Sunday, 17 February 2013

Trichy - the education hub

Lourde’s Church: A Catholic church decorated heavily with colourful flower arrangements, both natural and plastic. Built during 1890-1903 and renovated later, this huge church’s 200 ft tall spire is pointing towards the sky. The stained glass panels depicting stories from the Bible are dazzling. St. Joseph’s College was founded in Nagapattinam in 1844 and later transferred to Trichy in 1883 by Jesuits and the Lourde’s Church construction followed. The campus is sprawling over acres of greenery. Former president Dr. Abdul Kalam is part of the alumni. The museum on the campus will be opened for a group, not for individual visitors- two bricks from Babylon, 650 B.C. and 2 pieces of wood from the London bridge burnt in 1230- are these not worth joining a group for a visit?

Rock Fort Temple (Kallu Kottai Kovil) : Vibhishana (younger half -brother of Ravana from the epic Ramayana) returning to Sri Lanka with the idol of Lord Ranganatha in a lying posture gifted to him by Sri Rama, was tricked by Ucchivinayagar and made to leave his idol behind him on the northern bank of river Cauvery. Overlooking the large pond nearby, two temples are located on top of the hill at 83m height. Three deck construction of temple on the boulders of this 3.5 billion years old mountain is a rare exhibition of architectural skill. There are 400 and odd steps to climb to reach the Vinayaka temple at the summit. It is worth climbing up regardless of the fact that non-Hindus are not allowed inside either of the Temples, to appreciate the architectural mastery while gazing at Trichy’s landscapes and St. Joseph’ College campus.

Ride bus No. 1 from Trichy bus stand and get down at Chatram Bus Stand to visit the temples, church and college –this bus goes to Srirangam area in a circular route crossing Cauvery.

Pudukkottai to Trichy (Rs.25, 90 min) bus reaches Trichy central bus stand near Trichy Junction railway station. Accommodation near Trichy Central Bus station is pricey with low hygiene. If you are not in hurry, take Bus No.1 and head to Srirangam area- more peaceful and cleaner accommodations are around Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple- possibly the biggest temple complex in India. Highly commercialized with numerous shops around, Art Museum, panoramic view point, this temple is dedicated to Vishnu and provided another example of Nayak era carvings of many avatars of Vishnu complete with a thousand pillar mandapam and seven gopurams.

Lakshmi Towers, No 26, EVS Street, Renganagar, Srirangam (T 0431 243531, dbl Rs 550/-) with exceptionally clean rooms and attentive staff- (they walk barefoot inside the lodge!). A supermarket opposite sells you many items which you may not find in other towns.

If houses with coconut leaf thatched roof and mud walls can be considered as signs of poverty, rural Tamil Nadu is relatively poor. People seem to spend a lot on multi coloured flex boards with their photographs announcing birthday and wedding with politicians, film stars in the background. Toilet seems to be an alien mechanism in rural area, open defecation and urination practised without a designated location even amongst women. Hope the government prioritise sanitation over free television sets.

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