To Chennaites, Vellore reminds us of CMC, Vellore Golden Temple and for the students, VIT. Vellore has a lot more to offer. Read on to know more about Vellore and the places worth a visit in and around Vellore.
Vellore which is situated 145 km from Chennai, is a semirural bazaar town. For tourists, it is acknowledged only for the Vijayanagar fort and its temple, which are in an excellent state of preservation and worth visiting. The famous rivers Palar and Ponnar flows through this City.It is well-connected with other cities. It can be reached by Train or Road. It has plenty of buses from many cities of Tamil Nadu.
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Vellore Fort is 130-km away from Chennai and 10-km from Katpadi. Sinna Bomma Reddi a vessel chieftain under the Vijayanagar kings, Sada Sriranga Maharaja, built this historical fort in the 16th century. This fortress is the mute witness of many historic sieges and battles. After Vijayanagar dynasty, it became the fortress of Mortaza Ali, the brother-in-law of Chanda Sahib who claimed the Arcot throne, and was taken by the Adil Shahi Sultans of Bijapur. The fort was under the control of Arkat King and next to Adil Shahis of Bijapur. In 1676 Marathas also captured it. The British occupied the fort in 1760,following the fall of Srirangapatnam and the death of Tipu Sultan. The sons and daughters of Tipu were put in this fort in confinement. The outer length of the fort is about 2,500 feet and 1,500 feet in breadth. The height of the outer wall is about 30 feet and the breadth is about 25 feet. The approximate circumstance of the fort is 2,600 meters.
It was constructed with the granite blocks and is surrounded by a moat, which is supplied by a subterranean drain fed from a tank. The walls are constructed with hewn Kangaroo stones of rectangular shape. Jalakanteshwara temple is situated inside the fort, which has some beautiful sculptures on the ceiling and some richly, carved pillars and monoliths. The carving of roofs and pillars are wonderful examples of Vijayanagar type of sculptural architecture. The Gopuram of the temple, which is 30 m, high and seven storied is superb. To the right of the fort, there are 3 churches, cemetery of dead British Soldiers in Sepoy Mutiny and a museum containing sculptures and hero stones dating back to the Pallava and Chola times.
The Fort is One of the monuments in Vellore. In during the rule of Chinna Bommi Nayak (1526 to 1595 A.D.)a very close examination of the stone inscriptions suggests that the Fort in all probability might have been built. In South India the Fort is one of the perfect specimens of Military architecture. Inside the Fort the Jalakandeswarar Temple is a very fine example of Vijayanagar architecture.
On the left of the entrance of Kalyanamantap,the intricate carvings and delicacy of execution bears testimony to the engineering marvel and also advanced state of sculpture of the times.
Inside vellore fort, there is a museum which has lots of monuments, information, samples, etc.
Amirthi Zoological Park
24-km south of Vellore is the panoramic Amirithi forest rich in its variety of flora and fauna.it is situated under the Javadu Hills of Tellai across Amirthi river.Amirthi Zoological Park is a popular picnic spot. A half of this jungle is cleared to serve as a tourist spot while the other half is developed as a wildlife sanctuary.
The area of the park is 25 hectares and one can find beautiful water falls. There are also different kinds of birds and animals. Swings, Seesaw etc., are there for children to play. Numerous kinds of herbal plants and trees and sandal wood trees also grow here. There are 2 rest houses. The entrance fees for park is only Rs 2/- per head, for cycles Rs.3/- for van Rs.5/- for motor cyclesRs.2/- .
Christian Medical College
The Christian Medical College began in 1918, when Dr. Scudder started training women for the Licentiate Diploma (LMP). Here first batch of medical students achieved a 100 percent pass in the examinations. In 1942, the medical school was raised to the status of a college and 25 students were admitted to the MBBS course.
The first men students were admitted to the college in 1947. Permanent affiliation to the University of Madras was obtained in 1950. From 1953 onwards 50 students were admitted, 25 men and 25 women and in 1964 the annual admissions were increased to 60. In 1988, the affiliation of this institution was transferred from the University of Madras to the newly established Tamil Nadu Dr. M.G.R. Medical University.
In 2001, the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, an autonomous institution of the University Grants Commission awarded a five-star rating to the institution.
The Postgraduate training programmes continue to be added as newer branches of medicine develop. At present, there are postgraduate diploma courses in 11 specialities and postgraduate degree courses in 35 specialities.
This institution has been a pioneer in India in the development of higher specialities like cardiology, Thoracic Surgery, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Urology, Nephrology, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology and Haematology.
The temple which had been built in the late Vijayanagar style, comprised of the main shrine and closed ambulatory passage around, and the integral Mahamantapa, with a northward projecting shub-shrine for Nataraja, containing also several other sub-shrines. The temple has two court-yard, one is inner prakara and the other is outer prakara.
The structures in the court yard on the outer prakara include the lofty Gopuram on the southern side which is the entry to the temple. One the South-West corner of outer court yard is the Kalyanamantapa which is the gem of architecture of Late Vijayanagar style in embellishments and the art motifs of its pillars, ceilings and plinth moldings. It stands as testimony for the architectural workmanship of that period.
Jalakanteswarar or “Siva residing in the water” temple entrance is topped with a fine gopuram with massive wooden gates and studded with bosses of iron like lotus flowers. The best sculpture is found on the left side of the entrance, a porch which contains monolithic pillars of grandeur and delicacy of execution. The temple is adorned with some remarkable sculptures.
Named after Valli, second wife of Lord Murugan and dedicated to Murugan, the temple is situated on the hilltop. It is carved out of a massive rock and makes for one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vellore.
Honouring the memory of King George V and the 22 soldiers from this town who laid down their lives during World War 1, the Clock Tower is also amongst the popular places to visit in Vellore.
This small ashram of Sri Ramana Maharishi draws devotees of the Guru who died in 1950 after fifty years of contemplation.
One of the biggest churches of south India, the St.Johns Church is around a century and half old. The British soldiers who lost their lives during Sepoy mutiny were cremated in the graveyard which is closeby.
Places to See Around Vellore
Erukkampattu is a small village situated close to lie monuments at Vallimalai and Melpadi. The temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu is built on the lake bund. The god is enshrined here in the Sayana form of Ranganatha. The temple is assigned to the period of 9th century. The recent earthwork carried out in the temple revealed discoveries including a broken but beautiful stone image of Bhoga Sayanamurthy assignable to middle Chola Period.
Kailasagiri 10 km from Ambur, this place is anions for the Murugan temple situated on a small hill. Streams surround the temple area. One can see the ruins of the fort that are said to be there during the Nawab period. From this hill one can see the panoramic view of Umarabad, a small town with a very big mosque and Arabic college.
Kanchanagiri Situated 7 km from Ranipet, Kanchanagiri is famous for the small Siva temple on a plateau surrounded by hills. One can see many suyambu lingams. It is believed that they are the Siddhas who lived there or thousands of years.
Sri Kangeeswarar temple is in Kangeyanallur village and was built during the time of the Chola rulers, as evidenced by the stone inscriptions. The temple dedicated to Lord Muruga was built some live hundred years ago and later on it was renovated by Sri Mallaiyadhas Bhagavadhar and Sri Thirumuruga Kirupanandha Varriyar, a popular exponent of Hindu Scriptures. Sculptures arc artistically engraved in the gopura depicting the Kandhapuranam and the six sthalams of Lord Muruga.
The village Mahendravadi owes its origin to Pallava Mahendra Varman I(AD 580-630). According to an inscription in Pallava grantha this case temple was excavated by Gunabhara on the bund of a large tank called Mahendra thataka in the city of Maheudrapura. The cave temple is formed by completely scooping out a large free-standing boulder. Now the ‘karuvarai’ has an image of Narasimha.
Melpadi is an important place being the border between Chola and Rashtrakuta kingdoms. It is a Pallippadai temple and seems to have been built over the mortal remains of Chola Arinjaya (AD 956-967) by his grandson Chola Raja Raja I in the year AD 1014. The temple is replete with many Tamil inscriptions recording grants of land made towards the maintenance of the temple.
Palamathi about 14 km is a suburb of Vellore and is famous for its Murugan temple recently built on the hill about 1800 ft above the sea level.
The Presiding deity here is Sri Ranganathaswamy. The stone inscriptions of the temple reveal that it should have been built in 10th century prior to the regime of vikrama Chola. Contributions made by kulasekara Sambhuarayan and Kampavarman son of Nandivarman, a Pallas a King are recorded in these inscriptions the temple was originally inside a fort as revealed by the surrounding old dilapidated walls.
Ratnagiri 13 km from Vellore, is famous for the Murugan temple situated on a small hillock. It is said that the temple was built in the 14th century AD, but renovations were made recently.
The famous temple dedicated to Sri Selva Vinayagar and Somasundareswarar has been attracting a large number of devotees from far and near A special feature of the shrine is that poojas and abishegams are performed ‘for Sri Selva Vinayagar in an open space around which the prakaram has been built. It is said that the original name of the village was Shenhagavanam as it was full of fragrant Shenbaga trees even though no trace of the trees is to he seen now.
Yelagiri hills is an idyllic place for a short holiday. Green hills and picture post-card scenery greets you here. It is called the princess of hill stations and is the most pristine and unpolluted among the hill stations in Tamil Nadu. Yelagiri Hills is a backward area with few glaring developments like cottages and farm houses, yet a place that has maintained its ‘remote’ label.
Refer our earlier post on Weekend Getaway toYelagiri.
Try and be there for the weekly holiday where the products of the hills are on display. Vacation at yelagiri this summer is vacation with a difference.
Sripuram Golden Temple
One of the biggest Hindu shrines in southern India, the Sri Puram Golden Temple a grand golden temple built by a spiritual organization in Tamil Nadu at an approximate cost of US$160 million (Rs 600 crore), the consecration (kumbhabhishekam) was performed on August 24, 2007, presence of over 30,000 devotees. The Mahalakshmi temple, located on a sprawling 100 acres of land at Sripuram, near Vellore, about 125 km from Chennai, has been constructed by Vellore-based Sri Narayani Peetam, headed by spiritual leader Sri Sakthi Amma. The steps that lead to the innermost section are laid with polished black and grey granite from the neighboring South Arcot and Dharmapuri districts. The grey stone called “Paradiso” because of its wavy patterns of violet with the color of iron. And this too has been used in large quantities.
The temple, covering 55,000 sq ft area, has intricate carvings and sculptures in gold. Except the walking path, the entire structure has been covered with gold and copper. This would be more grandeur than the Golden Temple in Amritsar, mutt sources said. About 400 goldsmiths and coppersmiths, including craftsmen from Tirumala-Tirupati Devasthanams, have completed the architectural marvel in gold in six years. More than one and one-half ton of pure gold was glitter and gleam under the sun, Devotees hail the temple as “one of the wonders of the world,” and say that it is the only temple covered fully with gold.
The Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple located in ‘Sripuram’ (spiritual town) in Thirumalaikkodi, about seven km from here, was consecrated by Sri Sakthi Amma, head of the Sri Narayani Peedam, Thirumalaikkodi, on Friday.
It is a unique temple whose ‘Vimanam’ and ‘Ardha Mandapam’ have been coated with gold both in the interior and exterior. Twelve layers of gold foils have been pasted on copper sheets embossed with the designs of Gods and fixed on the walls. One-and-a-half tonnes of gold has gone into the design of the Sri Lakshmi Narayani Temple, which has been built at a cost of Rs.300 crore.
According to Sri Sakthi Amma, the decision to have the temple coated with gold is only to attract visitors and enable them to get wisdom through the messages of the Vedas, which they will have to read before reaching the temple located on sprawling a 100 acre-site. The temple has been designed in such a way that visitors can reach the golden temple only after going through a star-shaped pathway, which has the messages from the Vedas on both sides.
If you are going to the golden temple, make sure you are spending some time in the evening as well, the temple looks beautiful when the lights are lit.
There is a free entry into the temple and a paid entry. Paid entry costs Rs.250 per head- But it saves you at least two hours of time. Also, you get to go very near to the sanctum sanctorum.
Places to eat
Darling Residency for a good stay and Great Vegetarian food
Chinatown Hotel & Restaurant – Good Chinese food
YWCA Canteen next to Hotel Annexe
Gyan Vaishnavi Dhaba opposite CMC
Excellent Tandoori chicken across Scudder Way from the small gate entrance to the CMC
Hotel Ananda Bhavan
Hotel Saravana Bhavan ( The same Saravana Bhavan of Chennai for SB lovers)
Reaching Vellore from Chennai
To know the train schedule of trains reaching Vellore click on the image to the right.
Vellore is well-connected with Chennai, Tiruchirappalli, Madurai, Tanjavurm Tirupathi and Bangalore. Plenty of buses ply in very high frequency between Chennai to Vellore.