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Domestic flights, train services resume in Chennai

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Chennai: Domestic flights from Chennai airport and train services started on Sunday after four days of shutdown due to heavy flooding of its runway, an official said.

“The airport is now open for domestic day flights. We are hoping that international flights will be operational from Monday,” an official told news agencies.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will review the situation for night operations.

Budget airline IndiGo on Sunday said it will resume partial flight operations to Chennai on the Bengaluru-Chennai-Mumbai-Delhi sectors.

Regular train services also resumed on Sunday from Chennai Central and Chennai Egmore stations after days of disruption due to floods, the Southern Railway said.

The trains which will ply on Sunday include the Chennai-New Delhi Grand Trunk Express, Chennai-Mysore Kaveri Express and Chennai-New Delhi Tamil Nadu Express.

Meanwhile, popular Telugu actors Rana Daggubati, Nani and Allari Naresh have joined hands to help the people of Tamil Nadu now reeling under the worst floods in a century to hit the state.

While most stars have already contributed through donations, Rana and his team are appealing to people of Hyderabad to come forward and help the victims of rain-affected city and other parts of the state.

“In solidarity with the people of Chennai and TN affected by the floods, a few of Telugu cinema’s actors have come together and formed an initiative called ‘Mana Madras Kosam’. We would contribute financially, raise funds and ensure proper relief work is being carried on ground,” Rana posted on his Twitter page.

Rana’s family-owned Ramanaidu Studios has become the drop point for relief essentials which are packed and trucked to the city.

On Sunday, these stars – including Lakshmi Manchu, Allu Sirish, Madhu Shalini and Nikhil Siddhartha among others – will visit various malls in Hyderabad to collect money.

“We have networked with several NGOs and volunteers on ground to help us in this effort. In this regard, some of us would visit various malls to create awareness and raise funds. Please be there and contribute generously to help us with this initiative,” he said.

Movie Artists Association (MAA), which is headed by veteran actor Rajendra Prasad, has announced an aid of Rs.5 lakh to the flood victims.

(IANS)

(Picture credit: www.thequint.com)

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Lost in Time : The Less Explored Pamban Island and the Rameswaram Island | Travelogue

The land of temples, picturesque locales, architecture, and the home of the 'Missile Man' of India - welcome to the Rameswaram Island!

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Rameswaram island
We take you through a town lost in time, Dhanushkodi in Rameswaram island. Wikimedia

Rameswaram, September 15, 2017 : Off the eastern coast of Tamil Nadu, some 500 km south of Chennai, lies Pamban Island. Seemingly a stone’s throw from neighboring Sri Lanka, this is an island steeped in historical significance, and with some of the most resilient people alive.

One of the longest sea bridges in the country, the iconic Pamban Bridge connects the mainland with the island, also known as Rameswaram Island. With breathtaking views of the Bay of Bengal, the journey to the island over this bridge rewinds one to colonial times, when it was built by the British to improve trade relations with Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Built in 1914 as India’s first-ever sea bridge, the 6,700-foot structure is in itself an engineering and historical marvel that has withstood several of nature’s furies — from storms to cyclones.

Rameswaram island
An overview of the Pamban Brindge. Wikimedia

The bridge initially ran up to the southeastern tip of the island, Dhanushkodi, now a ghost town. After a cyclone hit it in 1964, Dhanushkodi was washed away by the sea and is now a mere skeleton of the town it once was.

Remnants of its railway lines, church and the devastated dwellings of people can still be seen, though in very poor shape.

From the tip of the region, cell phone networks welcome one to Sri Lanka.

Visible from here is the Adam’s Bridge — a former land link between India and Sri Lanka, now undersea — that is also known as Rama Setu, the bridge believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s army to rescue Sita from Lanka.

Nambavel, a 50-year-old, says there can be no other home for him than Dhanushkodi, of pristine waters and picturesque views of the Bay of Bengal. Three generations of his family have lived here. Although the deadly cyclone forced many to migrate to villages around, some 50 families, including Nambavel’s, refused to leave.

“This has been our home for as long as we’ve known. We grew up playing in the sea water, then learnt to make our living through fishing or running petty shops,” Nambavel told this visiting IANS correspondent.

Rameswaram island
Residents of Dhanushkodi refuse to abandon their small town; for them the “sea is everything”. Wikimedia

“Even as many people we know migrated to nearby villages, there’s no home like Dhanushkodi for us — the sea is everything,” he said.

With sea levels rising around the world due to global warming, the region is constantly threatened by nature. But that does not deter Nambavel: “Even if another cyclone is close, most of us would like to be here, a land we’ve grown up in.”

Surrounded by sea and sand, the town cannot grow any crops and has no provision for electricity due to the wind velocity in the area. It is only the solar panels, an initiative of late President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who hailed from Rameswaram, that light up the shacks of the few residents.

With Rameswaram considered one of the holiest places for Hindus, a majority of visitors make temples the focus of their travels.

Aiming to showcase the rich cultural and historical heritage of the island, apart from the much-visited temples, Utsa Majumder, the General Manager of the newly-launched Hyatt Place, Rameswaram, is working extensively on various itineraries that uncover the untrodden places in and around the region.

“There’s a lot more that the Rameswaram Island can offer than just the temples it is mostly known for. We want people to know that Rameswaram can be an experiential destination and not just a pilgrimage spot,” Majumder told IANS.

“From historic places that have stood the test of time to some incredible architecture and engineering like the Pamban Bridge, there’s a lot a tourist can see here,” she added.

The hotel offers these itineraries to travelers according to their interests, allowing them to explore different facets of the region, along with menus that present the cuisines of the land — from kuzhi paniyaram (rice batter dumplings) to kara kozhumbu (a spicy tamarind gravy).

Rameswaram Island
Local cuisine at Dhanushkodi. Wikimedia

The region also celebrates its much-beloved son Abdul Kalam. His two-storeyed house on Mosque Street is filled with thousands of his books and is always bustling with people.

A Rs 15-crore memorial to India’s “Missile Man”, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on July 27, has also grown rather quickly as a tourist attraction. The memorial houses a copy of the last speech Kalam delivered at IIM-Shillong on July 27, 2015, a number of pictures of his meetings with world leaders, and a host of other objects.

As an island that is yearning to receive a boost to its tourism, even a bottle of water bought from a shack in Dhanushkodi goes towards supporting a family.

FAQs:

Reaching there: Flights to Madurai, the nearest airport, from all major cities. From Madurai, Rameswaram can be reached in 3 hrs 30 min (160 kms) by road.

For the picturesque views from a train, pick one that is available almost every hour to Rameswaram from Madurai Railway Station.

Stay: There are four-star, three-star hotels and smaller lodges in the town.

Best time to visit: October to March as the temperatures drop and stay between 20 to 30 degrees C, making travel easier. (IANS)

 

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Padma Shri Award Winner Ustad Rashid Khan to perform in Banyan Tree fest in Chennai

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Rashid Khan, Wikimedia

Chennai, March 02, 2017: Padma Shri award winner Ustad Rashid Khan will be performing in Banyan Tree fest to be held in Chennai. This musical fest is held once in a year and features some of the country’s great musicians. Banyan tree is a path finder in the field of Indian performing arts’promotion for past 21 years.

Nandini Mahesh, the director of Banyan Tree Events said to PTI, “The aim of Banyan Tree is to discover, preserve, nurture and celebrate these creative expressions for which we have created six National Festivals that are held annually in 18 cities across India”.

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“We share a good rapport with 2,000 performing artistes across genres, linguistic groups, and cultural backgrounds. The main focus, of course, has always been classical music, both vocal and instrumental”, she further added.

The concert is likely to take place on March 3, at The Music Academy, Chennai. The festival has also featured some of the greatest artists like Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Zakir Hussain, Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt previously.

-Prepared by Naina Mishra of Newsgram, Twitter @Nainamishr94

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Ancient Temple for Lord Vishnu in the Chola region in Chennai

Ancient temple carrying Historical importance located in Chennai

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temple
Temple (Representative), Source: Wikimedia

Chennai, 18th February 2017: Three important temples are located in the ancient Ayanavaram region of Chennai. Two of these are for Siva while the third one is a Temple for Lord Vishnu. The Ayanavaram region is the same as the Ayanapuram mentioned in an inscription from the 12th century.

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The Vishnu Shrine has been dedicated to Kariya Manikka Perumal Temple. In the central sanctum of the temple, the image of Karia Manikka Perumal, stands with Sri Devi and Bhu Devi on each side, under the Kumbhakar Vimanam. While his upper left and right hands hold the Charkha and the Sankha, the lower right hand is in the gesture of blessing (Abhaya Hasta) and the lower left hand rests on his waist (Kati Hasta).

Lord Vishnu, Source: Wikimedia

The Vestibule (Antarla) that connects the Main Shrine and the Mandapa, holds a processional image (Utsava Murti), just like the main one, the only difference being that the lower left hand is in the gesture of Boon-Giving (Varda Hasta) unlike the main shrine where it rests on the waist.

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In the Vestibule, the Azhvars are also in worship. Also, interestingly, a rare image of Vikhanasa Maharishi- founder of the Vikhanasa Agama, can be spotted at the same place.

In front of the main Sanctum, the Mandapa holds granite pillars. Traces of Antiquity are also visible here in spite of the modernisation that has taken place over the years. The entrance galores a few Stucco Sculptures and the temple holds a modern, five storey Gopuram too.

All the sanctums and the temple as a whole follow the codes of Vikhansa Agama. Some of the other sanctums are for goddess Lakshmi (Kanakavalli Thayar), Andal, Sudarsana (the discus of Vishnu) and Hanuman.

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The Temple is not only extraordinarily peaceful and serene; but also a treat for the eyes with its breathtaking beauty.

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-By Nikita Saraf of NewsGram, Twitter: @niki_saraf