Understanding Spiritual Tamil Nadu --2- the Lord Ganesha temple at Rockfort, Tiruchirapalli
Tiruchirapalli is a big town of Tamil Nadu, and is situated right in the Center of the State. Its claim to fame is probably a huge number of educational institutions, including a State University called the Bharadidasan University and the IIM as well.
Tiruchirapalli also has the best National Institute of Technology, in India.
Be that as it may, no visitor to this city can miss the gigantic Rockfort, which is a huge hillock, and a natural one at that. It is said that the British used it as a place to store their weapons, and the entrance of the place is itself called the Main Guard Gate.
To reach this Rockfort is quite easy, as there is the main town bus stand called the Chaththiram bus stand, which is just two minutes walk the Main Guard Gate.
Tiruchirapalli is famous for the Lord Ganesha temple, situated right at the top of the Rockfort temple. This temple itself is a very old temple, dating back to pre-independence days. It is huge hit with the young people, as many lovers use the hillock to share their thoughts and finer moments.
The temple at the top is open in the mornings and in the evenings too. The main advantage of the temple is that one can have a superb view of the city, from the top. It is a superb experience for any tourist at any time.
A word of caution here. The months of April, May and June are the hottest months in Tiruchirapalli, which has one of the worst climates throughout the year. However, the period between the mid November and mid of January is the best period to visit the temple, as the city does experience some good showers during this period.
One needs to the very careful at the entrance of the temple. A sea of brokers and vendors will descend from nowhere, literally forcing the tourists to buy the offerings to God. It is wise to avoid any contact with these people, unless the tourist understands some English. Hindi is not spoken much, and no one appreciates Hindi in the first place, here.
The word "Archanai" simply means a systematic recital of several mantras relating to Lord Ganesha, and then the giving of the prasad to the devotee, who had booked for the Archanai. The mantras are very sacred Sanskrit mantras.
The word 'Abhisegam" is totally different. Here, the Lord is thoroughly washed and then the Lord is bathed with coconmut water, vibuthi ( the holy ash, that Tamilians wear every day on their forehead), milk or honey. It is believed that this form of worship to the Lord will cure us of many sins. There are thousands of students who routinely visit this temple, before and after the University Examinations, praying to God that the exam papers should be easy papers!!!
Jokes apart, one must note that one has go climb some two hundred odd steps to reach up the top of the temple. A few steps are steep, but one does not need to sweat it out too much. The sceanario at the top, particularly in the evenings, between 5PM and 7PM is the best to enjoy and the sweet memories will remain with one for a very long time. The gentle breeze that blows all over, is a real treat and one can really enjoy the experience.
Now, let us understand how to get there. From Koyembedu, which is the central Bus station at Chennai, there are buses to Tiruchirapalli literally every ten minutes, at any time of the day or night, normally up to 10PM. Please do note that all buses to Tiruchirapalli proceed only from here.
In addition, one can also take the AC buses to Tiruchirapalli, and one book for this one or two days in advance. Except for the marriage season, the AC buses are not very crowded. Tiruchirapalli is a central town, and hence any bus that goes to Madurai or Nagercoil or Tirunelveli or Tuticorin or any other place deep South of Tamil Nadu, does touch Tiruchirapalli. Of course, a few buses will skip Tiruchirapalli and go via the by pass. But this is a very rare thing.
Apart from the buses, please take the prestigious Vaigai Express that leaves Chennai Egmore in the afternoon. This is a day train, and the charge for a siiting accommodation might be even cheaper than what you need to spend, even in an ordinary express bus run by the State Government.
Please note that for such long distances ( Tiruchirapalli is around 355 kilometers from Chennai),, there are no private buses. However, the private Omni buses are plenty, and they leave Chennai from near Koyembedu, even during the day. Note that you would be poorer by at least two hundred rupees per seat, as the charges are very huge.
Apart from the Vaigai Express that leaves Chennai Egmore in the afternoon, there is another inter-city express called the Pallavan Express, which leaves Chennai Egmore at around 3 30PM and reaches Tiruchirapalli, at around 9PM. This is also an excellent train.
Near the Railway station, there are excellent lodges, for around Rs.1600/- per day, for a AC double room, and between Rs.800 and Rs.1000/- for a non-AC double room. A huge number of good restaurants are also nearby, and they serve very good vegetarian food. Of course, there are non-vegetarian restaurants too.
Please do not spend a single pie on auto rickshaws. These are very costly, and will blindly charge around Rs.300/- to go to Chatthiram bus stand. Please board bus no 1 from the Central Local bus stand, that is walkable from the Railway Station, and also bang opposite to the lodges.
There are plenty of buses, and almost one every twenty seconds. After the darshan, one can just walk across to the Chatthiram bus stand and take bus no 1 again. There are several other buses having different numbers, and it is easy to identify them.
Tiruchirapalli also has other temples, but the focus here is only on the Lord Ganesha temple, here.
Another news. There is a huge shopping center near the temple, and those who wish to buy quality glass bangles, or cheap clothing or even school bags or other stuff can find them here. There is also a "Burma Bazaar" nearby, which sells a huge amount of smuggled goods, and sometimes, really genuine goods too, all imported from abroad. However, one has to be very careful here.
A visit to Tiruchirapalli should be a part of any tourist's diary, particularly those from North India. The minute details given here, are just to help such tourists.
Wish you a very happy journey, a very happy stay, and of course, a good darshan of Lord Ganesha at the Rockfort temple, at Tiruchirapalli.
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