“Hillocks, dry river, hot sun. If there is a place where you can find it, no wonder almost every part of our country looks the same. But apparently, the first place recognized with such trademarks would definitely be Vellore. 8'o clock in the morning was when we were reaching Vellore. A two and half hour drive from Chennai on the Bangalore Highway by a car is well enough to reach. Vellore is known for its fort built by the Subordinate king Sinna Bommi Nayak, who was a subordinate of Vijayawada Kingdom's Sadasiva Raja, then later of Sriranga Maharaja of Vijayanagar dynasty.
Vellore is not famous for any specific attractions except the Fort and the Jalagandeswarar temple within the fort premises. We took an auto to reach Vellore Fort from our Hotel and it costed nearly 70 Rupees prior to the random 100 rupees bid of the auto driver. A little bit of bargaining saved 30 rupees but still our Hotel and the Fort will be less than 5 kilometres. By 11 o clock we reached the Fort. Covered by a large garden space which is separated by a lake from the fort. The right hand side hand aplenty of water while the other was dry enough to saunter. We walked through a narrow gate entrance and a few yards ahead, we saw steps to be taken to see the entire fort. Entry was free and there were no ticket counters as at other places.
The pathway was literally the protecting wall of the King's paradise. For every 10 metres or so there were small hut made of stone with an iron gate and a large space for soldiers to keep a check at alien entries into the town. The presence of buildings in the present age are definitely stopping the eye sight to go further than the fort periphery and surroundings. Some couples were seen under shelters of trees too, while on the other hand families thronged for their weekend bonanza in the hot sun. The front side of the wall there were guards holding a long sharp edged stick taller than them definitely.
I wondered, if guarding of a fort is quite well known to the enemies wouldn't they simply findout the loop holes? But the rulers of that era are obviously clever enough, which I realized when there were secret passages to view enemy entries. After a walk of nearly 100-300 metres, there was a view point, from where one can get a broader view of the town and its nearby places. On our left stood the magnificent temple of Jalagandeshwara with an off white paint.
Then we went through similar structures on all the four sides. There were sculptures of Narasimha, Ganesha, Shiva etc. on some places very rarely. At one point, I found a raised platform with a rock that seemed similar to the one where a guilty persons head is chopped off. Then I kept on walking for some distance and found steps to get down and when I wondered what place it was, I knew it is the same place I started from.
Temple will open only by the evening so I went back to my room and came to the same fort by 6 o clock in the evening. So now the time has come for the temple visit. People have thronged to the temple as it was an auspicious day. There were queues to worship. But I cannot wait in the queue for a long time. So I took a quick rendezvous around the temple and found some people curiously looking into something like a well kind of. When I went closer I realized it was definitely a well. The well had small steps kind of thing that was visible to some extent. A group of 10 people got involved in a competition. It was to figure out whether the coins you through into the well falls on the stone steps or not. If it falls on the steps, then you win. If not you lose. I inducted myself as a 11th competitor. Unlikely, 7 out of 11 members lost and the fact is I was among the remaining who won.
Now it is time for dinner. I was not able to figure-out a proper restaurant that is quite well known regionally until, someone else guided me to go for Gyan Vaishnav Punjabi Dhaba opposite CMC Hospital. Gyan Vaishnav Punjabi Dhaba were the first ones to launch a Punjabi Dhaba in a place like Vellore. CMC being a central government entity, entertains many students to students through-out the country to study and the taste bud of those students entertains launching of a Punjabi Dhaba obviously. We had some couple of Rotis with Paneer Butter Masala followed by Pulav and finally Lassi. We walked back to our Hotel that is some 2 kilometers ahead from Punjabi Dhaba.
The next day morning we were heading towards the Bus Stand to take up a bus to Chennai. But meanwhile one of our group member wanted to have a typical South Indian breakfast. So we went to Alankar Hotel (a famous South Indian Restaurant in the Town) to fill our stomach. Then now we boarded our bus to Chennai. On our way, we discovered some dilapidated structures on the top of some hillocks. Some people sitting next to us said that it was a fort. Nothing can be as bad as this. We missed out something. But apart from that we enjoyed our trip, which was not like the usual hill station holiday.
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- State: Tamil Nadu
- Famous for/as: Heritage
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. 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.
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.
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