Vellore – The Smart City

Vellore - through the history

Vellore is one of the most prominent cities in the state of Tamil Nadu. The city is also known by other names like Rayaveleur or Vellaimaangar. It has been the seat for a plethora of kings and kingdoms. It has been the seat for the kingdoms of Rashtrakutas, the Cholas as well as Pandayas and the Pallavas; which ruled the kingdoms from a period ranging from 9th century to early 16th century. This has been the reason that Vellore has seen a different style of carvings and architecture in the city. 

The word ‘Vellore’ is actually made up of two words ‘Vel’ and ‘uur’ referring to the Hindu deity Murugan and spears, respectively. It is believed in Hindu mythology that Murugan's weapon of choice was a spear. Thus, the name; the city of spears.

Another interesting theory revolving around the name is, it was believed that the now developed city of Vellore was once a battlefield, where abandoned weapons such as spears were used to fight wars.

Vellore city is the administrative headquarters of the district of Vellore. Vellore district includes other notable towns like Ambur, Vaniyambadi, Tirupattur, Melvisharam, Arcot, Ranipet, and Walajah. It is one of the biggest districts in Tamil Nadu and has a sex ratio of 1007 females to 1000 males. The government of India has mentioned the city of Vellore in its prestigious list of 27 smart cities.

Location and Weather in Vellore

  • Vellore is at an altitude of 216m above sea level and lies in the Eastern Ghats region on one side and the Palar river basin.
  • Being located in the southernmost state of the country, Vellore also enjoys a weather influenced by the sea. It gives a tropical savanna like climate.
  • The area enjoys dry days, with rainfall up to 60mm and cool nights, during which the temperature drops considerably.
  • The temperature is relatively high throughout the year with very little rain falls. It has a temperature averaging from 39 degree Celsius to 19 degree Celsius.
  • April to June are the hottest months while December to January is the coldest season in Vellore.
  • It experiences monsoon from the months of June to September, so the best time to visit would be during the months of July to September. Since the humidity level in the air will be low and the temperature shall drop down during the day to a level lower than that during summers.
  • Detailed Vellore Map and important road routes which covers all the prominent landmarks of the Vellore city.

Language

Tamil is the Official and most widely spoken Language while a large section of the populace also speaks Urdu and Telugu.
English and Hindi are also widely understood especially in the localities near Vellore CMC hospital, VIT College.

Transportation

There are numerous ways to reach the city of spears. Roadways, Railways, and Airways are the main ways for transport.

Trains

  • There are two railway stations in Vellore. One is Vellore Cantonment where trains run to nearby towns and Cities. The Main Railway station is at Katpadi Railway Junction where trains connect to rest of the country.
  • Trains such as Chennai central, Tirupati-Chamarajanagr express and Chalukya express are among many trains that run to the Katpadi Railway station.
  • Triputai-Puducherry express, Velankanni-Panvel special, Pamani express and Kharagpur-Villupuram SF express stop at the Vellore cantonment station.
  • Then, from these stations, buses from route numbered 1 and 2 can be taken and within 20 minutes time, one can reach Vellore main city.

Katpadi Railway junction. Source Shyamsharai

Trains provide cheaper means of transport as compared to flights. They generally have longer duration of travel but they reach a large number of destinations all over India. Anyone who wants to spend less money and a little more time can opt for trains.

Flights

  • Another way to reach Vellore is through the flights. Since the domestic airport in Vellore is not in use one can take a flight to either Chennai or Tirupati, which are the nearest airports from Vellore.
  • After landing at either of the places, a train or a bus can be taken to reach Vellore which only takes 3-4 hours of time. A flight ticket can cost up to 4000 rupees, approximately.
  • Vellore is well-connected with the rest of the country through means of roadways as well. So, a car can be driven up till here. Major highways such as national highway NH 46 and NH 4 pass right through the Vellore district, so you can reach Vellore and most of the towns in the district by traveling through them.

However, Flights will be a good medium of transport to reach Vellore especially if you are traveling long distance like from North India as it saves a lot of time when compared to traveling by trains or bus.

Buses at Vellore Bus Station

  • Another mode of transport can be the state-run buses of Tamil Nadu. Some of the buses pass through different major junctions in the city.
  • There is a huge contingent of Government and Private Buses which serve every corner of the City and also to all the towns and villages in the district.
  • The Old bus stand which is in close proximity to Vellore Fort and CMC vellore hospital operates buses to destinations within the district.
  • The Main Bus station also called as New Bus stand (5km from the Katpadi railway station) is located near the Palar Bridge and is the starting point for both State and Private bus operators. One can board buses here for traveling within the Vellore city, nearby towns and for reaching destinations both Inter-State and Intra-State.
  • The cost of the bus ticket can range anything from 400-1500 rupees, depending upon from where you are boarding the bus. There are direct buses to all major southern cities like Chennai, Salem, Bangalore, Thiruvananthapuram, Hyderabad, Coimbatore, Pune, and Mumbai.
  • The Main Bus Station also has separate kiosks of various state transport corporations like KSRTC, APSRTC, TSRTC, and TNSTC where one can make bookings and inquiries.
  • Direct Vellore to Chennai bus numbers are 102 & 502 and Vellore to Bangalore bus number is 444

The buses are good for inter-district transportation facilities and for reaching nearby places without any hassles.

Hotels in Vellore

Vellore has an abundance of good hotels which provide a range of amenities such as  free WiFi, access to the inbuilt pools well as a spa treatment for the visitors.

  • The Regency Sameera, Vellore – Rupees 5430
  • AGS Holiday resorts, Yelagiri – Rupees 4129
  • Hotel river view – Rupees 2548
  • Rangalaya Royal – Rupees 3140
  • Hotel Surabi – Rupees 2346
  • Benzz Park – Rupees 3616

The cost of a day-night can range anything from 2000 to 5000 Indian Rupees approximately.

Websites such as cleartrip.com, makemytrip.com or yatra.com provide good deals on booking with them. These Vellore hotels are well-connected by buses, and auto-rickshaws to every place. The fares are not that high and the buses are frequent and not crowded at all.

Vellore History and Architecture

As one enters the city, the most prominent forms of architecture to be noticed are the presence of the temples in the city. Located in the south of India, and inspired by the Dravidian style of architecture, the temples constructed are various in numbers and quality.

Vellore Golden temple / Sri Lakshmi temple

Golden Temple Vellore. Source Ag1707

Sri Lakshmi temple, located in Sripuram; also known as the Golden temple Vellore. The reason for such name is the presence of a sheet of pure gold on the outer part of the temple. It took around 1500 kg of gold and several years time to construct the beautiful  vellore temple.

All the intricate carvings on the outer of the temple are made my prominent artisans whose expertise lies in temple carvings only.

Since it is one of the prominent temples, there are numerous ways through which it can be reached.
Buses run from different areas that drop passengers and devotees near the temple itself. Shared autos are another medium which can be utilized.

It takes about only 15-20 minute journey from most places in the city to reach the temple, due to easy connectivity and much use of the public transport by the people.

Best time to visit Golden temple vellore is after 5:30 pm. The temple closes at 8 pm.

Vellore Fort

The Fort of Vellore or the Vellore fort is a well-known historical monument. Every year, thousands of tourists from all across the nation come to visit the fort. During the latter part of the 16th century, the fort was built by Chinna Bommi Reddy.
It was built from granite brought from nearby quarries in Arcot and Chittoor district. It also houses a secret hidden tunnel which could be used by the kings to reach the Virinjipuram.

Vellore Fort

 Among other things, the interesting thing to notice is that the fort houses places of worship from all the religions, it has St. John's church, a Muslim mosque as well the Jalakandeshwar temple, well known for its carvings. It is also a major place of worship in the district.
The Fort was the abode of the Tipu Sultan after his battle with the British. From the point of view of military architecture, the fort has many advantages, it was from here Tipu Sultan later launched another fight with the British. The tomb of Tipu’s family lies here in the fort itself.

The last king of Sri Lanka, Vikrama Rajsinha was kept as a prisoner in the fort too.
It is open all days of the week, from 9am-12:30 pm and 2pm-5pm; the entry fees is only 5 rupees and is same for all.
The fort is now maintained by the Archeological Survey of India.

Ratnagiri Murugan Temple

As the name suggests, the temple is dedicated to Lord Murugan, who is considered as the God of the Devas. The temple was built in the 14th century, at Ratnagiri. It is situated in Thirumanikundram, Vellore at the top of the hill.

It is a believe among the devotees that ‘Where there is a hill, there is Lord Murugan’. It is open between 6 am to 1 pm and from 4pm-8pm, every day.

Recreation and Marketplaces in Vellore

  • While inside the city, there are other sites that can be visited such as the megalithic burial site at the Rangasamudiram. The site dates back to the period of the Indus valley civilization and is proof the civilization extended the even the southern parts of India.
  • The parks inside the Vellore fort is also a perfect for the complete family picnic. During the winter months, the large grounds are best for letting children run a wild and relax in the soothing temperatures.
  • Amrithi zoological park which is only 25 km away from Vellore, can be visited for some nature spotting. It is flooded with photographers trying to click that perfect shot and families to get some together time for the picnics. It has a small waterfall, which adds to the beauty and serenity of the park.

There are also main market areas visited frequently by the locals for their basic needs. Places such as:

  1. Annapurna complex at Katpadi road.
  2. The All mart in VIT shopping complex.
  3. The Elizabeth complex near the court in Sathuvachari, Vellore.
  4. Long Bazaar is one the oldest marketplace in Vellore where you can find all your household and daily needs like Groceries, Utensils, and Flowers & Vegetables.
    Sunday market held every Sunday here is quite popular among locals where you can find good deals on old books and other used items.
    Nethaji Vegetable Market and Fish Market are located in the long bazaar area.
  5. New Burma Bazaar, Vasanthpuram.

These market places are famous for their range of products and easy bargaining also the helps customers attain a satisfactory price.

Being places of daily activity, connectivity to these places is easily available.
Share autos and buses are preferred choices of travel, people also choose to reach to and fro from the market areas by their own vehicles (generally two-wheeler).

These market stock almost all kinds of products to satisfy the consumer’s needs.

Food and Cuisines of Vellore

The main course, which is essentially South Indian dosa and Idli is provided in abundance. Food is served on banana leaves as the tradition goes. It is highly recommended that food shall be devoured on a banana leaf for the complete South Indian experience.

The banana leaf is decorated in a specific way. Rice (choru) is served on the lower side of the banana leaf, the upper part is for salt and pickle, the lower right side is for chutney and middle part is for papad or any fried items. The food is widely eaten with one’s own hands.

Cafes to visit in Vellore:

  1. The Saravana Bhavan, which is famous for its simple yet, delicious food also has a branch in Vellore. It is one of the most loved restaurants in Vellore. The sweet delicacy; Badam Halwa is widely loved.
  2. Divine Cafe in Sripuram is famous for its vegetarian only menu and is visited by a string of people from the district and other areas as well. Since it is near the Christian medical college, it is quite visited by college students as well for the delicious food. The dosa and uttapam are especially praised by the people who have even come from afar. Those are a must try.

There are light delicacies that are also famous in Vellore. Such as Murruku, Paniyaram, Thattai, Karapori, Sevu, etc.

Murukku is a savory, crunchy snack. The snack is made up of urad dal and rice batter and is round or twisted in shape, hence the name; Murrukku, which literally translates to twisted.

Karapori Is a serving which is made up of puffed rice mixed with peanuts and ground spices, it is also eaten as a delicacy in the northern part of India where it is commonly called as murmura.

Vellore is also famous for its coffee farms. Coffee is reared and then the fresh beans are picked and roasted and ground to make coffee powder. Spexsar is one of the major suppliers of coffee in the district.

Coffee bars to look out for:

  1. Sri Thirumalai in Katpadi road​​​​
  2. Alankar coffee bar at Thennamara street
  3. Vimal coffee bar near Christian medical college is famous for their coffee.

They are tourist friendly cafes which provide a budget friendly menu and the ambiance is also soothing.

Education in Vellore

Vellore is majorly known as the abode of the prominent educational institutions such as the Vellore Institute of technology and the Christian medical college. Vellore institute of technology (VIT) is a self-financing institution which provides students graduate degrees in a variety of engineering fields such as an automobile, software, electronics, etc.

Vellore CMC
CMC Vellore

CMC vellore hospital.

The Christian medical college(CMC) has been the one the most important medical university in the vellore district. It is surrounded by a lot of cafes and eateries. It is very easy to reach the college as its located in the heart of the City.

Vellore is famous for its medical tourism.

People from all over India and countries like Bangladesh, Nepal; etc come to the CMC Vellore for treatment. Other Medical institutes like Government Vellore Medical College offer medicinal services to the people flocking the district in search for proper health care treatment.

Other colleges like the Voorhees College, C Abdul Hakeem College, Auxillium College are also prominent colleges of the Vellore district.

Auxillium College was the first women-only college of the district, whereas Hakeem college is a Muslim-centric college, which offers courses in the languages like Arabic, Urdu, Persian etc. There are also various other colleges which offer study programs in Engineering, Arts, Sciences, and Medicine.

Vellore has two major, among others; government institutes. The Thanthai Periyar Government Institute of technology and the government Vellore medical college.

These are prominent institutions which provide specialized courses in technical and medical areas. They are of great importance to not only the district but also the state of Tamil Nadu.

Economy and Industrial Activity of Vellore

Vellore district is one of the major exporters of the leather in India. It accounts for 37% of the total leather exports of the nation. Thus, there are as many as 1226 leather tanneries in the district, mainly around areas such as Ambur, Ranipet, Vaniyambadi, Alangayam, Madhanur, Melvisharam, and Walajah.
These leather exporters and manufacturers are generally small scale industries which provide for the rest of the nation. Thus, there are many places where good quality leather products can be bought at very low prices.

 Heavy industries such as Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) are situated in the district of Vellore. Multi-national companies such as MRF tyres, Mitsubishi heavy industries, Japan and Deutz-fahr, Italy have their headquarters here. 

There are also other industries such as TVS-brakes, Tamil Nadu industrial explosives limited, Dhamm processings have also been set up in Vellore district.

The leather markets, coffee farms, and tastries, as well as the other industries, make a good part of the revenue of the district and the employment level due the presence of the industries is also high.

Vellore CITY - Nearby Towns and Cities 

The Biggest cities near Vellore are Bangalore, Chennai, and Puducherry. These places offer much more drastic recreational activities. Places such as Chennai and Puducherry can be easily reached either by bus or trains. From the Main bus station, there is regular bus service which can be taken for reaching Bangalore, Chennai, and Puducherry. There are also many trains traveling to these cities that can be taken by boarding them at Katpadi railway station

Trains from Katpadi station to Puducherry :

Puducherry express
Howrah-Pudducherry express.

Trains from Katpadi station to Chennai:

Palani-chennai central
Mysuru-chennai  central weekly
Kaveri express.

Other towns which are located near to the Vellore city also include historical places like

  • Ranipet. It is located only 20 km away from Vellore city. It was built by Sadut-Ulla-Khan, the Nawab of Carnatic in honor of the sati done by the widow of Desingh Raja of Gingee. Only one mile away from the place there is a remarkable thope, which is said to have consisted of 9 lakh trees, approximately. Hence, rightfully named Navlakh bagh.
    India’s first south Indian railway station was started from Royapuram to Ranipet. The fastest way to reach Ranipet from the main city would be either by individual car or through hired taxis.
    Ranipet can also be visited for the Vallimalai hills. Sports like trekking and camping taking place at these hills attract a lot of adventure junkies.
  • Arcot is located south of the Palar River, it is a historic town located at a distance of 22 km from Vellore. Arcot has the famous grave of the Sufi Saint Tipu Mastan Aulia. It attracts devotees from far away places. Also, Delhi Gate part of Arcot fortress is visited by tourists.
  • Ambur is known as the leather city of South India, as the economy of the town is largely dependent on the leather industry.
  • Walajapet also was known as Walajah is a town constituting the district of Vellore. Walajah; literally means as the most ‘dignified and well-mannered gentleman’. The Nawab of Arcot gave the name to the town in honor of the battle he had won from the French, who wanted to establish their control over the area. Walajah Road railway is the oldest and one of the first railway station ever constructed in South India.
  • Melvisharam is a suburb of Vellore city located at a distance of 18 km from Vellore. It’s a modern town where leather is the dominant industry. Abdul Hakeem College, Apollo KH hospital, and Mifthahul Uloom Arabic College are some of the important places here.
  • Yelagiri hills, situated in the district of Vellore; is a very famous get away from the cities like Bengaluru and Chennai. It is famous for its spectacular view from the hill tops and thus is visited frequently by trekkers. The highest point is the Swamimalai hills. There is also a 2-day Annual summer festival organized every year by the Ministry of Welfare, Tamil Nadu. While the main attraction is the Fruit and Flower show at the Nature Park, there is also exhibitions and sale of products made by Self-help groups.

Hotels in Yelagiri are pretty cheap and since they are not that well-known outside the district are perfect for a quiet getaway. They are connected to other major cities by means of buses mainly, however, due to the much less distance from the main city and the district; people often prefer taking their own cars to reach the hills.

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