Tag Archives: Temple

Fisherman’s Cove Chennai – A Resort on the Bay of Bengal

Fisherman's Cove Resort Source:  Google Images
Fisherman’s Cove Resort
Source: Google Images

By Lakshmi:

During a trip to India, we wanted to take a break and go to Mahabalipuram and show the kids just an amazingly beautiful place that had withstood the test of time.  So we decided to stay for a couple of days at the Fisherman’s Cove Resort, which is en route to the temples.  I had seen the picture post card idyllic views of this lovely Taj property many times and the idea of staying at a cottage on the beach with a hammock literally outside your front door was perfect.

The minute you enter the tile lined lobby which resembles a giant sunroom with beautiful old world furniture and ceiling fans, you literally are transported a world away from the heat and congestion of Chennai.  We walked across the palm tree filled pool area to our room and were stunned that we were literally on the beach.

Any beach, anywhere in the world just brings a level of contentment to me that few other things do, and this was one of those moments that just made me feel blissful.  The room was spacious and at this point, the hammock on the porch was what we were most attracted to.

It is not an exaggeration to say that except for our sleeping hours, we either sat /walked on the beach or lay on our hammocks reading and watching the sunrise and sunsets.  The tides get pretty dangerous here, and they do warn about swimming at those times.  From the beach, you can see the distant temples of Mahabalipuram (we have featured the temples in a separate post).

During the tsunami several years ago, Fisherman’s Cove suffered extensive damages.  They have remodelled the place significantly and as I walked through the property during a recent visit, everything that took our breath away remains intact.

If you do plan to visit the shore temples of Mahabalipuram or simply want to get away even for a day from Chennai, this property will transport you a world away.

To learn more about Taj’s Fisherman’s Cove property, click here:

http://www.vivantabytaj.com/Fishermans-Cove-Chennai/Overview.html

To learn more about our trip to Mahabalipuram, click here:

http://pauperswithouttravel.com/2012/06/12/mahabalipuram-a-beautiful-day-trip-from-chennai-2/

How to do a day trip to Mahabalipuram from Chennai

By Lakshmi: (Updated Feb, 2016)

When I was a little kid, we lived for a few years in Chennai in southern India.  Every year, for our school’s annual outing, we went to Mahabalipuram, a coastal town about 60 kilometers from Chennai.  My most vivid memories of those trips are just being in awe of the sculptures, the big hunk of rock called the butter ball, the artists chiseling beautiful sculptures from huge blocks of rock and of course the awesome pistachio ice cream that was a much awaited treat at the end of a long summer day.

In the past several years, I have had multiple opportunities to return to this beautiful place.  And while so much of India has changed, Mahabalipuram, much like the sculptures and temples it is famous for, strangely remains untouched with the passage of time.

Mahabalipuram, a group of temples and sanctuaries created by the Pallava dynasty in the 7th and 8th centuries is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.  The shore temple set against the ocean is a sight to behold and the temples in the form of rathas (chariots) and mandapas (cave sanctuaries) carved with exquisite details including tales from the Mahabharata now remind me of another set of temples so dear to my heart…Angkor.

To appreciate all the wonders of this beautiful location, I would recommend getting an early start from Chennai (hiring a car or taking a tour bus) and spending the day there.  This will not only give you the time to take in the temples and watch the sculptors in action, but also the ability to savor this oceanfront locale.

To learn more about Mahabalipuram, please click here.

http://www.worldheritagesite.org/sites/mahabalipuram.html

You can find information on tours to Mahabalipuram here.

Tour to Mahabalipuram from Chennai

Downtown Tokyo in a Day: Subway Hopping

By: Siddhi 

One of the Paupers’ favorite ways to explore a city is hopping onto a subway or tram system with a map and traveling the way the locals do.   It is an approach we have taken in almost every city we have visited because it allows us to experience the adrenaline of discovering a new place while simultaneously blending into the social landscape of the culture we have entered.   Seeing while belonging.

So, when we were in Tokyo over winter break, there was no question in terms of how we would navigate the incredible city.  Here’s how we covered downtown Tokyo in a day via one of the world’s most expansive and efficient subway systems:

Stop #1: 

We took the Asakusa Line from Shimbashi (where our hotel was) to the great Asakusa itself, home of the famous Sensō-ji temple that honors the bodhisattva Kannon (also known as The Goddess Of Mercy).  The story behind the statue of the Kannon is as follows: two brothers who were fishermen went out to sea one day when they found a statue in the waters of the Sumida River which flows through Tokyo.  They ignored the statue the first time.  But when they encountered it again, they knew it had to be a sign.  So the statue was taken out of the water and a temple was constructed in Asakusa so that people could worship the Kannon.  The path to the actual temple is a famous street market called Nakamise-dōri. It has every Japanese cultural memento you could possibly imagine from traditional fans and clothing to Pokemon plush toys and unique ice cream stalls. The site reminded me of a scaled down and less frenetic version of the Khan elKhalili  market in Cairo.

The temple itself was a fairly low-key experience (that isn’t to undermine the site, it is a must-see in Tokyo.  By “low-key”, I am referring to the experience itself being a modest one).  A few elements of visiting Asakusa really stood out, especially witnessing people lighting incense sticks and put them into a common standing pit, as they waved the resulting smoke towards themselves.  This act is believed to be a way of cleansing yourself of any pain or illness.   The scent of the incense and the  image of a spiritual rite of sorts coming together formed an indelible impression in my memory of the serenity of Japan’s people and their faith.   Inside the actual temple, visitors can donate 100 yen to get Omikuji, fortunes written on pieces of paper at Shinto shrines.  You randomly choose a fortune from one of many, many boxes, and hope for the best. My sister’s fortune said she would be diseased.  We all laughed (no, we’re not evil!)

Stop #2:

After roaming around the area surrounding Asakusa for a bit and soaking in Tokyo street culture, we hopped back on the subway (on the Ginza line) and travelled to Ueno, a city hotspot populated with museums and temples. We walked around another large street market area and played in a Japanese arcade (you can’t come to Tokyo and not immerse yourself in some gaming!) before heading over to Ueno Park, which is essentially the Tokyo equivalent of Central Park in New York City.   The park is so incredibly well-maintained and hosts an abundance of cultural and recreational sites.  The walk through Ueno was peaceful and beautiful, embodying the spirit of what Tokyo and Japan as a whole stand for.  I have been in several public parks throughout my travels, but Ueno is definitely near the top of my list next to Vondelpark in Amsterdam.  There is a transportive sensation you get in places like this that are just unparalleled in their tranquility.

Once we had taken in the wonders of Ueno, we took a lunch break in a restaurant near the park.

Stop #3:

Next, we took the JR Yamanote line from Ueno to the Tokyo Imperial Palace, home of the Emperor of Japan.  The park that leads up to the palace is stunning. Absolutely stunning.  The trees reminded me so much of the beauty I felt watchingTree Of Life, and I can only imagine what it would be like to live so close to the place.  I envied every single runner jogging around the Imperial Palace (which I learned is a major recreational place for athletes) and wanted oh so badly to just put on my running shoes and do the same.  What a place to take in the natural imagery and enjoy the fresh air.   Unfortunately, you can’t get too close to the actual palace as it is gated off, but the moat and bridges surrounding it are gorgeous.  The highlight of being here was undoubtedly the unforgettable scenery, which just further bolstered our respect for the Japanese architectural and landscape aesthetics.

That was our exploration of downtown Tokyo in a single day.  We obviously only scraped the surface of the city during these hours, and filled in the gaps during our subsequent days in the city, but still felt our subway hop-on/hop-off approach allowed us to see a lot in just one day!

Let us know if you have done similar, self-guided day tours of Tokyo or have any suggestions for future visits!