The Saneeswarar Temple is located not too far from the Kali Temple about 8 km outside Pondicherry off the main road on the Pondicherry-Auroville route.
Sri Chidambara Gurukkal, an astrologer, built this temple for the Navagrahas, the Gods of nine planets: Rahu (Shadow Planet), Angaraka (Mars), Chandra (Moon), Guru (Jupiter), Budha (Mercury), Kethu (Shadow Planet), Sukhra (Venus), Saneeswara (Saturn), and Surya (Sun God).
As you enter there is a 27 foot tall idol of Shree Saneeswara facing the entrance. At the base are the Zodiac signs. Facing Shree Saneeswara, at the top of a flight of stairs, is a beautiful 34 foot tall gold Lord Ganesha. There is a Shiva Linga in front of Ganesha (at the top of the stairs).
Behind the idol of Shree Saneeswara are 12 foot high idols of the Navagrahas in their positions. The idols are beautifully done in stone each with their respective vahanas (temple chariot/vehicle), stones, and tree. Notice the details specific to each. In the center is Surya, the Sun God.
As you come out of the shrines, to your left is a small temple for Lord Shiva.
The property itself is two and a half acres large. There are 60 trees - each representing a year in the Tamil calendar - and an additional 27 trees - one for each star. It is a beautiful and peaceful place.
Before entering the property you may purchase small oil lamps to light in front of each shrine.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
The Prithiyankara Devi Kali Temple is located in Moratandi about 8 km. outside of Pondicherry. It is an easy stop on the way to/from Auroville.
It is likely that you will have noticed the 72 foot statue of Kali from the road. Stalls line both sides of a dirt lane as you approach the temple where temple offerings, religious items, and food are sold. There are long lines to enter the temple, but the inner sanctum is for Hindus only.
With bulging eyes and a long necklace of skulls around her, Kali appears monstrous. Her skin is blue. Several cobras (manifestations of Kali the Destroyer) rise above her head. In her right hand she holds a trishul which symbolizes the balance of the three forces of creation, preservation, and destruction. In her left hand, she holds a severed head.
In Hinduism, Kali is the goddess of time and transformation that is death - Lord Shiva in his destructive form. But Kali is also a loving mother, a banisher of darkness.
You'll need to read her story to understand Kali. Of course, there are many variations. A simple one is here (although the source is unusual)... http://www.lotussculpture.com/kali.htm
Information about Kali herself can be found here.... http://www.goddess.ws/kali.htmlRelated to:
- Religious Travel
Immaculate Conception Cathedral
The Immaculate Conception Cathedral is also known as Samba Kovil and is the parent church of the Catholic diocese for Pondicherry. It was originally built in 1692 but was demolished by the Dutch, rebuilt, demolished again, rebuilt, and demolished by the British. It was rebuilt in 1791 in its present shape. The Bell tower was built later. A loft was added in 1905, and parts have been remodeled in 1970 and 1987.
The church is light and bright with a simple and pretty center altar. The paintings around the church are very colorful. Windows have colored panels - no stained glass pictures. There is a Virgin Mary grotto and a beautiful silver statue of Christ in front of the cathedral.
Having been visited by Mother Theresa, this church is one of Pondicherry's landmarks and oldest tourist sites. Masses take place in Tamil and English. While we visited, we were lucky enough to hear the choir practicing.Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Religious Travel
Small But Interesting Museum
Though small, the Pondicherry Museum is a very interesting museum displaying the art and culture of the people of the area during the Pallava, Chola, and Vijayanagar days.
The French gallery upstairs charts the history of the colony with French sculptures, portraits, and furniture.
Interesting artifacts from the excavations at the Roman settlement of Arikamedu are displayed in the museum.
Be sure to see the pousse-pousse, an odd kind of carriage, which a servant pushed while the occupant steered.
My favorite part of the musuem was the sculpture garden with its Pallava and Chola (bronzes) art. I also loved the weapons.
Admission: Rs 2
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed on Mondays and government holidays.
No photos allowed.
Manakula Vinayagar Temple is one of the most popular temples in Pondicherry. It is dedicated to Lord Ganesh, one of the most popular Hindu deities. Evidence indicates that the temple dates back to 1666. The name means "pond with a fragrance", a reference to the banks of the sandy pond on which the temple was built.
The local story is that the French tried to remove the Ganesh statue from the temple, but the idol reappeared each time it was removed. Thus the plan to demolish the temple was dropped.
The inside of the temple is decorated with more than 40 (wonderful) paintings of Ganesh in various forms. The inner sanctum is open to Hindus only. This is not a large temple but well worth visiting for the paintings and ambience around the temple.
At the entrance to the temple is Lakshmi, the temple elephant. With her painted head and necklace of bells, she welcomes you to the temple. If you would like to feed her fruits from the nearby shops, you'll need to ask her care taker. If you would like to give her money, no need to ask! Just drop a Rs 10 note into her trunk and she'll place her trunk on your head in blessing.
In addition to selling fruit for Lakshmi, shops along the road leading to the temple entrance sell various religious offerings (garlands, flowers, etc.), religious articles, and also some souvenirs.
Photos are not allowed inside the actual temple. Shoes must be removed. Shoekeeper to the left of the entrance. Pay a few rupees when you pick up your shoes.Related to:
- Religious Travel
- Arts and Culture
Beautiful Government Park
Government Park (also known as Bharati Park) was once the site of the first French garrison, Fort Louis, which was destroyed by the British in 1761. Its name comes from the fact that it is surrounded by many prestigious government buildings.
Today it is an absolutely beautiful - and peaceful - park ideal for a walk or nap! You'll find perfectly manicured lawns, flower beds, fountains, and statues all around the park. There is a great children's area with all sorts of playground equipment.
Wander the grounds and admire the flowers and statues, then take off your shoes and relax on the lawn!Related to:
- Family Travel
A Must Visit!
The Sri Aurobindo Ashram located on rue de la Marine, is one of the most well known and wealthiest ashrams in India, with devotees from India and all over the world flocking to it for spiritual salvation. Its spiritual tenets represent a synthesis of yoga and modern science. It is open to the public daily between 08-1200 hrs and 1400-1800 hrs. Children below 3 years of age are not allowed into the ashram and photography is not allowed too.
The Ashram was set up in 1926 by Sri Aurobindo Ghose, one of India’s philosopher-poets, who originally came to Pondy to escape persecution by the British. It was after arriving in Puducherry, that he was drawn into the spiritual realm and discovered the power of yoga. His philosophy deeply rooted in yoga and his writings inspired a number of followers.
One of them was a Parisian mystic, painter and musician called Mirra Alfassa, who was so inspired by his philosophy that she stayed on in Puducherry and was instrumental in establishment of the ashram. After Aurobindo’s death in 1950, the running of the Ashram was entrusted to his chief disciple and companion, Mirra Alfassa, (also known as ‘The Mother’). The idea of Auroville or the “City of Down” was conceived by ‘The Mother’. She died in 1973 at the age of 93.
The ashram’s influence can be felt in most of Puducherry. The main ashram building is where the mortal remains of Aurobindo and the Mother are kept. Their ‘Samadhi’ or mausoleum, which is generally surrounded by supplicating devotees, is in the central courtyard under a frangipani tree and is covered daily with flowers.
Some of the ashram’s facilities like the Library and the Main Building (during collective meditation) can be accessed, only after obtaining a gate pass from the Bureau Central or some of the Ashram Guest Houses.
Raj Niwas, The Governor's Mansion
An interesting combination of Indian and French architecture, Raj Niwas, is the official residence of the Lieutenant Governors of Pondicherry. Completed around 1738, it is a beautiful "house".
Built in typical Indian fashion there is a courtyard on the ground floor of the house. Beautifully carved wooden pillars surround the courtyard. Decorated masonry columns of European design support a first floor terrace.
Outisde a water monument is placed in the middle of a well-maintained garden. The lawns are decorated with sculptures. Two canons sit on either side of the main gate. Unfortunately you will only get a glimpse of the elegant white mansion from outside the gates since it is not open to the public.
No beach in the heart of the city....but enroute to Pondy from Chennai you will see plenty of amazing beaches...go ahead and take a dip in some of them...it's truly an unforgettable experience! Most beaches are absolutely deserted so u will hav them all to urself!
While I was in Pondicherry, I visited the Aurobindo Ashram in the French quarter of town. It's a meditation center. Very soothing and calm. You'll need to remove your shoes or sandals before you can enter the grounds of the Ashram. Deposit your footwear across the street from the Ashram. Then walk across the street back bare-footed and enter the Ashram. Be sure to silence your phone & do not snap pictures. Just enjoy the calmness of the surroundings. There's a small bookshop where you can get some spiritual and self-improvement books.
After that, I walked towards the seaside. Where you could find the statues of Mahatma Gandhi & Jawaharlal Nehru. A short walk away you can find the governor residence and a small museum.
The entire French quarter is very clean and orderly unlike the Indian quarter. A very interesting feel to it. It's worth noting unlike the rest of India, Pondicherry was a French territory.
The park is divided into four sections with the Ayi Mandapam in the centre, which is being used as a traffic island and vehicles pass through all the four roads.In 1706, it was built as a stellate-shaped fort. Christened Fort St Louis, it had a moat around it, which was fed by the Petit Canal, which in turn was fed by the Uppar River. This fort, however, was pulled down in 1778 by the British. Even before Fort St Louis was constructed, Pondicherry had seen several forts, but they were all destroyed and rebuilt time and again. In 1787, the French finally decided not to construct any more forts and it was used as a parade ground for a few years and then it finally became a park.Normally, European squares have all the important buildings around them, so does the Bharathi Park. The Government General Hospital came up in 1853, the Assembly in 1962 (earlier it housed a tribunal and a medical college) and other buildings such as the Raj Nivas, UCO Bank and Chamber de Commerce surround the park. As for the Ayi Mandapam , only after the French faced a water crisis, they went in search of water and then the monument came into being.
Drive frm Chennai to Pondy
Its a beautiful drive! The ECNr road is a Toll-road, n is one of the best for drives in India. Its so scenic and picturesque dat u will stop a million times enroute to Pondy to click snaps, take a dip in the sea etcRelated to:
- Road Trip
Walk along the beach
The beach is very close to Aurobindo Ashram. Though the sandy stretch is very small, I loved sitting on rocks for hours at end. The best part is when u walk along the beach on the pavement end to end. There's a beautiful children's park at one end.
You'll see vendors lined along the beach selling all kinds of paraphernalia. And there are many restaurants to choose from too!!Related to:
- Study Abroad
Tibetan Pavilion in Auroville
This is probably the best pavilion in Auroville. People inside are real Tibetans and will help you with explanation of the place. Dalai Lama has visited Auroville several times.
I visited thw two floors of the Tibetan Pavilion. There were many pictures related with the history of Buddhism and Tibet.
In short, I liked the place. I got there with my bicycle.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Adventure Travel
The beach extends in virtually a straight line along the Bay of Bengal and features a small pier at the southern end. Goubert Salai (Beach Road), the main boulevard along the coast, is lined with grand colonial buildings.Related to:
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