Places of interest in Tamilnadu
Tiruchirapalli

Tiruchirapalli also known popularly as Trichy is located on the banks of the river Cauvery. It is situated 320 kms from Chennai, 150 kms from Madurai.

Trichy was originally under the early Cholas & then passed into the hands of the Pallavas. There was an ongoing struggle between the Pandyas and the Pallavas to gain Trichy, and finally the Cholas took control. Later Trichy was under the control of the Nayaks of Madurai, the Marathas, the Nawabs of Carnatic, the French and finally the British. The Nayaks contributed the most and built the town and the Rock Fort. This fort played a major role in the 18th century Carnatic wars.

Rock Fort (Uchhi Pilliar Koil)

The Rock Fort (Malai Kottai - Tamil)is a prominent landmark in Trichy. The 83m high rock is the only outcrop in the otherwise flat land. This rock is one of the oldest in the world, almost 3,800 years old, as old as the rocks of Greenland and older than the Himalayas. Four hundred and thirty four steps lead to the ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha - Ucchi Pilliar Koil.


Half way to the top is located a shrine for Lord Siva - Thayumanaswamy or Mathrubutheswarar. The Lingam is a natural projection of the rock. The history of the temple is inscribed on the walls & the Lingam has a golden roof. There is a hundred pillared hall.

At the foot of the rock is the Teppakulam where the annual float festival takes place in teh month of March.

There are two excavated cave temples of the Pallava era. The Government of Tamil Nadu Museum located on Bharathiar road houses a wonderful collection of bronze and granite sculptures, hand woven cottons, glass bangles, anklets, palm leaf boxes, wooden and clay toys, mats. Nearby is the St. John's church built in 1812.

Srirangam

Srirangam is located 8 kms from Trichy. It is an island that is formed by the bifurcation of the river Cauvery at a place called Mukkombu(upper Anicut). The southern brach is called Cauvery, and the northern branch is called Kollidam or coleroon.

Srirangam Vaishnav temple is the most important among the 108 Divya Desams; one among the Pancharanga Kshetrams along the course of the Kaveri(the other kshetrams are Koyiladi (Anbil) and Kumbhakonam, Indalur (Mayiladuturai) and Srirangapatnam (Karnataka); and the foremost among the eight spontaneous shrines of Lord Vishnu.

The temple, one of the largest in India boasts of 21 magnificient towers built around the 13th and 14th century, the biggest & most beautiful ones being the ones on the south (at the entrance -236 ft) and east (Vellai Gopuram-146 ft) of the 4th prakaram. It is surrounded by seven walls, within which the town is located. The island town is connected with the mainland by a bridge with 32 arches.

The main sannadhi of the Lord is crowned with a gold plated Vimanam. There are a total of 7 concentric prakarams around this shrine, with several mandapams, tanks and mini shrines. There is a 1000 pillared hall of the later Chola period in the 4th prakaram.

The eight pillars with the huge horses belong to the Vijayanagar period. There is a Garuda mandapam in the 3rd prakaram & its pillars were additions by the Nayaks of Madurai.

The Moolavar is Sri Ranganathar seen in Bujanaga Sayanam (reclining) posture facing south. Thaayaar is Sri Ranganayagi. Utsavar is Nam Perumal in standing posture. The theerthams are Chandra and Surya Pushkarini(in the third prakaram), Cauvery, Kollidam, Vedasrungam.

Jambukeswarar Temple - Thiruvanaikaval
This temple, 2kms from Srirangam is dedicated to Lord Siva. This is the Appu Sthalam among the Pancha Bootha Sthalams (the others are - Tiruvannamalai(Thejo sthalam - Fire, Kanchipuram (Prithvi sthalam - Earth), Kalahasti (Vayu sthalam - Air) & Chidambaram (Akasa sthalam - Space). The Siva Lingam (Appu Lingam) under a holy Jambu tree is submerged in water from a spring. There are 7 gopurams and is surrounded by 5 walls. The sculptures & carvings are of the Chola period. It is believed that an elephant worhsipped the Lord in this sthalam & hence the Thiruvaanaikaval (Aanai in Tamil - Elephant). The Goddess is Akhilandeswari.

Kallanai
Kallanai or the Grand Anaicut is an ancient dam across the river Cauvery. The work was started by Karikala Cholan in the 2nd century. This is a peaceful picnic spot.

Mukkombu (Upper Anaicut)
Mukkombu or Upper Anaicut is situated 18 kms from Tiruchy and is a wonderful picnic spot. The Kollidam branches off from the river Cauvery here. This is also a beautiful picnic spot.

Sittannavaasal
This is the site of ancient Jain caves, the monastries of the Jain monks, located 58 kms from Tiruchy. There are frescoes, images of the Jain Teerthankaras on the cave walls.

Murugan temple at Vayaloor (8 kms), Maariamman temple at Samayapuram (20 kms), Murugan temple and peacock sanctuary at Viralimalai (30 kms) are other interesting locations near Tiruchy.

Gangaikondacholapuram
This temple was constructed by the king Rajendra Cholan to celebrate his victories. It is built in the style of the Thanjai Peria Koil. The gopuram is 3mts shorter than the Thanjai Peria koil gopuram, but the Lingam here is 4 mts taller. The sculptures and carvings in this temple are a wonderful testimony to the craftsmanship of the Chola period. Some of the interesting sculptures in this temple are the Nartana Ganesha, a lion-headed well and a wonderful image of king Rajendra being crowned by Siva & Parvati.
 
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