Wonders of the world - Pallava and Chola temples

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Being a vacation time, was able to visit quite a few temples in Tanjore, Kumbakonam belt in the last few days.

Amongst many temples, was really amazed at architecture and sculpture works of Brihadeshwarar temple- Tanjore, Darasuram , Tripuvanam and Gangai konda cholapuram temples. These temples had been constructed around 1000 AD by the Chola kings. These massive temple structure has withstood time and the sculpture work is real beauty. One question, which came to my mind is, how come these temples built 1000s year ago still standing tall and majestic does not find its place in wonders of the world, while some of the ruins OR structures built few 100 years ago are considered as wonders of the world. Well, I am not undermining the other wonders of the world, but after visit of these temples, I believe due importance are not given to promote these wonders.

As per history, Kailasnathar Temple at Kanchipuram built around 700 AD by the Pallava king, is said to have inspired Raja Raja chola to build Brihadeshwarar temple in Tanjore.

Brihadeshwarar temple, Tanjore: Build in late 900 AD. This is the first of the Chola's temple. Right in center of Tanjore and hence easily accessible. Have been to this temple quite of few time, due to popularity and being at city center at times its crowded. Due to this, it would be better to visit during early morning hours.

Airavateshwarar Temple, Darasuram: Built around 1000 AD, 40 Kms from Tanjore and near to Kumbakonam.

Gangai Konda Cholapuram: Build around 1100 AD, its about 70 Kms from Tanjore. This temple is said to have been built by the Chola king when he moved his capital from Tanjore to Gangai Konda Cholapuram.

Tirubhuvanam: Built around 1200 AD by Kulothunga Chola III and its near to Kumbakonam. Unlike the other Chola temple which are still preserved in its pristine form, one would find gopuram of this temple in color.

There is lot of similarity in the structure of these temples. Except Bragadeswarar temple at Tanjore, we did not see much crowd in other temple. Hence, you can really spend time and relish its beauty, if you wish.

Further, its just not time, but these structures have withstood various ruler invasion as well.

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Seed India - How to navigate seed capital in India by Sramana Mitra - A review

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Recently, I had an opportunity to read this book.

Sramana, starts by comparing India business scenario in early 90's with recent times about availability of capital. In early 90's venture capital was totally unheard and was pretty much restricted to couple of leading banks. My father been an entrepreneur himself those days in 80s and 90s, I used to keep hearing about VC in India and about couple selective banks which offer VC in early 90s. As far as I know, have not come across a 'start up' or small business funded through VC those days, though there might have been very few of them. In 80s and 90s, only option to fund the gap in working capital is through bank debt finance, which had interest ranging from 16 to 18% per annum, even though small industry was a priority sector lending those days.

It is pointed out that situation has changed in last few years and there are select angel investors who are intensely passionate about technology and have started funding some of the 'start up'. Having said that, one cannot expect VC to tap on doors of entrepreneur as soon as one starts the venture.  To me, apart from funding, there are challenges for a start up for their business to be successful, couple of them being,

  • If the start up is promoting a product unique of its kind, however unique and beneficial it might be for buyer, one cannot expect buyer to buy the product on the first look itself, it always difficult for any one to accept a new product when there is tried and accepted approach to a business process, even though the existing process has many gaps and challenges.
  • Complexity, opportunity cost and price, reliability of product plays a critical role in success of 'new' product. To break even - takes time and till that time one has to sustain.

Its interesting to read about Sramana's lucid interview with various successful entrepreneurs.  Few of them being first generation entrepreneurs. Interview with Phanidra Sama about his Red bus venture and Sachin Bansal about flitkart are really good and the rest are interesting as well. The book could also be pretty useful read, particularly for those, who just ventured as entrepreneur or about to take a plunge into entrepreneurship.

As a matter of fact e-commerce in retail is catching up fast. In last few months, there seems to be competition even amongst retail e-commerce sites. Not just Flipkart, now, there are few other retail sites like Jubong, Snapdeal etc in India. The increased acceptance of these site in India is, particularly due to offerings  like 'cash on delivery' and 'customer returns' if not satisfied, make it more 'friendly' for Indian buyers.  I believe process like  'cash on delivery' or handling 'customer returns' may not be easy, but once the process is set to handle it efficiently, I am pretty sure it would going to pose a greater challenges to shopping malls and physical store which has real estate overhead and they being location centric. The real estate overhead already being high in Indian cities, physical retail stores could find it difficult to compete with e-commerce retail site on price. It might be so happen that, e-commerce in retail could bring price correction in commercial retail real estate space in cities and there by other dependent ones as well.

Even though, India still faces many challenges in many front. As pointed out in the book, the technology and low cost man-power could still be an advantage for an Indian entrepreneur !.

In all enjoyed reading this small book of 140 pages.

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The Grand Mall, Chennai

Saturday, October 26, 2013

The list of mall included in Chennai city seems to increase day by day. Till about last year, Chennai had Citi center, Ampa mall, Abirami Mega mall and Express Avenue. All these came into existence post year 2008.

Now, after Pheonix at Velachery, Forum Vijay at Vadapalani which opened early part of this year, the latest addition to Chennai is Grand Mall at Velachery. This is located on Velachery - Tambaram main road very near the Velachery metro rail station.

As of now, Croma, Shopper stop and food court is open. Many others are expected to open in due course of time.


Compared to Pheonix mall, this is comparatively a smaller mall. Its said to be about 3.5 lacs sq feet. Its just about 2KM from Pheonix mall.

One of the attraction seems to be 'food street' as advertised. But, it is yet to be completely open or occupied.

With online shopping site like flipkart, Jubang, Snapdeal,ebay and many others now being increasingly used by technology savvy people of India primarily due to convenience and better discount offered, one needs to see as how these malls keep up its attraction with buyers and thereby break-even, considering quantum of capital investment and recurring investments.

Anyways,consumer would have multiple choices to have a real time look at products. By this consumer can also compare the prices with online web store, when they really decide to buy.

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Reasons to pray

Hinduism is one amongst the oldest region in earth. None is able to say when and how the religion started.

As per Hindu mythology there are four yugas' namely Satyayuga (golden age), Tretha yuga(silver age), Dwapura Yuga(bronze age) and currently we are in Kaliyuga(Iron age).Each of these yuga are said be millions of years each. This is an indication, as who old is the religion. I had earlier written a post on Hinduism.

In previous yuga, Rishis performed meditation or tapas for very long time to get their prayers answered. However in this Kaliyuga due to various distractions, it is stated, if one is true, pious  and perform even short prayer or thinks about god sincerely, they are bound to get blessing from god.

This universe is millions of years old, whereas of our life span is so very short. In this yuga, we as human being run behind materialistic comfort, we at times feel having materialistic comfort and achieving what we think can bring us happiness. This may not be really so, if focus is only on getting materialistic comfort then, I believe we could complicate our life and thereby become unhappy, as focus is towards materialistic acquisition. In this uncertain world it’s difficult to predict what would happen the next moment.

Here, I would like to bring forward the famous Bhagavat Gita quote,

(The above, Bhagavat Gita quotes, the reality of life in this earth, I keep getting reminded about this, when things do not go as I wish)

The mind is source of one's action. Once deed will be based on what is sowed in mind over a period of time. However, some time, unpredictable events do happen. When unpredictable happens and if its negative there is always a question of 'why me’? . Many times, we do not have answer for many questions in life. We could have some solace in prayers and spirituality. Even, when things happens as per expectation, I would not like to forget that life is journey and attribute success to blessing of god or having my prayers been answered.

I read an article in newpaper on spiritual health., sharing the same in this blog post

Well, is prayer meant only for asking something always?. I believe not, it is for expressing my gratitude to god, also to guide me in this life and even beyond it, 

  • Expressing my gratitude for what I am today and what I have accomplished till now in life.
  • For being born to right parents, whom I have not asked or cannot ask.
  • Guiding and providing right family. Also being in contact with right people at right point of time.
  • There are millions of homeless people, but being provided with a home.
  • There are millions of people go without food on daily basis. While thankful for the meal, I receive every day.
  • Finally, having guided so far, I am thankful to almighty and believe they would guide me for rest of life.

We are made up of body and soul, while body is temporary the soul is said to be permanent and hence pray to him, so that I am guided all through this life journey and beyond this life as well.

Being a festive season, I wish everyone a happy and prosperous Deepavali. On Deepavali day, we do perform Kedareshwarar vrata which is prayer towards lord Shiva, Parvati and Lakshmi to provide us with good health, wealth and overcome all our sorrow. The prayer starts with Ganesh pooja. This time planning to get 'Sampoorna Lakshmi poja kit.' This pooja pack is said to contain  all basic materials required for the pooja as mentioned in the Skanda Purana. There is also CD with  Shree Vinayak Ashtottarashata Naamaavali.

To know more about ‘Sompoorna Lakshmi pooja kit’ click here.

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House, eligibility of marriage for male!!??!!!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Surprised to find a front page advertisement in a leading English daily which states “He wants to marry my daughter and doesn’t even own a house?".

That too, this advertisement was issued by government funded housing finance corporation.

This seems to be the height of commercialization. Is it to bring necessary pressure on public so that they purchase a house?. 

One cannot say ‘OWN’ a house as advertisement claim,  the reason being in majority case, the house would have been purchased through debt  and which mean one does not own the house till the time the debt is completely serviced. Debt servicing could normally take about 5~30 years depending on once repayment capability.  Further, most likely these days in India it’s a private sector job, which mean once job is always at stake and what if a person looses the job and what if the hypothecated property is sold on auction due to non - servicing of debt?

The advertisement goes further to say “without tension of unpredictable rental accommodation”. The irony is that with no security in job these days, one is not sure whether the buyer would be in same place from young age till retirement. In fact, for some reason after purchase of house, one wish to rent it, there is equal tension of getting good prospective tenants without any issues year after year.

Again for argument sake what would happened if the advertisement would had been like “She wants to marry my son and doesn’t even own a house”, will the advertiser not be booked under dowry acts or a PIL filed in court?.

The Indian culture of humanness, belief, character, and family background seems to be fading under materialism. I can only hope, such advertisement may be stopped in the future.

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Customer Experience: Trip Advisor - A review.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Social media and Web is playing critical role in growth of the company. Unlike is 80's and 90's were the company focus was on advertisement through celebrities, these days advertisement alone may not sell. 

Social media and customer experience website are becoming more powerful, the primary reason being those writing on specific product or service offered are based on their actual experience of the product and not just based on payment a celebrity might receive for an advertisement. 

On a product or service, will the rating or write up always be positive, if it good?. I don't think thats possible, there are certain aspects of the experience that cannot be fully controlled. Individual perceptions, emotions and behaviors of people expectation vary. A product might have both positive and negative remarks. It is just for the potential buyer to understand about people making remarks before taking decision and another yard stick, I normally use is to look what’s the majority remark. 

Called, 'Customer experience' is growing and company has started focusing on getting better reviews. This naturally makes the company to work towards customer satisfaction. These days, there are software application and tools are available, which helps the companies to analyze customer experience posted on the web and use the same intelligently to grow business. Thinking, to write of the application / tools used towards analyzing customer experience shortly.

I believe this is one area, which is yet to be tapped and still at a very nascent stage, bound to grow over years. 

In travel customer experience sector, trip advisor has grown over the years. As far as my vacation travel is concerned, I normally look at trip advisor towards narrowing done on accommodation, places to visit based on the review comment provided. Have been using trip advisor in the last 3 year, the trip advisor review comments had enabled me to make informed decision. Post my visit, I do post my experience on trip advisor.

    (a recent magnetic sticker received from trip advisor for my contributions ).

Looking forward to actively participate in trip advisor venture through reviews!

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Thekkady - A Forest stay to relish

Saturday, October 5, 2013

After trips to Kodai and Munnar in last few year. It was time to explore other locations and we decided for Thekkady. This place is in amidst of Periyar tiger reserve forest.

How to reach this place: The best way to reach would be from Madurai by road, its about 130 kms, the drive would be through the plains expect for last 15kms which would be on ghat road. Compared to Kodai or Munnar the ghat road part is  comparatively less.

Accommodation and getting around: In the last few years, number of resorts and hotels have opened in and around Thekkady and Kumili. Did some research on web and found some of them to charge exorbitant amount, which was more, if not equal to five star accommodation in metros. September end, being off-season time  as usual narrow down on list of few hotels and resorts . It took about 30 minutes up on Ghat road to reach Thekkady, we did visit couple of hotel and finally decided to venture into the Periyar Tiger reserve, which does have accommodation like Aranya Nivas - a Kerala government undertaking (KTDC). 

After making entry pass in the tiger reserve, as we drove inside the reserve we could clearly feel the forest. Its was greenery all around, after about couple of kms drive we found a board to Periyar house (a hotel maintained by KTDC). 

With lush green all around, we checked the tariff and facilities at accommodation. The rate was nominal and felt good for 2 days stay just to relax and roam around.

Since, Periyar house is right inside the reserve forest the gate closes at 6:00 PM in the evening and hence you need to be inside the gate before that time. I found food to be OK, but does not have much option and personally, I felt it to be OK. The more critical one for me , was to relish the time in forest with nature.

Periyar house is situated right inside Periyar tiger reserve and you really feel you are right inside the forest. Having stayed for 2 night (3 days) we had ample time to roam around by foot and by car. The experience at Periyar house is so very unique with lush green all around. In our 2 days stay at the place, were able to spot deers, giant squirrel, rabbit and wild boars.

The lake and boat ride is famous in Thekkady and ought not be missed. Apart from lake, there are other options like trekking and elephant ride. However, for us two days stay inside a jungle was enough to spend time, relax and relish the greenery all around.

In all stay inside Periyar reserve, Thekkady was unique and refreshing, plan to visit once in few years!!

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