In recent times, Coimbatore has acquired a philosophical touch to its tourism map through the Isha Yoga Foundation started by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and that is where we were headed before winding up our trip to Kongu Nadu.
In awe of Indian Railways !
The day began with tracking Sabari Express through its journey from Secunderabad to Coimbatore junction, we had to pick up our mom from the railway station. We were mighty impressed that the train had travelled more than 1000 kms and through several stations enroute and was running on time ! Just in case you didn’t know, you can track the live status of trains through this site http://enquiry.indianrail.gov.in/ntes/
We are always in awe of how Indian Railways manages such a huge railway network, traffic and lakhs of passengers every day ! Yes, we have our share of complaints but when you look at the numbers, it is mind boggling, we somehow feel Indian Railways deserves respect.
The train arrived on time and it was a funny feeling to pick up mom in a city where we were strangers ourselves, even mom found it amusing to be received by family in a strange city !
Back at the hotel, we had an elaborate complimentary breakfast, checked out of our room and checked in at the Retiring Room at Coimbatore Railway station. We booked the room through IRCTC (we must be one of those lucky beings who managed to get a retiring room through IRCTC !) and when we checked in we were in for huge surprise, for Rs.400/-, the room was no less than a hotel room ! That’s what happens when you have least expectations ! Indian Railways impressed us once more.
Isha Yoga Center
By 11 AM, we were ready for our trip to Isha Yoga Foundation, 25 kms from Coimbatore. There are direct buses at regular intervals from the city’s main bus station. We took the 11.30 AM bus, the journey takes about an hour and a half.
After travelling through town and villages of the Coimbatore region, we arrived at the Isha Yoga Center. We had read that photography is not allowed inside the Yoga Center, so we clicked the only picture from our visit.
Located on the foot hills of the Velliangiri hills, Isha Yoga Center is a pleasant place to spend some time in quiet contemplation.
At the entrance, you are asked to deposit your phones, cameras and other belongings. There are a few stalls selling herbal products, teas and some healthy snacks. They even have a small outlet for collectibles, books and CDs. The first thing that strikes you about the Isha Yoga Center is how unlike the usual ashrams it looks. It has a corporate, professional feel about it.
A huge statue of Nandi greets you as you enter the Yoga Center, further up, there is another massive statue of Lord Shiva. All the buildings and structures have been built to resemble ancient temples and buddhist monasteries.
The important places at the Isha Yoga Center apart from the Dhyana Linga are the Linga Bhairavi temple, the Suryakund and Chandrakund tanks. Normal visitors can only visit these. The Linga Bhairavi temple has an idol of the Divine Feminine in the form of a Linga.The temple is not your typical one, more like a hall with steps for seating and meditating. It was around 1 PM and closing time, we managed to visit the temple just in time for the Harathi. Post Harathi, we bought some prasad, Payasam that tastes Divine !
We walked around the Center and saw Surya Kund and Chandra Kund, subterranean tanks where you can have a relaxed swim, the water, they say, has been packed with powerful energies that have healing powers or rejuvenate the body and mind. The center of these energies is a Mercury Shiva Linga that has been placed under the water. The Surya Kund is for men while women can take a dip in the Chandra Kund. One has to use robes given by Foundation before entering the tank. We did not take a dip during this visit, may be some other time.
Then, it was time to visit the Dhyanalinga. The Dhyanalinga is the meditation center of the foundation. The entrance to the Dhyanalinga has been designed like an ancient temple, built of rock the walls and pillars have sculpture depicting mythological stories.
Shaped like a Buddhist Stupa, the dome of the Dhyanalinga, it is said, has been built using the ancient building methods which capture the cosmic energies within the structure. At the middle of the dome, stands the Dhyanalinga, a 13 feet high Shiva Linga made of granite.
Visitors are allowed in batches and each batch has about 15 minutes to meditate inside the Dhyanalinga dome. Along the wall of the dome, there are small cells to sit in and meditate. Once the bell rings, everything falls silent and all you can here is the sound of the water dripping from the ceiling on to the Shiva Linga. Initially, we thought it was some low drum beat meant to give the mystic appeal or some noise outside but it was after about 5 minutes that we realised that the sound from every water drop resounded through the dome to give it the drum effect, amazing acoustics !
If you want to know what pin drop silence means, you can experience it at the Dhyanalinga. Even a slight cough gets reverberated around the dome. Whether you are a believer or not, one can use those 15 minutes to sit still, spot all thoughts and just be. In today’s world, that is a big asking. May be it takes a lot of effort and focus to feel the energies of the place, for us, it was a nice feeling to slow down the brain for sometime and let go of the stress.
At the end of the 15 minutes, a bell is rung and it is time for the next batch to spend time in meditation. We realised how refreshed one feels when you sit quiet for sometime. Overall, it was a pleasant, relaxing experience.
Next, we spent sometime shopping at the stalls in the Yoga center, you can buy jute bags/mats, herbal products, terracotta jewellery, souvenirs and so on. We bought some interesting things like Amla Jam and spiced honey, the spiced honey is great, mix it with Green tea to activate your brain on a foggy morning !
It was past 2 PM when we finally stepped out of the Yoga Center and headed to canteen for lunch. There was a bus back to Coimbatore at PM and we had a simple lunch before the bus arrived, an hour late.
Whether you are spiritually inclined or not, a short trop to Isha Yoga Center is a nice experience. If you are visiting or travelling to Coimbatore and have a half day to spare, make a visit. It will be pleasant way to spend your time.
In transit at Chennai
We reached Coimbatore by 6 PM. Our train to Chennai was at 8.45 PM. After a short break, we walked around the railway station area, shopped for some Tiruppur Cotton textiles, that this region is well known for, had yet another delicious meal at Geetha Cafe and checked out of the retiring room at 8 PM sharp. The attender wouldn’t let us stay even a minute later than 8 PM !
We still had about an hour to spare and we were wondering if we should wait in the prepaid AC rooms, out of the blue there was an announcement that the Chennai bound Nilagiri Express would arrive shortly ! The train was scheduled to arrive at 8.30 PM but there it was, reaching Coimbatore from the originating station, Mettupalayam, 30 minutes early, Indian Railways left us amazed this time ! The next morning at Chennai, we were completely bowled over when the train reached Chennai 30 minutes early ! Go Indian Railways !
We freshened up at the Chennai Railway station. The station seems to have lost it’s sheen, the prepaid AC hall is no longer functional, we were told only dormitories were available and even there only women passengers were allowed ! There were only 2 washrooms in the entire station and a huge population waiting their turn ! Even the cleanliness wasn’t up to the standards or it was just us being snooty after seeing the well maintained railway stations of South Central Railways ! But nothing can take away the pleasant travel experience we had Coimbatore.
Breakfast was at Madras Coffee House outlet and then we waited for Pinakini Express to arrive on Platform No.1. These platforms don’t seem to lose the old world charm. Our train was 30 minutes late but did a great job in reaching Nellore in decent time, between Nellore and Gudur, the train literally seemed to fly, it was that fast !
After 4 days of travelling from Hyderabad in Telangana, via Bangalore, Palani, Coimbatore and Chennai, we reached home at Nellore, drawing curtains on our Kongu Nadu celebrations. Our vacation was not over yet, though.
- Isha Yoga Center is located 25 kms from Coimbatore. There are buses every 30 minutes from Gandhipuram Bus stop at Coimbatore. You can check the bus timings and other transport facilities here: http://www.ishafoundation.org/Isha-Yoga-Center/travel-information-isha-yoga-center-india-isha-foundation.isa
- You will need about half a day for a trip to the place.
- The best option for accommodation is Coimbatore. Accommodation is available at Isha Foundation, however, their website says, it has to be booked atleast 2 weeks in advance. Accommodation cost and other details can be obtained by calling the Center directly. Information can be found at their website http://www.ishafoundation.org/Isha-Yoga-Center/accommodation.isa
- The Dhyanalinga is open from 6 AM to 8 PM, most of the temples, tanks, shops are open around the same time.
- Since it is a meditation and spiritual center and not a tourist spot, one is expected to maintain the decorum and sanctity of the place.
- The Velliangiri Hill range, on the foot hills of which Isha Center is located, is a popular trekking spot, especially the pilgrimage trek to the Velliangiri Andavar temple. It is supposed to be a very difficult trek.
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