Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Vellore

 Temples, Fort and Hill station - Vellore

Long weekend of 15 August (Monday) gave the oppertunity to visit some nearby places from Bangalore. After some discussions we zeroed in for Vellore area.

So the plan we made to visit Padmavati Temple, Krishnagiri, Jalakanteshwar temple and Fort, Vellore, Sripuram Mahalakshmi Golden Temple and Yellagiri (Elagiri) Hills.

For these places, two days are sufficient.

We started Saturday early morning and reached Mayank's place by 7:00 AM. They were also ready and in next 15 minutes, we were on our way to Krishnagiri, with Mayank managing the wheels of his brand new i10.

The road is superb and the scenary after Hosur is also great. The car was just sliding effortlessly on the road.

Caution: Please be in limits of speed, overspeeding might be dangerous.

We drove non stop to Krishnagiri via Hosur. It is about 100 KMs from Bangalore.


At Krishnagiri, the National Highway has two routes, the straight one goes towards Madurai, Kanyakumari etc. and the left diversion goes towards Chennai.

One needs to be careful at Krishnagiri not to miss this diversion for Chennai. There are two overbridges, as we approach Krishnagiri, take the left diversion just before the second overbridge.

One more caution, either you start after taking the breakfast or carry it. Otherwise except at Hosur or Krishnagiri etc, in between, you will not find any good place to eat.

After taking left towards Chennai Highway, we reached Padmavati temple at Krishnagiri. This is about 5 KMs from the diversion on right side. One needs to take the U-Turn and come back to this place.

Shree Parshwa Padmavathi Shaktipeeth Teerth Dham

Krishnagiri Shaktipeetham has the temple for Naagraaj, Bhairav, Padmavathi Devi and of Sri Parshwanath Bhagwan, the 23rd Thirthankar of Jain. This teerth is established by His Holiness Shri Vasant Gurudev Swamyji.

During early days, this area in Krishnagiri was a jungle and Swamy Vasant ji used to stay here in a small hut. It is said that this land had problem of water scarcity and many attempts of digging borewell were in vain. After Gurudevji laid the foundation of this temple, and when the land was dug, within 9 feet water started jetting out.

Photography is is not allowed in temple and still the construction is in progress in the main sanctum sanctorum as well as outside.

The main temple is quite beautiful and looks like to be inspired by the achitecture of temples in Rajasthan.

The presiding deity, Shri Parshwanatha, is flanked by the idols of Dharanendra and Goddess Padmavathi on one side and His guardians, Parshwa Yaksha and Yakshini, on the other. The Sahastra Nagaphana, an umbrella of snakehoods is sheltering the idol.

The inner sanctum sanctorum is magnificent and is decorated with coloured glass.

There is also a large cow shelter housing many cows.

The tradition here is to first visit the Naagraaj Temple, then to Bhairav and then to main temple of Parswanath and Padmavathy Devi.

It is believed that at Naagraaj temple one can make a wish and after it comes true, should tie a coconut in a red cloth and present it to Naagraaj.

Next to Naagraaj temple is Bhomyaji (Bhairav) temple. He is said to be the protector of Krishnagiri Teerth.

Then we proceeded to the main temple. It has different forms of Padmavathy Devi (like Rog Nivaararani (or goddess who cure disease), Shok Nivaarani goddess (who drives away sorrow) etc.) besides Bhairav and Lord Parswanath.

After being blessed with darshan at temples, we went towards Bhojanshala.

We had not taken breakfast and it was about 1030 AM and so were quite hungry. The bhojanshala served us with delicious Poha and Upma. It was very hygienic, tasty and still costed us very little!!

The lunch timings here are 12 - 2 PM and dinner 5 - 6 PM. No one is allowed to eat here after sunset as per the traditions of Jainism.

Now it was time to move on towards Vellore.

We again took the NH46, towards Vellore. Vellore is about 115 KMs from Krishnagiri.

Lord Martand was glowing in full blaze and weather was quite hot and humid. Thanks to AC of the Car, which made the journey quite comfortable.

We reached Vellore at around 1230 PM and headed towards Vellore Fort. It is situated in the main city itself, opposite to old bus stand.

Vellore Fort

I love forts. They take me back to the past....back to the history, my favourite subject.

Now I was inside Vellore fort after crossing the impressive gates.


It is a large fort, most probably constructed in the 16th century. This was basically built for pure military purposes and so does not have impressive palaces inside. After the fall of Vijayanagar Empire in 1565 AD at Talikota, this fort togeather with Forts at Penukonda and Chandragiri, was the main bastion of the leftover Vijayanagar Empire.

The Fort was built around 1566 by Chinna Bommi Nayak and Thimma Reddy Nayak, subordinate Chieftains under Sadasiva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire. The Vijayanagara kings called it "Raya Vellore" to differentiate it from "Uppu Vellore" in the Godavari region.

For more deatils about Vijayanagar Empire, please read my blog on trip to Hampi.

During Sriranga Raya's reign in 1614 a coup broke out within the royal family and the reigning Emperor Sriranga Raya and his royal family were murdered, with the younger son Rama Deva Raya of the Emperor smuggled out from the fort by several supporters. These events led to the Battle of Toppur in 1616, The war was won by the legal claimants with the minor Rama Deva Raya getting crowned as the Aravidu Vijayanagara Emperor in 1617.

In 1707 AD,the Mughal Army under Daud Khan captured Vellore Fort after defeating the Marathas.

The fort has said to be having an escape tunnel leading to Virinjipuram about 12 km away, which could be used by the king and other royals in the event of an attack. Though the ASI denies there was any such escape route.

“We arrived in the city of Belur (Vellore), which is also walled, with two walls of stone, and is more than two leagues in circuit, with very deep moats full of water. It seemed to be almost two cities. I have never seen a city that was so fortified and which had such lovely walls and bastions as this one. We prize the cities of Antwerp and Flanders, but neither can compare in their fortifications or loveliness to this city”.
(Jacques de Coutré, a European traveller during 1610s)

The Fort's ownership passed from Vijayanagar Kings, to the Bijapur Sultans, to Marathas, to the Carnatic Nawabs and finally to the British.

After the fall of Srirangapattanam in May 1799, the family of Tipu Sultan were detained here.

This fort witnessed the first rebellion against Britishers on 10th of July 1806 AD. Before sunrise, Indian Sepoys stationed in the fort attacked the European barracks, and by late morning had killed about 15 Officers and 100 English soldiers and ransacked their houses. Some of the rebelling soldiers also instigated the sons of Tipu Sultan to lead the campaign. They were angry with the interference of Britishers into their personal faith.

The news quickly reached the Colonel commanding the Cavalry Cantonment in Arcot, who reached the Fort with heavy battalions. The rebelling Sepoys, numbering more than 800, were mercilessly killed, and by noon the rebellion was put down. Their bodies were thrown into the moat.

After this incident, the family of Tipu Sultan was shifted from here to Calcutta.

The King of Kandy (Sri Lanka), Sri Vikrama Rajasinha was held in as royal prisoners in the fort (1798–1815). He was the last king from the Nayakar dynasty, and the last reigning monarch of Sri Lanka. Following the Kandian wars, he was deposed by the British in 1815 and along with members of his family, he was taken as a royal prisoner and exiled to Vellore Fort.

There are two museum inside the fort, one belongs to ASI and another to the Tamilnadu Government. It is closed on second Saturdays and Sundays.

Unfortunately, we visited this fort on second saturday of the month and hence the museums were closed.

Sri Jalakanteshwar Temple

After a little exploration of fort, we headed towards Jalakanteshwar Temple.

This temple is known as Jalakanteshwar as it is believed that the ShivaLingam was submerged till neck into the water. In the inscriptions, it is known as Jvarahareshwar (the destroyer of ailments).

It is also known as Jalagandeeswar.

The temple is noted for its sculptures, and one will be delighted with the exquisite craftsmanship of the highly skilled artisans of that period. This is a fine example of later Vijayanagara style of architecture.

The Kalyan Mandapam on the left side of temple complex is most precious piece of architecture. The Britishers wanted to take this large wedding hall piece by piece to England. It is said that the ship coming from England to carry this sank in the sea and hence the idea was dropped. This mandapam is adorned with elegant reliefs and monolithic sculptures.

It seems that during mughal period the Lingam was removed and kept away from the town, and installed at Sathuvachari temple. Perhpas the other deities could not got removed and were desecreted. During ASI renovation at fort, many broken idols were found in the moat are believed to be the dieties installed at temple.Some of these are at display at the Museum inside the fort.

On 16th March, 1981 the eminent citizens of Vellore gathered together and installed the Lingam from Sathuvachari here and started prayers.

After spending sometime at Kalyan Mandapam, we went to the main shrine. It has shrines of Ganesha, Balaji, Subramanya, Mother Goddess Akhileshwari and Nataraja besides the main ShivaLingam.

After spending some blissfull time in the vicinity of The most merciful Lord Shiva, we came out of temple.

It was late afternoon by now and we are quite hungry. The bright rays of Lord Anshumaan had made us quite tired and thirsty.

We headed towards Sripuram road.

As we were quite tired so thought of taking some hotel, lunch and then to proceed towards Sripuram Golden Temple.

We enquired some good hotel on Sripuram Road, like Darling Residency, Surabhi International but in vain. Finally got roomd at hotel Ashraya near and infront of Joyalukkas showroom.

After some rest we took our late lunch at Hotel Harish, next to Joyalukkas.

Evening at around 5:30 PM we started for Mahalakshmi Golden Temple.

Shri Narayani Peetham

This temple is spread over 100 acres and wonderfully constructed. The main temple is said to have adorned with 1500 KG of gold!!

The temple is at the southern end of the city at Tirumalaikodi.

The Narayani Peetham was established by HH Shri Shakti Amma in 1992. People call him amma with love and affection.


The construction of the temple was completed on August 24, 2007.

We took the special darshan ticket and went through the queue. One has to pass through the star shaped pathway, with a length of about 1.8 km. This path signifies the Shri Chakra, with temple in middle of this. The lush green surroundings has messages from Sri Sakthi Amma or shri Narayani Amma.

And, we were in the temple, in the lotus feet of the most merciful, most powerful, most benevolent Mother Lakshmi.

We prayed to the universal mother and after getting blessed came out of the sanctum.

We returned back to hotel. The tiredness of the day soon took the toll and we all were fast asleep in the lap of benevolent mother Nidra Devi.

Sunday morning, day started early, we all got ready by 8 AM and started towards Yellagiri (Elagiri). Our idea was that we will take breakfast at some roadside dhaba.

But we proved wrong and could get late breakfast only after we reached Yellagiri at around 10 AM.

Yelagiri (Elagiri)

Yelagiri is situated off the the Krishnagiri Chennai highway NH 46. From Vellore, we took the Bangalore Highway and at Vaniyambadi we took left towards Yelagiri. If one is coming from Bangalore then at Vaniyambadi he/she has to take right turn after about 50 KMs from Krishnagiri on Chennai Highway NH46.

It is at an altitude of 1,410 metres above Mean Sea Level.

The roadway to Yelagiri is finely constructed and well punctuated with the milestones and signboards all way through.

Braving the 14 hair pin bends, finally we were at Yelagiri.

First thing that we did was to take breakfast at Hotel Nigress.

Just before we reached Yelagiri, there is a telescope observatory. But I had heard that it is closed so did not stopped there.

The weather has changed suddenly as we ascended the hills. The breeze was cooler with fragrance of lush greenery around us.

After breakfast we headed towards Punganoor Lake. This artificial but picturesque lake is one of the most popular destinations in Yelagiri. Kids enjoyed in the park as we relaxed in the greenery and then went to take a short walk along the lake side surrounding it. There is also a "Machaan" on the other side of the lake on a tree, which gives a good view of surroundings.

Boating facility is there, but I do not prefer it.

After spending some quality time there we came out of this park. Now the rush had increased significantly.

On the other side of the road is the "Nature Park". It is also a good place to relax.

The highest point in Yelgiri is the Swamimalai Hill, standing tall at 4,338 ft;, it is a popular destination for trekkers. The view from the summit is said to be quite spectacular. But we had no plans for trekking.

I heard that there is a Jalagamparai Water Falls. It is about 30 Kms from the Yelagiri town and needs some trekking as well. But it was difficult for us with small kids.

It was afternoon, we started back to Bangalore. And by evening we were at home sweet home.

The trip was a bit tiresome but relaxing. Atleast I did not remembered a single thing about office during this entire trip.

We covered about 510 Kms on road for the entire trip.

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