Kooduthurai – The Confluence of Kaveri, Bhavani and Amudha Rivers

At all times of the year, Kooduthurai is a busy place. People arrive continuously from early morning before dawn till dusk. There is a lot of activity going on all around which you would normally only see at holy places like Varanasi and Rameswaram.

Kooduthurai is the confluence of three rivers at Bhavani near Erode in Tamil Nadu, where the rivers Kaveri and Bhavani unite with the invisible River Amudha.

Kooduthurai (1)Children dive into the river looking for coins that pilgrims throw into the water.

The largest river of Tamilnadu is River Kaveri.

Known to devout Hindus as Daksina Ganga (“Ganges of the South”), the Kaveri River is celebrated for its scenery and sanctity in Tamil literature, and its entire course is considered holy ground.”  -Encyclopaedia Britannica.

River Bhavani is the second largest river in the state. The life giving waters of these two rivers have sustained people who lived along their banks for thousands of years.

In a country where rivers are worshipped, the places where the rivers meet are traditionally believed to be the holiest of places, capable of absolving one of all sins.For this reason, Bhavani Kooduthurai as the confluence is known attracts pilgrims throughout the year. People come here to perform a plethora of ritualistic activities which the scriptures say are best performed on river banks and along seashores and which give the highest benefits when they are done at a confluence of three rivers as seen in Triveni Sangam at Prayag in Allahabad. In the South of India, in Tamilnadu, its equivalent is Bhavani Kooduthurai.

Koodu means to unite in Tamil and Thurai is the padi- thurai, the steps leading down to the river that are called as ghat in North India. Kooduthurai is thus the ghat at the holy confluence.

And what a place it is, spectacular, full of life and utterly magical.

There is a more solemn aspect to this place. Living in Salem ours was a large extended family and whenever there was a death in the family we all went to Bhavani on the day after the cremation to perform the relevant rites and then the ashes known as asthi were immersed in the holy river.

The confluence has always been a place where the soul would find salvation. No wonder the air is charged and tense. Solemn, serious faces are part of the crowds that are always seen here. This place is about the more serious things in life such as death, karma and the inevitability of fate. It is about purifying oneself in the holy waters. Here one is made aware of the thin line that lies between physical death and the transition to another subtle realm. It is both the land of the living and the land of subtle beings. It is the land of gods and the chosen land of rishis, the great teachers and seers. This is not just a meeting place or conflux of rivers; it is also a meeting place of life and the afterlife, a meeting place of sages and devout souls. And always….. the vast waters of the great rivers flow silently on either side – meeting, merging and flowing on, in a continuous  never- ending journey.

The most important of the rituals done here are those done as part of the rites performed when a person dies. They are done by the surviving son, daughter or wife with the help of a purohit/priest who guides them through the vedic rituals.

The second important ritual is one that is performed for departed souls and ancestors on yearly anniversaries called as Thidhi .These rituals are also performed on new moon days (Amavasya) and include prayers for the departed loved ones and purifying baths in the river for the family. Eclipses and new moon days in the Tamil months of Thai and Aadi are considered very auspicious for performing these rites and for this reason, on these days huge crowds throng the Kooduthurai as in other sacred places along the rivers and seas in Tamil nadu.

Thirdly, there are rituals that are part of the pujas done at the time of consecration of temples, and during temple festivals. They are called Theertha vari or Theertha kudam eduthal , and refer to the fetching of the sacred waters in brass pots that are carried ceremoniously to the temple .

Then there are people who come to perform rituals to propitiate the nine planet gods, called Nava grahas, to obtain relief from a variety of doshas or afflictions in the birth chart.

Ritualistic bathing in the sacred waters and fetching pots of water from the river are an intrinsic part of these rites.

And finally there are the pilgrims who have come to take a bath in the purifying waters of the confluence before visiting the ancient Siva temple built at the confluence, the magnificent temple of Lord Sangameswarar.

A first glimpse of the confluence is from the Kaveri Bridge. You can see the Rajagopuram of the Sangameswarar temple, the River Bhavani flowing on one side of the temple complex and the River Kaveri on the other, the Kooduthurai  ghats leading down to the rivers, coracles  near the padi thurai completing  the picture.

Kooduthurai (21)

Kooduthurai and Sangameswarar Temple as seen from the Kaveri bridge. Beyond the temple, a bridge across River Bhavani is seen on the left and another bridge across River Kaveri is seen on the right.

Scenes at Kooduthurai

Kooduthurai (5)

Kooduthurai (6)

Kooduthurai (7)

Kooduthurai (8)

Kooduthurai (9)

A coracle ride to the confluence

We took a coracle ride to the Koodal or Sangam. It is a short ride from the ghat and cost Rs.100. The boatman showed us the place where the rivers meet. At the confluence, you can collect the water in cans or bottles to take home with you. The water of River Kaveri is crystal clear and sweet while the water of River Bhavani is comparitively dark and polluted with chemical effulgents from the many dyeing units in this small town. The River Amudha is said to be andhar  vauhini and not visible to the eye. However, local people say that when the water level of the rivers goes down one can see the River Amudha bubbling up like a spring from underneath.

Kooduthurai (22)

Kooduthurai (12)

Kooduthurai (13)

Back at Kooduthurai, there is a large open mandapam where people can perform pujas or other rites. Purohits are appointed by the temple authorities. One can see boards warning people to beware of fake priests. There are also warning signs at specific places along the ghat where the river is deep and dangerous with eddies and whirlpools.

There is a small park where people can have a picnic lunch under the shady trees. As there are only small eateries near the temple, it is a good idea to take food, water and snacks with you.

The place is clean and well maintained. Open bins are kept for the clothes that are discarded after some rituals. Changing rooms are available for those pilgrims who bathe in the river.

Where it is located

Bhavani kooduthurai is located in Bhavani , a town that takes its name from the River Bhavani. It is located 15 kms from Erode and 55 kms from Salem. NH 544H passes through Bhavani.

Pictures from Kooduthurai

These pictures were taken over the past few months. Just like the weather… each visit to the confluence was different and unique. 

Kooduthurai (4)
Sangameswarar temple and Kooduthurai as seen from Komarapalayam on the east bank of River Kaveri

Two of many small shrines near the river.

Kooduthurai (20)

Kooduthurai (17)

A rainy day at the confluence and a ceremonial fetching of holy water for a village temple festival

Kooduthurai (18)

Kooduthurai (19)

Kooduthurai (14)

Kooduthurai (15)

An old lady on her way home at mid- day after selling the food she has prepared near the ghats.

Kooduthurai (2)

A traditional house is used as a mini mandapam for small events

Kooduthurai (3)

 

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Walk To A View Point- Karadiyur Viewpoint Yercaud

14th May, 2018

This summer, after a spell of scorching heat and dry weather we had our first summer rains in mid- April. A few more showers later, we even had a hailstorm; now with intermittent rains the days are actually cloudy and pleasant with cool nights!

I love the rains that come in summer for two reasons –

  • Summer rains are mostly late afternoon rains.
  • They are very dramatic (read loud and noisy!) with lots of lightning and loud claps of thunder overhead.

I love listening to the combined sounds of pouring rain and thunder and to feel the hot air change slowly to cool.

And in Salem, in summer when it rains, we know that it has rained in the hills as well.

Karadiyur View Point -Yercaud

Yercaud has many view-points and views are spectacular at all times of the year. Some of them like Lady’s Seat, Pagoda Point and the view-point near Servarayan temple are very popular with tourists. There are view-points that are not so well-known but located in beautiful locations in the hills.

Karadiyur viewpoint (10)

Karadiyur view point is one such vantage point located off Nagalur road at a distance of roughly 8 kms from Yercaud Lake. There is enough signage along the way to guide you. It is a vertical cliff overlooking a valley and it is promoted as part of eco-tourism in the hills by the Forest department which has erected a watch tower. This is also where the trekking route from Karadiyur view-point to Ull-gombai begins. The trekking route is a distance of 4.8 km.

Karadiyur, incidentally takes its name from karadi or bear as bears were once plentiful in the region.

Walk to the watch tower

To reach the watch tower you have to walk for a kilometer from the main road through the village and the forest. It is an easy walk and well worth the effort. The path is a delight as it passes through beautiful forest. I met very few people along the way.

Vehicles with good ground clearance can ply part of the way on the mud road, but the last 5oo metres have to be covered on foot. You can park your vehicle as we did near the sign on the main road which says, ‘Eco Tourism – way to Karadiyur View Point’.

Karadiyur viewpointKaradiyur viewpoint (6)

The path looked like this.

Karadiyur viewpoint (5)

Karadiyur viewpoint (4)

Slushy from the rains

slushy

Karadiyur viewpoint (3)

 

Karadiyur viewpoint (8)

From the watch tower the ground seems to literally fall away beneath your feet as a thickly forested valley and hills is spread out below and around you. It is a remarkable experience. Beyond the valley we could see lakes glistening in the distance.

karadiyur watch tower
The watch tower

Karadiyur viewpoint (7)

 

 

Karadiyur viewpoint (11)

yercaud views

Karadiyur viewpoint (9)

The view-point is desolate and not frequented by tourists mainly because there are no roads leading right up to the view-point like the other view-points here. What is appealing about this place is that it is isolated and litter free.

Be sure to carry water and if accompanied by children, taking snacks with you is a good idea as there are no shops in the area. Also make sure that you are wearing suitable footwear.

This is the best place to visit for everyone who likes to enjoy quiet moments with nature.

Read more posts on Yercaud:

A Peek Into The Past

Gently Down The Lake In Yercaud

Favorite Place – Yercaud

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Place – Yercaud

Yercaud

27th March,2018

Yercaud is my place to go in the hills when I need to get away. A cozy hill town, it is nestled in the Shevaroy hills amidst coffee plantations and forest and overlooks my hometown, Salem.

Every season in Yercaud is unique- colors of spring, mists and thunderstorms of summer, winter’s clear star-studded skies and always, the cool, pure mountain air. Over the years and over innumerable visits the charm of Yercaud never wanes and a couple of hours in the hills are all I need to feel refreshed.

Yercaud (2)

Yercaud (4)

Yercaud (5)

Daily Post Photo Challenge – Favorite Place

Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival at Pollachi

The Tamil Nadu International Balloon Festival (TNIBF) was hosted for the 4th consecutive year in Pollachi and was a major event of this year’s Pongal holidays. It was organized by Global Media Box and The Slaves, a Pollachi based restaurant with the support of Tamil Nadu Tourism Department and Adhiban Fincorp mainly to promote Pollachi as a tourist destination, and has become a very popular event.

Tamilnadu International balloon fest

Hot air ballooning is a sport that is not so common in India and people from Pollachi and nearby Coimbatore City (56 km from Pollachi) as well as tourists from other states enthusiastically visited the venue to witness the spectacle of colorful hot air balloons. This year’s special attraction was 2.0 Movie balloon. Visitors could go for hour long balloon rides in the morning and short tethered flights in the evening.

On the evening of my visit there were three balloons. I expected to see more as ten balloons with pilots from many countries had participated in the festival. Still it was thrilling to watch the balloons inflate and rise in the air and as darkness set in, the night sky with glowing balloons was truly a sight to remember.

These are some pictures from the festival. I apologise for the quality of the pictures as my Sony point and shoot camera is not very good for taking night pictures. Still you get the general idea!

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (2)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (3)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (4)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (5)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (14)
2.0 Movie balloon
Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (7)
A glowing view of  2.0 Movie Balloon

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (8)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (10)
up above the coconut trees

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (11)

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018
The festival grounds before the event

Tamilnadu International balloon fest. 2018 (12)

A Visit to Ooty Government Botanical Garden

Entrance of ooty botanical garden

ooty gardens

There was a light drizzle when we visited the Ooty Government  Botanical Garden on a Sunday morning in August. The weather forecast was for rain with a chance of thunder-showers. The light rain did not deter visitors to this most popular garden; most of them carried umbrellas or wore hooded jerkins and rain coats.

Ooty Botanical garden is one of the most beautiful places in the hill-station. It belongs to the colonial era, an expression of the traditional love of gardens of the British. The initial layout of the Ooty Botanical gardens was prepared by the Marquis of Tweedale in the late 1940s with the prime purpose of growing vegetables and supplying them to European residents at an affordable rate. In 1847 funds were raised to transform the venue into a horticultural society and public garden. The garden was designed by William Graham McIvor, a professional gardener from the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew, England. McIvor arrived in Ooty in 1848 and it took ten years for the garden to be completed.

The gardens are laid out on the slopes of Doddabetta and the entrance is at the bottom of the hill, so you have to climb your way up to tour the ascending gardens. It is landscape gardening at its most alluring, the layered beauty of the bright green lawns, the flower beds, and shrubbery in a series of terraces against a backdrop of thick woods and some of the tallest trees making it a magical place.

Spread over 22 hectares it has several sections.There is a Lower garden, a New garden, the Italian garden, a conservatory built in 1912 and many nurseries.

 

Beautiful lawns -Ooty botanical gardens
Beautiful lawns -Ooty botanical gardens

India map Ooty bot.garden

The map of India is a carpet-bed design made with bedding plants of different colors. It shows all the states clearly and is a major landmark in the garden. Opposite the India Map is another main attraction of the garden, a fossil tree trunk from the National fossil Park at Tiruvakkarai in Villupuram district of Tamil Nadu which is more than 20 million years old. It is a great favorite with tourists.

Fossilized tree trunk- link to the past
Fossilized tree trunk- link to the past
bot. garden ooty 1
A private residence inside the botanical garden, Ooty

garden design ooty (2)

Ooty botanical garden
Ooty botanical garden
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Layered terraces and lawns in the Botanical garden, Ooty
ooty (3)
An archway in the Botanical garden of Raj Bhavan, Ooty
Carpet-bed garden design,Ooty
Carpet-bed garden design,Ooty

ooty gardens

Paved pathways lead up to the many levels of the garden. I had fond memories of the Toda mund at the very top of the garden from an earlier visit many years ago. And so we climbed higher and higher enjoying the breathtaking views of the gardens, stopping to rest and to take pictures, inhaling the eucalyptus scented air. At one place the air was heavily scented from the magnolia blossoms on a row of magnolia trees. It was a very pleasant walk.

ooty bot. garden

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Massive! A giant tree in the Botanical garden,Ooty

Toda Mund

At the very top of the hill slopes the paved pathways and landscaped gardens end and we followed a mud path that went up through the woods of towering pine and eucalyptus trees. This path takes you to the Toda mund which is a settlement of the Todas, the indigenous tribe of the Nilgiris. On reaching the grassy meadow of Toda mund, I was heartened to see that nothing had changed. At the far end of the beautiful meadow is the Toda temple which you can see from outside. It is built in a circular pit, a curved structure made of grass, bamboo and cane and stone,and has a tiny entrance. The front wall is decorated with symbols – of the sun, moon and the sacred buffalo.

There was a herd of sacred buffaloes under the shady trees at the top of the meadow. One or two stood up on our arrival, to inspect intruders like ourselves, and then went back to chewing cud. It is beautiful up at the Toda Mund. Traditional Toda dwellings are gone and the Todas live in modern houses. But the temple remains symbolic of a people who zealously follow their unique culture. Behind the temple the hills rise up, terraced farms forming layers of green on the hill-sides.

Toda Mund,Ooty
Toda Mund,Ooty
Toda temple ooty
Toda temple Ooty
Toda temple ooty 1
Toda temple,Ooty

On the walk back to the Botanic gardens we took a different path, as the mud path was wet and slippery, stopping to chat and ask directions from the garden workers.

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Beauty of fallen tree trunks on sloping lawns- Ooty
Canons and viewing places
Canons and viewing places

 

ooty bot gardens

It was noon when we left the gardens. There is a Tibetan market just opposite the main entrance that sold knitwear. Here we were directed to a Momo restaurant further down the road where they serve Tibetan cuisine. Piping hot bowls of veg.Thukpa and hot momos were just right for a rainy day!

Other posts on Ooty:

OOTY – A Weekend in August

Stone House Museum – Ooty

Rose Garden Ooty-For All Lovers of Roses

 

 

 

Rose Garden Ooty-For All Lovers of Roses

hillside landscaping

Situated on the slopes of Elk Hill, Rose Garden, Ooty is one of the largest rose gardens in India and its collection of roses among the largest in the world. April – May is the best time to visit the gardens for spectacular displays of roses.

According to the Tamil Nadu Horticultural department, “Centenary Rose Park, Udhagamandalam owes its genesis to the Centenary Flower Festival. It covers an area of 4.00 Ha comprising of five terraces. The Rose Garden is situated in the lower slopes of the Elk Hill in Vijayanagaram Farm on the North Western side facing the Udhagamandalam Town. 

The Rose varieties planted in this Garden were assembled from different sources i.e., Bangalore, Chandigarh, Kodaikanal, Yercaud besides Nilgiris and more than 25,000 Rose plants of 3800 varieties have been planted. The collection includes Floribundas, Polyanthes, Miniatures, Hybrid Teas and Creepers. Gradually, it is proposed to increase the number of varieties to 50000 by introducing new varieties from different Centers in India and abroad. The Garden includes major attractions such as Arches, Bowers, Tunnels, Umbrellas, Green Houses, and Fountains and ‘Nila Maadam’ stone lanterns, rockeries, etc.”

divine beauty of rose buds

ooty rose

The workers in the garden warned us that the flowers were few in this rainy season (August) and that season time was April –May. There were 4000 varieties of roses spread over five sloping terraces.

rose garden ooty 3

shades of red

roses

The garden has beautiful walkways and landscaped terraces on the sloping hillside and it takes an hour or two to see everything..well, almost everything!!..It’s so big. Situated on the hill slopes, it offers lovely views of Ooty. A great place to visit!

pink rose dm

rose garden ooty (2)

cen. rose garden

rose garden

 

kids at play

 

 

lanscaping

 

OOTY – A Weekend in August

There was a long holiday for Vinayaka Chaturthi in the last week of August and a visit to Ooty was planned rather suddenly. We were on our way by three in the afternoon on Friday, 25th August, had reached Mettupalayam in the foothills by six or seven and arrived in Ooty by nine p.m. slowed down a bit by all the vehicles on the winding mountain road..all holiday makers like ourselves. It looked as if everyone had the same brainwave that we had.. namely a holiday in Ooty!!It was after dark that we negotiated the mountain road and passed many mountain villages. What made the journey memorable was that the villages were decked with festive lights and we passed many colorful Ganesha pandals. We passed many village temples as well which were open at that late hour and could see people going home from the temples. It was Vinayaka chaturthi after all… and I remember thinking how nice that we were travelling on this special day and could see all the happy scenes.

Ooty is one of the most popular hill stations of India. Much has been written about this beautiful town in the Blue mountains – The Nilgiris. This post and the next few ones are my memories of a wonderful holiday and I hope you enjoy reading about them.

Doddabetta

On Saturday morning after breakfast,the first place of visit was Doddabetta, the highest peak in the Nilgiris at 2636 MSL(  8,650 ft.),8km from Ooty. The flat summit has a reserve forest area around it and is accessible by road. This is a most popular tourist destination in Ooty.

The spectacular views of Ooty from the observation tower are out of this world and on clear days many important places near Ooty  can be seen. The place has a cafeteria for snacks and tea. It’s a lovely place where everyone tends to linger, to enjoy the 360 degree views, the strong winds,the mists and the August drizzles and to take pictures.

Doddabetta, ooty

Doddabetta 1
View from the Observation Tower in Doddabetta, Ooty
Doddabetta 4
The Telescope and observation tower, Doddabetta, Ooty
Doddabetta 3
Doddabetta. Ooty
Doddabetta 5
Doddabetta, Ooty
Doddabetta 6
A Time for fun…in Doddabetta Ooty

Benchmark Tea Factory, Tea Museum, Chocolate Factory

On the way back from Doddabetta peak we were given discount coupons to be used in Benchmark Tea factory and Museum. So our next stop was Benchmark Tea factory which was located about 4km from Doddabetta. Tourists are given a guided tour of the factory where you can read about the history of tea and other interesting information in the beautifully illustrated pictures around the museum. You can see the tea leaves being dried and processed. You can sample nine different varieties of tea free of cost. Chocolate is made here and visitors can taste a free sample. You can buy varieties of tea and chocolates and eucalyptus oil at the retail counters in the premises.

The next place we visited was the Government museum which is the subject of my next post.

Late afternoon we went to the beautiful Ooty lake and went boating. Then it started to rain! And then one of the pedals on the pedal boat came off and back we came to the boathouse. While TTDC did ask us to take another boat we had had enough boating for the day. 

These are some pictures on the history of tea taken inside the Benchmark Tea museum.

benchmark -Ooty

Emperor Shen Nung (2)

benchmark 5

benchmark 4

 

View from the Benchmark tea factory
A view from Benchmark Tea Museum