Beach pilgrimage


With abundance of beaches and sunshine, Tamil Nadu is where tourists come to soak in the sun, frolic in the waves and spend many a languid hour on the sands.  Let’s go on a “beach pilgrimage” instead.
kapaleeswarar-temple


Velankanni Church Chennai


(1) MILES TO GO : Easily, amongst the most crowded beaches in Tamil Nadu, MARINA is Asia’s longest beaches too.  Two temples, the 8th century PARTHASARATHY TEMPLE, with its majestic Rajagopuram, and the KAPALEESHWARAR TEMPLE, a 7th century Dravidian temple, are close to this beach.  USP : The Lighthouse on Marina offers a breath-taking view of the city and the sea.


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Ashtalakshmi_temple


(2) POP GOES THIS BEACH : Competing with the Marina in the popularity stakes, ELLIOT’S, which is lovingly called BESSIE by locals, is big business.  From trinket sellers and parrots which foretell you future to games and horse rides, this beach is entertainment central .  The VELANKANNI CHURCH and the ASHTALAKSHMI TEMPLE could be packed into the beach itinerary.  USP : The SCHMIDT MEMORIAL, erected in memory of a Dutch sailor who lost his life while saving a girl from drowning, is a prominent landmark.  That and the supposedly haunted BROKEN BRIDGE.


Shore Temple


(3) WHISPERING CAVES : The bustling temple town of Mamallapuram boasts of fabulous beaches.  The majestic SHORE TEMPLE looks out to the vast blue and showcases the 7th century Pallava architecture in all its splendour.  Browse through the shops that sell everything from sculptures to clothes, handicrafts, second-hand books, and lure you with promises of rejuvenating massages, healing Ayurveda, and uplifting yoga.  USP : If you plan your trip between December and March, you can the world-famous Mamallapuram Dance Festival.


Fort_Dansborg


(4) REMAINS OF THE DAY : If you’d rather have a beach all to yourself, or almost, then TRANQUEBAR is your go-to place.  Do a quick inspection of the 17th century FORT DANSBORG and then have a run of the museum nearby.  Check out the ancient 14th century SHIVA TEMPLE, steeped in history and mythology.  USP : If your are a seashell fiend, expect to find a scintillating variety here.


Caltra_Our_Lady_of_Lourdes_Church_East_Window_Dedication_2010_09_15


(5) FAITH MOVES WATERS :  VELANKANNI BEACH is one of the more famous beaches of the country, thanks to the Church of our Lady of Health located here.  The architecture of the Church, quite similar to the one at Lourdes, France, has earned it the sobriquet “LOURDES OF THE EAST”.  One can also go to the dargah at Nagore, the Murugan Temple at Sikkal, and the Sri Rangam Temple at Trichy, which isn’t far.  USP : The museum at the Basilica is a splendid draw.


Rameswaram_Temple_Inside


Rameshwaram Temple


Rama Sethu


(6) SITA’S RESCUE ROUTE : A dip in the waters of Dhanushkodi is considered by many.  The place, just 28km away from Sri Lanka, is famous for its mythological importance.  It is said that Lord Rama and His “vanara sena”, together with his brother Lakshmana, Hanuman and Ravana’s brother Vibhishana, built a bridge using floating stones.  They used this bridge to reach Lanka and rescue Sita from Ravana.  USP : You need to clear out of Dhanushkodi by 5.30p.m, after which the sea meets the mainland.  But, don’t miss a train ride on the PAMBAN BRIDGE.  The RAMESHWARAM TEMPLE, with a magnificent corridor arched by 1,200 granite columns, is a must-see.

————— jyothi.prabhakar@timesgroup.com. and purba.dutt@timesgroup.com.
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