Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Papanasanam Temple, Tirunelveli

Well, it’s my hometown – Papanasam in Tirunelveli district. The town Papanasam itself is named after the lord Shiva who stays here as the “Papanasanathar (the redeemer of sins)”.  This famous Shiva temple is located at the right bottom of Western Ghats and also on the banks of River Tamirabarani.

It’s located about 45 Kms from Tirunelveli and surrounded by tourist places like Agasthiyar Falls, Maanjoli Estate, 3 beautiful dams (Karaiyar, Servalar & Manimuthar), Vaanatheertham Falls and many….
Moolavar                             :               Papanasanathar / Kalyana Sundarar
Amman / Thayar              :               Ulagammai
Thala Virutcham               :               Villvam
Old year               :               :               1500-2000 years old

Sthalapuranam (History of the Temple):
Due to the heavy crowd gathered for the wedding of lord Shiva and Parvathy devi, Earth lost its balance and the south part of it started tilting. Lord Shiva called-up the Saint Agasthya to go to Pothigai Hills in the South and to balance the Earth level as his single weight was enough for the purpose equaling the weight of the millions of Rishis at Mount Kailash then. Sage Agasthiya also did the same on a requesting Shiva to show-up his marriage darshan.

On the first day of Chithirai month (Chithirai Visu - falling almost on April 14 each year), Lord granted the Wedding Darshan to Sage Agasthya. Lord Papanasanatha graces the Wedding Darshan behind the sanctum sanctorum as Kalyanasundarar on His bull vehicle. Sage Agasthya and his wife Lopamudra are in the shrine worshipping the Lord.

Speciality / Festivals:
Every year, the 10day long Chitrai Vishu festival is celebrated so grand. The ninth day is the car festival. Then on the tenth day, the floating festival (theppam) takes place. It’s belived that if we take bath in the river opposite the Papansam temple, it is equivalent to taking bath in Kaasi and all our sins will be gone.  Another famous festival “Adi Ammavasai” is also celebrated in the month of July and lakhs of people gather there.

How to reach: From all Major cities, buses/trains are available to Tirunelveli. Papanasam is about 45 Kms from Tirunelveli . You can travel by bus, there are so many govt and private buses available from Tirunelveli to Papanasam

Monday, December 29, 2014

Last Vegas (2013)

Four Hollywood legends Michael Douglas, Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, and Kevin Kline play four childhood friends, who are currently at their 60+ , reunite to celebrate the bachelor party of their friend - Douglas (a long term bachelor :) )  at Las Vegas.

If you expect an elderly version of "The Hangover" , sure you'll be disappointed…”., this movie is a lot different. It has a strong friendship, love, humour, fun, drama... all mixed up in a proper proportion.

Douglas & De Niro show you a touching relationship drama, while Freeman & Kline provide the gentle dose of humor. There is Mary Steenburgen who gave up her past life to become an aged lounge singer and changes the life of two of the men.

The film also captures Vegas pretty well, maybe not every aspect, but enough to make you feel like as you were there in Vegas for the 90 minutes. I'm really surprised why this movie was so underrated? Seems even Hollywood critics too give good scores only to the long boring movies like Gravity, or Prisoners... :P

Sunday, December 28, 2014

What happened to AirAsia Flight QZ 8501

Just saw the news of AirAsia Flight QZ 8501 flying from Indonesia to Singapore with 162 passengers gone missing :(.  Isn’t the 3rd such incident this year in the South East Asia, and all of them focused on Malaysia. Air Asia is also a Malaysian Registered Airliner.

I am not a regular flyer. But still since I have flown in this route in a day time once, It’s really surprising for me to know that an airbus can disappear on such busy and short route. The waters between Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia are filled with passenger and cargo ships, sky is busy with flights and these countries are so close to one another (with several land masses in between them). A crash in such area would definitely be seen by someone. It is more than 24 hours and still there is no news of what happened. I hate to believe in conspiracy theories but this is really strange.

It is very sad and shame on us that we are unable to trace missing planes in spite of advance technology we have today. We have reached planets like Moon & Mars but failed to trace planes which are flying just 30-40K feet high.

We fly thinking it is one of the safest means of transportation with all modern technologies and monitoring but this has been 5th fetal crash this year :(

Friday, December 26, 2014

Why to pay extra for using Social Networks ?

That's great. Now pay extra for using social service. Read more: Airtel wants you to pay extra for using Skype, Viber, more - Hindustan Times

When the Telecom Regulation Authority of India (TRAI) had already quashed a proposal from Indian telecom companies to charge over-the-top players like Whatsapp and Viber extra "connectivity charges. Does this makes sense now?

How will you react if you are asked to pay for electricity at different rates for different appliances you use? This is exactly what Airtel intends to do!. And it’s not just the Airtel,, soon all the other operators will also follow the same or even poorer strategy.

Let’s see what TRAI does!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

RIP: K.Balachander - The King Maker !

Tamil Cinema has faced many unparalled losses in the year 2014. The great - Balu Mahendra, Filmmaker Rama Narayanan, SS Rajendran ….. and now the Iyakunar Sigaram - KB (K. Balachander) :(

I am not a big fan of KB. But still admire his ability to pick new people and in nurturing their talent. He’s not only a unique director who scripted a new genre of films with brave social themes., but also a master to have picked and mentored many legends of Tamil cinema.

He’s the one who introduced/made Superstar Rajinikanth, Kamal Haasan, Nazar, Mohan, Prakash Raj, and A.R.Rahman ... to name a few. (Director Maniratnam may get the pride for introducing Rahman, but it’s KB who is the producer of the movie “Roja” and paid 1st salary for Rahman). All these people have become legends in their lifetime., what a talent KB had to pick and shine these people’s talent!

RIP KB sir. You may not be present physically with us, but your contributions to Tamil cinema will remain forever.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

PK (2014)

Aamir – Hirani partnership has worked out well again!. After the mass success of 3 Idiots, the duo has joined together and delivered a very brave attempt as PK.

I feel the movie is so apt of the moment; where we see a lot of looting and cheating in the name of gods. We Indians are oversensitive about our religious feelings and sometimes so blind on the faith in god., and that’s why we see new-new godmen/women popping out at every corner of the nation, crawling out for money.

Hirani has quirkily riveted our ignorance through a character of an alien – PK. A very serious topic is delivered yet again in a most comical and colloquial manner. Aamir as the alien – PK., has completely capture the audience. Anushka as a TV reporter helps PK – to fight against a fraud godmen. Sanjay Dutt and  Boman Irani has played some cameo.

The message of the movie is very strong, but the screenplay is not so strong. Especially the 2nd half slows down a lot and feels like a TV serial. But it’s that single man – Aamir consistently keeps you awake and ensures “All is well” for Hirani. Truly, this is one of the best performances of Amair, and undoubtedly one of the good films of the year.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Lingaa Experience

This post is not a review of Rajinikanth’s “Lingaa Movie”. There are million other sites and bloggers to write about it, or I should I say – have written already (before even the movie got screened in India :P ). I just recollect my connect to Rajni movie releases here.

Rajinikanth’s films are not just movies. It’s an experience.

I love that experience start from my childhood. One that will make you scream, whistle, blast and just go crazy. You’ll experience the magic only in theatres, will never get it if you watch in DVD.Rajni movies are the only ones that I hold a record of watching only in theatres. Have never missed the fun, start from his one of the bests “Thalapathi”., let me be in Tirunelveli or Chennai or Bangalore – even when I was in the US.

Lingaa experience too did not disappoint me. Infact I am so happy this time, since we had a new fan joined us to cheer for thalivar -  my 3.5 years old daughter :P

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Kaaviya Thalaivan - Movie Review

Director G.Vasantha balan has always been  unique and has kept himself away from the normal commercial crappy dramas from his debut. His previous projects like ‘Angadi Theru’ ‘Veyyil’, and ‘Aravaan had exhibited his worthiness and commitment to the cinema. Kaaviya Thalaivan is one more addition to his brand list. He always endeavors for a good cinema and his hard work is clearly seen in every frame in this movie too.

It’s also a periodic movie like his Aravan. The plot is set in 1940 , revolving around the lives of two theatre actors, Kalliappa Bhagavathar (Siddharth) and Gomathi Nayagam Pillai (Prithiviraj), who are the students of Sivadas Swamigal and are the top stars of Tamil drama world. Kaali explores himself with innovative and liberal methods of acting, whereas Gomathi believes, infact lives as per the conventional drama rulebooks.. But soon, the situation makes brings in jealousy and friendship changes into revenge.

Siddharth and Prithviraj have superbly competed with each other and have given their best till date, while Vedhika too has done a brilliant acting. Nasser as always has lived in the character. Thambi Ramaiah and other comedy actor (sorry don’t get his name) too has done a very decent job.

With great support from his technical team, Vasantha balan has literally have showcased the early 1900s not just in the sets and costumes, but strongly backed up with his script. Neerav Shas efforts are remarkable. A. R. Rahman is one of the important pillars which carried the movie so along and has glued well for the periodic plot too. But it’s true that the songs in the 2nd half has slightly slowed down the pace.

As all the media cries, I too say a big salute to the effort that has gone into its making, but the final product could have been still better. Nevertheless, 'Kaaviya Thalaivan' is definitely a great attempt and we should appreciate the director for extracting some of the best performances from actors whose talent we've always underestimated; also for the producers who had appreciated the script and backing up this endevour !

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chef (2014) - English

Well, this movie is not for hard hearted , deep emotional type of movie lovers, it's a very light but refreshing drama.

Plot – Famed chef Carl Casper’s (Favreau) life is turned upside down after a scathing review of his menu by food blogger Ramsey Michel (Platt) leads him to lose his job setting him on a path of food vans and redemption, not only personally but with his ex-wife Inez (Vergara) and oft forgotten son Percy (Anthony)

Yes, the movie has a few slow scenes, but overall a very nice film. Escpeically, the cooking scenes were amazing, am sure you'll be ready so hungry for a good meal after seeing Chef!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Happy New Year: Movie Review

I know this review is very late, but I thought it's worth sharing (saving indeed :) ) for those who are still planning to watch.

I read it as an Action-Comedy genre of movie. Sadly, there’s no action nor a single bit of comedy L. Farah Khan has never made a great film, but with SRK and Deepika, I was expecting at least a little decent entertainer like “Om Shanti Om”, but this “Happy New Year” was a total disaster. Never believe the Box office numbers and hyped reviews!

Coming to the plot, this is a story of SRK, who is striving hard to take revenge for his father’s death, makes a team – with Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani,Vivan Shah, and Deepika Padukone.  All of these five are super talented (? :P)  in their field and their captain SRK would reach his goal of burgularing the villain’s (Jackie Sheroff) diamond with his team. How they meet, plan and destroy the enemy is the story all about.

Frankly speaking the movie "Happy New Year" is not at all worth to watch on Big Screen ; Not in TV too, anyway, it’ll come on television in another one month or so. Friends, never waste your time and money on this non-sense movie. We should flop such movies otherwise they will dare again and make some more in the future.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

A Healthy Child Makes A Happy Home

A house may look gorgeous and have all luxury amenities, but still it’s not rich until you have a child playing over  there! Children adds color to every home, they add-up the joy of the entire family.

Our home is also blessed to have an angel, my 3 years old daughter. She’s very naughty and super smart. And of course, she makes every weekday morning as so dreadful as possible...

“Baby, its’ getting very late, pls come and have your bath”....
“Where’ the hell is her ID card”, 
“where did you put her belt? “ 

I’ll be screaming, while her mother was begging behind her for feeding some food . But the little one will be enjoying our tension,and simply running around frantically :P

The whole house would be so active and busy in the mornings, until she leaves for the school. Though I pretend to be (or get real) anger sometimes, I truly enjoy the morning fun on most of the days. She gives us a tough warm-up for the day!

But the whole scene gets changed, when she fell in sick :( .The entire house would change unmoving and the day become completely lifeless. Every one of would be worried, our faces would almost forget the smile until she recovers.

The day itself starts very late , as we wouldn't have slept well in the previous night. No morning tea, no newspaper, some times no proper breakfast too. My wife would be trying all her home remedies , allopathy, ayurveda, homeopathy…and what not. She’d be going crazy almost showing all her worries and fears on me :P.

Every parent hates to see their children struggle with sick; Every hour (if not in minutes) we attentively check their temperature and look for signs of recovering like a hunter looks for his treasure. Even after going to office, our mind keep revolving over the kid ; keep calling and checking the signs of recovery…

We wish we could have a magic wand to instantly heal the little ones illness and relieve from their discomfort. It’s very true that a healthy child makes a happy home. When the child fall sick, indeed the entire home falls sick!!!

PS: This post is submitted for Indiblogger happy hours, for with Dabur Chyawanprash #ImmuneIndia campaign.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Pondicherry's Architectural Split

French rule got over in the late 50’s itself, but the architecture marvels created by them are still standing beautiful and influencing the current day town’s plan and architecture. All the streets are retaining their French names even today; Many restaurants, shops, and even government buildings still carrying the french names and their influence.

In the colonial times, the city was divided into the White town and the Black town, interestingly, this can be still perceived in the architecture.

The White Town (popularly known as the French Colony), is by the sea side, all the buildings are inspired by French Architecture. They are all usually in yellow or orange in colour., which makes the whole experience of walking around them remarkable.
As soon as we move a little further, we can see the buildings that are Franco-Tamil and which mark the Tamil Quarter. The Tamil Quarter of Pondicherry is a place where cultures not only met, but melted.

Many Churches and houses are standing tall as the evidence for the harmonious blend of the two contrasting architectures, recognizable by the columns and the fine detail of sculpting on the wood.
It was fascinating to see the changing look of the buildings.Walking around these streets itself is a feast for the eyes!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Auroville: Beach, Gardens & Matri Mandir

We started the day-2 with Auroville. When I searched Auroville in my phone Maps app, I was bit shocked to see that the destination arrow didn’t settle at any particular coordinate , it was keep expanding to a large area. Then I understood that Auroville is not a single location, it’s almost a 20Sq.km township, which is scattered over little forested, little semi-urban, and some beach areas. For someone new to Pondicherry, it is bit difficult to pinpoint exactly where the Auroville is .

Auroville Beach:
First we stopped by the Auro beach., is on the way to Auroville Village -  is right across the East Coast Road, ~ 8 kms from the Pondicherry town. This is one of the raw /open beaches in Pondicherry area, is not so big, not so clean, almost nil maintenance…, but still this is one of the beautiful beaches..

The coast of Auro beach looked little different – with some unique golden and volcanic black sand, on the shores of crystal clear deep blue sea. People were taking bath and enjoying dives on the roaring sea. We spent almost two hours playing with the splashing waves and relaxing on the shores. Witnessed the scenes of fishermen getting in to the sea for fishing and coming back with loads of fresh fishes on their nets!!!.. Clicked some really nice snaps to preserve our memories of Auro beach, before we pack-up to the Auroville Village.

We enjoyed our time over there, but this beach really needs a lot of improvement. There’re no shops over there, except a small stall frying fish and some bhajjis - which was anyway not hygiene enough. The local fisherman and visitors have made the beautiful beach as dirty as possible, Get to see lot of sea shells and polluted wastes lying here and there. It badly needs some maintenance, else soon it will loose all the visitors.

Auroville Village:
After reaching the Auroville village campus, we first headed to the Visitor's Center to know about the history of Matrimandir and Auroville, there were displays in pictures, videos and in small model structures . They directed us to a walking path to the viewing point of the matri madir (we didn’t plan to get into the mandir, it requires prebooking). The walk path is almost a kilometer long amidst a thick garden(I would call it as a forest, its that thick!)

Auroville Gardens:
When they asked us to walk the 1+ kilometer from visitor centre to Matrimadir, we felt terrific, but after walking through the gardens only we understood their intention of making us to walk. The Matrimadir is surrounded by 12 unique gardens, which were thought and designed by the mother-  herself. Each of these 12 gardens indicates 12 flowers symbolizing 12 human qualities/significance. Walking through all these garden was quite informative and some thought provovking!

Garden Names: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss, Light, Life, Power, Wealth, Utility, Progress, Youth, Harmony, Perfection
Matri Mandir:
Finally, we are at the viewing point of the matrimandir. What a beautiful view it is..The golden globe Meditation building (my daughter’d have called as a giant Ferrero Rocher :) surrounded by beautiful gardens was very pleasant. We did not attempt to enter into the Mandir, my small kid may not allow us to sit silent inside the meditation hall. So we just enjoyed the outside view, read the history of the place and the 500 years old banyan tree beside the mandir.
To read a Brief History of Matrimandir’s Conception click here

There was no need to walk back, free shuttles dropped us back at the visitor centre. Spent some time on the information centre, shopping area , café and drove back to Pondicherry town, after a slight lunch in between.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kaththi (Tamil) - Movie Review

Next to the massive Diwali -2012 success of "Thuppakki", A.R.Murugadass and Vijay have joined together once again for “Kaththi” – a commercial entertainer with a social message.

Very often, we hear the news of hundreds of farmer suicides/deaths from all over the India – where Agriculture is the backbone of the country. Every party throws up big promises for farmers in all their election manifestos, but how many of them getting materialized? Or do we really tracking/worrying about them?. Here in Kaththi, Murugadoss pinpoints our ignorance on the issue and highlighting the problems that the farmers' face due the (corrupted) globalization.

Vijay plays dual role. As Jeevanatham – an educated, social activist who endeavors the betterment of his village which is facing a severe water problem. Another character Kathiresan (alias Kaththi), as a crook having a track record of escaping from the jail for 18 times .. Both these characters cross their path, and as usual exchange of characters – Kaththi in the place of jeeva , striving hard for the villagers, while the Jeeva is in jail caught as Kaththi. How they live on the foots of the other and catch-up the cause is the story.

The real hero of the story is Jeeva, who’s characterized more like Vijayakanth of Ramana – very subtle and who’s going to an extend of risking his life for the betterment of his village. This Jeeva character is completely “Non-Vijay” in every aspect :P , way different from the typical Vijay what we’ve been seeing in his mass masala movies!. But the director A.R.M satisfies Vijay fans with the other character Kaththi., with songs, dance, fight and a lot more masalas.

There could be arguments that someone else could have done the characters better than Vijay.. May be true too:) . But this movie needs the attraction of Vijay to reach out a large mass – which could be possible only by people like Thalaivar(Rajni), Kamal, Vijay or Ajith. Kudos to Vijay for accepting this script and very importantly for not screwing it-up :P

Samantha: sadly a typical commercial cinema heroine , just appearing in the songs, and in a few romantic scenes. I almost forgot that she’s on the movie :(

I see A.R.Murugadass as one of the very rare responsible cinematographers of Tamil cinema. He’s cleverly touched many burning issues like farmer suicides, water scarcity, corruption, MNCs who don’t both about their CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility), difficulties of senior citizens, TRP hungry media, …and etc. He conveys all his anger so sharply in the scene where Jeeva speaks in the press meet – that’s the highlight of the movie!!

But I feel, the screenplay is not so gripping and fast paced like Thuppakki, could have done better, especially the lousy 1st half. The placement of songs slows down the pace and makes the audience less engaged. But somehow AR.M saves the movie with a decent 2nd half. Definitely worth watching for the solid 2nd half!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Paradise Beach - Truly a Paradise in Pondicherry

After lunch & nap at hotel, we started to Paradise Beach at around 3PM. It is around 8km from the Pondicherry town on the Pondy-Cuddalore Highway , is located at the place where River Chunnambar  meets the Bay of Bengal, which makes the Paradise beach as a typical Island. We took an auto rickshaw and reached the boat house in 20-30 minutes.

We had 2 options of boats to select with – one a superfast water jets and the other one is normal ferry. I am not a superfast lover and moreover our kid was with us, so we went on with the normal ferry. The boat journey was roughly around 20 minutes on the backwaters to reach the Paradise beach. The low tide back waters with greeny coconut and palm trees on the banks, was such a scenic beauty and treat to the eyes.
Wow!!! We are at the Paradise beach, welcomed by a lovely long shore fringed with Coconut trees and natural huts, shadowing pristine blue sky and sparkling sea waves at the sun shine….what a nice and clean beach (you may see a little littering here and there, but still I would call it as the “cleanest”, by Indian standards :P ) The sand itself was so white and fine; each grain of it can be seen through the crystal clear water of the sea.

Here, the sea is not so deep or rough, it was very safe to play – even for my 3 year old kid. We spent so much time splashing water around the waves and racing on the shore. Sat under the huts on the shore and relaxed for some time, while enjoying the sea along with the snacks that we’d brought :)

They said 2 hours is the max.time one could stay at the beach, but it was an odd-day, there’s not much crowd over there. We’re enjoying the waters till the security guards whistle for the last return boat of the day, at around 6PM. We thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it, felt so refreshed. Will never miss the paradise beach, whenever I come to Pondicherry again.

Paradise Beach is truly a paradise, it’s the best of our Pondicherry trip !!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

My Daughter - "My Crisis Angel"

During childhood, we never heard or even knew the meaning for the words failure and crisis. Our parents never teach us these words, perhaps they just wish and pray that we never come across these words ever in our life.. But it’s not the reality, right?.

Everyone of us has to go through some downtrends/failures/crisis in our lives and try to stand-up against them successfully as much as we could. How quickly one can stand-up and how long he can stay on field is what make him unique, and that’s not possible for everyone without an abundant support and thrust from someone who’s close to his heart.

Won’t you call that thrust as your Crisis Angel? and that’s my 3- year old daughter -who’s striving me the energy to fight against all the crisis and stand tall.
Life is not always easy at your 30, that too if you’re an Indian IT guy. Every day has been so stormy and eventful. There are a lot of tough days when I put all my best efforts, but nothing comes out on my way… There’re times when so many demands & expectations on me ,and I am not able to fulfill any of those…. There are times where I have been subjected to groundless criticisms and offenses…. 

There’re times where I just want to quit all my struggles (towards the goals) and sit lame, but I never give-up!, a simple smile from the cute angel vanishes all the worries of all the crisis.

She motivates me so much that I just have to continue, don't let no obstacles get in my way. She gives me that extra energy to push me further everyday. She shines a light on my life, heaves my strengths , eases my faults and my weaknesses, and help me to see the life positively for ever. I am blessed to have her as my daughter, my crisis angel!

Well, the above rambling of mine is no special. Very very simple and silly crisis that everyone of us face in our day-to-day life. But when there’s a real big disaster strikes your life, you need an extra courage and effort to with stand. When floods wrecked havoc in J&K in early September 2014, hundreds of people came forward to help. Among these selfless volunteers was the team from V.O.I.C.E (Volunteers Online for Impact in Crisis and Emergencies) working via their twitter handle @InCrisisRelief (website InCrisisRelief.org). 

VOICE is a small group of individuals from across the world coordinated the largest citizen-led relief effort ever, with the help of several other Crisis Angels. This group is now doing the same for the flood-ravaged North-Eastern states.

I support their cause #MyCrisisAngel. Do you?

Pondicherry Archaeological Museum

Pondicherry’s Archaeological Museum is very close to the Aurobindo Ashram. So right after the Ashram visit, we walked into the Museum.

With such a great cultural history behind the place, we thought this museum would give us a tremendous experience. But sadly it’s not and we’re little disappointed. It’s not about artifacts, I believe the museum houses quite a reasonable collections from the excavates of Arikamedu and fair amount of diversified local cultural representation, the museum building itself is a 100+ years old rich depicting French-Roman architecture. But, what goes wrong is the poor display and maintenance of the rare treasures :(

The museum starts with a display of centuries old pottery debris and burial urns unearthed from the Roman settlement in Arikamedu. There’s collection of old coins, paintings, stones, sand from different parts of archaeological places around there. It also features a stunning show of antique swards, armors, and arms dating back to the ancient Chola and Pallava dynasty of Tamil History.

One unique think that I liked here, was that we could walk through a typical house setup of the colonial era. They have set-up a model living room, bedroom, dressing room, kitchen, dining rooms of the typical French house with the vintage furniture and artifacts collected over the years, that fairly show an idea over ​​the lifestyle of old French people. On the terrace there is a display of century old carriages , trailers and palanquins, which add-up little more worth to the visit.

It took all of just 30 minutes to cover the entire museum. Nevertheless, If history interests you, it’s worth paying a visit. I loved it!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sri Aurobindo Ashram

You can’t write about the Ashram in a single post, you need a complete dedicated blog to comment about Sri Aurobindo, Mother and about their Ashram at Pondicherry. Here, I have just scribbled my experience of visiting the center of meditation – their Samadhis.

I have been here for the second time, but felt the same fresh feel and bliss. We walked through the beautiful small garden filled with lovely flowers and greenery, onto the "Samadhi" of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. The Samadhis were decorated with fabulous flowers and looks so serene.

Once we reach the Samadhi’s and sat in front of them.., believe me the time flew by like anything. I don’t know how to meditate..., I wasn’t doing anything over there..., I was just sitting in the meditation place closing my eyes, but and somehow I felt like lost in a dream ( Is that what others call as meditation?). It was such a peaceful place, except the chirping of the birds , nothing could be heard off!!!. If you’re regularly practicing meditation, you’ll feel definitely great.

You need to be completely silent inside the ashram premises, cannot speak once after you leave your footwear out and entered into the ashram. Kids below 3 aren't allowed. Photography isn't allowed inside. There's one book-shop, in case you want to read/buy some spiritual books. It’s not so big campus,

If you’re there to just to tour, It will take just about 15-20 minutes to take a look at around the complete ashram. If you’re there to sit and meditate, you may end-up spending hours infront of the Samadhi’s itself !.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Won Indiblogger CarConnect Contest

India’s largest blog aggregator – Indiblogger is continuously enabling different platforms and initiatives to pep-up our writing skills, and the CarConnect Contest conducted by them was one among them. The contest was to submit any of your long driving experience at the CarConnect.in and write a review post about their website. Indiblogger in association with CarConnect.in

Me – the typical lazy bugger :P surprisingly took part in the contest, submitted my Kentucky Road trip experience as the entry post at CarConnect.in and wrote a review about their website at my blog. And “WoW” , my posts have managed to find a place among the “Winners” !!!

Winning Post: My Kentucky Trip 
And my review Post: Experience the CarConnect.in

I could not win the 1st and 2nd spots (I know my writing is far far away from the top prizes)., but feeling happy that I could make out a place in the next spot at least ; rewarded with INR. 1000 worth Flipkart vouchers. The amount doesn’t matter at all. It’s the appreciation keeps your spirits up and boosts your energy to do well, Isn’t it? This Win really means a lot to me.

Thank you Indiblogger , CarConnect.in and all the readers !!!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Pondicherry

No Pondicherry travel & travelogue can get complete without mentioning about the famous “Manakula Vinayagar Temple”. This is one of the ancient temples in Pondicherry. The temple has a 500 years old history to track on…It was constructed before the French came to Pondicherry, records mention the existence of the temple even before 1666.

Manakula Vinayagar temple is devoted to Hindu God Ganesh. In Tamil (local language of Pondicherry & Tamilnadu), the word ‘Manal’ means “Sand” ; and the word ‘Kulam’ refers to “Pond”. Years before there’re no other building between the temple and the sea,  it was entirely surrounded by sea sand. So the people of Pondicherry called the Ganesh as Manal Kulathu Vinayagar., which later became “Manakula Vinayagar”

According to Hindu Sasthra (Ganapathy Agamam), the Ganesha is called by sixteen different names depending on his different forms and this god facing the east side near Bay of Bengal is to be called as “Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy”; but the name “ Manakula Vinayagar” has become so popular than the original name “Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy”. The outside wall of the temple depicts various forms of the Ganesh god structures with its timelines and locations, through pictures and sculptures.

I heard that this is the only Ganesh temple where Ganesh’s wedding to Siddhi & Buddhi, is celebrated grandly. Also, this is the only temple where the lord Ganesh stands by 3 legs, which is a very rare feature, haven’t heard/seen anywhere else. The temple also features a dancing Ganesh called “Narathan Ganapathy” another rare one.

Another attraction of the temple is the beautiful elephant called Laxmi who arrives in the early morning and evenings to the temple premises. She gives her blessings by keeping her trunk on your head., if you give a coin/rupee note to her :)

The reputation of Manakula Vinayakar is astonishingly great. Not only the local crowd and tourists, but also a large set of devotees from other countries too visit and seek the blessings of Manakula Vinayakar. If you plan for a Pondicherry trip, do plan to visit the Manakulathu Vinayagar temple, which just a street away from the Sea/ Goubert Avenue., just adjacent to the famous Aurobindo Ashram.

Moolavar          : Manakulathar / Bhuvaneshar Ganapathy
Existence          : more than 500 years
Hours               :  5:45 am – 12:30 pm, 4:00 – 9:30 pm
Address            :  Manakula Vinayagar Street, Puducherry, 605001, India
More details     :  http://www.manakulavinayagartemple.com/ (Temple’s official website)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bharathi Park & Aayi Mandapam

It’s a government park, named after Pondicherry born poet “Bharathidasan”. This park is just a street away from the beach and middle of the French quarter. It’s also surrounded by many other attractions like Aurobindo Ashram, The museum, Manakula Vinayagar Temple, Light house, Raj Nivas … all within walkable distance from the Park.

The Park is so huge and well maintained too. The lush greens in the park were like a heaven for us to sit and relax on that hot day:) .

The park features a big play area for the kids. Though not maitained well, still they are usable., My kiddo spent some fun time with the slope, Swing, and a few. There are many small, not so ancient statues and sculptures all around the park. The well maintained lawns, neat flowerbeds, and large fountains around the monument adds-up beauty to it.
Park Monument (popularly called as Aayi Mandapam) is located right at the center of the park. Not just the monument is unusual the story behind the monument is also so strange :)

Long back, while the king of Vijayanagar - Shri Krishnadevaraya going through Pondicherry, an amazing fort like building caught-up his eyes. The King thought that the building might be a temple, knelt down and bowed down infront of the building. Soon the King got embraced to know that it was not a temple, it is a house of “Aayi” – a local prostitute.

The King got anger and ordered to hang Aayi and to tore down the house. Aayi begged the king for mercy and she assured him that she’ll demolish the complete building herself. As promised, Aayi routed her beautiful house and dug a large water pond in that place – which is now called as “Aayi Kulam” (Kulam means Tank/pond), about 5 Km from Pondicherry.

Later, during French in Pondicherry, the whole town faced a severe water shortage. All the bore wells gave them only salty water and Aayi kulam was the only drinking water source around. French engineer Monsieur Lamairesse constructed a 5KM long channel from Aayi Kulam and brought water to Pondicherry. The water from the Aayi Kulam became a lifeline for the complete Pondy area.

The then French king – Napolean-III heard the story of Aayi Kulam and was extremely overwhelmed. To show his vote of thanks, he ordered to construct a monument for Aayi at Pondicherry. That’s the milky white monument that we are seeing at the middle of the Bharathi Park - exhibiting the excellence Greco-Roman architecture!!!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Promenade Beach

Promenade Beach is one of the famous attractions of Pondicherry. It is stretched about 1.2 km and looks out to the sea - Bay of Bengal. We’re lucky that our hotel was located just a hundred meters from the Promenade beach, and we thoroughly enjoyed the time at the Promenade.

The Promenade is the focal point of Pondicherry town; its name came from being the promenade (meaning: a paved public walk along a waterfront) of the French tradition of town. The beach attracts visitors from morning to late night. While in the morning, it’s mostly the health lovers of all age walking up & down the promenade, and the rest of it’s day is also busy, we could see travelers and locals visiting it.

Promenade is not like other regular beaches. It’s completely rocky, you can’t get down into the waters, the government has put big stones to keep the town safe against the big sea waves. Just have pleasant walk all along , sit on the rocks, listen to the music of the waves!!!.

We twice had a leisurely walk along the promenade beach. The 1.2 Km stretch of Promenade has several landmarks: It starts with the statue of Mahatma Gandhi and end with the statue of Dupleix. In between, we could witness The War memorial, the heritage town hall / Customs building, the old light house, and the remains of the old pier...etc. You just walk along the promenade and sure you’ll get soaked in the history of rich colonial past.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Promenade: Statues and Monuments

As I mentioned, the 1.2Km stretch of Promenade beach spots several historical monuments and statues; some of the places we could visit are,

Gandhi Statue: is a 4-meter statue of Mahatma Gandhi, bordered by eight granite pillars, which were reportedly brought from the fort of Gingee Sultans. The open space in front of the statue is being used to host various cultural and commercial activities throughout the year. We’re there on Oct-1st – one day before the Gandhi Jayanthi, so the whole place was getting some nice make over :)
French War Memorial: is just a few meters from the Gandhi Statue. This is a war monument to remember the brave soldiers who gave their life for France, during the First World War. On every French National Day - 14th of July  (Bastille Day) ,  the memorial is superbly illuminated and respect is paid to those brave martyrs. The White tall monument looks elegant and it is good to see that Indians who gave their life were not forgotten (though not for India :( ).
Old Light House: This 19th Century Lighthouse in Pondicherry is a significant landmark. Its exceptional architecture of a round tower has made it a modern lighthouse at the time it was built. The Light house construction was started on 1835 and the first time it was lighted 1st July, 1836. This light house is still regarded as a milestone on French technical achievements in Asia.

Dupleix Statue: Joseph Francois Dupleix was the governor of Pondicherry, and was the key reason for most of the infrastructure development of Pondy. His statue is located at the south end of the Sea-side promenade, covered with dust/dirt and rust, tells a story of poor maintenance :(
Old Pier deck: One of the famous Pier deck of South India is almost washed away by the sea; still the remains of the pier deck adds-up the beauty of the Promenade beach!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Madras - Movie Review

Story revolves around a wall of a housing board building in North Madras, which is used for publicity of a political party - picture of the local party leader is painted on the wall. When the party becomes two, ownership of this wall creates a major dispute between them which often ends spilling blood at both ends. The story also depicts a deep friendship between Kaali (Karthi) and Anbu (Kalaiarasan) who live in the area.

Anbu is the youth leader of one the parties and is often used as a pawn by the leader of the party. When Anbu is targeted and sacked by the opposition, his friend Kaali is also drawn into the world of politics and revenge.

Director Pa.Ranjit has given a native theme throughout the movie, which engages the audience from the first shot to the end; His casting is also good, except the hero and heroine :(. Karthi has given a good performance after along time and played the character well, but somehow I am not fully convinced, feel that Dhanush or Vijay Sethupathy would have done better.

Kalaiarasan who plays Anbu has given wonderful performance who even dominates the screen in the majority of the first half. Catherin Teresa’s role as well her apperance in the movie is not so appealing.

Songs are good, but the placement of songs makes the movie dragging, especially in the second half. The end also is very cinematic and abrupt which makes the movie incomplete. Art direction and Camerawork are aesthetically done and makes the audience feel the essence of North Madras.

Except for reminding the earlier North Madras films at times and a few dragging scenes here and there, the film is is a decent attempt. If you like the north-madras nativity and movies like Pudhupettai and Pollathavan, you’ll surely like the “Madras” too.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Trip to Pondicherry - The "Mini-France" of India

Pondicherry (also called as Puducherry) is one of the most popular tourist destinations in South India. I had been longing to visit Pondicherry again for quite a long time (No.. No.. that’s not the reason, I am non-alcoholic:) ) ; I had already been there in early 2005, but was a bachelor then- came with friends. Now the experience of staying with family is totally different and awesome.

Loved this long week-end, Gandhi Jayanthi followed by Pooja holidays enabled us to plan a good three day trip to the East Coast  - Pondicherry & Cuddalore. Did not get much time for planning and preparation, but was lucky enough to get the train/bus tickets and hotel bookings, in a short duration.

We started from Bangalore on the night of 30th Sep. I never imagined that there’s a train from Bangalore to Pondicherry, that too with perfect timing. It was Dadar-Pondicherry Express, left Bangalore at 11PM and reaches Pondicherry on the next day morning at 7.40AM, on-time.

Here you go, below was our travel itinerary – 2 days full days  at Pondicherry and the last day at/around Cuddalore in Tamilnadu.

The Botanical Garden
French War Memorial
Old Light House
Bharati Park & Aayi Mandapam
Manakula Vinayagar Temple
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Chunnambar Boat House & The Paradise Beach
Moonwalk at the Promenade

Auro Beach
Auroville & Matri Mandir
French Colony
Shopping at Pondicherry
Would like to write about each of the above attractions , food and on travelling experience in separate posts. Hope you’ll enjoy the series of posts TRAVELOGUE-PONDICHERRY

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Botanical Garden: The "Life of Pi" Park is "Lifeless"

Starting of the trip was bit rough and disappointing...

Reason#1: We couldn’t get a rental bike as we planned, we had to completely rely on Auto rickshaws which are unreasonably fared :(

Reason#2: The super-hot weather - It was just 7.40AM in the morning, but the sun was already blasting at 36+ degrees. It’s been long time since we traveled outside Bangalore (where the avg. temp is just ~25 deg.C).

It was very difficult to get accommodate, we literally needed some shadow to rest on . The Botanical Garden is just a few hundred meters from the railway station. So we started our Pondy trip from the Botanical Garden.

This garden is situated at the west-centre of the town and supposed to be one of the best attractions of Pondicherry, but it’s not :(. We could see a few formal French style clipped trees, flower beds, a tiny fountain and a few age old trees. It features even a small aquarium and a "Joy" train ride for the kids. But, it’s too far away from the word “Botanical Garden” :P
This is the same gorgeous garden where the Oscar winning movie "Life of Pi" is made, but unfortunately all those beauty was alive only on the screen. In reality, it needs a lot of maintenance and proper management. No security, No controller, …nobody was there to regularize. The Forest Department of Pondicherry should really focus to improve this place.

Anyway, our intention of the visit was simple, we just needed some shade from the sun. We had our breakfast at the park (food that we had brought; there's no restaurant/canteen inside the park), we walked around the park, clicked a few snaps and moved away to the Promenade …..

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Walk through the history of Pondicherry

I am not a qualified historian, but do have a passion for the history and never miss to read through the history of the new places whereever I go. Below history is the excerpts of my reading from various sources.

I feel, Pondicherry doesn’t have  a long history to track-on. We have records only after the Colonial Age – arrival like the Dutch, Portuguese, English and the French. Though early archeological findings at Arikemedu, have confirmed an ancient Roman settlement at Pondy, the actual history begins with the French only. 
Old Tamil literatures say that, Pondy was one of the leading commercial ports during the Vijayanagar, Pallava, Chola, and Pandya periods. Then Portugese set up a factory but forced to leave by the Gingee Sultan, who was ruling Pondy region at that time. Soon after the Dutch invaded into India and set up their base in Porto Novo, Cuddalore. Gingee Sulatan was not able to fight against the Dutch and he invited the French to take over the Pondicherry   region in AD1673.

This was the key turning point in the History of Pondicherry. From then, The French and Dutch fought many wars over Pondy region and in 1699 the French regained Pondicherry with an amicable deal with the Dutch. As soon as the wars came to end (in 18th century), the town saw a significant growth in economy and Infrastructure, which stays stronger even today.

Many Governors, especially Dupleix laid the foundations for today’s Pondicherry and converted the town into an vital town. But Pondy’s good luck did not run long, since after the arrival of English man - Robert Clive.  Cliver distorted the existing French-Dutch deal and recaptured Pondy area and along with several key  territories like Madras, Arcot, etc. from the French.

Again, in 1765 Pondy was returned back to the French, but it was not permanent. The Britsh and French had several wars, and it was only in 1816, The French could gain stable control over Pondicherry. Even after India’s independence, Pondy was in the control of France and they handed over Pondy to India with certain requests and demands in 1954.From then,the Pondicherry continues as the Union Teritory of India.

The impact of the French is still stays in the town. To a new visitor the French influence is quite obvious. The French names for the streets, the French architectured buildings, French foods, the bicycles on the streets, and very importantly still a lot of French people in the town makes Pondy – truly  a “Mini-France” within India !!!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Successfull Mangalyaan - A Day To Remember !

I do not know how many of us have really cared to notice the historic feat we had today. India’s MOM (Mars Orbiter Mission) has successfully entered into the Mars Orbit, making India as the first country in the world to achieve on its very first attempt.

The Mangalyaan (Informal name of India’s MOM) has reached Mars after a 300-day marathon covering over 670 million Kilometres. The spacecraft was launched on 5 November 2013 and it is successfully inserted into the orbit of Mars today - 24 September 2014.

Many countries have tried their luck with Mars, many time, but out of the 51 attempts only 21 were successful and India is the first country to achieve this feat on the debut. Earlier in 2003, European Space Agency (ESA) has got its orbiter right at the first attempt, but still India will gain the glory of first position, since the ESA is a conglomeration of many countries. India now joins the Martian club that consist of the United States, Russia and the European Space Agency.

What an achievement by ISRO scientists ! The whole project’s budget is just $74 Million, less than the $100 million budget of the movie “Gravity” !!! . This is nine times cheaper than NASA's $671 million Maven.  ISRO has yet again proved the through brilliance and hard work of Indians.

Really feel proud to be an Indian!. Congratulations to ISRO for this magnanimous achievement. Unfortunately, the government could spend only $74 Million for the Mangalyaan Mission (as they had to allocate $29 Billion to 2G Spectrum Mission and another 100+ billion$ on other scams), else we could have reached even the Proxima Centauri :)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Weekend Trip: Shivasamudra, Talakad & Somanthpur

This was a long waiting post, we went on this one day trip - covering Shivasamudra, Talakad and Somnathpur ,  almost a year back :), but now only got the time to write about it.

1. Shivasamudra
Shivasamudra has two striking falls - Barachukki and Gaganchukki ., situated at Mandya District of the state of Karnataka, India. I would call it as a “Mini-Niagara”!!!. The thunderous flow during the peak monsoon season is so huge as Niagara. Downstream from the falls has Asia's first Hydro – Power Plant, established at Sir M Visvesvaraya in the year 1902. Yeah!, it’s India - You do have a set of ancient temples located in and around Shivasamudram :) .

Total height of the Falls : 98 metres (322 ft)
Watercourse : Kaveri River
Average flow rate : 934 cubic metres/s (33,000 cubic ft/s).
This trip was on a peak monsoon season., when the falls were gushing with water. That’s the best time to visit the falls. Mesmerizing droplets rising in the air about 50 feet high from the falls!!!. It was such a beauty to witness.  But, there was no way to get-in to the waters . Since the water current was more, they did not allow us to get near the water. We clicked a few adventurous pics, spent some time and packed-up.
Straight from Shivasamudra, we headed to Talakad.

2. Talakad:
Talakadu is an ancient town on the banks of river Cauvery, most of its area filled with White Sand. Talakad has an interesting history to read through. It’s believed that entire talakad town was buried under sand  once due to a legendry curse from Alemalamma – the queen of Vijayanagar Empire. They say that, the Queen's curse turned the once flourishing Talakadu into a place like desert. We still can see a number of temples/towers half-sunk under the sand dunes.

We reached there at around 1PM. Had one of the best lunches of my life. The same Veg. Biriyani with set of side dishes, prepared by my wife – but the chilly drizzling at the greeny water front made it magical! , except some disturbance from the monkeys over there. But, fighting with the monkeys and saving our food was itself so much fun :P , me and my daughter enjoyed that part too , very much!

We took the fun coracle ride over the back waters (couldn’t go onto the main river, as the flow was so huge and dangerous). After relaxing for sometime, we packed-up for the next location Somanthpura.

3. Somnathpur:
The Keshava temple at Somnathpur situates at around 35km from Mysore, is an immeasurably beautiful Hoysala temple. It was built in 1268 AD. History says that it took 58 years to complete the construction of the temple, that much stone art carvings it has. It’s well maintained. Truly an amazing piece of human excellence and creativity, but we failed to enter the premises, as we reached there just a few minutes late. (Needless to say,our government officials are so punctual while closing :) ..
It was already 6.30PM and  we were dead tired, so after a tea and snack at Somnathpura we packed our bags to home.

This was one of the best one day trips ever!!!.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What's new in iPhone 6

It's just my personal opinion, Apple hasn't brought any revolutionary changes to iPhone 6, other than their superb and secured ecosystem.

It's little bigger, slimmer, then..what? After getting to know about iphone 6, iphone 6 plus and wearable watch, I must say there is nothing which is beyond our imagination, nothing innovative (that used to be the trademark of Apple:( ) .

I feel Apple is just trying to catch up with others in the market, with a bigger display and wearables. I wish, Apple to be the trendsetter, not just as follower of others!
PS: I am not a hater of Apple, I myself was a geniune user of iPhone for years, but not now.