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Excursions

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Padmanabhapuram Palace (37 km): This ancient seat of the Travancore rulers contains relics of historic and artistic values. The palace has elaborate woodwork of great beauty and is enclosed within a fort which covers as area of 6 acres. In the Ramaswamy temple adjoining the palace, scenes from the Ramayana have been carved in 45 panels. Timings: 9 am to 4.30 pm. Closed on Mondays. Tel: 04651 250255

Udayagiri (34 km): The fort at Udayagiri, built by king Marthanda Varma in 18th century, is of historical importance as it was used as an armoury. The cemetery of the Dutch captain De Lennoy is also located within this fort.


Nagercoil (19 km): The Nagaraja Temple situated here is unique in many respects. Though Nagaraja (serpent god) is the presiding deity, the images of Lord Shiva and Ananta-Krishna (Vishnu) are also enshrined in the same complex. The Nagaraja is installed on the ground where it was originally found and the sand around it is scooped out and given as prasadam to the devotees. The images of the Jain Theerthankaras, Mahavira and Parsvanatha, are found in the pillars of the temple.

Suchindrum (13 km): The Thanumalayan temple here is a repository of art treasures belonging to many kingdoms. Inscriptions said to be of the 9th century AD are found in this temple.

Vattakottai (6 km): This 18th century circular fort overlooking the sea is worth visiting. There are watch towers, rest rooms and weapon rooms. Well laid stairs lead up to an arch in the front wall, set with a tiny square peephole. Centuries ago when the area around the fort was clear, observers could see right up to Padmanabhapuram Palace. It is said that there was a 4-feet wide tunnel from the fort to the palace, a distance of nearly 25 km. The fish motif, symbolising the Pandya kings is engraved on many of the walls. The Dutch General Delennoy and his navy attacked the fort when it was under Marthanda Varma and were defeated.

Apart from the natural advantage that the fort enjoyed, the Dutch were intimidated by the seemingly massive 'cannons' -- tall spiralling coconut trees that seemed threatening from the sea. They surrendered to Marthanda Varma (this scene is depicted in a painting that hangs at the Padmanabhapuram Palace) and DeLannoy became one of Varma's most faithful generals. The raised parade ground overlooks the Bay of Bengal on one side and the Arabian Sea on the other. On the Arabian Sea side, the water is calm, and the sand is streaked with the red and brown of copper and uranium. The Bay of Bengal appears rougher, with tiny coral clusters visible just under the water's surface.

Tiruchendur (91 km): The temple located here on the shores of the Bay of Bengal is one of the six abodes of Lord Subramanya. At this place Lord Subramanya had annihilated the demon king Surapadman. The temples of Alwarthirunagar and Srivaikuntam are also worth visiting.


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