Vaikunta Ekadasi – Srirangam – 2018-2019 (Updated)

Vaikunta Ekadasi Srirangam 2018

Vaikunta Ekadasi, the most renowned festival which the Vaishnavites consider to be the most auspicious amidst all functions and rituals. Also, we name it as the Paradise Tour and  the Vaishnavites celebrate the festival in a very grand manner in Srirangam. First of all, among all the 108 Divyadesams, Srirangam is  the most sacred topping the list. Not only in Srirangam, the devotees following the Vaishnavism celebrate Vaikunta Ekadasi  in all Vishnu temples across the country.

Srirangam Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival Schedule
– December 2018 
2018 December 7 Thirunedunthandagam

2018 December 8

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 1day

2018 December 9

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 2 day

2018 December 10

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 3 day

2018 December 11

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 4day

2018 December 12

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 5 day

2018 December 13

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 6 day

2018 December 14

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 7 day

2018 December 15

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 8 day

2018 December 16

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 9 day

2018 December 17

Mohini Alankaram

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Pagalpatthu 10 day

2018 December 18

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 1 day

Vaikunda Ekadasi – Sorga Vasal Opening (4.45 AM)
Moolavar Muthangi seva, Namperumal Rathnangi seva

2018 December 19

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 2 day

Moolavar Muthangi seva

2018 December 20

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 3 day

Moolavar Muthangi seva

2018 December 21

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 4 day

Moolavar Muthangi seva

2018 December 22

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 5 day

Moolavar Muthangi seva

2018 December 23

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 6 day

Moolavar Muthangi seva

2018 December 24

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 7 day
Moolavar Muthangi seva, Namperumal Kaithala seva,

Nammalwar Mohini Alankaran

2018 December 25

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 8 day

Thirumangaimannan Vedupari – Namperumal Horse vahanam

2018 December 26

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 9 day

2018 December 27

Sri Namperumal – Vaikunda Ekadasi Festival – Irappatthu (night) 10 day

Theerthavari

2018 December 28

Nammalwar Moksham XI day Festival

Vaikunta Ekadasi Paramapada Vasal Thirappu at Srirangam:

Basically, the temple authorities plan to conduct the rituals and celebrations for Vaikunta Ekadasi in a very exhaustive manner for a period of twenty one days. The functions marking the commencement of Vaikunta Ekadasi 2018  falls on 18th December 2018 . They call the ritual as Thirunedunthandagam.

The next day will be the starting of the Pagal Pathu celebrations. For the subsequent ten days, the clans of the designated set of people recite the verses from the Vaishnavite canon Nalayira Dhivya Prabhandham. This has been a custom since the early centuries.

Following day after the Pagal Pathu is the auspicious day of Vaikunta Ekadasi.On the day of Vaikunta Ekadasi, the presiding deity, Lord Renganathaswamy gets dressed up very gorgeously. Finally He comes out of the Door to Heaven called “Paramapadha Vaasal” . And lakhs of devotees witness Him coming out of the Door to Heaven and worship Him.

This ceremonious ritual will normally be before dawn at around 4 am. Furthermore,You can see huge crowd of devotees assembling in the temple premises from the previous night itself.

Following the day of Vaikunta Ekadasi, there is another series of celebrations called Ira Pathu . it is taken over by Araiyars for the next subsequent ten days starting from Vaikunta Ekadasi.

Basically, the Araiyars are the clans of a set of people who recite the verses from Naalayira Dhivya Prabhandham. And the recitation is graced with amazing dance performances . The disciples call the series of recitals as Araiyar Sevai.

And thousands of tourists and devotees visit Srirangam every day for all the 21 days. Besides the religious rituals, you can find Srirangam in a celebration mode with festivities and shopping areas. Srirangam is so endearing to the Vaishnavites across the country and the globe as well and people believe it to be very sacred to take part in this Vaikunta Ekadasi festival.

Eventually, the devotees believe that worshipping Lord Rengantha Swamy when he comes out of the Door to Paradsie will relieve us from the cycles of births and deaths and to attain salvation.


Thiruvanaikaval Jambugeswarar Temple – Kumbabishekam 2018 | The Consecration Ceremony

The most significant event, that is going to take place in the small area Tiruvanaikoil, in the south indian state Tiruchirapalli, Tamil Nadu is the talk of the state today. The consecration ceremony of the most popular Jembugeswarar temple in Tiruvanaikoil is scheduled on 12th December, 2018, and the city has been witnessing thousands of devotees for the past few days.

The historic significance of this temple has made this place a sacred center . Tiruvanaikoil is one of the five temples dedicated to Lord Shiva representing the FIVE cosmic elements and this temple is for “Water”. The presiding deity is in the form of a small Linga idol and the base of the idol is always wet due to the constant water base and He is also called “Appu Lingam”, as in Sanskrit, Appu means Water.

 

It is quite amazing to see that the Lingh idol in the Sanctum Sanctorium is partially or fully immersed in water all through the year irrespective of the water levels in the nearby river Cauvery. The architecture  of this temple is around 1500 years old , but still being witnessed as a testimony of the engineering knowledge our ancestors possessed. All you need is four to five hours of your time to witness the architectural wonder of the temple and particularly the mystic beauty of the hundreds of bilaterally symmetrical pillars built on both sides of the corridor on your way from Lord Shiva’s sanctum to his counterpart’s. The temple is so big that there are five streets surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. The outermost street of the temple is a circular path of four kilometers distance. People used to have a pilgrim walk covering the distance every month on a full moon day and it is quite interesting that the number of pilgrims increases month on month.

Another thing which makes us spell bound in this temple is the idol of the Goddess Akilandeswari which is one among the very rare huge statues found across the country. There is an interesting story behind. Since the time of inception, she was uncontrollably furious in olden days, punishing the devotees without any reason. Once, the Saint Adi Sankara, who introduced the Advaita principle to the world, visited this temple. Finding her so furious, he adorned her with two big ear rings by name “Thaadangam” and made her staying cool always and blessing her devotees with whatever they have wished for. You can witness those earrings even today. One more special event which you can never see in any of the temples in India is that, every day exactly at 12 noon, the priest in the shrine dresses up as Goddess Akilandeshwari and does the Pooja to Lord Shiva which is a feast to the eyes and you may get the chance of being greeted by an elephant too.

 

The legend says, there were a spider and an elephant worshipping Lord Shiva every day. As elephant saw the spider’s nest , it would clean it immediately with the water carried it in its tusk. And this routine continued for many days. When both met, the spider furiously went inside the elephant’s ears to trouble him and on account of this, both died. Historians say that the spider was the Chola King Kochengatkanan who built this temple and he  was very careful that no elephant can enter into the sanctum which is  unusual practice compared to the other Shiva temples.

The entire area has worn a festive look with the gorgeous decorations of all the shrines in the temple premises. Devotees from different parts of the state and country have thronged the city to attend this magnificent event. The celebrities popular in different fields have been visiting the temple and the nearby sacred monastery and offering their worships.

This festival has indirectly paved way for numerous small scale vendors who have emerged along the streets with their small shops attracting the children and the elders alike. The region around the temple has become a popular getaway for many.

 

The exhaustive schedules for rituals and poojas are in place for the past one week. Special arrangements have been made by the local authorities for vehicles parking and dining. Even otherwise, there are number of small hotels around the temple, where you can finish all your three meals at a very reasonable price.

The four gateway towers on all the four directions, the sanctum of Lord Jembugeswara and Goddess Akilandeswari will be consecrated between 6 am and 7.30 am on 12th December,2018, which will be truly a significant event in this Trichy region and the state as well.

Cultural programmes, divine discourses, special poojas and rituals by the monastics, small shops around, free meals at select places are the highlights of the festival along with the ceremony being attended by the celebrities and Government officials.

Altogether, your visit to this temple will be a memorable, colorful and spiritually astounding experience to take back to your homeland.


Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Darshan

Tirupati, a town in the Chittoor district of the South Indian state Andhra Pradesh is the most visited sacred center in India, witnessing more than one lakh devotees every day .The most sought after pilgrim destination where Lord Venkateshwara Swamy Temple is situated at a distance of 20kms and is the icon of Tirupati and of the entire state as well. Visiting Tirupati atleast once in a life time is believed to be a must for Vaishnavites across the globe. The nine feet idol which is the self- manifested form of Lord Vishnu will mesmerize you with its beauty and sanctity. This is the 106th Divya Desam mentioned in the holy canon of Vaishnavaites, Naalaayira Divya Prabhandam written by different saints between 6th and 8th AD and composed by the saint Naadha Muni The ravishing sculptures and the huge pillars along the long precincts make your trip to Tirupati most memorable one. It will be quite surprising to know that 50,000 to 1,00,000 people per day are visiting this temple making it to 30 to 40 million people annuallyThe huge dining halls where more than one lakh people are fed, the offerings making this temple the richest in the world, the laddu prasadham unique to this temple are some of the highlights of Tirupati.

During your trip to Tirupati, following are the must visit places.The Silathoranam Gardens – The natural hanging rocks believed to exist from the Precambrian era, Thiruchanur – The temple for the consort of Lord Venkateshwara , Goddess Padmavathy Thayar, Tada Falls – en route from Chennai to Tirupati, Sri kalahasthi – Lord Shiva temple, famous as one of the five Shiva temples representing the five elements of the universe and Sri Vaari Padham – the place believed to have the foot prints of Lord Venkateshwara.

The number of festivals celebrated in Tirupati temple is more than the number of days in a year. Lord Venkateswara blesses His devotees from 2.30 am to 1pm every day. On any day you go to the temple, one festival will be in progress in a pomp manner. To name a few, Srivaari Brahmothsavam, Vasanthothsavam , Dolothsavam and Rathothsavam are some of the festivals attended by lakhs of devotees. The temple practices include prasadam, Tonsuring, Hundi and Thulabaram.

Types of Darshans in Tirumala Tirupati:

As the crowd thronging the temple on all days of the year is unimaginably huge, the temple management has segregated the darshan into different streams. One  of them is the Sarva Darshan , which means , Darshan for all. The pilgrims wait in long queues to have the glimpse of God and the timings for the Sarvadharshan are updated in the temple website. All the needed amenities for people waiting in queues are done in the compartments called Vaikuntam Queue Complex II. The Sarva dharshan is open for 18 to 20 hours a day and the devotees wait for many hours for their turn.

Arjitha sevas are the specific timings where the devotees prebook for their slots and attend the sevas. The daily, weekly and annual sevas are listed in the website and the tickets are sold by the temple management. Those who want to attend the sevas can follow the norms to buy the tickets.

Special Entry Dharshan is the stream where the devotees pay Rs.300 to go into a special queue. The time spent will be little less compared to the Sarva Dharshan but the devotees need to wait for hours in the queue on festival days.

South Tourism and Andhra Pradesh Development Corporation have entered into an agreement to reach more number of devotees aspiring to have the dharshan in quicker time spans. Through this, dharshan of Lord Venkateswara Swamy is guaranteed within two hours accompanied by a guide and two laddus are distributed per person after you come out. The procedure has been made simpler and to know more please visit https://www.southtourism.in/tirupati-darshan


How to Book Tirupati Special Entry Darshan Online?

Tirupati Darshan Online Booking

Tirupati Tirumala, the most visited pilgrim center in the South Indian state Andhra Pradesh, witnesses thousands and even lakhs of devotees disgorging from all corners of the country every day. It is very common that the devotees wait in very long queues that may take even up to three days to have the Dharshan of Lord Venkateswara, who is the magnificent nine feet self-manifested idol, blessing His devotees almost twenty three hours a day.

To optimize the procedures and to make the Dharshan process easier, the temple Devasthanam introduced the online booking scheme for all kinds of Dharshans and various Arjitha Sevas. Still, the website is flooded with bookings and for many of the arjitha  sevas the booking gets closed very soon.

Due to the unimaginably high number of requests flooding online, the TTD seva online booking gets over online prior to many days of the actual darshan, The devotees get deeply disappointed as they are not able to have the dharshan of Lord.

In view of catering to the needs of its clients, South Tourism, the renowned Destination Management Company took an initiative to make the procedure simpler and accessible. South Tourism has joined hands with the Andhra Pradesh Tourist Development Corporation which enables its clients to book the tickets online for the Special Dharshan Seva. This scheme guarantees the clients of South Tourism, a quick dharshan within two hours with an accompanying guide.

The procedure is so simple that when you visit our site, https://www.southtourism.in/tirupati-darshan, you are guided to fill in the form with the necessary details. Submitting this form will lead to another page where the client will be confirming the details already entered. After this, the next step is the payment gateway from where you will be guided to pay the dharshan charges online  through any of the options listed in the page.

After the payment is successfully made, you can submit your details by giving your credentials as in your Aadhar card or Passport which will be printed on your entry tickets you will be carrying on the day of Dharshan. Please be utmost careful while entering your details as these tickets will be your entry passes into the Special Dharshan Queue. Once all these procedures get over, the tickets will be sent to your email id.

South Tourism wishes you a quick dharshan to have the benevolence and blessings from Lord Venkateshwara at Titupati Tirumala ! For more details or for any clarifications, please join us in the website.


12 Beautiful Roads In South India

Travel along the 12 beautiful roads of South India. An enchanting experience for a lifetime, enjoying the scenic locations, detouring through the unexplored regions, unveil an exquisite moment and lot more to entice. A most cherished experience to choose from the options for a never before experience you can be sure of getting in the beautiful roads in South India.

Chennai To Pondicherry

Make your journey more memorable one when you travel from Chennai to Pondicherry on a road trip. The best scenic route along the coastline of Bay of Bengal gives you number of sightseeing options and places of attractions. Pondicherry being one of the choicest holiday destinations in India, take a peaceful break there when you prefer to travel along the scenic East Coast Road.

Pamban Brdige (Rameswaram)

The beautiful road leading to Rameshwaram makes you spell bound with the engineering excellence of Pamban Bridge built in 1912. Take away some of your time from your tour plan, spending with your loved ones watching the Rail Bridge. If you are lucky, you can watch the Double leaf bascules opening for the ships to pass by and the trains crossing the Bridge.

Bangalore to Ooty

Get reminded of the famous quote “Roads are meant for journeys and not for destinations” while you go on a road trip from the Garden City Bangalore to the Queen of Hill Stations Ooty. A beckoning journey along the dense forests, tall pine trees and lush green meadows of tea estates makes holds you on with its mysterious charm. Take the gorgeous view of the valleys down when you ride on the steep hairpin bends from the flat landscapes. An undoubtedly wonderful journey to explore and enjoy!

Bangalore – Bandipur Forest

One of the life-changing experience is the road trip from Bangalore to Bandipur. A perfect route to go on a weekend to explore the lesser known destinations is Bangalore to Bandipur road trip. Pack your bags for an entirely unique experience unveiling the true bliss of nature on the country sides and the dense woods of India. Get drenched in the nature’s lap presenting you the lush greenery, dense woods and the rarest species of animals and birds taking you away from your targets and deadlines.

Coimbatore to valparai

Enjoy the sun rays streaming through the trees on and off and the pleasant weather during your road trip to Valparai from Coimbatore. An undoubtedly wonderful journey surrounded by mountains with boards quite often warning you about the sudden appearance of elephants, yet an enjoyable road trip. Detour along the unnamed lanes lined up with tall trees with nice music and good photographs. Halt at tea shops and enjoy the scenic location around you with hot tea and your loved ones. A truly amazing experience!

Chennai – Munnar

Rejoice your weekend, take a 11hours long road trip from Chennai to Munnar, crossing the major tourist destinations of Tamil Nadu. If you have enough time to spare, go around the interesting locations of Trichy, Palani and Dindigul and proceed to Munnar. Stroll around Munnar, the most sought after tourist destination by the global travellers. Enjoy walking through the unending expanse of the tea plantations and the lush green meadows, giving you an enticing experience.

Bangalore – Goa

Go for a spectacular journey from Bangalore To Goa on road, mesmerizing you with the beauty of Western Ghats from different hues. The thrilling road trip is a life changing experience for anyone who loves traveling, especially with the wonderful road trip from Bangalore to Goa. Enjoy the cascade of water falls, roads washed by rains, lovely views of the valley, backwaters of dams, people working on the lush green fields, serene lakes and scenic beaches, all at one tour. Yes, the magic happens during your road trip from Bangalore to Goa !

Mysore – Ooty

An entirely different experience is guaranteed when you plan to travel by road from Mysore to Ooty. You can explore Mysore on your road trip, paying a visit to the renowned Mysore Palace. Road to Ooty from Mysore takes you through the scenic locations of Bandipur, Mudumalai and Masinagudi where nature is in its abundant beauty. If you can spare your time, take a safari in the sanctuaries and go for visiting the scenic locations in Masinagudi. Exploring Ooty is a truly amazing experience. Shopping for homemade chocolates and wooden artefacts are generally preferred by the travellers.

Vizag – Araku

The road trip from Vizag to Arakuveli is an amazing experience with an undoubtedly beautiful sightseeing places and enchanting views all through the route. Enjoy your stay in the eco tourism resorts and the picturesque wooden cottages on the way. The tranquil locations and the most scenic attractions throughout your trip make it the most cherished of your travel experiences. Visit the Tyada hamlets and the Borra caves welcoming you with bundles of stories told and retold.

Munnar- Bangalore

A week-long tour plan will be the best choice to cover all the scenic attractions of the ghat sections taking your time to enjoy and explore during your road trip from Munnar to Bangalore. Visit the famous destinations enroute and enjoy your stay in the famous resorts and hotels. Munnar is an yummy destination for all the global travellers with its lush green meadows , unending expanse of tea plantations and pleasant weather. A walking tour in the tea plantation with your loved ones will be the highlight of this entire road trip.

Hyderabad to Vijayawada

The best possible mode of travel from Hyderabad to Vijayawada is by road taking hardly five hours to complete. Enjoy the monuments en route and record the cherished moments. There are lot of eating joints and shopping zones on the way. If you can spare some time, you can enjoy with your family and friends in these places, an entirely different experience.

Bangalore to Koli hills

Imagine a road trip through the lush green forests, monstrous curves and dangerously beautiful hairpin bends, the road trip from Bangalore to Kolli Hills will get you all these things. The priceless moments when you reach the top of the hill will really be a life-changing experience. Enjoy your showers in the spine chilling water falls. The time taken out of your busy schedules definitely pays you rewards.


Thrissur Pooram Festival 2018

Thrissur Pooram Festival 2018

Thrissur Pooram Festival, the most renowned of all festivals in Kerala, It is celebrated in a pomp manner today and tomorrow. The continuous 36 hours celebrations make you awe struck with the detailed ceremonies and rituals. The festival is an undoubtedly spectacular and a real treat for the eyes and ears.

Most interestingly, the entire arrangements and celebrations of Thrissur Pooram festival are taken care by the people across all religions without any barriers. The epic center of this great festival is the Vadakkunathan temple, located at the geographic center of the town. Deities taken in procession from the neighboring villages assemble at Thrissur and Lord Shiva is the presiding deity worshipped by all the others. The sprawling ground of Thekkinkadi Maidhan is the prime venue of Thrissur Pooram festival where the divine participants and lakhs of devotees assemble.

 

Thrissur Pooram Festival has been celebrated for more than two centuries and the two main entities of this festival are the Peramakkavu and Thiruvembadi, competing to exhibit their supremacy. The most beautiful and powerful elephants are chosen from the different parts of South India on account of this festival and each group is allowed to being fifteen such elephants.

The heart pageantry of the caparisoned elephants from Peramakkavu and Thiruvembadi towards the Vadakkunathan temple and back to their places is so magnificent and enlivening. The elephants decorated gorgeously are accompanied by the Panchavadhyam, collection of five percussion instruments, one of the special features of Kerala. Listening to the music played by the Panchavadhyam experts and witnessing the procession of elephants is really an unique experience.

Out of all, Thrissur pooram is well known for the grand fireworks lasting for three to four hours. Besides other rituals, ceremonies, procession of elephants and percussion instruments, the fireworks commencing before dawn and lasting for four hours is the major event of this festival. People from across the country and globe assemble at Thrissur to take part and celebrate this sacred festival.

Be a part of this Grand Gala and take back the most cherished moments !


Ooty: Camp amidst the Nilgiris

Ooty is one of the most famous hill stations in India. It is among those “Go to” destinations in India since the British era. Ooty was also the favourite summer retreat in South India for the British which is pretty much evident from their English style colonial architecture, which remains intact even after a century or so. What attracts people here is its pleasant weather all year round and most of all, the stunning Nilgiri Hills which charm its visitors with its evergreen beauty.

 

A moment captured on the way to Ooty

 

Camping amidst the blissful Nilgiri Hills at Ooty was on my bucket list for a long time and I finally made it last week. It was something to cherish my whole lifetime. Unlike my college days when I used to camp with my friends, this time I planned it alone. I must say it was a one of kind travel experience for me. Something which helped me connect more with my inner self. Everything at Ooty, the hills, the weather, the people, made my trip memorable.

 

I arrived at the Ooty town on the 25th of March this year. I was already excited, being entertained by the lush green Nilgiri Mountains on the way to Ooty from Mettupalayam [down hill town]. Nearly a 50 km journey uphill from Mettupalayam is one of the highlights of a trip to Ooty. Though the town has now become a bit commercialised and crowded, there are numerous sweet spots in and around Ooty where you can enjoy your time of your own.

 

Nilgiris

 

As I decided to ditch my normal travel routine, I reserved a tent this time over the phone rather than a hotel. This campsite I booked is located in the Tiger Hills which is 5km away from the Ooty town. A 15 minutes fun filled Tuk-Tuk ride along the serpentine hill roads of Ooty took me to this campsite. At first glance itself, I fall in love with the place.

 

The campsite

 

Mr Jerome, the manager of this very campsite greeted me with a warm smile. A very generous and hospitable person, he first gave me a tour of his campsite and got me a cup of Coffee to relax. He accompanied me to the tent I am allotted for the night. There are more than 20 tents pitched at the campsite, overlooking a spectacular scene of the Nilgiri hills lined up at a distance.

 

Scene from the campsite

 

I finished my Coffee and moved to the small living area they have for guests. One could spend time watching TV, play indoor games or have some refreshments and relax. They also serve meals here. Chairs are laid outside with a Bonfire area which is a great place to socialize with the other campers at the site. I spend time chatting with Mr Jerome and an Israeli couple who were about to check out from the site. The couple spoke highly of Mr Jerome’s kind nature and the wonderful experience they had the previous night.

 

Inside the living area

 

I asked Mr. Jerome to arrange dinner for me and i moved onto my tent to change my clothes and have some time of my own. Inside the tent they have provided a sleeping bag and a pillow as well. I zipped close the tent and sat for a while. I learned it is a good feeling indeed sitting inside a tent in a world of your own. I switched on my favourite track by Bahramji and grabbed a copy of “The Windfall by Diksha Basu”. Probably an hour later when I was done reading, I unzipped my tent and to my surprise I was exposed to a splendid scenery. An hour before it was clear sunny sky and now the clouds flew to pay a visit to the Nilgiris. Check this out-

 

Bliss!

 

A feeling of bliss filled in. I could see the mighty yet gorgeous hills of Nilgiris stand high, gently kissing the clouds that skim pass them as if both are lost in eternal love for each other. I realised I am literally connected to nature. In fact, everything is connected. I felt like everything around, the trees, the birds, everything, was speaking to me in the universal language of nature engraved on each one of us inside. I kept my tent open ignoring the spine-chilling weather. For hours I was enchanted by this delightful scene. I was lost in the harmony of the Mother Nature who pampered me with her unconditional love.

 

Mr Jerome rang me for tea. A hot cup of Nilgiri Tea along with crispy Onion Pakoras. Ah! Perfect mix for the cool weather and setting then. While I was enjoying my tea, my eyes fall upon a flock of birds battling for food on the fence post. I asked Mr Jerome what was that all about?? Mr Jerome is a bird lover and he always makes sure no food is wasted. Whatever remains he feed the birds. He has a great fan following of birds far and near. The interesting part was when I asked him about it, he got so excited full of energy and started giving me a bird tour. He has 3 spots where he feeds the birds. He directed me to all those feeding places and named all varieties of birds that visit him every day.

 

Birds having their daily meal

 

It was getting dark as the sun hid behind the clouds and ready to set. Mr Jerome along with 2 other camp boys was busy setting a campfire for me and 3 other campers from France. Again the love story between the Nilgiri hills and the clouds continued. This time, the setting sun offered them a perfect romantic moment by lifting up the ambience.

 

A moment of romance!

 

Post-dusk, me, Mr Jerome and the 3 French guys enjoyed some quality time sitting around the campfire. Just when I wished for a drink, one among the French named Paul offered me and Mr Jerome a glass of wine. I turned on some chill out music and all of us got lost living the moment. Mr Jerome narrated his whole life journey to us starting from his first marketing job in Bangalore to how he ended up falling in love with Ooty. Paul and his friends started talking about their life in France and then of course followed by their respective breakup stories etc. All of us shared our life experiences. It was indeed a great feeling to have met and spent some fun time with unknown people living in different parts of the country.

 

The camp boys bought us dinner and we all enjoyed the Tamilnadu special Vegetable Biriyani [Though I am a meat lover, I compromised this time]. Mr Jerome told us we could go for a short trek in the morning if we wish to. By 11 pm all of us got back to our respective tents. It was freaking cold and it felt as if I won’t be able to sleep. I got into my sleeping bag and it really helped. Within minutes I fell asleep. Morning 7 am we all set off for a trek to nearby hills and tea plantations. I enjoyed every bit of it. Mr Jerome is the perfect guy to take you for a walk through the woods in Ooty. He took us to various viewpoints which are unknown to many. The walk through the tea plantation walk was my favourite. Imagine 100’s of acres of sprawling tea plantation and you are standing right at its centre. Seems good right? It was indeed my best moment.

 

A walk through tea plantation

 

After a 3-hour nature walk, we returned to our campsite and the breakfast was ready. Pillow soft Idly [South Indian dish made of rice batter] served with smoking hot Sambhar [another famous South Indian dish] and crispy Vadas. A hot cup of filter Coffee completed a sumptuous South Indian breakfast.

 

Dining area

 

By 12 am, I checked out of the Campsite and waved Mr Jerome a goodbye. I have been to Ooty during my school days, but this was completely different. I saw a different face of the Nilgiri Mountains. Ever blissful and charming she is that I am sure I will pay a visit to her every year at least once.

 

Ever loving Mr Jerome!

 

I am also sure I will have an even warmer welcome by Mr Jerome the next time I visit him. My camping experience at Ooty is something to cherish my whole life and it definitely holds a special page in my travel diary.

Happy travelling!

 

Are planning for a camping tour with your friends?

Leave us your enquiry @ South Tourism and we can help you plan your perfect camping tour all across India.

 


Maha Shivaratri – 2018

MAHA SHIVARATRI -2018

Maha Shivaratri 2018 is the great night of Lord Shiva. Through night poojas, rituals, recitals, yoga and meditation take place in all the Shiva temples throughout the country. Basically, the 13th or 14th night of every month in the  Hindu luni-solar calendar  is called as Shivaratri. Out of all, the one which falls during February / March is called as Maha Shivaratri.

Maha Shivaratri is the most venerated festivals in all parts of India. Unlike the other festivals in Hinduism celebrated in day time, Maha Shivaratri deserves a special mention as the devotees worship Lord Shiva throughout night.

Maha Shivaratri 2018 – cosmic dance of Lord Shiva

Maha Shivaratri 2018 is also renowned as the night when Lord Shiva performs his cosmic dance. So, worshippers arrange for dance programmes in temples and halls nearby which is a tribute to Lord Shiva.  Thousands of dancers perform at temples signifying the glory of Lord Shiva.

Maha Shivaratri is observed as a night of prayers. At all Shiva temples, chanting of mantras and prayers are done throughout night. Yoga and meditation are also carried out to keep the people vigil and thoughtful about the Lord.

Spiritual centers run by the saints conduct special programmes attended by lakhs of Indians and foreigners where Lord Shiva is glorified by songs, dance, special poojas and prayers.

Maha Shivaratri 2018 is celebrated to overcome the ignorance and dark of human life and to proceed in a path of personal austerity and spirituality.

 

Maha Shivaratri 2018 celebrations

Devotees assemble at temples from the evening onwards. The Shivaratri celebrations commence with special poojas and the Lord Shiva, present in the form of Shiva Linga is beautifully decorated with flowers. While the chanting of mantras take place in the shrine of Lord Shiva, dance performances will go on the spacious halls and mandapas of the temples. the very objective of conducting these prayers and programmes is to keep the people awake and think about Lord Shiva in an uninterrupted manner.

The twelve Jyotirlinga temples are flocked by lakhs of tourists on this Maha Shviaratri day. Besides, the other famous Shiva temples across the country witness the large gathering of devotees worshipping Lord Shiva to come out of all their problems in life and to lead a spiritually inclined life.

 

 


Kerala: 5 things to do in Alleppey other than the Houseboat cruise

things to do in Alleppey

The Alleppey backwaters and the houseboats at Alleppey, both are not a new thing for the travellers. However, there are also other various exciting things to do at Alleppey which many of us never tried. Being an avid traveller myself and Kerala one of my favourite getaways, I myself have tried out a lot of things at Alleppey and I would say this unique backwater destination has a lot more in its lot than just the houseboats. Let me pick some of the other best things to do in Alleppey other than the houseboat cruise.

  • Cycling along the Alleppey countryside

Alleppey comprises of many serene and beautiful villages. You could pedal your way through its narrow roads sandwiched between lush green paddy fields, sandy pathways leading to some breathtaking sceneries and more. So if you do not mind burning your calories a bit, you will be rewarded with some of the blissful sights of the Alleppey countryside which you do not get to see during your Alleppey houseboat cruise. Ask your tour operator to get you a cycle at Alleppey, get on it and start pedalling.

things to do in Alleppey
Cycling at Alleppey
  • Kayaking along the narrow canals of Alleppey Backwaters

Smell adventure? Yes, it does. Kayaking is a new trend in Alleppey among the young travellers. Of course, it demands a bit of physicality, however, those who feel they can handle it must try it out. It is another great way to explore and experience the heavenly beauty of the Alleppey backwaters. Do not go for the routine houseboat routes, pull harder, take random turns and paddle through the most narrow, yet spectacular waterways at Alleppey, which would take you to a whole different world at Alleppey. Enjoy!

things to do in Alleppey
Kayaking at Alleppey Backwaters
  • Village Walk

Now, this is another better idea for you to enjoy Alleppey to the fullest. Walk-Walk-Walk and you would come across the most unusual sights which, again, you might not see while you are in your Alleppey houseboat. Walk through the verdant paddies, the canal sideways, the rural villages of Alleppey and exchange few words with the locals. Witness their day to day life and learn how life moves in Alleppey. You would find you have learnt a lot more about this true gem of a place, which you never experienced or even heard of.

things to do in Alleppey
Stroll through the rural villages t Alleppey
  • Canoe Ride

A ride on a country boat or a Canoe we say is yet another exciting way to explore the backwaters of Alleppey. It is not for everyone for sure because for some, it would be scary to row a small wooden boat. However, if you take a chance and try it, I would say it is thoroughly entertaining. It is slow as there is no motor pushing it forwards, but it is the local style of transportation and for a moment it feels like you are one among them.

You would come across many local residents moving on country boats as a part of their daily routine lives. People go for their work on these boats, people go shopping groceries on these boats and even children go to school on canoe boats. So if you are looking for a rather adventurous way to explore the backwaters, you must consider a Canoe ride.

things to do in Alleppey
Canoe ride
  • Witness Sunset at Thaickal Beach near Mararikulam

Alleppey boasts of some quiet and serene sea sides such as the Alleppey Beach, the Andhakaranazhi Beach and the latest hit among the travellers, the Marari Beach. However, I have found a new beach, very much secluded and stunningly beautiful, the Thaickal Beach. It is nearly 20 km away from Alleppey Town, but so what? If you want some time for yourself and your family alone by the sandy shoreline watching the waves pass by, this beach is perfect for you.

Sunset from here is so pleasing. There are stone walkways laid on the beach extending to probably 100 meters on the sea from the shore. Make your way to the end of the walkway, and enjoy your moment watching the sunset and disappears below the horizon. The reddish blue sky at dusk, the silvery sea and milky white shoreline of this gorgeous seaside is not to be missed during your visit to Alleppey.

things to do in Alleppey
Thaickal beach

So that is it! That was our list of 5 things to do in Alleppey other than the houseboat cruise.

Happy Travelling!

Book your Alleppey Tour now!


Thai Poosam 2018 Palani Murugan Temple – Tamilnadu

Thai Poosam 2018 Palani Murugan Temple

Thai Poosam 2018 Palani Murugan Temple

Thai Poosam festival celebrated at Palani Murugan Temple is rooted in the Hindu Legend from time immemorial. Thai Poosam festival in 2018 falls on January 31st, the day with the Poosam star in the tamil month of Thai. Obviously, it is an auspicious day celebrated by people in Tamil Nadu and Palani Murugan temple deserves a special mention here.

Basically, Palani is a small town in Dindigul district where Lord Muruga abodes in the temple atop the hill called Sivagiri. Palani is one of the famous six abodes of Lord Muruga. Out of all the festivals celebrated throughout the year, Thai Poosam is very auspicious especially at Palani Murugan Temple.

You can witness lakhs and lakhs of devotees reaching Palani bare footed travelling across the different sections of the state and the country as well. After undergoing rigid rituals and fasting for 48 days the devotees are coming to Palani to offer their prayers to their beloved deity Lord Muruga. Here in Palani, he stands as Lord Dhandayuthapani Swamy. He is in the form of an ascetic boy with only a loincloth and no other finery. He has a stick in his hand called Dhandam, the reason behind His name.

Significance of Thai Poosam 2018

Besides these, the devotees carry milk pots on their heads, wooden decks with beautiful decorations in their shoulders and the lances piercing their body. With this kind of dedication and devotion, the pilgrims reach the hill top climbing more than 650 steps.

As this festival correlates to the victory of the God over the demons, people believe that by worshipping Lord Muruga on this day will make victorious in their lives defeating all evils from within themselves and also from the materialistic world.

The general practice is that people observe rituals for 48 days before the festival. They are strictly away from smoking,drinking and other sinful activities. Most of them eat only once in a day for all the 48 days. Well ahead of the festival day, the devotees carrying the offerings to the Lord in long pageants from the different parts of the country start their journey to worship their Lord at Palani.

First of all, the journey to Palani will be with many hardships on the way. It is quite common to see limousines queuing behind the pageant where the owners are walking barefooted.

Kaavadi in Thai Poosam 2018

The main attraction of this festival is the Kaavadi. It is nothing but a wooden mount aesthetically decorated with flowers and peacock feathers. The devotees, as an offering to God, carries the Kaavadis on their shoulders, walking barefooted from very long distances to the temple and implore to God to solve their problems. Normally the number of Kaavadis reaching the shrine exceeds fifty thousand and the count is in the increasing trend year on year. The common forms of kaavadi are milk, sandalwood paste and rosewater. Apart from this, lakhs of people carry milk pots on their heads wearing ochre clothes. Tonnes of flowers in orange and yellow colors are offered to the Lord on this day.

We can witness and enjoy the devotees dancing to the tune of drums and tom-tom played on the way to the top of the hill with all the weight on their shoulders. They dance so vigorously as if they are hypnotized by the music.

Another form of offering to the God is existing that the ardent devotees torture their body by piercing their cheeks, tongue and skin with lances and even they draw chariots with metal hooks pierced into their skin. It will  be threatening to see a large mass of people walking like this but you will not find any words to admire the devotion and dedication of the devotees and their faith on the God.

Murugan in Tamil Culture

Murugan means beauty in Tamil. Somehow or other, Lord Muruga has been a part and parcel of the life of most of the Tamil families. You can see people named as kandhan, Murugan, Karthikeyan, Subramanian, Vadivelan, Dhandayudhpani, Velayudham in majority of the Tamil families because the culture and tradition of Tamil people lie majorly on Lord Murugan. The festival Thai Poosam inculcates the confidence in every Tamil’s mind and give him morale boost to face any hardships in life and overcome them with the benovelance and blessings of the God. As Lord Murugan is diasporic,the festival is celebrated in a very grand manner in Singapore, Malaysia and USA. More than two million people attend this festival in Batu Caves, Malaysia every year. Lord Murugan is believed to be such a powerful deity that whoever surrenders to his feet will be triumphant in all his endevours.

Let’s visit Palani where Lord Muruga is waiting to bestow his blessings on us.