Friday, August 2, 2013

Vellore – City of 1806 Uprising, CMC and VIT

Jalakandeshwara Temple - Outer entrance
I was tired of wasting weekends by watching television programs. Western Ghats areas were off the limits because of heavy rains; Krishna river area was also under the threat of flooding; not enough leaves were available for North/ West Indian destinations. What to do? Where to go? Unexpectedly, I got an old map from cupboard, along with a paper listing out the attractions in Vellore. At an earlier instance I cancelled the trip due to some personal reasons, so why not revive the plan now?

Vellore – History

Vellore, HQ of district with the same name is located on the banks of River Palar in the Southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. This city at various times in history came under the rule of Pallavas (of Kanchipuram), Medieval Cholas, Later Cholas, Vijayanagar, Rashtrakutas, Carnatic and British before finally joining with Indian Union.

Vellore Fort was built during the time of Chinna Bomma Nayak (subordinate of Vijayanagar). In 17th century Vellore came under Nawabs. After Nawabs, administration passed through various hands before finally settled under British in 19th century. During British rule Tipu's family and Vikrama Rajasinha (last king of SriLanka) were held as prisoners here.

Vellore fort also witnessed the massacre of Vijayanagara royal family of Emperor Sriranga Raya; and the uprising against British in 1806 (51 years before the first war of Indian independence)

Sri Lakshmi Temple (aka Golden Temple) constructed using about 1500km of with an estimated expenditure of 300 crores is located around 8km away from Vellore bus terminus.

Towards Vellore - Hosur, Krishnagiri, Ambur and then Vellore

My first plan to go in a bus leaving Bangalore on Friday night. Later it became clear that, going in night may not be a viable plan. Vellore is around 210 plus hours from Bangalore – neither far enough nor close enough. So finally I decided to go in Saturday morning.

Who wants to wake up early in the morning that too in a holiday? So am I. Finally around five in the morning I left the room and boarded a bus to Shantinagar.

In Bangalore, Tamil Nadu government operate buses going to Chennai and rest of Tamil Nadu from ShantiNagar, Andra Pradesh State RTC also operates from here, Kerala RTC operates from Mysore Satellite Stand. Private buses operate from various parts of city like Majestic, Madivala, Kalasiplalaya, Shantinagar etc. Karnataka RTC operates mainly from Majestic, Shantinagar etc.

First bus I saw in the line was going to Chennai. Vellore is located on Chennai route. So I checked with conductor about Vellore (stress on‘ll’). He replied, “Velur?” Hmm... I am not sure whether ‘Vellore’ (no stress on ‘ll’) is same as Vellore (emphasis on ‘ll’). So I moved towards the end, searching for another official. Finally I found one and he resolved my problem – Both names designate the same city. So I went back to the first bus and sat comfortably on a side seat in second row. Wow!!! no one else were there in the bus!!! When it would start? Would they be ready to with only one passenger? After a while six more adults and two kids came in and we started our journey at 6.40am.

Bus was going too slow, as if its movement was hurting the bitumen coated NH7. Familiar sceneries repeated on both sides; in between I slept as well. In between when I woke up we were entering Hosur bus stand. We picked up some 10 – 15 people from here and proceeded towards Vellore. Krishnagiri, Ambur and finally Vellore. We traversed around 210+ kilometre in four and half hours!!!

After having dosha (aka Dosa) and tea from a hotel located inside the stand, I walked towards main road in search of a bus to Vellore Fort. By the way, both Dosha and tea were good (so as the cost). Boarded No.1 bus and reached fort with in some 15 minutes.

Jalakandeshwara Temple

Inside the mandapa
Crossed fort entrance and walked towards Jalakandeshwara Temple. There are a couple of playgrounds on the other side. Kids were playing cricket there. Madapa made of stone (with elaborate engravings of various episodes from puranas) was standing on the left side, just after the gate of out temple wall.

I spent approximately half an hour there. Next destination was actual temple. When I was about to walk towards inner temple gate, one guard closed half door. He made an elaborate expression, which in simple words can be translated to “why you wasted your time outside?” Subsequently, he went inside and started blowing his whistle asking people to go outside. After coming this much distance I was not ready to go back without entering inside the temple. Hence I walked in using the other half of that big gate and took a quick look. Where is the sanctum? Well it was on another side. I quickly walked towards sanctum and got a quick look of deity, from a distance.

Vellore Fort 

Fort wall and Moat

A police training camp is occupying a substantial portion of the fort. After taking a round, I reached in front of ASI Museum - nothing much to see, in fact nobody was there in the premises other than person-in-charge.

After watching the fort moat for a while I took the stairs to reach the top of fort’s outer wall. Next one hour went in that way. Many couples were sitting there, in shades, enjoying their private moments with partners. A little bit further, two horses were viewing the city arteries through holes in the walls. 3-4 eagles were drawing big circles in the sky.

View of Vellore City

It’s the time to move on. There was a big part located outside the fort walls. I walked in diagonal direction reached the other end. Roads were busy; buses were going in both directions; People were eagerly standing in the bus stop; at a distance, in fort, Indian flag was flying high.  

I sat on the shades of a big tree for some time. A mid-aged person, probably in his early fifties, was sitting some 10 metres away was constantly looking towards me. In between he was walking here and there before finally coming back to the shades.

Vellore City

Sky is not the limit
Another 15 minutes. Finally I told bye to Vellore fort and started walking towards the bus stop. That guy was also following me, at a distance. This time, he was looking towards me and talking to somebody else on phone. Suddenly a bus came and I boarded the same. Well, that guy too is walking towards the bus (but he didn’t get in). Was he checking the destination of the bus? Is he planning to follow the bus in another vehicle? I don’t know.

After spending some more time in the city, I went to new bus stand and boarded a direct bus to Bangalore. Without describing the road side sceneries of Krishnagiri – Bangalore stretch in NH 07 this travelogue won’t be complete. Here, in every 100 metres there is a granite quarry. I don’t know how long those granite hills will last. Will consumers appetite for granite, last so long that, there may not be any more hills at all? Probably yes.

Before midnight I reached Bangalore.


How to reach Vellore

By Road,

Vellore is connected by road with mojor cities like Chennai, Coimbatore, Bangalore, Tirupathi, Salem, Chittoor, Hosur, Nagercoil, Cuddalore, Kurnool, Trichy, Thiruvannamalai, Kanyakumari, Madurai, Tirunelveli, Kanchipuram, Dharmapuri, Erode, Tirupur, Palakkad, Krishnagiri etc. City has two bus terminals: the Town Bus Terminus (opposite the fort and near CMC Hospital) and the Central Bus Terminus (Near Green Circle).

By Rail,

Vellore has three main railway stations - Katpadi junction, Vellore Cantonment and Vellore Town. Vellore-Katpadi Junction, 5 km north of CMC hospital is a major one Chennai-Bangalore line running to Chennai, Bangalore, Tirupati and Trichy. Direct rail links are available to Vijayawada, Tirupati, Bhubaneswar, Nagpur, Bangalore, Bhopal, Mumbai, Mangalore, Tiruchchirapalli, Bilaspur, Korba, Patna, Ernakulam, Trivandrum, Kanyakumari, Shirdi, Kanpur, Gaya, Dhanbad, Jammu Tawi, Madurai, Bhilai, Gwalior, Chennai, Howrah, New Delhi, Coimbatore, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram, Kozhikode, Jaipur etc. Vellore Cantonment is connected to Tirupati, Chennai, Arakonnam etc.

By Air,

City has an airport near Abdullapuram but not of much use. Nearest international airports are Chennai (130 km) and Bengalore(200 km); the nearest domestic airport is Tirupati Airport (100 km).

Standing on the Fort wall

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