Make-shift Marvel…

This is a guest post by Sukanya Kuppuswamy who visited the make-shift Amarnath temple over the weekend and wrote to me about it. She agreed to let me post it here and share it with many more people.

Until I visited the MUC grounds at George Town in Chennai on Saturday, the 3rd of June, 2006, I would not have believed that a make-shift ‘mandir’ could attract crowds, that too by the thousands.



Chennai is now home to ‘Amarnath Cave’ (an abode of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas). You need to clear no medical test to visit this replica ‘shrine’. All you would need is Rs. 40 if you are an adult, (and Rs. 20 if you are a child below 15 years of age) and lots of patience. For, on weekends, thanks to the summer vacation, you have to go past 25-odd spiraling queues to get to the top. But, the queue is always on the move. And there’s a lot of breeze.

The shrine is constructed at an elevation of about 500m, and there are ramps leading the way up – no stairs – making it slightly easier for the elderly to visit. There is a main gate, with the history of the ‘Amarnath Cave’ written in Tamil, and once you are on the ramps, you pass through mannequins of ‘yaatris’, sages in a penance, and multiple smaller ‘shrines’. There are replicas of places like ‘Bahal Gam’, ‘Anant Nag’, ‘Sesh Nag’…, that one would normally travel through on a trip to the original. There are even armed security guards (mannequins) all the way up…



The highlight, in my opinion, is an attempted waterfall, named ‘Amaravathi River’ en route the main ‘shrine’. There’s also a small ‘Vaishno Devi’ temple.

Once you pass these little places, you reach the main cave, which has a huge ‘lingam’, and another ‘ice-lingam’ all protected in immense air-conditioning – in order to re-create the original ‘ice-lingam’. Of course, the Chennai heat is telling its tale on the Lingam – I visited the place late in the evening, and one could tell the ice had melted a little.


When illuminated, this place is a good getaway for a couple of hours! I was told that there was also a ‘Vaishno Devi’ temple done similarly in the past, and even ‘Taj Mahal’. The future project of this person (Mr. Velu) includes re-creating the ‘Badrinath’ and ‘Kedarnath’ abodes.

Most people who visit comment that such ‘make-shift’ ventures come in handy for the families that may not be able to visit the original shrines for various reasons. Imagine, it may not be too long before the original temple authorities officially collaborate with such creative individuals, and create these make-shift marvels in order to de-congest the originals.

The ‘Amarnath’ package @ MUC grounds also includes a mini theme-park, with giant-wheels, ‘tora-tora’, ‘dashing car’…and loads to eat, including my favorite mega-size pappad, one reason for which I’ve never missed the ‘Chennai Trade Fair’ all my childhood!!!

What: Amarnath-cave replica
Where: MUC Grounds, George Town, Chennai
When: Until 30-Jun-2006

4 Comments so far

  1. WA (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 3:39 am

    OMG the crowd.

    Mega sized pappad and panju mittai too :)

  2. Lavanya (unregistered) on June 6th, 2006 @ 2:02 pm

    Yup :) panju mittai and pappads (wasn’t it arisi appalam with chilli powder at the Island ground exhibitions?)

  3. Ganesh (unregistered) on June 22nd, 2006 @ 7:58 pm

    Quite intresting !! I really want to visit this place this week end.

    1. Will it be so crowded on sunday evenings ?
    2. how long does it take take to go inside the cave ?
    3. ‘tora-tora’, ‘dashing car’ – is it free in the package ?
    4. Are photographs allowed ?

  4. Lavanya (unregistered) on June 23rd, 2006 @ 12:06 pm

    @Ganesh: Here is what Sukanya had to say to your questions:


    1. Since the summer vacations are over, i don’t think the place will be so crowded anymore.

    2. With around 24 rows in a spiralling queue (around 3000 people) it took me around an hour to reach the top.

    3. The amusement park entry is free. You have to pay an additional 10 Rs or 20Rs for each of these rides.

    4. Photographs are allowed.

    But before you plan a trip, it pays to ckeck if the make-shift still exists at the mentioned venue. Though the organizers mentioned it would be on until June end, it pays to check!

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