Vellore is famous for
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Diwali break with family including visit to Divya Desam
Completed darshan of Lord Narasimha (form of Vishnu) in Yogi pose - its one of the 108 divya desams (holy places for followers of Vishnu) and climbed another 430 steps to have darshan of Hanuman atop the adjacent temple. We did not find any discomfort in going up this "smaller" hillock either! Followed that with the visit to temple at the nearby Vishnu temple in Sholingur town.
Then off to Vellore, around 50 km away and checked in @ SMS Grand. Its a decent hotel adjacent to Chennai - Bangalore Highway with comfortable and clean rooms, friendly, courteous and accommodating staff. Being pure veg, had lunch at Hotel Saravana Bhavan (where else ?? ). After a light nap, off the visit the Golden Temple - a must visit during the night. Fantastic setting and landscaping; temple is all glittering gold. No cameras / phones, so no photos attached! Dinner at ... You guessed it right HSB, but this one at another location; we were told its the more recent one - just a year old.
After a night's break, started. Yes that's right a niggling calf pain (but mind you only walk up the steps! So much for the smug, athletic and fit family :)
The breakfast was served around 8 am with enough choices for pure veg south Indian foodie family.
Off we go to the Vellore Fort. Parking charges is 30 but entry is free. Visited the Jalakandeswarar temple, a 500 year old temple dedicated to Siva built on vast expanse of space and mind blowing out of the world sculptures, most of it still intact. Its an ASI protected monument along with the fort.
Walked around the fort to get a feel of the place and doing some fantasizing on what it takes to be on this side of the fort. Being a Friday, the museum was closed; we gave the park a miss. Most of the space is occupied by government offices and therefore nothing more to see.
Having completed the Fort visit, off we went to ... You guessed right, another temple viz. Balamurugan Ratnagiri temple. And oh, by the way it has golden plating and is on a small hillock !!! Its dedicated to Subramaniam / Muruga.
Blessed by all the gods, we came back to our room and checked out. Lunch was at a veg restaurant attached to Khanna Fiesta on Anna Salai; interestingly one of the few places which offer brunch (2 combos) at affordable rates. Unfortunately, they are served only till 12 pm; we were late by an hour. Amazing combo meals seems to be their specialty!
After a hearty meal, drove back to Chennai. A bonus for my elder son was a chance to drive in the highway at a top speed of 70 kph - within the permissible limit of 80 kph (no worries - he holds a valid driving licence).
Evening and we are home, beating the evening city traffic. Blessed, thrilled, relaxed and sore calves, mind you only when we take the steps - now not just the steps as in stairs, but even taking the next step !!!
I am heading to Vellore
History of Vellore
Vellore, a historical city having shadows of a glorious past, is located on the River Palar in Tamil Nadu. Now a very calm and understated place, it was once a battleground and has seen many wars. The name Vellore also means a 'City of spears'. Vellore has an enriching legacy reflecting the early Dravidian culture. The famous Vellore Fort is considered to be the most powerful fortress and was built in the 16th century by the then Nayakar chieftains belonging to the Vijayanagar Empire. It is completely made of granite blocks; and the fort is now a historical tourist hotspot.
Things To Do in Vellore
With a typical tropical climate, the best time to visit Vellore is between the months of October to March.The city also has to its credit one of the best hospitals in India, the Christian Medical College and Hospital. It is situated in the heart of the city and it is also one of the main private employers in the city. The other main attractions of Vellore are the Jalakanteshwara Temple, Muthu Mandapam or the Pearl Palace and the Government Museum.Jalakanteshwara Temple is in the fort complex and the temple walls are full of carvings of Nandi and gopuras. Muthu Mandapam or the Pearl Palace is a memorial built by the River Palar. The Government Museum is an exclusive museum that has in its collection objects pertaining to anthropology, art, archaeology, pre-history, botany and geology.
People and Culture of Vellore
Vellore district is known to be one of the top exporters of prepared leather goods in the country. The Vellore Research Centre is also the country's first stem cell research centre. Kavalur observatory, located in Kavalur, in Vellore district has been chosen for studies as it is closest to the Earth's equator. The largest telescope in Asia is located here. The Amirthi Zoological Park is situated near the Javadu hills near the Amirthi River which is about 25 km away from Vellore. The Golden Temple of Vellore, located at Sripuram near Thirumalaikodi that has been constructed by the Vellore-based Sri Narayani Peedam on 100 acres of land. It is said that about 1500 kg of gold was used to build it. The outer trail of the temple is outlined in the shape of a star and it is about 1.8 km in length. Some of the famous churches in Vellore are the Assumption Cathedral and the 150 year old St. John's Church. The large mosque based in the heart of the city is known to have the largest Arabic College in India.