South India Tourism
In tourism literature, Kerala is marketed as the Gods Own Country. A single visit to this region often turns a casual visitor into a lifelong, dedicated Kerala devotee. One of the biggest enchantments there is the Kerala Backwaters. By Backwaters, one means inland lakes which are connected by a network of rivers. One of the greatest draw is in Kuttanad region, which has a flourishing agriculture at a level lower than the sea. The farming land is protected from sea incursion with help of embankments. Another major draw is the Alappuzha, nicknamed as the Venice of the East. The vast number of small lakes is inter-connected by small country boats, which are plied as taxis. Kumarakoam has been developed as a bird sanctuary, which fascinates avian visitors from distant lands. These backwaters form the backdrop of a major annual cultural event in the state in the form of the Backwater Boat Race. It coincides with the major Malayalam Festival of Onam and is now known as the Nehru Trophy. This showcases the skills of up to 120 competing teams plying snake-like long boats in breathtaking events. Visitors from distant lands swarm Kerala during this time to participate in the nail-biting spectacle.
Kanya Kumari is located at the extreme end of mainland India in the south and is perhaps the only place in the world which has a confluence of three oceans, viz. the Arabian Sea, the Bay of Bengal and the Indian Ocean. Because of this unique location, Kanya Kumari is one of a handful of places which offer not only glorious sunrise and sunsets at a single point, but if the weather is good, one can also witness the rising full moon and the resplendent setting sun simultaneously at the same spot on a full moon evening.
The place commemorates the austerities practiced by Kumari Annan, one of the manifestations of Goddess Parvati who prayed for Lord Shiva as her husband, but on being thwarted, decided to remain a virgin all her life. The local temple dedicated to Kumari Annan is today considered a Shakti Peetha, i.e. a major destination for devout Hindu pilgrims seeking the benevolence of Goddess Durga. The other attraction at Kanya Kumari is the Vivekananda Rock Memorial, built on a small island at a small distance from the seashore.
Kanya Kumari is an important railway station by its own name and very well connected to almost all major centers of the country by direct trains. On the other hand, Kanya Kumari is accessible by air from Trivandrum (Thiruvananthapuram), which is 80 kms away.
Rameshwaram, in Tamil Nadu, is one of the four most venerated holy spots in Hinduism, popularly known as Char Dhams. It is located just 24 kms short of Sri Lanka coast and marks the spot from where, as per the great epic Ramayana, Sri Hanuman left on his aerial mission in search of Lord Ramas consort Sita. Later, when her location had been established in the captivity of the demon king Ravana, it is the spot at which Lord Rama caused a bridge to be built so that his monkey army could safely cross the sea.
Much later, Adi Sankaracharya (788 CE – 820 CE) traversed the entire country on foot on a unifying mission to bring together all diverse sects in Hinduism under a common umbrella to face increasing external challenges. In that process, he was instrumental in establishing the ‘Char Dhams’ in four corners of the country and one of these dhams was established at Rameshwaram in the form of Ramanatha Swamy Temple.
Though, Rameshwaram is a railway station by itself, but it is connected only by narrow gauge route, precluding the possibility of direct train connections from major tourist destinations, except for a direct link to Chennai Egmore station. The nearest airport from Rameshwaram is at Madurai, which is 163 kms away.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
Judged by any yardstick, Madurai in Tamil Nadu is the cultural centre of classical Tamil and Sanskrit literary, musical, dance and artistic learning and traditions. Within Madurai, it is without doubt, the Meenakshi Amman Temple which is the centre of the cultural universe in Tamil Nadu. This temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva locally known as Sundareshwara and his consort Parvati, locally known as Meenakshi, is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces on the globe and one of finest specimens of Tamil architecture. The temple structure rests on 985 pillars, marvelously sculptured, and forms the base of the awesome mandapam hall. The sanctum sanctorum of Sundareshwara and Meenakshi are enclosed by magnificent pillared halls. The temple is topped by 12 awesome gopurams (spires). They have solid granite bases and adorned with breath taking paintings of various deities, monsters and animals
Being a major tourist destination, Madurai is serviced by grand railway station, which is in fact, one of the largest in India, besides, the local Madurai airport.
Source – www.indiatraveltours.com/places.htm