Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Besant Nagar Beach, Chennai

Sited towards the south of the Marina Beach, Elliot's Beach is among the cleanest beaches in Chennai, in fact, in the whole of south India. Also known as 'Bessei' among the inhabitants, it is a well-known place for relaxing and soaking in the sun. However, an array of exciting water sports for which Chennai is known are not provided here at the beach. That is not to say that it lesser of a beach when compared to others. There's a different kind of fun to be had here, fun which soothes up the mind and restores the soul. Sitting along the beach, you can sync in the surrounding natural beauty and gaze at the endless skies and sea. And if, looking at the sand, the architect in you suddenly awakens, don't curb your natural instinct to play with or build castles out of it.

Elliot Beach is one of the most significant landmarks as it also provides its visitors with a range of multi-cuisines together with an array of restaurants and fast food centres. You can savour the scrumptious and tempting South Indian snacks and coddle your taste buds as only some yards away from the sandy beach, you will find some of the famous restaurants which include Ponnuswamy restaurant, Karaikudi restaurant, Lee's Chinese restaurant and the New Shangri La, a Malaysian restaurant. No wonder, these days, it has become one of the best hangouts for the younger generation, as well as foreigners who are looking for some quietude and tummy fulfilment.

It doesn't end here though, for the beach goes a few steps ahead, surpassing all expectations and surprising yet again, with a unique combination of historical temples, churches and monuments which makes this place even more fascinating and magnificent, adding charm and beauty to your outing with exciting memories. At the southern end of the beach, is the famous Velankanni Church which was built in the honour of the Lady of Health, also famous as Madonna of Velankanni. It is also believed by the followers that the Lady of Health holds miraculous powers.

Another site of attraction is the Ashtalakshmi Temple, located on the southern end of the beach. It is dedicated to the eight manifestations of the Goddess Mahalakshmi, also known as the Deity of Wealth and Peace. Besides this, there are temples of Tumbikai Aazhwar (Ganesha), Guruvaayurappan, Chakrathaazhwar & Narasimhar (on either side of the same idol), Aanjaneyar & Dhanvantri. Apart from this, there is a stone monument sited on the Elliot's Beach constructed as a mark of honour to a Danish sailor, Karl Schmidt who died at the time of saving a man from drowning. Situated just 60 km from Chennai and easily accessible via road with buses, taxis, call cabs, and auto rickshaws at your service.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Kumarakom : Kottayam

Kumarakom,situated 13 Kms away from Kottayam is a sleepy little village on Vembanad Lake in Kerala. It offers wide variety of flora, exotic sightseeing, boating and fishing experience. The beautiful paradise stocked with mangrove forests, emerald green paddy fields and coconut trees comprises with water ways and canals adorned with white lilies enchants the tourist from world over.

The National Geographic Magazine has listed Kumarakom as one of the must-see places in a lifetime. The land is famous for it's painstakingly hand craft each exquisite piece still made in a traditional way. Vemanad Lake is home to several types of marine life exclusively the Chemeen (Prawns), the Konju (Tiger Prawns) and Karimeen. Kumarakom will be a perfect choice for you to spend your quality time with your family.

Lot of things awaits you at Kumarakom ? make a visit to the bird sanctuary, which spreads across 14 acres. This sanctuary is a safe home for many migratory birds like Siberian stork, wild duck etc. They live with other birds in flocks such as darters, herons, egret, waterfowls and cuckoos are fascinating sight for the visitors. Come and get excited with the sites of migratory birds like Siberian crane, parrot, flycatcher etc and forget all the worries in your life.

Houseboats are one of the unique feature of Kumarakom tourism. Majority of the tourists visiting Kumarakom ask for a trip in these houseboats, enjoying the beautiful backwater and the cool air around. These houseboats are made in the format of traditional 'Kettuvallams', which will make you feel the rich traditions of 'God's Own Country'. You can have a cruise through the Vembanad lake and Alappuzha backwaters. Experience the typical Kerala cuisines while having a calm voyage through the backwaters. Try to have a trip to the beautiful island 'Pathiramanal', 40 minutes away from Kumarakom. There is a waterfall at Kumarakom ? Aruvikuzhi, which is worth visit. The 100 ft tall waterfall is one of the best spot for trekking. 

Other interesting spots around Kumarakom are Aymanam, Kudamaloor, Pallikoodam, Kallara, Nattakom and Panachikadu reservoir, Thazhathangadi, Thanneermukkam bund etc. A day at Kumarakom will always bring freshness in you. You will be getting a very rare chance to get indulge with the greenish environment here. 

Kumarakom will be giving you a romantic experience, one of the best place to spend time with your partner. You will be getting best honeymoon packages here. Explore the Vembanad Lake and have a backwater experience with your lover. The atmosphere at Kumarakom will make you more romantic, give you the most memorable moments in your lifetime. Visit Kumarakom from November to March. Rainy season is also allowed. Enjoy the monsoon, sitting inside the houseboat and having a cup of hot tea....

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Cinque Terre, Rio Maggiore, Italy

The Cinque Terre, are five small villages on the "Costa Ligure of Levante". The villages from north to south are: Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore. Since 1926, the Cinque Terre towns have been part of the province of La Spezia.

This territory was long isolated and the characteristic Ligurian culture has been conserved. The five villages were only reached by the outside world about one hundred years ago, when the railway line was built.

The chain of mountains that surrounds these villages runs parallel to the "Appennino Mountains" and creates small insenature, steep valleys where the towns are situated. This makes for a unique landscape, different from the rest of the coast. Right in the center of this landscape during the centuries was placed the man Ligure, always in struggle and always in love with its territory. The result of this geography is the typical houses liguri, the narrow bands and the knoll in terrace built on the rocks.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

santhome Church : Chennai

There are three places in chennai that stand out as monuments of honour, speaking aloud about the presence, activity and the martyrdom of St. Thomas, the Apostle of india. They are 1. Little Mount, 2. St Thomas Mount, 3. San Thome Cathedral Basilica.
St Thomas built a church at San Thome. After his martyrdom, his body was buried in the Church built by him. A pot containing earth, moistened by his blood and the lance with which he was pierced were both buried in his tomb. The foundation for a new Church was laid on 2nd july 1523. The Church was rebuilt and erected as a Parish. Father Penteado from Portugal was the first Parish Priest. In 1893 His Excellency, Dom Henry Joseph Reed Da Silva, Bishop of Mylapore demolished the old Cathedral and laid the foundation for the new Basilica, to commemorate the Golden Jubilee Day of the Episcopal Consecration of His Holiness Pope Leo XIII. In this church the second tower, asmaller one, points to the exact place where the Apostle was buried. The new Basilica was constructed and consecrated on 1st April 1896 AD. The tip of the cross on the spire is 155 feet from the ground level. In this Church, the statue of our Lady of Mylapore is enthroned, before which St Francis Xavier prayed intensely for several days while he stayed in mylapore.
The Bishop of Dacca consecrated a new bell on 9th may 1896, His Excellency, Dom A S Valente, Patriarch of the East Indies consecrated the main altar of the Cathedral. The Bishop of Mylapore consecrated the altar of Saints Peter and Paul on 29th June  1896 AD. Asun-dial from the old Cathedral is placed on the rear side of the Sacristy. This Cathedral Basilica is a matter of pride to the nation and to all of us, because it is built over the tomp of St Thomas. There are three Basilicas, all over the world, that are built over the tomb of the apostles. The first one is St peter’s Basilica in Rome, the second one on the tomb of St james, and the third one is the tomb chapel of St Thomas in San Thome Cathedral Basilica in chennai. The Cathedral Basilica was restored and consecrated on 12th December 2004 by the Apostolic Nuncio His Excellency Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana and Cardinal Ivan Dias of Mumbai. On 8th September 2005 the present Archbishop of Madras Mylapore His Grace, Most Rev Dr A M Chinnappa SDB DD Ph D issued a decree officially elevating this Cathedral parish as a Shrine of the Archdioces

Monday, 2 November 2015


A cocktail of two cultures, this easy-going capital of the union territory of Pondicherry (which spreads out to Mahé, Yanam and Karaikal) has a beautiful French Quarter embraced by a striking Tamil culture. A relevant French cuisine and a heritage of colonial architecture are a boon to locals and travelers alike.

Puducherry Museum: On the ground floor look especially for the Chola, Vijayanagar and Nayak bronzes, and the pieces of ancient Greek and Spanish pottery and amphorae (storage vessels) excavated from Arikamedu, a once-major trading port a few kilometers south of Pondicherry.
Timings: 10am to 1pm & 2pm to 5pm. Monday holiday.
Fees: Rs.10 per head. Rs.50 per head for foreigners.

Churches: Pondicherry has one of the best collections of over-the-top cathedrals in India. Make sure to grace their beauty with your presence!

Sri Aurobindo Ashram: General visits to the main ashram building on Marine St are cursory - you just see the flower-festooned samadhi of Aurobindo and the Mother, then the bookshop, then you leave. Collective meditation around the samadhi from 7.25pm to 7.50pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday is open to all. The ashram's Bureau Central has interesting exhibitions on the lives and teachings of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother.

Vandalur Zoo

Have you guys seen a white peacock before? This is the first time for me! In the blazing April heat of Chennai, I decided to go to the Vandalur Zoo (Arignar Anna Zoological Park) in Vandalur, Chennai. I was there around 8:30 AM (when the zoo opens) but I spent some time having breakfast at the Sangeetha restaurant opposite to it. Ah, what lovely food! :)The Vandalur zoo is on the GST road and is situated about 15 KM further off from the airport. I took the Chennai bypass on the Ponamalee road, and was able to reach this place faster.

Free ranging deer is ok, I have seen such free ranging deer already in Guindy National park. But free ranging snakes? OMG! It seems, one nine feet python in this zoo escaped from its enclosure last year. It should have been caught by now, but if not maybe we can catch it and hand it over to the authorities, if we spot it around this area ðŸ˜€ At the end of this article, I will show you a lion and a tiger :)

Sunday, 1 November 2015

The Marina Beach : Chennai

The Marina Beach, covered with glittering golden sand and a clear strip of blue sea, is among the most magnificent beaches in India. Sited at Kamarajar Salai Road, at a distance of 3 km from the capital city of Tamil Nadu, it is said to be the second longest beach in the world, extending to a length of 13 km from St. George Fort to Mahabalipuram. Much of credit for converting this beach into a tourist spot goes to Governor Mountstuart Elphinstone Grand Duff, who took the needed measures during the 1880s. Here, the experience of watching the sun rise and set is at its captivating best, and breathtaking. Enclosures with palm trees compel you to take a slow and relaxed walk. The horseback ride along the shores will lift up your spirits further. However, swimming and bathing here can be dangerous because of the undercurrent being turbulent and chaotic. But, rest assured, after visiting the beach, you will feel the waves and winds of rejuvenation take hold of your every sense.

Apart from enjoying on the beach, there are many historical monuments built at the junction of pathway stand. Some of them include Annadurai and MG Ramachandran memorials, statues of heroes from Tamil culture, Indo Saracenic buildings, monuments of Tamil scholars, patriots and famous personalities including Mahatma Gandhi and Subhash Chandra Bose. One of the most remarkable effigies is the Triumph of Labor by Debiprasad Roy Choudhary. Various stalls of food items including murukku, sundal, ice-cream and other South-Indian snacks are located in its vicinity to curb the cravings of the foodies. An aquarium, situated near the beach, comprises of some of the most astonishing and splendid range of tropical sea and fresh water fish. It gives you a chance to be familiar with the aquatic life and see what God has blessed the sea life of Chennai with. And then south to its location is situated the Ice House, which was used for storage of ice brought from great lakes in North America during the time of British. The most favourable time to visit the Marina Beach is during November to February, when the temperature is moderate in Chennai and the palms and casuarinas provides you with lovely cold breeze and ample shade for taking rest, enjoying the natural beauty of the sea and the beach.

Mahabalipuram : Chennai

Mahabalipuram was the earlier name of Mamallapuram because the demon king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu. The name was changed later by the king of Pallava Narashima Varman who has got the title of Mamalla; the great wrestler. 
Mahabalipuram lies on the Coromandel Coast which faces the Bay of Bengal. This is an elegant place to watch which a well established sea port was during the 7th and 10th centuries of the Pallava dynasty. This was the second capital of the Pallavas who ruled Kanchipuram. Formerly, mahabalipuram was known and called as Mahabalipuram. The former name of this place ‘Mahabalipuram’ has a history. A very rude cruel king Mahabali reined this place and in a fierce battle king Mahabali was killed by Lord Vishnu and the place was named after the dead, arrogant kind Mahabali.

It was during the reign of King Narasimha Varman I, the name Mahabalipuram was changed. It was renamed mahabalipuram which is called till now. There is a story behind. The name Mamallpuram king Narasimha Varman I was a great and valiant warrior. He was given the title Mamalla which means ‘the great wrestler’ so the name was converted from Mahabalipuram to mahabalipuram considering the great king and his achievements.
        After the decline of the Gupta Dynasty, the pallavas rose to the pioneer in south India. They ruled over from the 3rd century till the end of the 9th century A.D. The best period of their rule was between 650 and 750 AD and this period was called the Golden Age of the pallavas. The pallavas were very powerful. They were profound thinkers.
         It was during the rule of the pallavas, great poets, dramatists, artists, artisans, scholars and saints emerged. As one can say that the pallavas are the pioneers and forerunners of new styles both in art and architecture and mahabalipuram is the best place to praise off their skill and talent. New sculptures and unique paintings were innovative and exuberant. This place mahabalipuram itself became their exploring field and they made the best use of the resources. They game a shape and creative energy to what they imagined. It became a dream come true as it witnessed innovations in all styles.
        The richness in mahabalipuram was not known to many, as these pallavas did not outlet and expose their quality and innovative creations to the outer world for obvious reasons. The aestheticism in mahabalipuram was hidden until the late 185h century. What is special about mahabalipuram? Of course every one can point out the rock - cut caves, temples made from a single rock, temples and strives of different structures, and bas-reliefs which are so artistic and sheer creativity. Mamallpuram is referred as an ‘open-air museum’. The great pallava kings Narasimha I and Rajasimha have well preserved these stylistic qualities that one enjoys in mahabalipuram even in the present day.
        The beauty of the place is not only due to these architecture but the vast casuarinas trees, the silvery sandy beach the classical hand male crafts around have made them all to form what is a collective splendor. Any visitor who visits mahabalipuram will remain startled and intoxicated with the grandeur. They feel hand hearted and more out from this historical and fascinating tourist spot.

Namma Chennai: 10 Interesting Things About The City You Might Not Know

"Namma Chennai": 10 Interesting Things About The City You Might Not Know

Chennai, the first city of Modern India in Tamil Nadu completes 375 years today on August 22nd. The occasion is celebrated annually as Madras Day. On this occasion, we present some interesting facts and trivia on the South Indian city.Chennai- the beaches, the buildings, the very old colleges, the heat, the lights, the traffic; one of the cities that never sleeps! But is that all? Read on to discover how much you know about this city.

1) From Madras to Chennai

We got the name Chennai only in 1996. Until then it was Madras, believed to be derived fromMadrasapattinam which is a fishing village north of Fort St. George. An interesting explanation is that it could have been derived from a fisherman named Madrasan. We South Indians are still being grouped under the term ‘Madrasis’ which evolved from Madras.

2) The Detroit of India:

Chennai is now known as the Detroit of India. Most major manufacturers such as Ford, Hyundai, BMW, Renault Nissan, Mitsubishi, and Daimler have transformed the city into an automobile hub. The perfect combination of a number of factors such as the location, proximity of sea port, our infrastructure, flexible industrial and government policies have attracted the giants of the automobile industry to set up their plants in Chennai.

3) Shopping in Pondy Bazaar:

If you are in Chennai you cannot miss visiting the Pondy Bazaar, one of the busiest shopping streets in India. It is also known as “Soundarapandia Bazaar” named after Justice Party politician W.P.A. Soundarapandian Nadar. If you ever wondered about the bronze statue at the entrance to Pondy Bazaar, it is that of Soundarapandian Nadar. All the streets in and around this area have been named after Justice Party leaders. One interesting fact is that Lifco Books shop which functions even today was set up years ago when there were just three shops in the area.

4) Connemara- not just an old library but a National Depository:

We all do know that Connemara Public Library at Egmore is one of the oldest libraries that have overcome the test of times. It is also one of the four National Depository Libraries that receives a copy of all the books, periodicals and newspapers being published in India. It is also a depository library for the United Nations.
5) The delicious Chicken 65:

The famous chain of Buhari Hotels has been in Chennai since 1951. One of the favourite dishes of Chennai, the Chicken 65, is believed to be introduced at Bhuhari by its founder A.M. Buhari. Interestingly they also offered Chicken 78, Chicken 82 and Chicken 90. A.M. Buhari was also made the Sheriff of Madras in 1973-1974. Ever wondered that there could be such a history for that dish on your plate?
6) The Big Banyan tree:

One of the oldest banyan trees in the world, around 450 years, is located inside the Adyar Theosophical Society. The area it occupied was around 40,000 square feet but after a cyclone hit in 1989, the main trunk was uprooted leaving only a part of it now. It boasts with the pride of being acquainted with great personalities such as Annie Besant and Maria Montessori who addressed a number of people under the tree. The Theosophical society is open between 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. It is one the calmest and serene places located in the middle of the city.
7) The Madras Boat Club- one of the oldest in India:

The Madras Boat Club in Chennai is almost 140 years old. It was founded by a few Englishmen in the year 1867. It was first started in the backwaters of Ennore. In 1892, it was moved to the location on the banks of Adyar River. Now the club has acquired the latest boats and oars from USA and is well-equipped. So, what are you waiting for?
8) Go bargaining on the cotton street:

The cotton street in the Pantheon road is a one stop destination if you want to explore cotton clothes with a combination of vibrant colours. The better you are at bargaining, the less you spend on this street. It is up from almost 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. It is definitely worth a walk through the street.
9) Backwaters of Alamparai Fort:

A very lesser known place on the outskirts of Chennai is the Alamparai Fort. It is in an almost destroyed state now. The sandy beach and the scenic backwaters is a must-see attraction of this place. The scenic beauty of this place is also a favourite of some notable Tamil movie makers. You might also get to tramp some sea shells and a variety of crabs on the shore.

10) The World Bank Office at Chennai:

One lesser known building in Chennai is the World Bank Chennai Office in Taramani that is certified as a LEED Silver building. It is built on a 3.5-acre campus. By 2012 it had almost 500 staff after it set up a permanent back office in Chennai. Recently the World Bank group president Jim Yong Kim visited the office for the first time and appreciated the improvements made in the automobile industry.