Ancient TamilNadu – Tiger Cave, ECR

Yesterday i found time to visit this famous rock-cut temple on the way to Mahabalipuram (yes, Pallavas). Having heard about this place many times, it was interesting to see that the complex housed two rock-cut temples – the tiger cave (so named after the tigers adorning the cave like a garland and used as a stage to address the audience) and the shiva temple, called the Athirachananda cave (which i believe is being worshiped by the locals even to this day).

History says that these rock-cut structures were built sometime around the 7th – 8th Century AD by Narasimhavarman I of the Pallavas who were also building several other prominent structures along the East Coast Road. There are a few unfinished rock structures within the complex and these structures are maintained by the ASI under the ticketed monument model.

One of my friends who is also a history buff claims that the excavation site of a murugan temple (son of Lord Shiva and Parvathi) which is present in this complex could be THE ancient temple ever built in TamilNadu dating back more than 2000 years! Food for thought.

Hope you learnt something new about my country’s fascinating history and liked the pictures!

Sig

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Indie March – CounterCulture, Bangalore

This weekend at Bangalore was made worth the visit when i tagged along with my friends to the Indie March live music event at CounterCulture in Whitefield, Bangalore! Great music from some of the upcoming bands in India – see the action below!

Bands:

Until We Last (Bangalore based Post rock band, learnt what that meant only today!)

F16’s (Chennai based electro indie band)

Skrat (Chennai based original rock band, they got the crowd mad!)

Parvaaz (Bangalore based progressive rock band, they sing in Urdu and Kashmiri! – powerful performance twas)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures as much as i did the event!

Sig

Naturellement Garden Cafe – Auroville, Pondicherry

Last week, i visited Pondicherry and stopped for lunch at the Naturellement Garden Cafe in Auroville. I had read some great reviews on Tripadvisor and other food blogs and decided to give the place a whirl! The Cafe has a very relaxing ambiance, having lunch under the warm sun and cool tree shade was very soothing – The mushroom soup was rich and creamy, but the Gnocchi with tomato sauce was disappointingly very average. For an Italian cafe, i expected much more. Yet, desserts more than made up for the main dish – Tiramisu (exceptionally strong liquor taste!) and the Swedish Cinnamon Rolls (ah heaven!).

The staff is polite and courteous (all women staff), the produce is sourced locally from organic farms, there are homemade jams and sauces too!

Clearly the Garden Cafe is a big draw for the residents in Auroville and nearby Pondicherry. Maybe i should try a different main dish next time!

Auroville can be reached by car via the East Coast Road and is about 120Km from Chennai.

Sig

Ancient TamilNadu – Gingee Fort (Rajagiri)

Hello boys, I’m baaaccckkk ! I finally got to visit the extremely stunning and beautiful Gingee Fort, which is about 160Km from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. My my, where do i begin? – With a brief history ofcourse!

History indicates that Gingee (Senji) was originally under the rule of Pallavas (think Mahabalipuram) (600 AD – 900 AD) and then under the Cholas (900 AD – 1103 AD) and  later to the Pandyas and Hoysalas (1104 AD – 1190 AD).

The foundations of the Gingee Fort itself were laid by the Kon Dynasty in 1190 AD, with Ananda Koan (the Konar clan is an ancient shepherd community in Tamil Nadu present to this day) building the Anandagiri (now called Rajagiri). It was later developed by the Cholas and several structures were later added over the history of the several kingdoms ruling Gingee.

The Gingee Fort Complex has 3 hillocks – Rajagiri (which we visited), Krishagiri and Chandrayandurg (closed for the public). Each hillock has its own set of structures and self-contained citadels. The fort complex covers an area of 11 sq.km with the fort walls spanning 13Km in length. Rajagiri is built at a height of 800 feet (240 m). It took us about an hour to climb the hillock through the twisting, steep convoluted steps that go around the circumference of the hillock by itself (no wonder it is a tough fort to conquer, imagine the soldiers tiring out even before reaching the summit!). The summit is connected to the outside world by a small wooden draw bridge with a chasm that is 18 metres deep!

The Rajagiri fort complex is huge and has several interesting structures – granary, gymnasium, elephant tank, prison, courtyard, kalayana mahal to name a few. It took us 2 full hours to explore the length and breadth of the lower fort before even making the actual climb (!), which took another 45 minutes – 1 hour under the hot sun. But the 360* views at each precipe and outpost during the climb makes you wonder – with no modern tools or technology, how the hell did they build such a brilliantly positioned defense structure?! The enemy can be seen from miles away on all four sides (with smaller outpost structures on surrounding smaller hillocks). I can now understand why Chhatrapati Shivaji ranked this as the most impregnable fortress in India ! Overall it was a fantastic road trip – worth all the heat and burning quadriceps! See for yourself – Click on images to enlarge

Until next time!

Sig