Vidur’s Travel Diary – 16 : Vaitheeswarankoil , 4th Time


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CHENNAI – TAMILNADU – INDIA            JANUARY 30 , 2015   01.00 A.M.

 

I first wrote about   Vaitheeswaran Koil   in my Travel Diary No. 4 . It was posted on November 29 , 2011 . It was my first visit of the temple town , which is situated in Nagapattinam district of  Tamil Nadu . Though I visited   Vaitheeswaran Koil  again in 2012 and for the 3rd time again in 2013 with my wife and son but that time I did not write my travel diary about this temple town . In 2012 I wrote only about Karaikal [ Puducherry ] . It is there in my Travel Diary No. 15 of  December 28 , 2012 .

Whenever I visit a new place , I always remember these famous lines of the great modern Hindi poet Agyeya :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय 
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]

But this is uncanny that it never happened with the temple town of   Vaitheeswaran Koil   . This year it was my 4th consecutive visit and I decided to write about   Vaitheeswaran Koil   once again .

I took late evening flight from Mumbai and landed in Chennai late in the night on January 23, 2015 . After night stay at Hotel Golden Tower , I took a cab for   Vaitheeswaran Koil   on January 24, 2015 in the early morning and reached there in the evening .

In 2013 I visited goddess Saraswati temple in Koothnoor village of Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu . Before this visit I had never visited any temple dedicated to Mata Saraswati . This year I skipped it . I started my pilgrimage of NAVA GRAHA temples from next morning.

January 25 , 2015 :

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1 – CHANDRAN – THINGALUR : With my wife and son , I visited Chandran or Chandra temple first. It is situated in the Thingalur village of Thanjavur district . This is the only temple which is not in Nagapattinam district.

Picture taken in 2013 at CHANDRAN Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother - in - Law

Picture taken in 2013 at CHANDRAN [ CHANDRA ] Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother – in – Law

2 – GURU – ALANGUDI : My second temple on day one was Guru temple in Alangudi village of Nagapattinam district.

2012 at GURU Temple with my wife & son

Picture taken in 2012 at GURU Temple : My wife & son

3 – RAGHU – THIRUNAGESWARAM : In local parlance it is called Raghu temple . We know it as Rahu . This is the third among the NAVA GRAHA . Raghu is flanked by SRI NAGAVALLI and SRI NAGA KANNI in this temple situated in Thirunageswaram village.

Picture taken in 2012 at RAGHU [ RAHU ] Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother - in - Law

Picture taken in 2012 at RAGHU [ RAHU ] Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother – in – Law

After DARSHANAM of these three temples we had lunch at Hotel Aryas in KUMBAKONAM city. After lunch we started our journey for Karaikal city of Union Territory Puducherry.

 

4 – SANEESWARA – THIRUNALLAR ( KARAIKAL ) : The next stop after lunch was Shani temple of Karaikal . It is situated in Thirunallar , a part of Karaikal and is known as Saneeswara Bhagawan Sannithi. .

Picture taken in 2012 at Saneeswar Temple : My wife & son

Picture taken in 2012 at Saneeswar [ SHANI ] Temple : My wife & son

In my travel diary of Karaikal I have mentioned about Karaikal Halwa. The most famous Halwa shop known as NATESAN ALWA is 80 years old and not 55 years as mentioned earlier in my blog about Karaikal. It was stablished in 1934. It is situated at BHARTHIYAR ROAD , KATHAPILLAI KODI CORNER , KARAIKAL – 609 602 . You can not afford to miss it, if you have sweet tooth. Out of many varieties, THUMBAROOT ALWA , BUTTER ALWA and BUTTER KOVA are worth testing.

 

5 – BUDHAN – THIRUVENKADU : After Shani DARSHANAM , we visited Budh temple , which in local parlance is known as Budhan. The village where it is situated is Thiruvenkadu .

Picture taken in 2012 at BUDHAN [ BUDH ] Temple : My wife & son

Picture taken in 2012 at BUDHAN [ BUDH ] Temple : My wife & son

6 – KEDHU – KEEZHA PERUMPALLAM : Our last temple of the day one was Ketu temple. Known as Kedhu in Tamil, it is situated in a village called Keezha Perumpallam.

Picture taken in 2012 at KEDHU [ KETU ]  Temple : My wife & son

Picture taken in 2012 at KEDHU [ KETU ] Temple : My wife & son

After visiting 6 temples, we had sumptuous dinner at Hotel Pams in MAYILADUTHURAI [ earlier known as MAYAVARAM ]. It provides good food and is a marvellous hotel for stay in Mayiladuthurai. I , for the first time , ate Chettinadu cuisine.

January 26 , 2015 :

—————————

 

7 – SURYAN – SURIYANARKOIL : After day one , we started our second day with Surya temple in Suriyanarkoil village. For local people it is known as Suryan temple.

Picture taken in 2012 at SURYAN [ SURYA ]  Temple : My wife & son

Picture taken in 2012 at SURYAN [ SURYA ] Temple : My wife & son

Temple premises has small NAVA GRAHA tremples. You can worship all the NAVA GRAHAS at this temple , if you are not keen on visiting all the temples situated in the far-flung areas of Nagapattinam and Thanjavur districts. It also has a small shop, where you can get RUDRAKSH and various other things of worship.

8 – SUKKIRAN : KANCHANUR : Second temple of the second day was Sukkiran or Shukra temple. It is situated in Kanchanur village.

Picture taken in 2013 at SUKKIRAN [ SHUKRA ] Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother in - Law

Picture taken in 2013 at SUKKIRAN [ SHUKRA ] Temple : My wife , son , sister & Brother in – Law

9 – ANGARAKAN – VAITHEESWARAN KOIL :  Angarakan or Mangal temple is situated in the precincts of main Shiva temple of Vaitheeswarankoil. ARUL MIKU VAITHIYANATHA SWAMI or Shiva is the main deity.

Picture taken in 2012 at ANGARAKAN [ MANGAL ]  Temple : My wife

Picture taken in 2012 at ANGARAKAN [ MANGAL ] Temple : My wife

On January 27th, after staying for 2 days in Vaitheeswaran Koil , we returned to Chennai in the evening. Our 4th pilgrimage of  Vaitheeswaran Koil ended. After 2 days stay in Chennai, we will take early morning flight to Mumbai today. After posting this blog, I will start packing my bags for the journey back home.

 

 

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If fate permits, I hope to come again in December 2015. But as I have said in the beginning of this blog, it is a BIG IF !!

 

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Farooque Sheikh : Har Mulaqat Ka Anjam Judai Kyon Hai?


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 06, 2014           00.15 A. M.

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Farooque Sheikh

25 March 1948 − 27 December 2013

I was at Vaitheeswarankoil in the Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu for my annual vacation / pilgrimage from December 24 to December 31. On 27th when I checked my twitter account I was shocked beyond belief. It was full of the news of Farooque Sheikh’s untimely death. 65 is no age to leave the world. But alas! it happened in the case of Farooque Sheikh. He was in Dubai with his family for New Year vacation when the end came. He died of cardiac arrest.

During " Gaman " Days

During ” Gaman ” Days

My first memory of Farooque Sheikh goes back to 1978. I saw ” Gaman ” in the Amar Jyoti Talkies of Deoria, my home town. It’s swan song ” seene me jalan, aankhon me toofan sa kyon hai ; is shaher me har shakhs pareshan sa kyon hai ……. ” is still fresh in my memory. When I came out of the hall, I was amused. I felt that Farooque Sheikh was an unusual kind of leading man. He was not a typical Hindi film hero but his screen persona endured in my memory. After ” Gaman ” , I watched highly successful ” Noorie ” and the image of Farooque Sheikh became a permanent part of my life. Then came ” Umrao Jaan ” and ” Chashme Buddoor “, both in 1981 and this unconventional hero, with his wonderful diction, pleasant demeanor and smiling face became one of my all time favourites.

As Nawab in Umrao Jaan

As Nawab in Umrao Jaan

His notable films are ; ” Garam Hawa ” [ 1973 ] , ” Shatranj Ke Khiladi ” [ 1977 ] , ” Gaman ” [ 1978 ] , ” Noorie ” [ 1979 ] , ” Umrao Jaan ” [ 1981 ] , ” Chashme Buddoor ” [ 1981 ] , ” Saath Saath ” [ 1982 ] , ” Bazaar ” [ 1982 ] , ” Katha ” [ 1983 ] , ” Rang Birangi ” [ 1983 ] , ” Faasale ” [ 1985 ] , ” Ek Pal ” [ 1986 ] , ” Biwi Ho To Aisi ” [ 1988 ] , ” Maya Memsaab ” [ 1992 ] , ” Lahore ” [ 2009 ] , ” Shanghai ” [ 2012 ] , ” Listen ….. Amaya ” [ 2013 ] , ” Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani ” [ 2013 ] , & ” Club 60 ” [ 2013 ]. His last film ” Youngistan ” is yet to get released.

He won the 2010 National Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for Lahore.

In the late 90s, Farooq Sheikh acted in a number of television serials. Most famous of them are ” Chamatkar ” on Sony and ” Ji Mantriji ” on Star plus and ” Shrikant “, which was aired from 1985 to 1986. He compered in the Binny Double or Quits Quiz contest which was telecast over Vividh Bharathi. His also anchored the iconic TV show, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai (Season 1).

As TV Host of Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai with Shah Rukh Khan

As TV Host of Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai with Shah Rukh Khan

He performed on stage in famous productions such as Tumhari Amrita [ 1992 ], alongside Shabana Azmi, directed by Feroz Abbas Khan. This poignant playTumhari Amrita  ” [ 1992 ] completed its 20-year run on 26 February, 2012. A sequel to this play was staged in India in 2004 titled “Aapki Soniya” with Farooq Sheikh and Sonali Bendre as main leads. He also directed ” Aazar Ka Khwab “, an adaptation of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion in 2004.

I became an addict of his TV show, Jeena Isi Ka Naam Hai (Season 1). When I watched him on stage alongside Shabana Azmi, in famous productions ” Tumhari Amrita ” [ 1992 ], directed by Feroz Abbas Khan, I was mesmerized.

During " Tumhari Amrita " Days

During ” Tumhari Amrita ” Days

Years ago I played a small part in a play called ” SAARE JAHAN SE ACHCHHA “, Director by Aamir Raza Hussain . Farooque Sahab was supposed to be the narrator of the play. He couldn’t do the play because of some prior commitments and I lost this opportunity to be with him on the stage.

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It is sad that he went too soon. And he left us when he was on the comeback trail.

Insignia of Brand VIDUR

On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I offer my condolences to the family of Farooque Sheikh and all the near and dear ones.

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to join them in this hour of grief.

May his soul rest in peace!

[ I have taken list of his films, TV serials and plays from Wikipedia. I express profound gratitude. ]

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Hotel – 2 : Chennai [ Hotel Golden Tower ]


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 12 , 2012           01. 30 A.M.

Two days back on July 10 , 2012 , I posted my first blog about Hotels & Hospitality . Today I am posting my second blog in this category . First one was about a Udaipur hotel and this is about a hotel in Chennai .

Last year I visited Tirupati and was there for three days . I was there on November 21 , 22 & 23 , 2011 . On November 24 , 2011 I reached Chennai by Garudeshwar Express and checked into Hotel Golden Tower .

Chennai in India

Chennai in India (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Location of Hotel Golden Tower

Location of Hotel Golden Tower

Exterior View - Hotel Golden Tower

Exterior View – Hotel Golden Tower

Hotel Golden Tower is less than 1 km. from Chennai Central Railway Station . Location of this hotel is so convenient that if you have light luggage , you can drag your trolley bags and could walk to the hotel . Egmore Railway Station is just little far away but still quite approachable .

Its location is major attraction of this 2 Star property . Its rooms are spacious and full of natural light . Air conditioned rooms were nicely painted and are not claustrophobic , which I hate .

My Room in Hotel Golden Tower

My Room in Hotel Golden Tower

Study table near bed was conveniently placed . It was big and had a huge table lamp . Room had multiple sockets for charging your mobiles and laptops , which is so necessary today and which many hotel rooms lack or they simply don’t care .

Bathroom is rightly positioned in one corner of the room and is quite spacious and well – lit . Wardrobe is huge and clean . Naphthalene balls were thrown inside the wardrobe for nice smell .

My Room in Hotel Golden Tower

My Room in Hotel Golden Tower

It has wonderful multi cuisine veg restaurant at the ground floor . 24 hour Travel desk is also very efficient and helping .

Only negative point of this excellent hotel is its room service , which is not very efficient . May be language problem is a reason . Same was the case with reception . But I am willing to give them benefit of doubt because of the huge language barrier .

I stayed there for just 1 day and on November 25 , 2011 left for Vaitheeswarankoil and Puducherry . I had decided that after my return I will check into another hotel . But when I returned on November 29 , 2011 , I again chose Hotel Golden Tower and stayed there for 2 more days . I think its location and its restaurant could be the major reason for me to again stay in this hotel .

If you are willing to stay in a budget hotel in Chennai , which is centrally located , then Hotel Golden Tower is highly recommended by me .

My rating for this hotel is 3 Star out of 5 .

Address : 78 , E. V. R. Periyar High Road Periyamet , Chennai – 600 003

Website : http://www.goldentowerchennai.com

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Pongal the Food ; Not the Festival


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JANUARY 28 , 2012           01.40 A.M.

I always knew that Pongal is very important festival of Tamil Nadu . During my Allahabad days and then during my stay in Deoria , my native place , I came to know more about Pongal , the festival . This festival is akin to Makar Sankranti of North India .

An office in Tamil Nadu decorated for the fest...

Decoration for Pongal Festival

Pongal’s pan – Indian appeal is now known to all . Now even North Indians greet their Tamil friends on the occasion of Pongal .

Recently I went to Tamil Nadu for pilgrimage . Every single Tamil in the restaurant was ordering a dish for breakfast . It was called Pongal . I thought I am listening something else or simply I am not understanding the word properly . When a waiter approached me , he simply asked , what do you have sir ? Pongal – Dosai or Pongal – Vadai ? I was curious . I knew some of the South Indian delicacies like ; Dosa , Idali , Vada , Uthappam and Upma . I have eaten Appam also with Gassi , vegetables made in South Indian style . In deserts , I am fond of Thallaneer Payasam and Madurai Halwa . But Pongal ? I have never heard of this delicacy . Out of sheer curiosity , I ordered the dish .

Pongal

I was shocked beyond belief when I ate it . It was so delicious .

It is a dish made of coarse rice cooked with lot of water . More than normal water is used , so that it should  not become dry as normal rice . Pepper , ginger , salt and curry leaves are used to make it spicy . If you wish , you can add some dry fruits also to make it more tasty.

English: Pongal at City Home

Pongal Being Cooked

It is served hot with Rasam and Chutney . I had my sumptuous breakfast of Pongal – Vadai and immediately became addicted . I ate it daily till my last day of stay there.

I am not a food – writer . So I cannot write much about the elaborate cooking process of Pongal and my prose is also not very lucid . It is a lay man’s account of the dish , which is tasty beyond belief .

Pongal - Vadai

I got hooked to Pongal and shall remain so till the last breath of my life .

In a Restaurant at Vaitheeswarankoil , Tamil Nadu

 

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Vidur’s Travel Diary – 5 : Puducherry


CHENNAI – TAMILNADU – INDIA         NOVEMBER 30 , 2011            01.00 A.M.

After finishing Darshanam and Abhishekam yesterday , me and my wife proceeded for Chennai from Vaitheeswaramkoil in the morning . We reached Puduchery at noon and decided to visit few important places . If one is passing through Puducherry , is it possible to just escape the city and proceed further ?

In 1969 when I went to Allahabad for higher studies , one day me and my friend went to Universal Book Store to buy ” Savitri ” and ” Life Divine ” , books written by Maharshi Aurobindo . I couldn’t buy the books because of paucity of funds but my friend bought those books . He used to narrate few important things from those books and my admiration and respect for Maharshi Aurobindo grew . Unfortunately I was unable to visit Puducherry , which was known as Pondicherry at that time . So when I passed through Puduchery on November 25th , I decided to visit it thoroughly while returning from Vaitheeswarankoil .

Main road of Puducherry is adorned by beautiful gates . In my knowledge the only other city in India adorned with gates is Jaipur . But these gates are very different . They carry distinct French style .

Gate of Puducherry City

After this gate , the most important thing in Puducherry is Sri Aurubindo Ashram . Ashram is closed from 2.00 t0 4.00 . I am sorry that I reached there at 1.45 and spent only 15 minutes there . I could visit the Samadhi of Sri Aurobindo and Sri Maa and I am happy that I could pay my obeisance there . Photography is not allowed inside , so I could not click photos of Samadhi .

With My Wife at Aurubindo Ashram Gate

My Wife at Sri Aurubindo Ashram

The promenade of Puducherry is something to be seen to be believed . It is different from Marina Beach Chennai and Juhu Beach , Mumbai . It’s old name was Rue Du Rampart and now it is called Beach Road .

Beach Road - Puducherry

Beach Road - Puducherry , Another View

My Wife at Beach Road - Boat House Chunambur in the Background

Very close to Sri Aurobindo Ashram is Vinayak Temple , most famous temple of Puducherry .

With My Wife at Vinayak Temple Gate

After Vinayak Temple we again returned to Beach Road . At one end there is a magnificient Gandhi statue .

Mahatma Gandhi Statue at Beach Road

Pondicherry , apart from Sri Aurubindo , also belongs to Subramanya Bharthi , a great modern Tamil poet . His house was declared a national memorial. I went to visit it but it is sad that it has been closed two years ago . Millions are spent on the memorials of Gandhi – Nehru family but it is appalling that a national poet of the stature of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar a.k.a. Subramanya Bharathi is so neglected . Totally disappointed and crest – fallen , I returned from his so – called memorial

House of Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathiyar

There is another worthwhile monument near Puducherry . It is called Auruville . It is 12 km. from the main town .Auroville is a global village conceptualised by Sri Maa . It was raining heavily and we were wet , so the picture is not very clear .

With my Wife at Matru Mandir - Auroville

With visit to Auroville , my Puducherry visit ended . I returned to Chennai . While sitting in the room of Hotel Golden Tower , while I am writing this blog , I am thinking about Puducherry . It is very different from other Indian cities . Have you seen such kind of lanes and by – lanes anywhere in India ?

A Lane of Puducherry

Or do you think such kind of structure for a Church is prevalent anywhere in India ?

A Church of Puducherry

Puducherry was a French Colony and was known as Pondicherry then  . After India’s independence , French government decided to hand over this colony to Indian government and on November 01 , 1954 Pondicherry came under India’s rule and was made a Union Territory on November 01 , 1956 . At the time of transfer of power French government insisted that the distinct French character if this town should be maintained . It is heartening that this pledge is maintained by our government and Puducherry remains unique and distinct .

As usual when I am about to finish the blog , I am contemplating about my next visit and as usual words of Hindi poet Agyeya come to my with a teasing reminder :

पार्श्व गिरि का नम्र चीड़ों में , डगर चढ़ती उमंगों सी ;

बिछी पैरों में नदी ज्यों दर्द की रेखा , विहग शिशु मौन नीड़ों में ; 

मैंने आँख भर देखा , दिया मन को दिलासा ; 
पुनः आऊँगा , भले ही बरस दिन , अनगिन युगों के बाद ;

क्षितिज ने पलक सी खोली , दमक कर दामिनी बोली ;
” अरे यायावर ! रहेगा याद ? “
………………………………………………..अज्ञेय
[ Tenderness of mighty mountains reflected in pine trees ,
Upward moving pathways symbolizing my enthusiasm ,
River , flowing deep down like a line of pain ,
Tiny tots of birds sitting silently in their nest ,
I saw everything with contentment ,
Consoled myself , I would come again ,
After a year or may be after ages ……….
Horizon opened its eyes , lightning dazzled in the sky ,
As if saying ………………
O Wanderer ! Would you ever even remember ? ]
But in case of Pondicherry , I know that I would be visiting the town soon . After Deoria , my place of birth and after Mumbai , my place of work , if I have to settle in any other city ever , it would be Puducherry .

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