Think of it before…you light one!! Saw at a mall in Bangalore last year!!
During my recent trip to Ahmedabad for a conference, I had the opportunity to visit the Balaji temple in Ahmedabad. The Tirupati Balaji temple has been built in conjunction of the two entities of Ahmedabad Andhra Mahasabha and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. This place is on the S.G.Highway which links Sarkhej and Gadhinagar to each other. The entire temple is built with granite stones and they have been carved at Tirupati. The nearest landmark is the presence of Nirma University located just opposite the temple, the place where our conference was going on.
The temple has high, forty feet high Gopuram, which is the main gate to any temple. Just before entering the temple, we can see the beautiful statues of Garuda and Hanuman, constructed on each side of the Gopuram (Temple entrance). It was a sunday morning that i went to the temple and pooja was going on. The temple had few devotees on that day and i had a nice darshan of the prime deity, Sri Balaji. After the darshan, as i took a walk around the temple, i was amazed by a line of statues (total 10) placed in the park near the exit gate that depicts the Dasavatharams (10 avatars) of Lord Vishnu.
As a whole, the temple is stunning and its complex houses numerous other small structures as well such as the Kalyana mandapam, Information centre, Veda Vidyalaya, Art and Cultural centre among others.
After a few days of heavy work and studies, it was time for some relaxation. The place was finalised by our Chief as Uthandi, a small beach near Chennai, Tamil nadu. So, on the saturday evening, after the work hours, we started out in our cars to Uthandi. Uthandi is a lesser known beach near Chennai, located around 30km from the Central railway station and CMBT (Chennai Mofussil Bus Stand), Chennai each, in the ECR (East Coast Road) along the way to Pondicherry. There are a plenty of buses going along the ECR that we can take to reach Uthandi, roughly an hour travel. Another choice would be to hire a cab from Chennai that will take you to the beach in 30-45 minutes.
We reached Uthandi around 4 pm and took rest in the Beach club house that was arranged by our Chief (our sincere thanks to him). We were welcomed by the hot, refreshing tea and onion bhajji (a spicy Indian snack) from the canteen there. After the refreshments, some of my friends headed to the swimming pool in the club house to take a dip in the waters and another group started playing the cricket in the gardens! Not interested in any of these immediately, i started off to the beach alone, with my camera. I was soon taken over by the beauty of this small beach, that is tucked away from the crowded Chennai city.
There is no good road to the beach from the main ECR, but only muddy roads with small guest houses on either sides of the roads, stray dogs roaming freely on the road. But, as I walk closer to the beach, I could feel the cool breeze of the sea, and the fishy odour of the beach. Uthandi is mainly a fishermen village, and fishing is the main occupation, and so, the fishy odour of the place. The village of Uthandi was to my left and i could see the boats, all arranged along the shore after the day’s catch , and the women working with their husbands to separate out the best catch that will fetch them some good money, and the small children playing in the beach, collecting shells that will be used later for making necklaces and ornaments for sale. One of the boys saw me take snaps ans started giving a solo dance performance:-)
A lonely fisherman was setting out to the sea ( ? for second round of catch) and there was a family who had come to enjoy the evening beach. The good point about Uthandi is the minimal crowd that visits the beach. So, a good place to relax in the evening with friends or family.
As I was enjoying the scene and the beauty of the sea, the weather suddenly changed, and clouds were setting in for the monsoon rain. And there was the beautiful rainbow that comes before the rain. I took a few more snaps and , as the sun was setting down, returned to the club house. Then, i too went to the swimming pool to take a quick dip before our dinner program.
Uthandi is a lesser known beach with its own beauty near Chennai. Any traveller to Chennai, planning to go to Pondicherry or Mahabalipuram, can take a short stay at Uthandi to enjoy the free, less crowded beach. Happy travelling:-)
Sunset with all its glory is a beautiful scene to watch. The golden rays of the sun and the chill breeze of a beach is the best thing one who loves nature will always cherish. On one such evening, as a part of our conference trip to Mumbai, I had this beautiful scene. The loving couple and the bird in flight added to the beauty of the photo
The rest of the day was spent visiting Mattanchery where we went to the Dutch palace, the Paradesi Synagogue and a walk through the shops of the Jew town.
The Mattancherry palace was built by the Portugese traders for the then King of Kochi, Veera Kerala Varma in 1555 AD. The palace was later renovated by the Dutch in 1663 AD and hence called also as the Dutch Palace. The palace is an absolute beauty in its architecture based on the traditional Kerala ”Nallukettu” style of architecture. The walls of the palace contains a lot of paintings depicting scenes from the Hindu epics of “Ramayana” and “Krishna Leela”. Also, the detailed paintings showing the development of today’s Kochi from the times of ancient Rajas of Kochi to the visit of the Portugese, the Dutch and the British can be seen. Amongst the other exhibits in the palace are an ivory palanquin, a howdah, royal umbrellas, ceremonial dress used by the royalty, coins, stamps and drawings. The palace is now a protected monument under the Archeological Society of India.
Situated in between the Mattancherry Palace and the Paradesi Synagogue is the “Pazhayannur Bhagavathy Temple”, the ancestral deity of the Cochin Royal Family. The temple with royal patronage shares its wall with the Jewish synagogue and the Mattancherry Palace.
Our final stop was the Marine Drive, where we took a stroll along the Marine Walkway and at either ends of the walkway , we had a scenic look at the Kochi coastline by climbing over the Chinese fishing net bridge and the Rainbow bridge. The place also has a lot of shopping malls for those planning for a quick purchase.Finally, it was 6:30 pm and we had to rush back to our hotel room to pack our baggages and catch our bus from Woodlands junction, Kochi at 08:30 pm. Relaxing in the bus, heading back home to Chennai, I decided to make sure to take more time during my next visit to Kochi to enjoy the full flavour of Kerala. The memories of Kochi is sure to last for a long time with me:-)