We were not supposed to be at Coimbatore for more than a day. That’s another story that we ended up spending more than a week here!
After an exciting & visually satisfying flight from Nizamabad which first took us to Vijayawada & then along the coast of Bay of Bengal we landed at the Coimbatore airport by noon. A lifesize sculpture of a family of elephants installed at the Arrival Hall depicted the local fauna found in abundance in these regions.
Coimbatore is famous for many things. But one couldn’t be in this city & not visit the Adiyogi! So a quick lunch at the hotel later we were on our way to the Isha Foundation to view the globally famous bust of Shiva that I had only seen in pictures so far.
Isha Foundation is a non-profit, spiritual organisation founded in 1992 near Coimbatore, India, by Jaggi Vasudev. It hosts the Isha Yoga Centre, which offers yoga programs under the name Isha Yoga. The foundation is run “almost entirely” by volunteers. The word isha means “the formless divine”.
The statue was built using 20,000 individual iron plates supplied by the Steel Authority of India and weighs around 500 tonnes. It has been recognised as the “Largest Bust Sculpture” by Guinness World Records. A consecrated Shivalinga, Yogeshwar Linga, is placed at its base. It was inaugurated on Mahashivaratri, 24 February 2017, by the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi.
It took about an hour’s drive through the city & coconut trees studded roads to reach the entrance to the Isha complex.
Surprise, surprise! The gate was barricaded & a guard there was busy explaining to the unsuspecting visitors that the place was under a Covid lockdown because of weekend (it was a Sunday) & pointing to a notice board put up there!
I wasn’t going to let this rare opportunity slip by so easily! A hint from the guard that a recommendation from the Isha PR department might help was just what I needed. A call went out to an Army batchmate Col Mangesh Wankhede (bless the defence services for fostering such strong bonds) & an hour later we were on our way inside. Good ol’ Mangu had weaved his magic 🙂
An escort led us on his mototcycle through a clean cobbled road lined with trees & then I saw Shiva.
It was still a little distance away but seemed to hold an unexplained magnetic charm attracting us closer towards it. We continued following our guide & were soon close to the statue.
I jumped out of the car & was shooting pictures before the guide could even caution us that we had to confine ourselves to a particular area & not venture further because of covid restrictions.
Vasudev designed the 112-foot Adiyogi Shiva statue at the Isha Yoga Centre. The statue depicts Shiva as the first yogi or Adiyogi, and first Guru or Adi Guru, who offered yoga to humanity. It was established to inspire people towards inner well-being through yoga. Its height, 112 ft, symbolizes the 112 possibilities to attain moksha (liberation) that are mentioned in yogic culture and also the 112 chakras in the human system.
Words fall short in describing the statue. It holds you spellbound with its beauty, calms you with its peaceful expression & somehow makes a believer out of an atheist.
We could’ve stayed there much longer but as dark rain clouds were gathering all around we decided to have one last eyeful of the place & set course back for the hotel.
Like I said earlier, Coimbatore is much more than just the bust of Adiyogi. It is a city of temples, much as most of South India is, and one can be found every 500 metres. The region boasts of some of the world’s finest, grandest & richest temples which have to be seen to be believed.
While weaving our way back from the Isha Foundation to our hotel in the city we, quite accidentally, bumped into one such miniature gem – the Arulmigu Patteeswarar Swamy temple.
Perur Pateeswarar Temple is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva located at Perur, in western part of Coimbatore.The temple was built by Karikala chola in 2nd Century. The temple is located on the bank of the Noyyal River and has been patronized by poets like Arunagirinathar and Kachiappa Munivar. Lord Shiva, known as ‘Patteeswarar’, is the presiding deity of this temple together with his consort Parvati, who is known as ‘Pachainayaki’. The deity is believed to be ‘Swayambu Lingam’ (self emerged).
More details about the temple can be found here.
The temple was closed, again because of the weekend Covid restrictions & as such I could only admire its beauty from outside.
The temple complex also housed a couple of giant ‘Raths’ used for annual ceremonial processions which dwarfed me by their size.
A pond opposite the temple was used for important rituals such as Panguni Uthiratam.
On subsequent days our trips to the airport took us past a very pretty church which I had been wanting to stop by & photograph. I got such an opportunity one day & halted to learn a little about it.
A visit to the Coimbatore Diocese’s official webpage didn’t reveal much information besides saying that it would be updated soon. The Church nevertheless made for a beautiful picture.
The story wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the gastronomic extravaganza that we got a chance to indulge into here.
We had been staying at The Residency Towers, one of the best hotels in Coimbatore.
Its grand facade aside, the hotel had more treasures coming out of its kitchen. I don’t count myself as a food photographer but the sights & aromas of those delicacies almost made me one! Here are a few samplers 🙂
That kind of rounds off my account of the city proper. Of course there were many more places of interest that Coimbatore offered but we were here for flying so let me talk about that in my next blog.