28 April'07 :
Shobha,Guhan,Bhavana,Mira & I arrived Chennai by Cheran on 28th morning. The ever reliable driver from Bala Tourist was waiting near the engine with a placard. We drove straight to Woodlands at Dr.Radhakrishnan Salai and checked in. After a wholesome breakfast we dropped Bhavana & Mira at her friends place in Gandhipuram and proceeded to the Anantha Padmanabhaswamy temple there. This is a contemporary temple built in 1962 on land donated by His Highness Chitra Thirunal. As you enter the outer prakaram you see the Ishta Siddhi Vinayakar on your left and the Navagrahas sannithi on your right. Then you enter the inner sanctum to find a Garudar Sannithi. The inner sanctum contains the idol of Vishnu as Anantha Padmanabha swamy as in Trivandrum. There are three doors through which you can view the head, body and feet of the Lord who is reclining on the divine snake Adisesha with its hood protecting the Lords head. The right hand is touching and worshipping the Siva Lingam and the feet are resting on a lotus. Springing from the Lords navel is a stem carrying a lotus flower on which Brahma is seated. Hence the name Padma(lotus) nabha(navel). There are large granite idols of Diwakara Muni, Kountinya Muni and Bhodevi & Sridevi and also utsava murthys made of panchaloham. There are myriad devas in the background worshipping Vishnu - as per legend there are 33 crore devas ! The deity is richly decorated with gold crown, ornaments and kavacham- partly funded by a hefty donation from cricketer Srikanth.
Outside the granite walls of the sanctum you find idols of Sudarsanam, Narasimhar & Asta Dashabuja MahaDurgai. There is a magnificent Golden Chariot which is parked in a glass covered enclosure. Devotees can pay Rs.1000/- for the chariot to be drawn around the sanctum with the utsava murthy placed on it. On Shravana Nakshatra day however the larger wooden chariot (parked in the outer prakaram) is used instead and the rate is Rs.3000/- This is a privately managed temple but under the superintendence of the Hindu Religious & Endowments Board.
Guhan was so enchanted by this lovely and sparklingly maintained temple that he expressed a desire to spend the entire day there. We however had several other plans for him.
Next we hit the East Coast Road (ECR) a scenic coastline built along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.This corridor connects Chennai to Cuddalore through Mahabalipuram & Pondicherry dotted with innumerable fishing hamlets and tourist resorts enroute. The ECR starts at Thiruvanmiyur & is a part of the Chennai City limits till Uthandi from where starts the scenic beachway section which is a toll-road. The speed of the vehicles on this road is restricted to 80 kph. Enroute you travel through Neelankarai ,Prarthana open air theatre, Injambakkam, Cholamandalam Artists Village,VGP Golden Beach (amusement park). After paying toll tax at Uttandi you pass through Dakshina Chitra, MGM Dizzy World, Mayajal Multiplex, Crocodile farm (of Romulus Whittaker fame), Muttukadu Boat house, Fishermans Cove, Covelong before crossing a large casuarina grove and turning right for Thiru idaventhai Temple - listed among the significant holy places for Vishnu or the 108 Divya Darsanams.