj said...

In Karnataka, I would recommend the Narasimha temple in Melkote near Mysore. Another little known temple is that of Krishna in Malur (not the one in Kolar district) but this town is on the way to Mysore from Bangalore. Purandaradasa is said to have sung/composed the famous song "Jagoddhadharana" in this temple. Srirangapatna and Somnathpur are also close to Mysore and worth visiting. Gokarna, a very important Shaivite centre can also be covered when doing the rounds of Udupi.

Kaunteya, when in Kochi, please do visit Kaladi, the birth place of Shankara. Sringeri Mutt has done an excellent job of maintaining the place now. Sringeri Mutt also runs a Vedic pathashala there and being from Bangalore I was pleasantly surprised to find people with whom I could converse in Kannada there!

chandramahal said...

Hints aplenty for a 'kshetraadanam' for both Nizhal Yoddha and Kauntaneya have been provided.

I hope both of them will have an enjoyable and pious holiday.

Welcome to South Indian Holy places!

KapiDhwaja said...

May the Govt. of India sponsor Rajeev and Kaunteya on their 'Hajj'.

EkSh00nyaSh00nya said...

I know its bit-off tangent, but came across this link on Rediff.

Interesting thoughts and pearls of wisdoms from the GREAT Aamir Khan on the media as well as its (positive) treatment of Gujarat riots and the Jessica Lall murder case...

Where else (but on the Congi mouthpiece and the leading bastion of 'sickularism'):

Some excerpts (straight from the horse's mouth):

The media coverage of the Gujarat riots or Jessica Lall would definitely be positive examples. ....

But very often the media fails to be intrusive or take the lead in the stories where it should do so. Take the Varanasi blasts for instance. Here, I want to speak at two levels. Being a Muslim, it is very sad that people — I’m not quite sure, has it been established who’s done it?
--(As always a speculation when its crystal clear even to a moron to as to what forces were behind the blasts)

An act by one Hindu or Muslim or Christian should not be read as what the community feels.

Having said that, I would also like to say that we really should find out who is behind it. And I find it a little surprising that irrespective of which blast it is or of what magnitude, I realise that somehow authorities very conveniently find one or two people within two hours or within one or two days of the incident and kill that person in a shootout or something like that. What I want to know is why can’t they do that before.... (---Sure they can if your Muslim brethrens don't create a ruckus or raise a lot of hue-and-cry whenever the law wants to take its own course like when Gujarat Police landed in Hyderabad to arrest some (Mulsim) criminal)

This is the same guy, whom I had mentioned in one of my earlier comments,realized that he was a Muslim only after the Babri Masjid demolition...(Aamir's interview with Hindi newspaper Jagran)

Kaunteya said...

KapiDwaja, i am being sponsored by my company for this "Hajj".. so won't bother our govt for that...:-)

100, why do you even care to go to sites like tehelka... ? Aren't IE,TOI,The Hindu et al enough to boil your blood.. that you choose other channels ?

Actually this f$^^#ing joker -Amir Khan - [some call him actor] - is having the best,life has to offer, in India. I guess Rajeev mentioned how it is lucky to be an 'Indian Muslim', sorry muslim born in India, with the state pampering you no end.
And if you happen to be a rich muslim, then that's it. You are the king.

I wonder how much collective wealth the Muslim population in India has? I am sure it must not be very less than the entire wealth of Hindus. Considering they are 13% of our population, it's quite an amount then.

nizhal yoddha said...

thanks, folks, for the many suggestions!

yes, kalahasti -- that sounds like one to add to my itinerary. i have seen the fire linga at tiruvannamali, the ether linga at chidambaram, and the earth linga at kanchipuram; now for the water and air lingas!

nogchidambaram, thillai, the site of the celestial dance of siva, this is where manikyavachakar ("he whose words were as rubies") lived too. he was the greatest of the bhakti saints as far as i know, and when he died, his soul merged with the deity in chidambaram.

i was in udipi when i went to the kollur mookambika temple. i went to the udipi woodlands, licking my chops, anticipating the best idlis and dosas in the universe. my uncle who had been there told me to tone down my expectations. and so it was, the madras woodlands and saravana bhavan have better idlis, dosas and sambar! the udipi sambar was thin and slightly sweet. darn! i was mighty disappointed. must be as madhva says, the good cooks are all gone. to sunnyvale, etc.

but i tell you, i love karnataka. mark my words, it will be india's biggest tourist attraction in future. awesome place. in addition to everything else, they have hampi ('a teardrop on the face of time') and shravanabelagola.

i haven't been to sringeri or gokarna, i will have to remember them. i guess i'll have to spend a few months wandering about to visit all these places. my friend a sent me a long list of temples as well. btw, my old acquaintance kannikeswaran has a terrific website on the temples of south india,

to kaunteya, get on a riverboat from alappuzha and get down to kollam. a long trip but worth it. then spend the night at acquaserene near kollam. this is a rs. 2,500 a night backwater-beach resort which is as good as the much-hyped and more expensive places in kumarakom. as for beaches, head down to varkala or kovalam and hang out there, or poovar island near kovalam. and i agree with bodhi dharma, eat standard hindu sadyas. with 10+ accompaniments, on a banana leaf, these are finger-licking good. if you get invited to a wedding sadya you may even get 3 payasams!

madhva, i meant to suggest to you, there is no 'w' sound in any indian language. it's better to say 'madhva'. if you live in the us for any length of time, you realize there's a big difference between 'v' and 'w' that indians just cannot hear.

pennathur, i think girish karnad is the jawaharlal nehru of kannada literature. :-) heavily overrated and a big-time self-promoter.

malayalam reached its peak in the 1970s. there arent that many good writers still around. there is m mukundan who's really good, mt vasudevan nair, sethu, the self-promoter zachariah, et al, but you're right, the stalwarts are gone. but wipe that sneer off your face, pennathur, about lowbrow writers. you couldnt get much higher-brow than ov vijayan, who for my money was the best writer in india. certainly he was the greatest fabulist and the most versatile writer of 20th century india.

hari, i stayed in hospet when i went to hampi. first day, i went in style in a tourist taxi, and paid rs. 750. next day, i went by bus and paid rs. 5 :-) to go from hospet to hampi. and hampi was hot with the sun beating down on the rocks. i went in dec 2003 or so. i definitely wont go in the summer months. i would like to go to badami some winter. the unesco funds had been used to spruce up the place and a lot of the archaelogical treasures are now fenced off and exhibited nicely. i would suggest to every one of you, go to hampi. see what barbarians do to civilization. and weep.

god, there's so much to see in india!

Sriram_A said...

Hi Rajeev,
Please do visit these temples n TN if you get a chance. Has a lot of history behind it.
1) Rajagopala Swamy temple in Mannargudi, Thanjavur. The stahala purana says that Lord Krishna reenacted all his leelas for the sake of two Rishis. ( They had walked all the way from TN to Dwaraka to see him could not as Dwapara Yuga had already ended by then and the avatar completed).
2) Sri Rama temple at Thillaivilagam, Thanjavur District.
There is not utsava idol in this temple. The main deity is made of Panchaloha. The idols are so lifelike that even the nails, joints and nerves can be clearly seen on Sri Ramas hands and legs. Also the arrow in the Lords hand is shaped like the Chandra and this is very special as only on two occassions does the Lord use this arrow. One to kill Kakasura and the other to kill ravana. Also, Lord Hanuman is very powerful here as he is standing next to Mother Sita (As opposed to standing next to Lakshmana elsewhere) and gains supreme strength from her. There is also a Shiva temple adjacent to this temple and I suspect it is very ancient. The temple is not visited by many and needs funds for renovation.
3) Sri Rama temple at Vaduvur, Thanjavur District. The sthala purana says that when Sri Rama was on his way back to Ayodhya he stayed with some Rishis around this area. The Rishis were so enamoured by the Lord that they refused to let him leave. The Lord then created an image of himself and asked the Rishis to choose. The Rishis were so mesmerised by the idol of the Lord that they chose the idol.
3) Navapashanam (Nava Graha) at devipattinam, Rameshwaram. Here the Navagrahas are sumberged in the sea and can be seen only during low tide. The sthala purana says about this temple that Rama and Lakshmana prayed to the Navagrahas after their return from Lanka.
4) Vaitheeswaran Temple, Thanjavur. This temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva as the supreme doctor. An interesting thing about this temple is that there is a Jatayu kundam. It is here that Lord Rama cremated Jatayu.

There are many other such ancient and wonderful temples in and around this place. Hope you or anyone visiting the vicinity gets a chance to see these wonderful temples. Also, proves beyond doubt the historicity of Ramayana. The entire path of Lord Ramas travel from Ayodhya to Lanka and back as described by Valmiki Ramayana is dotted with Lord Ramas temples.


EkSh00nyaSh00nya said...

>>100, why do you even care to go to sites like tehelka... ?

Kaunteya, as I mentioned in my post I came across the Tehelka link on Rediff and as such it piqued my interest as to what (to borrow your words) this f*****g joker might have to say this time, I guess I kinda knew as to what this moron might grand-stand or pontificate about, and as for your suggestion why do I even care to go to the 'sickular' media sites, I occassionally (very rarely indeed) visit them as people like you and me (and fellow posters on this forum) already are aware of their mental servitude, but more tha that I wanna know what are they planning for the next round, and to quote Sun Tzhu (the famed ancient Chinese war strategist):

"Know thy enemy"

or as Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino in Godfather III) said:

"My father taught me to keep your friends close but your enemies closer"


Hey Nizhal Yoddhha, did you notice my style--it has been altered so that you don't have hard time understanding (thats what you complined about) and I had posted my response (in Saudi Missile post) to your comment and I am still waiting to hear from you!

KapiDhwaja said...

I recently read about the great 16th century saint/writer Appaya Dikshitar, though I have heard of him and his equally famous nephew Neelakanta Dikshitar before. Appaya Dikshitar also merged with Lord Shiva at Chidambaram.

Kaunteya said...

thanks Rajeev, this info was of far greater worth than all the websites i am visiting. Though i must add that the websites maintained by Kerela Govt are quite professional in their look and feel.

one of my colleague who's joining me for this trip is insisting on visiting Taj Mahal in Agra. I said no - point blank.

Can't blame him. He has been brainwashed into believing that Taj is all that is to India.
{BTW, one must never visit Taj in summers. You will hate yourself for coming there in that scorching heat]

I also feel that the North-Eastern region of our country must be the most beautiful. Never been there. And not sure if people actually go to Meghalaya,Nagaland,Mizoram for tourism. But i think that region will beat any other region.
I am hoping Kerela will prove me wrong :-)

100, point taken.

EkSh00nyaSh00nya said...

Kaunteya, do visit Kerala, its very beautiful ... lush green, dunno whether its still that way...I visited it thrice--starting in 93 with 97 being my last trip and I really enjoyed being there, the first time I saw the ocean (Kovalam beach was considered one of the finest beaches in the world at that time) and the people I came across were nice too, the Thiruananthapuram area I went to had a nostalgic feel about it with the way the buildings, houses were built and it felt like I was experiencing a time bygone...

averageindian said...


You are indeed blessed to go on this tour. Have a wonderful trip.

I have had fortune to visit many temples in TN (by the grace of God and the foresight of my parents). TN has over 35000 temples! My suggestion in TN, if you have not visited the other "pancha bootha" stalams, I recommend those -- Thiruvanaika(water - near Thiruchy), Sri Kalahasti (air - near Tirupathi), Thiruvanamalai (fire - about 4 hours from Chennai, also has Sri Ramana Maharishi's ashram), Sri Ekambareshwarar (earth - Kanchipuram).

It is my earnest desire to visit all the temples accross India as (Bharanidharan or Marina did and wrote "Punidha Bharatham"), during my lifetime.

Average Indian

Madhwa said...

Hi Rajeev!
As for lip smacking Dosas and Idlis, there is no other place on earth than Bangalore! All the Udipi cooks are in Bangalore, the desi silicon valley :-) The Darshinis of bangalore beat Saravana Bhavas of Chennai hands down any time! By the way, the wood lands in Chennai is run by Udipi guys. I have been there. They still speak in chaste Mangalore kannada :-)

As for name Madhwa, the 'w' in it comes from the way Madhwacharya is spelled in English. I just adopted the first part of it as my handle.

Please do visit, if you want to know more about Dwaitha philosophy; Very informative indeed.....

nizhal yoddha said...

yes, yes, 100, you're a good boy. you get a gold star for effort.

we 'celebrity columnists' have to preserve our bhav. so unless you say something very interesting we celebrities dont respond. you had discovered that stephen cohen is a prize ass. this is well known and not worth commenting on. cohen is a pakistani stooge who's trotted out as america's "greatest 'south asia' expert". i'm sure he's making a lot of money from the pakistanis (that is saudi money laundered by pakistanis).

chandramahal said...

Manakyavasagar might have attained mukti and merged with the Lord at Chidambaram-but most of his career was in Madurai.

There are lots and lots of stories about him associated with this city.

Why. some of the episodes in his life--such as transformation(and retransformation) of Foxes into horses--are still enacted in the festivals of this place annually.

But you have already visited Madurai and may not be thinking of going there again

averageindian said...

Nizhal Yodha,

Since you like Chidambaram, I thought you will find the following link interesting.

BTW, the temple puranas states that Nandanar and Manikavachacar both went to heaven in body and soul, from Chidambaram.

-- Average Indian

pennathur said...


Jayakantan is still around and in full form as ever. And if I am not mistaken he is a good caricaturist as well (OV Vijayan compared). Unlike OVV who chose magical realism Jayankantan has stayed well within conventional narrative to produce some particularly hard hitting stuff. He wrote, scripted and directed Ennai Pol Oruvan in the early 70s very subaltern stuff ran for all of a week before the theares pulled it. Today's directors writing about "life itself" shd watch that movie. Tamizh is interesting in it it has no tradition of subaltern literature. There surely cannot be any popular language like Tamizh that has such a sharp contrast between its literary and colloquial forms. Further many TamizhargaL cannot pronounce Tamizh correctly the zh usually turns into L (as in MalayaLam). That's for another day.

pennathur said...

Here's Jerry Rao on Jayakanthan.

KapiDhwaja said...

Thanks for posting that link about Chidambaram, AverageIndian. It was great. Do post similar stuff when you come across.

myindia said...

Dr.raj web site. please visit.