Celebrate India – Pongal Festival with Yatra.comNow the winters in Delhi are finally starting to get unbearably cold. It is a pity that I can’t getaway this time but I am sure some of you can! But, the problem is you can’t decide on a gooddestination. Right? Well, Joy says… how about Chennai? Surprised? Well, so was I when I wentthere for the first time. Let me explain how.Traditional festivals are the most important events that take place in all Indian cities but eachcity has its favorites. For Mumbai, it’s Ganpati Puja; for Goa, it’s Christmas; for Delhi, it’s Diwali;similarly, for Chennai, it’s Pongal (Lohri orMakar Sankranti for Northern India). And, it wasduring this festival that I had luckily dropped in atChennai, a few years back.Pongal is a 4 day long harvest festival celebrated tohonour the Sun God, Lord Indra (god of rain) & thelivestock and it’s celebrated with much pomp andshow in Chennai.On the 1st day people throw away their old clothesand materials that they no longer require,symbolizing a new beginning. On the 2nd day i.e. Pongal Day, to symbolize material abundancein the household, fresh milk is boiled early in the morning and is allowed to boil over the vessel.Feasts are prepared and people exchange gifts. The 3rd day is dedicated to worshipping thelivestock but the more interesting aspect of this day for me was the Jallikattu, an extremelyviolent taming-the-bull contest. On the last day, people usually go out to picnic.Well, that’s all, at least about the festival but I haven’t even begun on Chennai yet. “Kya kareinthoda background dena to banta hai na!”Chennai is a 367 year old city. However, the aspect of the city that interests me most is that ithas the 2nd longest sea shore in the world for any city. Therefore, the first place to visit shouldbe the Marina beach. It’s huge; it’s long and surprisingly relatively clean. It’s a wonderful picnicspot and good for a stroll any time of the day (in winters). However, keep in mind that it’s anon-swimming beach and no lifeguards or equipment is available nearby and revealingswimwear is not tolerated by the locals.While travelling, if you prefer to indulge in local art, culture, religion, architecture etc., Chennaiwill not disappoint you. Churches like Basilica of the National Shrine of St. Thomas and mosques
like Big Mosque (Wallajah Mosque) are serious crowd pullers. Kapaleeswarar Temple and TheParthasarathy Temple are both 8th century temples and their architecture is influenced by allthe dynasties that have ruled ever since. Of the temples, Sri Ramakrishna Math UniversalTemple is the most popular. It was set up by Swami Vivekananda’s brother-disciple SwamiRamakrishnananda in the year 1897. Since then it has garnered the reputation of being theideal spot for those seeking peace and a chance at contemplation and meditation.All these tourist destinations are remarkable but for me the crown jewel of Chennai has tobe Valluvar Kottam. It’s a memorial cum auditorium dedicated to Tiruvalluvar, a renowned poetand saint. Constructed with over 3000 blocks of stone, in the shape of a chariot, with the 1330poet’s verses inscribed on its walls and with a 4000+ capacity (largest in Asia), it’s a truearchitectural marvel. And, that is why it should definitely be at the top of your ‘to-visit’ prioritylist.The city is full of several other monuments, parks, museums and art galleries that can keep youinterested longer than the duration of your visit. Also, since it is a one of the biggestmetropolitans in the country and also the south Indian cinema hub, it has lots of interestingstuff on offer for those looking to just chill out and have a good time.I hope you have a good time there,This is joy taking your leave,Until next time,CiaoConnect with Yatra.com on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube as well.