Category Archives: Temple

The Hampi Dream

There are some places that you keep dreaming of visiting some day in your life. Hampi – the erstwhile glorious Vijayanagara empire – has always been that dream destination for me. It all started with the song, ‘Theendai’ from the Tamizh movie, ‘En Swaasa kaatre’ way back in 2000 when I first saw it. It was the pre-Google days when not every info was available at the touch of a mobile. So it took me some time to find out where the song was shot. I wanted to see the temple ruins and that beautiful stepped tank!

In the years that followed, my interest in temples developed beyond visiting them for religious reasons or generally admiring the beauty. I started learning more about the architectural details and the history. Then came the lectures on temple architecture by historian, Dr. Chithra Madhavan. The passion with which she spoke about temples and their history and architecture and the series of lectures on Hampi and Vijayanagara architecture that I attended at Musiri Chamber and Tattvaloka increased my fascination for Hampi. Hampi was that place where the temple architecture that we see today in most of the temples of Tamil Nadu developed. I really very badly wanted to visit that beautiful place filled with marvels in stone from where it all started!

Then there were all those travel blogs, especially that of Arun of travel.paintedstork.com. His photographs of the place and other travelogues continued to make me wish that I could go there.

All these passion for Hampi and travelling suddenly had to take a backseat after I moved to Singapore and I got completely caught up in my crazed routine as a stay-at-home mom.

Post the visit to Cambodia in September this year, my interest in temple architecture was rekindled in full fervour. Now, all that was remaining was Hampi.

When you come to Madras/ India for just a few weeks during school holidays and have to accommodate several to-dos and consider several other factors, you get only a few days to plan for a trip within India. We had just three days to spare and immediately booked the train tickets lest any other programme comes up.

While our initial plan was to visit just Hampi for three days at a leisurely pace just like how we did at Angkor, Cambodia, in the end, our plan completely went in for a toss and we ended up doing Aihole – Pattadakkal – Mahakoota – Badami – Banashankari on day 1, complete relaxation and rejuvenation at Hotel Shivavilas Palace and Sri Kumaraswamy Temple and Chakrateerta at Sandur on day 2 and almost the entire Hampi (!) on day 3!

Barring a few places at Hampi, we did manage to see all that we saw as fully as possible, though not as thoroughly as we might have, had we had a few more extra hours.

Day 1 was also another dream-come-true for me as Badami, Aihole, Pattadakal and Mahakoota have always been second in my list of dream destinations to visit.

To say that I am so happy is an understatement to how I am feeling now after visiting Hampi! It is the fulfillment of little dreams like these that make some moments of your life very special!

The Angkor Trail

For the last 18 years or so, Hampi in Karanataka, India, had been that dream destination of my life which I wanted to visit to explore the ruined remains of Vijayanagara empire.

This year we indulged in our first vacation in the last few years – a trip to Cambodia to visit Angkor Wat, the dream destination of my husband. Unlike Hampi or any other heritage site in India, I wasn’t completely aware of the magnificence of Angkor Wat and the other temples. All I knew was it was the largest temple complex and the photos of it looked stunning. In the weeks leading up to the trip and even weeks after it, we started reading on Khmer temples and its architecture and are still reading more and more books on it.

The trip to Angkor Wat/ Siem Reap/ Cambodia turned out to be a trip of a lifetime! We spent 4 full days in leisure taking in as many temples in the Angkor region as possible. With seeing sunrise at Angkor Wat to sequentially visiting temples in each route, we did a comprehensive coverage of the entire place leaving just a few temples. The trip turned out to be exactly how I had always wanted to explore Hampi.

Suddenly, my interest in temple architecture was rekindled in full fervour. Now, all that was remaining was Hampi.

Phnom Kulen 1000 Lingas River & Waterfalls

We reached Siem Reap from Phnom Penh on our second evening in Cambodia. Siem Reap, as you will read everywhere, is the gateway to the temples of Angkor. Till then, we were yet to get a glimpse of any temple belonging to the times of Angkor Wat. So, the next morning, we started from Siem Reap to Phnom Kulen mountain with all eagerness and thus, began our exploration of the Khmer Architectural marvels.

Visitor Info:

There is an entry fee of $20 (USD) for going to Kulen Mountain / Phnom Kulen (Phnom means Mountain in Khmer) and this is different from the Angkor temple ticket/pass. Phnom Kulen is accessible by a single road which is used for ascent till 12 noon and descent after that.

Situated at a distance of 48 km from Siem Reap, Phnom Kulen has a beautiful waterfalls, 1000 lingas river, Preah Ang Thom featuring a huge, reclining Buddha and some ancient Khmer temples which are inaccessible by car. So, we didn’t visit those temples.
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Dwijavanti

We went to Sri Srinivasa Perumal today evening at around 5:20 pm. With only a handful of people in the temple at that time, it seemed like the perfect time to pray, relax and meditate. What better company than music in the form of the divine nadaswaram and the tavil to accompany you during those peaceful moments in the temple! As the nadaswaram player started the Dwijavanti alapana, I found myself completely relaxing and lost myself in the prayers and the music. There was only inner peace prevailing. If a raagam like Dwijavanti which oozes out only beauty and happiness not relax you, then what else will!

As the song Akhilandeswari started and proceeded to the ‘dwijAvanti rAganutE, jalli maddaLa jhar jhara vAdya’ part, the inner longing in me to get back to singing returned full-fledged. Didn’t I have a voice which could easily reach those upper octaves when it was at its best and in regular practice? Even if it is not Dwijavanti, I wish I could at least sing the nursery rhymes with my children and relax!

Prasadam at Singapore Temples

As I mentioned in my previous post, the best thing about the temples in Singapore is the prasadam. During my initial days in Singapore, I used to say that the Senthil episode in ‘Boys’ movie should have been featured here rather than in Madras because you’re sure to get an entire meal itself as a prasadam here if you time your visit to the temple correctly. Even otherwise, you’re sure to get some prasadam most of the times.
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The Temples of Singapore

The one thing that you’re not going to miss much if you’re in Singapore is the visits to temple. Though the temples here are no match to our ancient temples in terms of the architectural marvels, the divine atmosphere still remains the same. The moment you step inside a temple, many a times it still feels like you’re still in Tamil Nadu. The deities beautifully decorated, the sacred chants by the pusaaris/kurukkaLs/pattaacharis, the sounds of nadaswaram and tavil, the brisk sale of nei viLakkus and archanai tickets and the temples filled with a whole lot of South Indians barring a few North Indians and foreigners create the familiar atmosphere of our very own temples.

The best part about the temples here is that every temple has its own nadaswaram and tavil players, which, unfortunately, is not the case with the temples in Tamil Nadu. It feels great to see the musical rituals too being followed strictly at all the temples here with the nadaswaram and tavil players playing the mallaris and other pieces at all the stipulated timings all through the day. My daughter being a big fan of the music made by pee-pee dum-dum 🙂 absolutely enjoys visiting the temples.

No post on the temples in Singapore will be complete without mentioning another best part about the temples here, which is, guess what, the prasadams! But that deserves a separate post in itself, so wait and watch out for that.

Arupatthumoovar at Kapaleeswarar Temple

After seeing the grand Arupatthumoovar at Kapaleeswarar temple, I had to ‘unblock’ the blogger’s block somehow and write this post. This is a very long post! Read it when you find time.

Despite living very near Mylapore for almost 15 years now, I had never been to Arupatthumoovar even once! When I was studying in school, festival time at Kapaleeswarar temple always meant getting a holiday or two and that was all. This year’s Arupatthumoovar was on last Saturday (27th March) &, initially, I wasn’t planning on going for it. My mom having gone for Arupatthumoovar for the first time last year, tempted me to go and, here I am now, all set to relive the grandeur of the fest which left me awe-struck.
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