6th Century Sri Somanathaswamy Temple @ Palayarai

As a die-hard fan of Kalki's historical novel பொன்னியின் செல்வன் (Ponniyin Selvan) I've always dreamt of visiting the places mentioned in that novel. Most of the places are near my Home town, Madurai in India. During this visit I managed to visit two top destinations, Palayarai and Thanjavur.

Palayarai, was the first capital of Medieval Cholas, until Thanjavur was built around 10th Century CE. Now, only a ruined Shiva temple is present at that place. We had to stop and ask for directions at several places, as Palayarai has lost its glory and now it is an insignificant sleepy village.

Ruins of the temple - viewed as we turned in that village

My heart sank, when I saw the locked gates of the ruined the Raja Gopuram (Tall tower) However, I got down from the car to take some shots of the tower and beautiful sculptures along the wall.

Only 2 levels of the gopuram exists

Pathetic reminder of the past glory:(

In remote villages, even now if they see a car, the villagers approach it with great curiosity! My dad asked one such villagers if there is anyone who could help us in entering the temple...'don't worry, the temple in-charge would have seen your car and anytime he would he here', before he finished the sentence, the in-charge came there with the keys!!!

Shrine of the Goddess

There is only limited online literature about this temple and town, so I tried to gather local info/folklore from the in-charge person. He said that this temple is more than 1400 years old...true it was built by the Chola dynasty in in 6th Century CE. He added that Raja Raja Cholan, the famous Chola king used to worship here before he built the Thanjvur Periya koil in the 10th Century CE.

The sanctum sanctorum of Lord Somanathaswamy

This shrine is designed like a horse drawn chariot!

Stone horse n wheel

It is unacceptable as per the Hindu customs to take pictures of the main deity...however, I did click at one of the most powerful Goddess worshiped by the kings, especially to give them moral and physical courage during war times.

Goddess Durga - carved out of single stone!

The half-gone murals behind the Goddess is supposed to be done by the Maratha rulers around 16th Century CE. Luckily, no one had tried to white-wash it!


Ardhanareeswara - is a beautiful concept where Lord Shiva manifests Himself as Half Man and Half Woman, to show that the male and female powers should co-exist! Later, on the same day, we saw similar beautiful sculptures in Thanjavur Periya Koil as well.

Yali - For SOOC

Yali, is a Hindu mythological creature, with Lion's head on a horse's body and this form is usually seen in Shiva temples.

The in-charge said that the temple renovation was underway as they were planning for Kumbabishekam. Now, I've mixed feelings, because they were sort of destroying our heritage by white-washing the precious, beautiful stone buildings and sculptures:(

Again, I've a big misgiving on Indian Archeological Dept, as to why do they fail to promote our assets? At least, can't we take care and preserve such glorious monuments of historical importance?!


Camp Site @ El Sanctuary, Lendu

Always I look forward to different experiences. This time I had a chance to visit El Sanctuary, a camp site in Lendu, which is about 30 minutes drive from Melaka, Malaysia.

MES, my kid's school had arranged for a camp. The dates clashed with my daughter's classical dance performance and our long holiday. I just took my kid for a short visit as she was keen to get a feel of what her friends do in the camp. While she was with her friends, I was busy with my camera, devouring the beauty of the place!

Miniscule sign board that can be missed very easily!

Bukit Hantu in Malay means Ghost Hill! With hesitation, I drove in to that obscure lane...

Reality is even more picturesque!


Ready for a camp fire - Dorms in the background 

Chalets - around 7 persons can comfortably stay

I feel that the Sepia finish enhances the beauty!

Well, I need to do another post to share floral pics that I took at this place!

Pevensey Castle - Photos the Archives

While visiting a friend in Eastbourne, Essex, UK, she was kind enough to take me to Pevensey Castle, which was about 20 minutes drive from her house. Thanks to her generosity:) As usual, I was excited to visit a place of historical importance. It is said that the Pevensey castle was originally built by the early Roman settlements in the Southern Coast around 3rd century AD. Additions and modifications should have been done, however there is no documentary evidence of this castle after the Roman empire, until 1066!

A 12th century chronicle says,

Pevensey is a castle rising on a very lofty mound, fortified on every side by a most beautiful wall, fenced impregnably by the washing waves of the sea, almost inaccessible owing to the difficulty of the ground.

Here is a sketch of the castle in its heyday and its pitiable current state

It is very sad to see just the remains of this lofty castle...

View from afar


Side view

Gate House built in 1200AD

Remains - For SOOC

Foundation stones of the Chapel and remains of the font in the nave


Pool by the Beach

Every Friday, we go to the Malacca Club for my daughter's badminton class. It has a good sports complex with tennis, table tennis and badminton courts, gym and a lovely swimming pool by the beach!

The sky was overcast, but still I love the blues in these shots:)

Pool by the beach

Shallow pool in the foreground

Lap pool in the background

Skies - from the archives

Beachyhead beach - Sussex, UK

Beach view from USM, Kota Kinabalu, Malaysian Borneo

Night shot from my corridor - Melaka, Malaysia


Maritime Silk Route Museum - Singapore

I didn't want to go to the Universal Studio, Singapore for the 2nd time, even if it meant I had to hang alone by myself at Resort World Sentosa. Luckily, there was a new attraction, Maritime Experimental Museum and Aquarium. When I purchased the entrance and the Typhoon show tickets (SG $5 & $6), I was told that the aquarium is still under construction!

Entrance - For SOOC.

The museum tries to portray the significance of Admiral Zhen He's seven voyages in the ancient maritime silk route. In those days, this maritime route was equally important like the silk road route that linked East to West.

This maritime route stretches from the South China sea, across the Indian Ocean and connects to the Roman Empire along the Red sea. It is considered as the oldest trade route since 200 BCE. Besides trade, it also helped in nourishing International relationships and cultural exchange.

This museum houses some of the artifacts collected from 8 major ports along this route and in this post I try to picturize my experience!

Chinese navigation instruments - Qunazhou, China

Bamboo products from - Qui Nhon, Vietnam

Colorful puppets - Palembang, Indonesia

Model Ship - Melaka, Malaysia

Mats and vessels - Galle, Srilanka

Snake Charmer - Calicut, India

Arabian Navigation aid Kamal - Muscat, Oman

Exotic products and animals - Malindi, Kenya

It had some interactive displays and games, which reflects ancient mariners life. The interior of the museum was interesting as well!

Miniature ships hanging in midair 

And the souvenir shop curios...

Gift items - exorbitantly priced^^

As for the typhoon show, well, you can watch it once, especially for that starlit ocean view. However, the typhoon and underwater experience was below average, anyway here is a shot that I took before and after the show.

Typhoon Theater, before the Show - Chinese village view

Typhoon Theater after the Show - Under the ocean view


Dawn @ Ocean Palm, Klebang

The bus for our day trip to Universal Studio, Singapore was supposed to start from Ocean Palm Condominium in Klebang, so we stayed overnight with a friend who lives there. Thanks for her hospitality. It was lovely to watch the sky and the ocean from the 9th floor, here are the shots that stole my heart:)
Sea view from the balcony - For SOOC Sunday and Monday Blue
Look at that beautiful back water jetty!
Shoreline view from the balcony
View from the guest room - For Skywatch
Land reclamation is in progress, which is a sad thing as it affects the nature
Cloud resembling a smoker!


Glowing Dusk

I guess the Great Painter was extraordinarily pleased with something, so decided to paint the sky like this...

And the clouds were rushing to add glow to the dusk!

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