Saturday, May 27, 2017

A walk to remember

Pictures taken from a walk, one fine morning last summer, before the city woke up to its absolute buzz, from near Thirumalai Nayakkar Mahal to Meenakshi Amman Temple and back, in Madurai.

Water splattered morning street in Madurai
Coffee Stall all ready for customers
Sugarcane Juicer tucked away
'Vilakku Thoon' junction before the traffic craze starts
The 'Chithirai Thiruvizha' chariot tucked in
'Nandhi' getting adorned - Swami Sannathi, Meenakshi Amman Temple
'Navagraham' - Swami Sannathi
Meenakshi Thirukalyanam - Swami Sannathi
The golden lotus pond adjacent to Amman Sannathi, Meenakshi Amman Temple

Vittavasal on Amman Sannathi Street
Vittavasal is the original eastern gateway of the Pandyan Fort, built in the 13th century.

The big Nandhi in front of the 'Puthu Mandapam' across the East tower

View of the Nandi, Pudhu Mandapam and East Tower through the unfinished Raya Gopuram on Elu Kadal Street
Raya Gopuram is the beautiful incomplete structure in front of the East Tower. The tower construction was started during Thirumalai Nayakkar rule but was left unfinished.

Carvings on the unfinished Raya Gopuram wall

On the way back to the Mahal, going through 'Pathu Thoon Sandhu', you can see the pillars that are remains of the residential section of the palace called 'Ranga Vilasam'. That part of the palace was completely demolished and these pillars are the remains of that structure.

'Pathu thoon' Street
Pillars - remains of the residential section of the Thiumalai Nayakkar palace called the 'Ranga Vilasam'

Life goes on around the few little remnants of history within the city.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Rocks, caves and temples

I have come to have special love for the rock hillocks that surround Madurai. I like them for their majestic presence and their rustic beauty. They are also standing testimony for the history of the city, with their Jain bas-reliefs and Tamil Brahmi inscriptions dating to early Pandyan reign.

Samanar Hill:

I have written about my visit to 'Samanar malai' during my visit to Madurai earlier in 2011. This hill is located to the west of Madurai near Kilakuyilkudi.

Thiruparankundram Hill:

During this past summer 2016 trip to Madurai, I visited 'Rock Cut Cave Temple' on the south side of the Thiruparankundram hill. This hill is located to the south west of the city.

Driving around the east side of the hillock
Thiruparankundram - Rock Cut Cave Temple
The place almost has an eerie feel to it with huge trees and and their roots hanging mysteriously. Feels like a place where you could film an episode of 'Marma Desam' (the famous mystery Tamil television series). It is ominous and it is fascinating.

Apparently, you could also spot peacocks around this area. We spotted a couple of them.

Thiruparankundram - Rock Cut Cave Temple
Thiruparankundram - Rock Cut Cave Temple

View of Thiruparankundram hill from the south side

Yanaimalai or Elephant Hill:

Yanaimalai is located to the north east of the city. The south west facing end of this hill looks like the face of an elephant in repose. It is a long and imposing granite hill.

Driving towards Yanaimalai

There is a Vishnu temple on the east facing facade of the rock and there is another temple located close by on the extended rocky surface across from the hill.

'Yoga Narasimha Perumal' Temple
View looking towards 'Bala Dhandayuthapani' Temple
Driving by 'Yanaimalai'
I am glad that the locals and activists stopped a proposal to build a sculpture park at Yanaimalai that would have wrecked the integrity of the hill.

These are beautiful natural structures that define the city and its history. I hope they are preserved in their natural state.