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Forming the junction of the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats, the Nilgiris- the `Blue Mountains’- are amongst India’s oldest mountain ranges. The hills, a part of the Nilgiri District of Tamilnadu, stretch across the borders of the state into the adjoining states of Kerala and Karnataka. Easier to traverse than the mighty Himalayas, the Nilgiris are often cited as being better suited for novice trekkers. The gentle slopes and temperate climate of the region mean that even those with little or no experience won’t end up getting completely fatigued. The beauty of the Nilgiris, however, is such that even veteran hikers will enjoy themselves.
The three main towns of the Nilgiris- Udhagamandalam (better known as Ootacamund, or, more familiarly, Ooty); Kotagiri and Coonoor- are perfect bases for interesting treks into the Nilgiris. Low, gentle slopes, where dense forests of shola trees alternate with tea estates, orange groves and coffee plantations; a land where tribes like the Todas, the Kurumbhas and the Irulas still live in a way which has changed little over the past centuries.
Best time to visit
The Nilgiris, unlike the Himalayas, are a year-round destination. Never do these hills get too hot or too cold for trekking; summer temperatures range between 12 and 25ºC, while winter temperatures never go below 3ºC. Summer, however, is when the area is pretty crowded, so winter- particularly between November and February- is a better time if you would rather give the crowds a miss.
Written Nov 23, 2011
Address: Ooty, Nilgiris, Tamil Nadu, India
Phone: +91 423 2447167
Ooty also known as Udhagamandalam is the "Queen of hill stations" and the capital of Nilgiris district. It is one of the most popular tourist resorts in India. Nilgiris means "Blue Mountains". It is a land of picturesque picnic spots. Used to be popular summer and weekend getaway for the Britishers during the colonial days. It is situated at an altitude of 2,240 meters above sea level. An added attraction for the tourists to Udagamandalam is the mountain train journey on a ratchet and pinion track which commences from Kallar, near Mettupalayam and wends its way through many hair-raising curves and fearful tunnels and chugs along beside deep ravines full of verdant vegetation, gurgling streams and tea gardens.
The 22 Acre Botanical Garden was laid out in 1847 and is presently maintained by the government of Tamil Nadu. The original purpose of the "Botanical Gardens" was purely academic: to promote and study the various flora in and around Nilgiris. Now, it is open to the public as a park that can be enjoyed by visitors. The Botanical Garden is also a heaven for bird watchers where a variety of birds, both seasonal and year-round residents, can be sighted. A flower show along with an exhibition of rare plant species is held every year in the month of May at this garden. The garden also has a 20 million year old fossilized tree.
This was the first "Pukka" house in Ooty, built by John Sullivan. It is situated inside the premises of the Government Arts College.
There are a few number of Toda Huts up in the hills of Botanical Garden's were Todas still dwell.
The railhead of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway. The station itself is part of this World Heritage Site. Ooty Railway station offers a unique glimpse of the British raj built railways.
Ooty Lake & Boat House
This is an artificial lake built by John Sullivan. It used to be much larger than its present size, and encompassed the present bus stand and race course as well as much of the present market. Next to the lake there is a Mini Garden with an amusement park for children and a toy train.
The Fernhills Palace
Fernhill Palace was the erstwhile summer residence of the Maharaja of Mysore. The first Fernhills bungalow was built in 1844. This former palace situated around 1 km from the Ooty bus stand can be visited for an entry fee of Rs 50.
The highest point in the Nilgiri Hills, offering spectacular views over the town and district. There is road access to the summit. There is a reserved forest area around the peak.
Written Apr 26, 2009
The Chennai Crocodile Bank is located about 44 Km from the Chennai city. This crocodile bank houses several species of Indian and African crocodiles and alligators. Here, the crocodiles are kept in their natural environment in open pools and can be viewed from safe proximity. The Crocodile farm at Chennai was set up to increase the crocodile population of the wildlife sanctuaries in the country.
The Crocodile Bank is spread over an area of about 3.2 hectares. The bank offers a green bed of tropical vegetation, which provides sufficient shade to the crocodiles inside the bank. The crocodile Bank has about seven crocodilian species including three Indian types. The Indian species include the 3.6-meter long Marsh/Mugger variety (which is the most widely distributed species), the four to five meter long Gharials (the crocodile with the longest jaw) and the saltwater crocodiles, the largest of reptiles.
The Chennai/Madras Crocodile Bank was started to protect the dwindling crocodile population. This bank has already produced more than 6,000 crocodiles till now. One more attraction is the snake farm where anti venom is produced. The snake venom extractions are a great pull to the visitors to the bank.
Updated Nov 15, 2008
Address: 42 Km From Chennai (Madras), Tamil Nadu
The Sivaganga palace, also called "Gowri Vilasam", is situated in the Sivaganga district about 40 km from Madurai. It was once the seat of Marava kings. At present the palace is in dilapidated condition but the architectural beauty can still be appreciated. The architectural style of the palace reflects elements borrowed from the Thirumalai Nayak's period and infused with Rajputana arts.
Inside the Palace
The Temple of Sri Raja Rajeshwari
The only portion intact at the Gowri Vilasam is the temple of Sri Raja Rajeshwari. It is the family deity of the royal family. Sri Raja Rajeshwari temple is open for the public only in the evenings and on auspicious days. On the Southern part of the temple there is a huge hall supported with numerous pillars. It is believed that the entire royal household functions used to take place there. There is a palanquin in the front facade of the palace that lies in a decrepit condition.
Nadai Kinaru is another important and interesting feature in the Sivaganga palace. It is actually a miniature swimming pool. It is believed that the tank had direct connections so that fresh water could be provided and also fill two huge tanks beside the Nadai Kinaru. It was apparently meant for the womenfolk of the royal family.
Written Nov 15, 2008
One of Chennai's most impressive architectural marvels, Senate House, at the Madras University campus on the Marina, was constructed under the supervision of Robert Fellowes Chisholm, one of the greatest architects of the 19th century.
This building, whose foundation stone was laid in 1869, was occupied in 1873. The entire structure is a harmonious blend of Indo-Saracenic style, with Byzantine architectural features.
The Senate House has a central hall on the ground floor, 130 feet long, 58 feet broad and 54 feet high, with the corridors supported by six massive stone pillars on either side. The stone arches between the pillars, with the four towers rising high at the corners of the building, surmounted by exquisitely shaped domes (painted in different colours) gives the building a grandeur that is difficult to match.
The main entrance at the north, leads to the convocation hall, while a corresponding entrance, in the South, leads to the rooms on the southern wing. Besides these, there are two entrances on the eastern wing of the convocation hall and two corresponding entrances on the west. Elegantly constructed porticos adorn the frontage of all these entrances. A parapet surrounds each of these porticos, at the corner of which appears a decorated dome of a miniature size.
Initially, the Senate House housed some of the University departments and the offices of the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar. In some of the smaller halls the meetings of the Senate, Academic Council and the Faculties were held. But after the construction of the new departmental library building and later on the centenary building, the use of Senate House was limited to the holding of the convocation and examinations, besides being used as classrooms for teaching foreign languages. However, since 1965, convocations have been held only at the massive centenary auditorium, built in 1960.
The ravages of time and the extremes in climatic conditions have left the Senate House dilapidated; with cracks on the walls and ceilings, broken drainage pipes, damaged flooring and broken windowpanes. Sporadic attempts to renovate were made by way of red oxide painting of the original red brick stones, cementing against original lime mortar plastering and plain glass replacements for stained glass windows.
Written Nov 15, 2008
The memorial to the poet-saint Tiruvalluvar is shaped like a temple chariot and is, in fact, the replica of the temple chariot in Thiruvarur. A life-size statue of the saint has been installed in the chariot which is 33m. tall.
The 133 chapters of his famous work Thirukkural have been depicted in bas-relief in the front hall corridors of the chariot. The auditorium at Valluvar Kottam is said to be the largest in Asia and can accommodate about 4000 people. It stands as a modern memorial to the great poet who represents the glorious culture of the Tamils.
Thirukkural, are inscribed on the granite pillars that surround the auditorium and it has got no pillars for support. There is a 101-feet high temple chariot structure with a life-size image of the poet in it. This chariot is a replica of the temple car of Thiruvarur in Tamil Nadu. The base of the chariot shows in bas-relief the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural. Over 3,000 blocks of stone were used to create this memorial to Tamil culture
Written Nov 15, 2008
The War Cemetery in Chennai is a tribute to the soldiers of the Second World War. The Stone of Remembrance in the Cemetery welcomes its visitors with a beautiful line etched on it, “Their Name Liveth For Evermore”. The line has been taken from the Book of Ecclesiasticus. Besides, it was designed by Edward Lutyens, the person who designed Delhi.
The War Cemetery in Chennai honors 855 people of the Commonwealth Services and one Polish Airman who died at the line of duty while serving in various units during the Second World War. This is a War Memorial that is visited by a good number of tourists all around the year.
The Madras War Cemetery in Chennai also has three non wear graves apart from the others. There is also a ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ in the Cemetery which salutes the sacrifice of these brave martyrs who died in the battlefield.
Walking amidst the rows of gravestones one is often filled with a deep sense of patriotism at the sight of thousands of martyrs at their resting places.
Written Nov 15, 2008
A church dedicated to our lady of health situated on the shore of bay of Bengal. Built by the Portuguese in 16th century the rituals in this church are a mixture of Hindu and christian traditions.
There is a small museum which displays objects donated by the devotees .These are mainly replicas of human organs made in some precious metal . Again this is another custom usually seen in Hindu temples
Updated Oct 6, 2008
One of the famous temples in Chennai is the Kapaleeswarar Temple at Mylapore. It is between 300 and 400 years old, although it is said to hold fragments of inscriptions dating back to 1250 AD, which may be traces of the earlier shore temple that once dominated the town.
It is this ancient temple that the newer Kapaleeswarar Temple replaced, with Lord Shiva (or Kapaleeswarar) and Goddess Karpagambal as its deities. It is a typical representation of the pure Dravidian style: side entrances, gopurams (entrance towers), courts and a tank built around the central shrine.
The main shrine faces west and is approached through the western gopuram behind the huge tank. This western gopuram is older and smaller than the impressive 120-foot eastern gopuram, which was built in 1906. At the eastern entrance there is a majestic chariot, drawn by devotees during the annual "car festival".
Today, the rectangular site of the temple complex is filled with stalls - temple jewellers, silk merchants and flower sellers included, making it a fascinating place to while away a few hours.
Note: but you need to remove your shoes to enter the temple so you may want to bring a pair of disposable socks so you would not worry much about it later.
Also prepare about Rs 50 for entrance fee.
Written May 20, 2008
Address: Kutchery Road, Mylapore, Chennai
Fort St George is the name of the first British fortress in India, founded in 1639 at the coastal city of Madras (modern city of Chennai.) The construction of the fort provided the impetus for further settlements and trading activity, in what was originally a no man's sand. Thus, it is a feasible contention to say that the city evolved around the fortress.
The Company, which had entered India around 1600 for trading activities, had begun licensed trading at Surat, which was its initial bastion. However, to secure its trade lines and commercial interests in the spice trade, it felt the necessity of a port closer to the Malaccan Straits. It succeeded in purchasing a piece of coastal land, originally called Madraspattinam (Channapatnam - by a few accounts.), from a local chieftain, where it began construction of a harbour and a fort. The fort was completed on April 23rd, coinciding with St. George's Day, celebrated in honour of St. George, the patron saint of England. The fort, hence christened Fort St. George faced the sea and a few fishing villages, and soon became the hub of merchant activity. It gave birth to a new settlement area called George Town, which grew to envelop the villages and led to the formation of the city of Madras. It also helped establish British influence over the Carnatic region, and keep the kings of Arcot and Srirangapatna, as well as the French forces based at Pondicherry, at bay.
The fort is a stronghold with 6 meter high walls that withstood a number of assaults in the 18th century. It briefly passed into the possession of the French from 1746 to 1749, but was restored to the British under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of Austrian Succession.
Today, the Fort serves as the administrative headquarters for the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu state, and still houses a garrison for troops in transit to various locations at South India and the Andamans. The Fort Museum contains many relics of the Raj, including portraits of many of the Governors.
Written Nov 10, 2007
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