As we stared at the long Dasara weekend, the travel bug bit us and we realised that on Vijayadashami, it would be great to take a trip to the Golden Temple in Vellore. A relative suggested that we also add Vellore Fort and Jalakandeswarar Temple to our itinerary. So, we started off on our journey (of about 225 km) by car at 7 am from Bengaluru. The road to Vellore via Krishnagiri and Ambur is through Bengaluru-Chennai National Highway, which is very smooth except for toll booths. After a quick breakfast at one of the numerous eateries on the way, we reached Vellore Golden Temple at noon.
Vellore Golden temple in Thirumalaikodi village is a beautiful South Indian-style temple that is covered with gold plates with floral, peacock and other designs dedicated to Goddess Narayani, and is made of 1.5 tons of gold. Its construction took over four years and the temple was opened in 2001. The entry fee is Rs 100 for general queue and Rs 250 for special darshan. The temple is described as an “ornate gold-covered temple in a vast spiritual park complex with a star-shaped path with gardens.” The shaded star-shaped pathway is very relaxing. There is no mad rush and we felt we were welcome and allowed to move freely and relax. Mobiles and cameras are not allowed and have to be deposited before entry; this allows the visitors to soak in the richness and beauty of the place without any distraction.
This temple is surrounded by an artificial water body, making it even more attractive. The sanctum sanctorum has a beautiful idol of Goddess Narayani that is adorned with gold and diamond jewellery, and visitors are allowed to sit for a few minutes for aarti and puja. The visitors are then guided to a part of the temple where a solid gold idol of Lakshmi is placed; here, the devout can perform abhisheka with water, albeit for a price. Free food is given in the large dharamshala just before the exit, which we relished.
Our next stop was Vellore Fort, which is 27 km from the Golden Temple. Jalakandeswarar Temple, which was originally called Jwarahareshwara Temple, is built in the Vijayanagar style of architecture and is at the entrance of the fort. Built in 1500 AD, the temple has a gorgeous and lofty gopura at the entrance. One can look at the gopura inside the temple from the gopura outside, which makes for a beautiful sight. To the left is a stone plaque put up by ASI that explains that the fort and the temple complex were built by Velluri Bommi Nripathy, the son of Veerappa Nayaka.
The main shrine in the centre, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is surrounded by a closed ambulatory pathway. The highlight of the temple is the intricately carved kalyana mandapam to the southwest. Breathtaking sculptures of warriors on horses, elephant, lion and chimera adorn the entrance. The decorative designs carved on the animals and the perfect expressions on the faces of the warriors are mind-blowing. Even the interiors are beautifully carved. The hallway has many pillars with beautiful carvings of gods, goddesses, dancers with different hairstyles and poses. At the centre is a raised platform of stone slabs where marriage ceremonies would be held. We had to pull each other out of this magnetic place but not before taking countless pictures.
We left Vellore at 5.30 pm and reached Bengaluru at 11 pm with dinner at an eatery on the highway, along with the satisfaction of a day well spent.