Love for their religion, orthodox attitudes and love for science has marked the people of Tamil Nadu. Chennai is a budding metropolitan city that manifests both the aspects of Tamil Nadu equally well. There are ancient temples to go along with modern skyscrapers, the technical advances that drag us as much into the future as much as the lifestyle, architecture and culture of the city itself makes us take a look at the past. Thousand temples and silk sarees mark Kanchipuram that has been one of the most revered cities of the Hindus since the ancient times. The shore temples and the rock-cut art of the Mamallapuram, certainly makes it fit to be included in this golden aura of the state.
The fourth largest metropolis in India, it is
situated on a 17 km stretch of the Coramandel coast and is popularly
regarded as the 'Gateway to the South'. A city of contrasts, the
nine-yard sarees co-exist with the latest in fashion here as the
ancient temple architecture with the modern skyscrapers. It has
beaches and parks and even sanctuaries in the very heart of the
City. There are modern facilities along with a wealth of nature and
a rich historic past. It seems impossible to fathom that this huge
bustling city grew out of a small village when in 1639 a fishing
hamlet called Madraspatnam was selected by early English merchants
of the East India Company as a site for the settlement.
Situated on the shores of River Vegavati,
Kanchipuram was described by Kalidasa as the best among the cities
(Nagareshu Kanchi) while Yuan Chwang, the great Chinese traveler,
visited the city in the 7th century and said that its people were
famous for bravery and piety as well as for their love of justice
and veneration for learning. The erstwhile capital of the Pallavas,
it was fortified by them with ramparts and moats. It boasts of
smooth, motorable roads and fine temples. Ancient Kanchipuram, the
city of thousand temples, is one of the seven most sacred pilgrim
centres for the Hindus. It has a thriving handloom industry
producing traditional cotton and silk saris. The silk weavers of
Kanchi settled more than 400 years ago have an enviable reputation
as the producers of the best silk sarees in the country.
World famous for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram
or Mamallapuram, was the second capital of the Pallava kings of
Kanchipuram. Tourists are drawn to this place by its miles of
unspoiled beach and rock-cut art. The sculpture of this place is
particularly interesting, because it shows scenes of day-to- day
life, in contrast to the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu, where
carvings generally depict gods and goddesses. Mahabalipuram art is
divided into four categories: open air bas-reliefs, structured
temples, man-made caves and rathas ('chariots' carved from single
boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple
processions). The place is friendly, relaxed, and the villagers are
remarkably unperturbed by their crowds of visitors.
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