Monday, 24 December, 2007
Mahabalipuram was a 7th century port city of the South Indian dynasty of the Pallavas around 60 km south from the city of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. It is believed to have been named after the Pallava king Mamalla. It has various historic monuments built largely between the 7th and the 9th century, and has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The monuments are mostly rock-cut and monolithic, and constitute the early stages of Dravidian architecture wherein Buddhist elements of design are prominently visible. They are constituted by cave temples, monolithic rathas (chariots), sculpted reliefs and structural temples. The pillars are of the Dravidian order. The sculptures are excellent examples of Pallava art.
It is believed by some that this area served as a school for young sculptors. The different sculptures, some half finished, may have been examples of different styles of architecture, probably demonstrated by instructors and practiced on by young students. This can be seen in the Pancha Rathas where each Ratha is sculpted in a different style.
The Pamban Bridge on the Palk Strait connects Pamban island to mainland India. It refers to both the road bridge and the cantilever railway bridge, though primarily it means the latter. It is the longest sea bridge in India at a length of about 2.3 km.From the elevated two-lane road bridge, adjoining islands and the parallel rail bridge below can be viewed.The railway bridge is 6,776 ft (2,065 m) and was opened for traffic in 1914. The railroad bridge contains a still-functioning vertical lift section that can be raised to let ships pass under the bridge.The railway bridge historically carried meter-gauge trains on it, but Indian Railways upgraded the bridge to carry broad-gauge trains in a project that finished Aug. 12, 2007.
The bridge spans a 2 km-straight between mainland India and Rameshwaram island and is the only surface transport link between the two.
The straight, part of the larger Adam's Bridge (also known as Rama's Bridge), is famous for the bridge and scenic beauty. The channel was not damaged in the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and tsunami.
[This vidoe is the temple's Southern tower 170 ft high]
The Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple or Meenakshi Amman Temple (Tamil: மீனாக்ஷி அம்மன் கோவில்) is a historic Hindu temple located in the holy city of Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva (in the form of Sundareswarar or Beautiful Lord) and his consort, Goddess Parvati (in the form of Meenakshi or Fish-eyed Goddess). The temple forms the heart and lifeline of the 2500 year old city of Madurai, home of the Tamil language.
According to Hindu legends, Lord Shiva, in the form of Sundareswarar, with his divine group of followers, appeared here in Madurai, to marry Pandya King Malayadwaja Pandya's daughter, Meenakshi, believed to be an incarnation of Hindu Goddess Parvati. This temple is one of the most sacred abodes of Parvati, others being Kamakshi of Kanchipuram, Akilandeswari of Thiruvanaikaval and Vishalakshi of Varanasi.
The temple has a stunning architecture and it was a frontrunner in the election for the modern seven wonders of the world for its architectural importance. The complex houses 12 magnificent gopurams or towers that are elaborately sculptured and painted. The temple is a significant symbol for the Tamil people, and has been mentioned since antiquity in Tamil literature, though the present structure is believed to have been built only recently in the early 17th century.
One of the Aru Padaiveedu, the six main abodes of Lord Muruga, Tiruparankunram offers a mystic beauty. It is carved in rock and is monstrous in size for such an architecture. It is where the lord marries Deivanai, the divine daughter of the king of heaven, Indra. The temple is located 5 miles from Madurai in India. In the main shrine, apart from Muruga, deities of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu, Lord Vinayaka and Goddess Durga are housed.
One of the curious thing about this temple is that, the Gods Shiva and Vishnu face each other in the main shrine, and this is a rare thing in ancient Hindu temples. This is because Hinduism always held two distinct worshipping groups - Shaivites (worshippers of Lord Shiva) and Vaishnavites (worshippers of Lord Vishnu). Outside the temple there is a beautiful pond where, according to Temple tradition, the fishes are served with salt and rice flakes by the devotees. There is also a Vedic school adjacent to the banks of the temple pond.
The Palace, on the east main street is a series of large and rambling buildings of fine masonry, built partly by the Nayaks around 1550 AD, and partly by the Marathas. The entrance is by way of a large quandrangular courtyard. The encircling walls are pierced by big gateways to the north and east. The courtyard leads to a many-pillared hall. A small inner courtyard gives access to a large one.
On the southern side of the third quadrangle is a vimana like building, 190 feet high with eight storeys and it is the Goodagopuram. This was the palace watch tower and also the armoury of the Thanjavur Kings till 1855 A.D.
The two Durbar Halls of the Nayaks and the Mahrattas and the Raja Sarafoji Saraswathi Mahal Library are the chief sights of the Palace. The Saraswathi Mahal Library has remarkable collection of about 30,433 sanskrit and other vernacular palm leaf manuscripts and 6,426 printed volumes, besides a large number of journals. The library is the effort of the three hundred years of collections by the Nayak and Mahratta kings.
Madamaligai is the tower which rises from the palace roof beyond the Goodagopuram. It has six storeys. It is believed that this was built by Nayak ruler to enable him worship Sri Ranganatha of Srirangam every mid-day. This many storeyed tower was destroyed by lightning and was subsequently repaired and preserved.
The Sangita Mahal or the Music Hall is a miniature of the surviving court of Thirumalai Nayak's.
Sunday, 23 December, 2007
Thirumalai Nayak Palace is a 17th century palace was built by King Thirumalai Nayak, one of the Madurai Nayak rulers in 1636 AD in the city of Madurai, India. This Palace was built with the help of an Italian Architect and is a classic fusion of Dravidian, Islamic and European styles. The building, which can be seen today, was the main Palace where the king lived. The original Palace Complex was four times bigger than the present structure. In its heyday, Tirumalai Nayak's Palace at Madurai was considered to be one of the wonders of the South.
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thirumalai_Nayakar_Mahal
 Thousand Pillar Hall
The Aayiram Kaal Mandapam or thousand pillar hall is of very high sculptural importance and contains 985 (instead of 1000) magnificiently carved pillars and maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The thousand pillar hall is supposed to have been built by Arya Natha Mudaliyar, the Prime Minister of the first Nayaka of Madurai (1559-1600 A.D.), the founder of 'Poligar System'. An equestrian statue of the Mudaliyar flanks one side of the steps leading to the 'mandapam'. Each pillar is sculptured and is a monument of the Dravidan sculpture. There is a Temple Art Museum in this 1000 pillars hall where you can see icons, photographs, drawings, etc., exhibiting the 1200 years old history. Just outside this mandapam, towards the west, are the Musical Pillars. Each pillar, when struck, produces a different musical note. The kalyana mandapa, to the south of the pillared hall, is where the marriage of Shiva and Parvati is celebrated every year during the Chithirai Festival in mid-April.
Source: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meenakshi_Temple