Saturday, December 18, 2010

Vellore: The Old and The New Charms: 18 May 2008

View Vellore in a larger map

This was back in May 2008, my nephew had finished his exams and my bro and SIL came down to Blr. to see me. They instructed me, no long tours for them this time but may be a couple of days to visit nearby places. So we decided on Vellore and a picnic to Nandi Hills and took them around the neighboorhood, Basavangudi. I need to post about both Nandi hills and Basavangudi but later. This post is about Vellore. Well we chose Vellore as it was only 3 hrs away from Blr. and it was in 2007-2008 that the whole of India was talking about this 600 crore project of GOLD!

Yes you guessed it right, The Golden Mahalaxmi temple! Even the skeptics wanted to visit it. The grandeur and the fact that there was a new spiritual guru on the horizon, as if India lacked the breed. My elder SIL is a stereotype all that glitters attracts her so this temple visit sounded like a happening thing for even my bro. So I went to check out the KSTDC site and got to know they had started a weekly tour to Vellore as throngs of visitors poured in to a city which has been on the tourist map for some of its old world charm in the past. KSTDC is always careful about combining the old and the new I have noted in many of their tour, I was satisfied to join the trip as it mentioned Vellore Fort and Jalagandeshwara Temple. On the way to Vellore we were to stop at Padmavathi temple in Krishnagiri too.This tour starts at 6.30 am from KSTDC office opposite Bangalore Corporation and drops you back there at 11.30 pm.

We take the Hosur road upto Krishnagiri and the first stop is at the Padmavathi temple. We find that it is still under construction. It is built by the Marwari community to honor a Sati and has influence of Marwar in it, like the broken glass work and the minakari.

Further we proceeded to Vellore. I was quite impressed by the first sights of the fort. Yes Vellore is a fort city, with an ever expanding periphery. This is one of the oldest city in South India. Has had a steady growth right from the days of being the capital of the Vijayanagar Empire. It boasts of one of the best Medical college in India that creates doctors with a passion for social service. The moat surrounding it adds to the Majesty of the fort. We drive around it a bit and go straight into the fort to worship Lord Shiva in the Jalagandeshwara Temple.

The magnificent Gopuram welcomes you in. When we visited it was May and we had to remove our footwear outside the temple and run on the cobblestones barefoot, scalding our soles.On entering the compound of the temple on the left side is a huge Kalyana Mandapa exquisitely carved. It is said this temple was used as an arsenal and the Shiva linga is a recent addition.

The compound was huge and and people found little shaded nooks to have the curd rice which was handed out as prasad. It was very tasty and help beat the heat a bit. Later we walked to the small museum which had lot of trees around and in the heat got some respite. After this we had food and proceeded to the Mahalaxmin Golden temple in Sripuram.

The temple is situated on a hillock and spread over a 100 acres. It is kept spic and span and even wheelchairs are provided and one of the volunteers helps push it for the disabled, all the way up the star shaped path. The shape of the path is thus to represent a Srichakra. It guides the people to walk thru the 12 spikes and on the way are interspersed message boards on humanity and righteousness. The Shakti Maa is dress elaborately in the sanct sanctorium. The temple is covered with several layers of gold. There is a pond surrounding the temple, where people drop offerings of gold, silver, coins etc.

Mahalaxmi Golden Temple, Sripuram

Am wondering if this guru aims at attracting all the materialistic people by building such a temple and via which leads them on the path of righteousness. I can be skeptical like usual but I also trust in the goodness of people.  I am also impressed at how we in India allow people to just be. Good thing is this sleepy town is now giving rise to a new kind of tourism. Even the nearby Vellore which has been a hot bed for medical tourism is now doing better with Sripuram in the vicinity. Hope there will be no scandals casting their shadow on this place. It's been two years since I visited and public frenzy over it has reduced much or may be it is not in the media much but the no. of visitors has grown. 

1 comment:

Indian Bazaars said...

Nice and informative post! Anjali, have a great 2011...