Vellore is 145km from Chennai. It was the last capital of Vijayanagar empire, now a busy town, a market for various agricultural commodities and the district headquarters. There are some rare places of tourist importance in and around Vellore. One could stay here comfortably and visit the places. The climate is generally hot with cool nights a typical example of inland climate where there is considerable difference between high and low temperatures. 'A temple without idol, A river without water and a fort without forces' is a local saying about this town.
Vellore is about 145km west of Chennai, the world famous Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMC Hospital), gives this otherwise a semi rural town, a cosmopolitan touch. Katpadi the railhead for Vellore, 3km north of town is on the main broad-gauge line between Chennai and Bengaluru. It is well connected to Chennai (145km) and Kancheepuram (66km) by bus service. There are also direct buses to Bengaluru, Ooty, and Thanjavur from Vellore.
Places of Interest in Vellore
The Vellore Fort is one of the best examples of the strong military architecture of the 17-century. The main rampart believed to date from the 14-century built out of imposing granite has round towers and rectangular projections. Its double wall, built with stones cut and filled together without mortar, has Hindu motifs. The old entrance was by a wading roadway with massive gates and protected by artillery. The moat followed the principles of a jala durg (Water fort). The outer length of the fort is about 750m and 450m in breadth.
Its strong bastions defended the Vijayanagar rulers until their defeat in 1565. In the 17th-century, it fell to the Adil Shahis of Bijapur and then passed briefly into the hands of the Marathas in 1676. The British occupied the fort in 1768 and defended it against Haider Ali in 1782. After the fall of Srirangapatna and the death of Tipu Sultan in 1799, his family was imprisoned here and their tombs now lie to the west of this fort. There is also a memorial to the victims of the little known mutiny of 1806, instigated by the second son of Tipu Sultan. In the fort is a parade ground, a church, the temple and two storied palaces that now houses various Government offices. A small Government museum inside the fort complex exhibits some Pallava and Chola time sculptures, paintings, coins and woodcarvings and sections on anthropology.
Located near Vellore, the Sripuram acres of Natural landscape has intricate carvings and sculptures in gold. An architectural marvel in gold and copper, it stands as a testimony to the creative manifestation of Sri Sakthi Amma's divine vision. All parts of the main temple are covered completely is gold. Situated in the middle of a star-shaped path, the walls of which are laid with messages of truth and righteousness remind oneself of the true purpose of life and nature of the world. The eco pool-sarvatheertham here has waters from all the major rivers of the country. Public conveniences at Sripuram include guestrooms, restrooms, restaurant, clockroom, and dormitory facility etc. Phone: 0416-2206500.
A beautiful illustration of the Vijayanagar architecture is the Jalakanteswarar Temple in the fort, built about 1566. It consists of the main shrine with a seven-storied gopuram, over 30m high, the entry point to the temple and closed ambulatory passage around. In the north are a shrine to Lord Nataraja and a lingam shrine in the west and several other sub shrines. Large statues of guardians grace the entrance. On the southwest corner of outer courtyard is the Kalyana Mandapam (Marriage Hall), famous for its vivid sculptures of Yali and other mythical figures on its pillars. These embellishments one of its own kinds stands as testimony for artisanship of that period. During the Muslim invasions it was used a garrison and thus considered desecrated. However, the temple rituals resumed since 1981 and now it is a popular place of worship.
The CMC Hospital founded by American missionary Ida Scudder in 1900 is recognized as one of the finest hospitals in South India and Southeast Asia, with a reputation for research and health care. Today it is one of the country's largest hospitals and engaged in a wide range of social and development work in small villages outside Vellore.
About 24km from Vellore are the dense Amrethi Forests with a variety of flora and fauna. The Amrethi Zoological Park in 25 hectares, a reserve area started in 1967 has some waterfalls and numerous herbal plants grow here.
35km from Vellore, almost halfway to Tiruvannamalai is Polur famous for its Jain rock carvings. 40km from Polur is the village of Jamanamarathur in Javadi Hills, known for its sandalwood and fruit bearing trees. 12km from here in the thick reserve forests are the beautiful Beemanmandav Falls. The Dr. Vainu Bappu Observatory of the Indian Institute of Astrophysics at Kavalur has the biggest telescope in Asia. The magnificent Shiva Temple at Virinjipuram is famous for its devotees who throng here with the ardent belief that a dream on the last Sunday of Karthigai month will reveal of their fortune of being blessed with a child. The lion faced tank on the left of the shrine is considered very sacred.
Vellore Tourism Information
Vellore Fort is a moated fort of the Vijayanagar period built around the 16th century preserved in good condition even today. It was built of granite blocks with a moat watered from a subterranean drain fed by a tank. It was built by Chinna Bomminayaka, a chieftain of the Vijayanagar emperors, Sadasivaraya and Srirangaraya. It was later in the hands of Muthraza Ali, the brother-in-law of Chanda Sahib. It then passed into the hands of Marathas from whom it came under David Khan of Delhi in 1760. then it was under Tipu Sultan. Finally, it came to the British after the fall of Srirangapatnam. At first, Tipu's children were kept in safe custody here. It is like the Windsor Castle of South India and the only one of its kind. Even before the first war of Indian Independence in 1857, a revolt against the British broke out here in 1806 which is in fact the harbinger of the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny. Various public buildings and private offices including the police training centre and a jail are inside the fort.
A Siva temple that was built at the same time the fort was built around 1566. It is a fine specimen of the later Vijayanagar architecture. The carvings are superb and even today looks fresh. One can't see Vijayanagar relics of this sort outside Hampi. The British were so enthralled by the wonderful sculpture that they contemplated to shift the temple completely to a museum in England, but fortunately a severe storm intervened and the project was dropped. Following the occupation of Muslim rulers, it was used as a garrison and desecrated. The idol was removed and worship terminated. It went under the custody of the Archaeological Survey of India and is preserved as a museum. In 1981, the idol which was removed by the threat of Muslim invasion was moved back into the temple and worship carried on.
A Golden Temple near Vellore
Tamil Nadu can boast of its own Golden Temple now. The Golden Temple is about 140km from Chennai at Sripuram (Spiritual Town) in Tirumalaikodi in Vellore district.
Sri Narayani Peedam, a private religious charitable organization, built this Sri Lakshmi Narayani temple. And the glittering monument also boasts of some glittering figures.
This temple covering 55,000 Sq. ft. has intricate carvings and sculptures in gold. It is a unique temple whose Vimana, and Ardha Mandapam have been coated with gold both in the interior and exterior. Twelve layers of gold foils have been pasted on copper sheets embossed with the designs of Gods and fixed on the walls. About 400 goldsmiths and coppersmiths including craftsmen from Tirumala Tirupathi Devasthanam, have completed the architectural marvel in gold in six years. The approximate cost of the temple is Rs. 600 crore.
A breathtaking wonder of intricate designs, the temple dedicated to Goddess Narayani is in the midst of lush greenery spread over 100 acres. Except the pathways, even the roofs and the pillars of the temple are made of gold as about 1.5 tonnes of the metal went into its making. The asram can be connected at: Om Sakthi Narayani Sidar Peedam Charitable Trust, Malaikodi Ariyur, Vellore 632 055.
The Christian Medical College Hospital having over a thousand bed strength is renowned all over the world. Even patients from Malaysia, Sri Lanka and the Middle East come here for treatments Founded by an American missionary in 1900, it has the support of 74 churches and orgnizations world wide.
Vellore Tour Information
Dr Vainu Bappu Observatory
This observatory at Kavalur has the biggest telescope in Asia. It is the powerful 2.34 m telescope. One can observe heavenly bodies clearly from here. it is named after the great Indian astrophysicist Dr. Vainu Bappu who was responsible for the erection of various observatories in the country and te Indian Institute of Astrophysics was founded by him. He also discovered a new comet named after him as Bappu-New Kirk, the other two suffixes stand for the other two scientists who added more details to the newly found comet. There is a beautifully laid out garden in front of the observatory which was designed by Vainu Bappu himself. He also made important contributions in calculating the luminosity and distance of stars with his colleague Wilson and it is known all over the world as 'Bappu-Wilson Effect'.
An ancient Siva temple where the Nandi, instead of facing the deity faces the opposite direction. It was once the capital of Banas, who were vassals to Pallavas and the temple was built by them. The puranam of this place narrates the story of contest between Lord Muruga and Lord Ganapathi for the fruit presented by Naradha to Lord Siva. Tanapathi got the fruit by just going round His parents Siva and Parvathi while Muruga who literally went round the world was outwitted. Till recently it was the abode of Mouna Swamigal.
A few miles off Thiruvalam and 25km from Vellore lies this hilly range which was once an abode of Jain monk and even today one could see the relief images of Thirthankaras carved on the slopes. At the bottom of the hill and in a cave on the top are temples dedicated to Lord Muruga. Valimalai is also called as Parvatharajan Kundram. In the interior of the wooded slopes lived Vallimalai Swamigal who introduced the novel system of visiting temples on the New Year's Day.
This is about 15km from Vellore and there is a Murugan Temple on the top of Ratnagiri and by a flight of steps from the roadside one could reach this temple. It is an old temple but recently renovated with additions.
Here the low range of hills culminates in an arc and thus forms a sort of natural fortifications. The Cholas and Banas keeping its strategic value formed a settlement here and four temple have come up here, two on the hills and two on the plains. This range is also called Gadikachalam in Tamil. The tall hill rising like a spire has the Lord Yoga Narasimha Swami, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu and the temple is reached by a stiff climb. The deity is a huge idol in Yogasana pose. The small hill adjacent has the Hanuman temple. In a cleft, there is a pool of curative water. Mentally afflicted people stay here for 40 days and get cured of their illness. On the plains stands a Vishnu shrine improved by Vijayanagar kings and a Siva shrine of the Chola period.
This hill is between Kudiyattam and Vaniyambadi and a little north of the highway. There is a cave with Pallava painting s of Jain character.
This is near Ambur where one can see the natural cave where Anvaruddin was hiding. There is a beautiful Siva temple with a tank on the top. There is also a cool spring in a cleft. The cave about 200 sq. ft. with a small cleft through which cool breeze enters is worth a visit.
Elagiri is on the west of Vellore, an isolated attractive picnic spot. It is in the Eastern ghats at an elevation of 1000m. It is popularly known as poor man's ooty. A salubrious climate, beautiful sceneries and a temple to Lord Muruga attract visitors. Especially in summer, people in large numbers visit this place. Since this place is an ideal location for organizing one day or two day trekking, often trekking expeditions are arranged. The Chairman, Youth Hostels Association of India, Tamil Nadu Branch, 24, 2nd Street, Balaji Nagar, Chennai - 600 014 could be contacted for further details.
On the way back to Vellore one can alight at Pallikonda where Lord Ranganatha lives in an island (Ranga), in Palar. A beautiful Krishna idol dancing with a ball of butter adorns a cell in the prakara.
Thirumalai is 10km north of Polur near Vellore. Two Jain temples are located in the hill. A Jain temple could be seen here. The main attraction is the paintings of Jain figures, monks, serpents, gods etc.
Padavedu is 10km west of Arani near Vellore. It was the original home of the Sambhuvarayas who ruled independently this area as feudatories of the Cholas. There are two temples here, one dedicated to Renukadevi and the other to Ramaswami. In the Ramaswami temple Hanuman is holding a book in his hand a very unusual idol. He is supposed to be reading the Ramayana.
Thiruparkadal is an island in the river Palar and near Arcot on the way to Vellore. There are two shrines here, one dedicated to Lord Siva called Karapuriswara, built by early Cholas, and the other dedicated to Lord Vishnu. There are two idols in the Vishnu temple one a recumbent Ranganatha and the other, Lingodhbhava, where out of the Lingam emerges Lord Vishnu.
Arcot is on the Chennai-Vellore road. It is aptly called a City of Durgahs, for at every turning one will stumble on a durgah a tomb of a Muslim saint. The tomb of Sadatullakhan, an edifice of green polished marble, the ruined palaces of the Arcot Nawabs, the English fort on the banks of Palar could all be seen here.
How to get there?
Vellore is very well connected with important places by good roads. There are buses every half an hour to Vellore from Chennai. There is also a rail link on Chennai - Bangalore route. Katpadi is the nearby junction and from Katpadi. The nearest airport is at Chennai.
Vellore Distance Guide
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