The bumpy ride from Basar to Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh was laced with numerous small waterfalls, views of the distant mountains and the meandering Siyom river, a tributary of Brahmaputra. While all these looked enchanting, what made us stop the vehicle to capture a frame was Siko Dido waterfalls in Irgo village, a few kilometers before Mechuka. Falling from a height of approximately 200 feet, the falls has a plunge pool at its base. Located by the road that leads to Mechuka, the falls has gorgeous green mountains surrounding it and is difficult to miss out while on this stretch.
I alighted from my car at Bogibeel and gazed at the calm
Brahmaputra in oblivion. The calmness was something that I could not relate
with this river. Always known for its floods, Brahmaputra, the only male river
in India showed a different face with absolute tranquility. I was on my way for
the Basar Confluence in Basar, Arunachal Pradesh and had to cross the mighty
river to reach Likabali, the border town in Assam.
A couple of large rickety boats were moored along the banks
and as I got atop one of them, more people walked in and so did four large
cars. That was quite a cargo to go across to the other bank. With the help of wooden planks,
the cars crossed over, but it seemed like they were on a tight rope walk as they boarded the boat
one by one. Though the drivers were quite confident about their skills and
machines, it seemed quite an adventurous act.
Ours was the last ferry of the day (3:30 PM) and as the day
ends much earlier in eastern India, what was on offer throughout the ride was a
palette of hues that splashed over the sky as the sun set. From pink to orange
to red to mauve, the splendid colours and the placid waters made the ferry ride
a memorable one. All that I did was gaze
at the spellbinding beauty of nature as we were ferried across. The ride is an absolute treat for sunset lovers.
It took us an hour to cross the river at a languorous pace.
However, the 4.9 Kms long Bogibeel bridge that is due for inauguration in a few
days time is surely going to make the travel down to a few minutes. The road
and rail bridge would also help connect Dibrugarh with Dhemaji, and also make
the commute further to Arunachal much faster. While the ferry ride is definitely a must experience, we
were probably among the last few lucky ones who had a chance to take it. Once
the bridge becomes functional, the number of people taking the ferry would
dwindle and that may also lead to the ferry being discontinued forever.
Location: Located in Assam, Bogibeel bridge is 29 Kms from Dibrugarh and 27
Kms from Likabali.
An hour’s drive away from Thanjavur lies the temple town of
Kumbakonam, believed to be where the pot (Kumbham) containing
nectar of life was spilled by Shiva. Kumbakonam is one of the prominent temple towns
in the Cauvery region and also houses the holy tank of Mahamaham where the
nectar pot fell. The town is lined with
colourful gopurams of numerous temples and is also a prominent place for
religious studies. From Cholas to Pandyas to Marathas to British, the town was under various rulers over the years.
Though there are more than 80 temples spread across the town
of Kumbakonam, here is a list of the popular ones which are a must visit.
Adi Kumbeswarar Temple:
Believed to have been built before the 7th
century by the Chola rulers, Adi Kumbeswarar is one of the most important and
popular temples in Kumbakonam. Rebuilt and renovated over centuries, the
temple has beautiful sculptures from mythology adorning its pillars and walls.
The hall that leads to the main sanctum has numerous pillars and its carved
ceilings are coloured with vegetable dyes. The temple is dedicated to Kumbeswarar
(Shiva) and the main shrine houses a lingam. The premise also has a temple
pond, Kandha Kumbha Theertham.
Built in 17th century by the Nayaks, the temple is
dedicated to Vishnu. The hall outside the inner sanctum is lined with numerous
sculpted pillars which has characters from mythology and related designs. The ceilings
too have carved designs and are colourful. The hall also has frescoes of the
ten avatars of Vishnu. The inner walls are adorned with paintings depicting scenes from Ramayana.
A prominent Vaishnavite temple in India, Sarangapani temple
dedicated to Vishnu is the biggest one in Kumbakonam and is built in typical Dravidian
style architecture. The colourful and
striking eleven storeyed gopuram is a major attraction of this temple apart
from the chariot shaped main sanctum which has numerous carved pillars. The
main shrine is of Sarngapani, an incarnation of Vishnu. There is also a shrine
dedicated to Komalavalli, the consort of Sarngapani. The temple also houses
quite a few other colourful entrance gates.
century temple built during the time of Cholas has Nageswarar as its main deity,
a serpentine form of Shiva. While the colourful entrance gate is quite an eye
catcher, the inner entrance gate has gorgeous art work on its ceiling. The
inner sanctum is in the form a chariot and has sculptures of horses pulling it.
Dedicated to Vishnu, the presiding deity is Chakrapani (a
form of Vishnu) who is worshipped as Sudarshana. The deity has a third eye on
his forehead and eight stretched out arms. Apart from a colourfully sculpted
entrance gate, the temple also houses carved pillars and an entrance
foyer with art work on the ceiling.
Located to the north of Kasi Vishwanathar temple, Mahamaham
tank is where the Mahamaham festival (similar to Kumbh mela) is held every 12 years. It is believed that the waters of this tank can get rid of all the sins
and is more sacred than river Cauvery. There are many lingams along the banks of the tank and it also houses numerous wells.
Kumbakonam is 40 Kms from Thanjavur and 282 Kms from Chennai.
There are buses and trains that connect Kumbakonam with major cities across
south India. The closest airport is at Tiruchirappalli, 95 Kms away.
Food and Accommodation:
Most of the hotels in Kumbakonam offer vegetarian fare.The town is also known for its ‘Degree Coffee’
which is served in brass tumblers. The coffee is prepared with thick milk, is
boiled to a certain temperature and gets its name due to this. One can either
stay in Thanjavur and make a day trip to Kumbakonam or stay in Kumbakonam to
visit its temples. There are numerous hotels in both Thanjavur and Kumbakonam catering various budgets.
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Thalaiyar falls in Theni district of Tamil Nadu is also sometimes referred as Rat Tail falls as the cascading falls looks like the tail of a rat from a distance. It is the highest waterfalls in Tamil Nadu and one can get a view of the same from the ghat road that connects Dindigul with Kodaikanal. While access to the base of the falls in denied, there is a tough trek that leads to the top of the falls.
It was almost the end of Neelakurinji season in September end when I headed to Kodaikanal to catch a glimpse of Strobilanthes Kunthianus (Kurinji or Neelakurinji) . While the Neelakurinji that had bloomed below the Coaker's walk area had died, the locals were helpful enough to guide me to Vilpatti, a few kilometers from the town. The flowers were in their full bloom in Vilpatti.
Neelakurinji season has come to an end almost everywhere except Munnar where it would still be visible for a few more days. Rush now or else wait until 2030 when it is expected to bloom again. Here are a few frames from Vilpatti, Kodaikanal.
Consecrated in the year 1997, Putra mosque with its pink dome and minaret is located adjacent to Putra lake and Perdana Putra, the Malaysian Prime Minster's office. Modelled on Persian Islamic design, the mosque has exquisite intricate carvings and floral works on the pink granite walls and ceiling of its prayer hall. The colourful painted glass windows are another eye catcher here.