Saturday, December 1, 2012

50 things to do in Tamil Nadu







The Great Living Chola Temple at Thanjavur.

How many of us have a bucket list of places to go and things to do there but never get around to actually going there or doing them.

1. Eat a meal on a banana leaf — there's a belief that it might cure Parkinson 's disease
2. Visit the Great Living Chola Temples, the UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 10th century
3. Go to Ooty on the Nilgiri Mountain Railway — it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a legacy of remarkable British engineering
RIDING THE NILGIRI MOUNTAIN RAILWAY



On a cold morning, a crowd of people rush to board the 662SR Mettupalayam-Udhagamandalam (Nilagiri) Passenger.

4. Get blessed by an elephant — how often can you get one?
5. Visit the Cholamandalam Artists' Village, the pride of modern Tamil Art
6. Take an auto ride in Chennai. Chennai auto-drivers even have their own websites. Plus, it is the luxury of the middle-class.
7. Taste idli and dosa and wonder how many types of chutneys exist in Tamil Nadu. We are really a bunch of choosy pickers when it comes to idli and dosa!
8. Watch a Rajanikanth film in a movie theatre, if possible on the first day to understand the definition of hero worship!


Jallikattu - the blood-sport of bull-taming.

9. Participate in Jallikattu -- bull taming -- in Madurai. Or, if you're chicken, just watch!
10. Find and listen to your favourite Ilayaraja or A R Rahman song — everybody's got to have one!
11. Men, sport a moustache. And women, plait your hair and decorate it with a garland of fragrant jasmine flowers!
12. Decorate the front of your house with kolam — a more decorative and artistic rendition of rangoli -- and hang bunches of harvested paddy outside your home for the birds to feed on. (We have our own homegrown Kolam Picassos, and the patterns they come out with are astonishing!)
13. Drink strong filter coffee In a Tamil-style cup and saucer known as davarah and tumbler


The five rathas at Mahabalipuram.

14. Visit the shore temples of Mahabalipuram (another UNESCO World Heritage Site of the 7th century) and admire the art of sculpting in this little town
15. Wander around to wonder at the Indo-Saracenic and Gothic style buildings of Chennai, some of which are over a hundred years old
16. Visit Pondicherry to marvel at the French Architecture (and our own French Connection)
17. Beat the heat by eating all your summer fruit glazed with a layer of salt-and-chilli-powder mixture! Cucumber, unripe mango, gooseberry, guava and pineapple taste best like this. And drink tender coconut or buttermilk or sugarcane juice to quench your thirst. And if you like it aerated, there's Bovonto, our very own answer to Coca Cola!
18. Shop for beautiful silk sarees at Kancheepuram (the Chinese may have invented silk, but Tamils perfected it)
19. Celebrate Pongal by cooking sweet rice outdoors in clay pots or join the annual celebration of Elephant Pongal at Top Slip
20. Buy Horlicks for someone sick
21. Feed crows on special occasions
22. Whistle for Chennai Super Kings at M A Chidambaram stadium!
23. Attend Thiruvaiyaru Music Festival
24. Visit Pichavaram, the world's second largest mangrove forests, for the Dawn Fest or Vidiyal Vizha
25. Sanctify your new dresses with turmeric



The imposing Matri Mandir at Auroville

26. Visit Auroville, the international commune near Pondicherry
27. Visit the Toda tribal village in the Nilgiris (also learn about the other tribes -- Badaga, Irula, Kota and Kurumba)
28. Go to Natyanjali Dance Festival celebrated at the 1,000-year-old Chidambaram temple near Cuddalore. The dance hall is adorned with pillars exhibiting the classic 108 poses of Lord Nataraja.
29. Go on a parisal (coracle) ride in Hogenakkal
30. Watch the magical kurinji flower bloom in Kodaikanal. It blooms every 12 years and the next bloom is in 2018
31. Widen your understanding of Tamil culture and architecture at Dakshina Chitra, Muttukadu
32. Go to Sittanavasal in Pudukkottai district to see some of the oldest Jain paintings
33. Visit the iconic Madurai Meenakshi temple
34. Ride into the Mudumalai Tiger Reserve on an elephant
35. Explore corals and other marine life in a glass-bottomed boat in the Gulf of Mannar Marine National Park
36. Visit Karaikudi to experience the vibrant Chettinad culture, architecture and food
37. Watch Theerthavari in Mahamaham Tank, Kumbakonam, held once in 12 years. A dip in the tank is believed to offer the combined benefits of a bath in all the sacred rivers. The next Mahamaham is in 2016.


Dindigul near Madurai has earned the name of Biryani City.
38. Taste some regional speciality dishes and snacks -- Dindigul biryani, Manaparai muruku, Thirunelveli halwa, Madurai jigar thanda and Kumbakonam coffee
39. Visit the Birla Science Planetarium in Chennai


A lake surrounded by tea gardens in Meghamalai.

40. Spot endangered wildlife in Meghamalai in Theni district. Meghamalai is also known for its spice tourism with a variety of plantations including tea, coffee, pepper, cardamom and cinnamon.
41. Throw rice on the bride and groom at a Tamil wedding. Rice signifies prosperity and fertility
42. Buy a pair of Kuthu Vilakku — brass lamps -- from Nachiyar Kovil in Kumbakonam. Every public event and home celebration begins only after these brass lamps are lit.
43. Witness the making of bronze statues using the traditional Lost-Wax process at Swamimalai near Kumbakonam
44. Join the Students' Sea Turtle Conservation Network (SSTCN) volunteers on a night walk along the beaches of Chennai to conserve and create awareness about the endangered Olive Ridley Sea Turtle.
45. Enjoy the panoramic view of Tiruchi and Srirangam from Tiruchi Malai Kotai Rock Fort
46. Get your picture on a street poster or a billboard for some reason (marriage, birthday, welcoming a political leader, coming-of-age ritual, ear-piercing ritual, or just to wish your favourite actor or sports star!)


Flamingos at Pulicat Lake.

47. Go birdwatching in any of the birding hotspots -- Vedanthangal , Pulicat Lake, Kunthakulam or Point Calimere
48. Taste the Mukkani -- three supreme and heavenly fruits -- mango, jackfruit and banana
49. Try to know your future from Nadi Jothidam - these are palm manuscript horoscopes written hundreds of years ago for every individual on earth. Or try parrot astrology or palmistry.
50. Walk amidst lush green paddy fields.




Friday, November 30, 2012

Why to Visit Temples?


Why to Visit Temples?
(Scientific Reason)


There are thousands of temples all over India in different size, shape and locations but not all of them are considered to be built the Vedic way. Generally, a temple should be located at a place where earth’s magnetic wave path passes through densely. It can be in the outskirts of a town/village or city, or in middle of the dwelling place, or on a hilltop. The essence of visiting a temple is discussed here.



Now, these temples are located strategically at a place where the positive energy is abundantly available from the magnetic and electric wave distributions of north/south pole thrust. The main idol is placed in the core center of the temple, known as “*Garbhagriha*” or *Moolasthanam*. In fact, the temple structure is built after the idol has been placed. This *Moolasthanam* is where earth’s magnetic waves are found to be maximum. We know that there are some copper plates, inscribed with Vedic scripts, buried beneath the Main Idol. What are they really?  No, they are not God’s / priests’ flash cards when they forget the *shlokas*. The copper plate absorbs earth’s magnetic waves and radiates it to the surroundings. Thus a person regularly visiting a temple and walking clockwise around the Main Idol receives the beamed magnetic waves and his body absorbs it. This is a very slow process and a regular visit will let him absorb more of this positive energy. Scientifically, it is the positive energy that we all require to have a healthy life.


Further, the Sanctum is closed on three sides. This increases the effect of all energies. The lamp that is lit radiates heat energy and also provides light inside the sanctum to the priests or *poojaris* performing the pooja. The ringing of the bells and the chanting of prayers takes a worshipper into trance, thus not letting his mind waver. When done in groups, this helps people forget personal problems for a while and relieve their stress.
The fragrance from the flowers, the burning of camphor give out the chemical energy further aiding in a different good aura. The effect of all these energies is supplemented by the positive energy from the idol, the copper plates and utensils in the *Moolasthan*am / *Garbagraham*. *Theertham*, the “holy” water used during the pooja to wash the idol is not plain water cleaning the dust off an idol. It is a concoction of Cardamom,*Karpura* (Benzoin), zaffron / saffron, *Tulsi* (Holy Basil), Clove, etc…Washing the idol is to charge the water with the magnetic radiations thus increasing its medicinal values. Three spoons of this holy water is distributed to devotees. Again, this water is mainly a source of magneto-therapy.


Besides, the clove essence protects one from tooth decay, the saffron & *Tulsi* leafs protects one from common cold and cough, cardamom and *Pachha Karpuram* (benzoin), act as mouth fresheners. It is proved that *Theertham* is a very good blood purifier, as it is highly energized. Hence it is given as *prasadam* to the devotees. This way, one can claim to remain healthy by regularly visiting the Temples. This is why our elders used to suggest us to offer prayers at the temple so that you will be cured of many ailments. They were not always superstitious.


Yes, in a few cases they did go overboard when due to ignorance they hoped many serious diseases could be cured at temples by deities. When people go to a temple for the *Deepaaraadhana*, and when the doors open up, the positive energy gushes out onto the persons who are there. The water that is sprinkled onto the assemblages passes on the energy to all. This also explains why men are not allowed to wear shirts at a few temples and women are requested to wear more ornaments during temple visits. It is through these jewels (metal) that positive energy is absorbed by the women. Also, it is a practice to leave newly purchased jewels at an idol’s feet and then wear them with the idol’s blessings.

This act is now justified after reading this article. This act of “seeking divine blessings” before using any new article, like books or pens or automobiles may have stemmed from this through mere observation. Energy lost in a day’s work is regained through a temple visit and one is refreshed slightly. The positive energy that is spread out in the entire temple and especially around where the main idol is placed, are simply absorbed by one’s body and mind. Did you know, every Vaishnava (Vishnu devotees), “must” visit a Vishnu temple twice every day in their location.

Our practices are NOT some hard and fast rules framed by 1 man and his followers or God’s words in somebody’s dreams. All the rituals, all the practices are, in reality, well researched, studied and scientifically backed thesis which form the ways of nature to lead a good healthy life. The scientific and research part of the practices are well camouflaged as “elder’s instructions” or “granny’s teaching’s” which should be obeyed as a mark of respect so as to once again, avoid stress to the mediocre brains.