Tamil nad / Pondicherry Articles

A fort and an epic

I f the history of India is made up of battles, then our forts surely deserve more attention. Tucked away on the Thanjavur–Mannargudi Road in Tiruvarur district, Tamil Nadu, Mahadevapatnam is but a blip on the map. The village may always choose to be like that but it has a tourist and historian's treasure waiting for the world to discover. Sakthi and I felt like intrepid explorers. We had a line of reference from an old book about the possibility of a mint from the Maratha times existing...

Old world charm

P ublished in 1908, ‘Aristocracy of Southern India,' by A. Vadivelu made for fascinating reading and I was overjoyed when a friend promised to take me to one of the Zamindars written about in the book. Ilayarasanendhal is a small village today between Kovilpatti and Madurai. One would find it difficult to locate it in the map but the efforts will be well rewarded. We snaked through the many small lanes and humble homes to some imposing walls and an entrance to the side. The entry got us...

About life in towns and villages

(This column attempts at unravelling fascinating facts on the art and architecture of India and this week’s article throws light on the village life.) With the teaching of history being grudgingly tolerated, it is a pipe dream for us to expect local history to be taught in schools. Yet, thanks to inscriptions, the medieval life of several towns and villages can be reconstructed to a large degree. With the use of literature references, it becomes even more colourful and absorbing. Some...

Heritage tours get a regional flavour

Heritage tours to sites like Madurai, Thanjavur, Tiruvannamalai, Vellore and other smaller ancient citadels, complete with curated experiences, have become popular in the city, as many people are keen to rediscover their roots.    During his journey in search of authentic south Indian recipes, Rakesh Raghunathan, a culinary researcher who documents food traditions, realised that people wanted a rustic experience. “When I was going through small towns in search of recipes, I...

Of music and Hindu history, carved in stone

If you are to participate in author and epigraphist Pradeep Chakravarthy’s heritage walks, then you have to be accompanied by a schoolgoing child. On Sunday morning there was only one child among the group of enthusiasts at the Marundeeswarar temple where he sung Tirugnanasambandar’s padigams in soothing Hindolam and Mukhari. And the youngster persisted with numerous questions about the various stone carvings on the pillars. The early start to the day didn’t seem to bother...

Hailed by the Azhwars

"WHY MY companions do you blame me? It's not my fault that I am in love with him! On seeing my Lord of Thirukurungudi, I think only of His discus, His conch, His lotus eyes and pair of coral hued lips. My heart is mine no longer!" Thiruvaimozhi 5.5.1 Going on, Nammazhwar explains in the next 8 stanzas the overriding obsession of Parankusa Naayaki towards the Lord in Thirukurungudi. In what are among the most beautiful paasurams, one hears Parankusa Naayaki replying to her companions and...

Rushes to the devotee's rescue

TIRUKKOLUR IS BIRTHPLACE of Nammazhwar's ardent devotee, Madurakavi, whose praise of Nammazhwar is always recited before reciting Nammazhwar's work. In his hymns on this temple, Nammazhwar assumes the role of the heroine's mother, who complains of the young girl forsaking everything to be with her lord at Tirukkolur. The first stanza captures the essence beautifully, ``The food she eats, the water she drinks even the betel leaves she chews are all submerged in her passion for Kannan. Eyes...

Temples that reverberate with history

DRIVING TO Pudukottai from Madurai to attend a marriage recently, it was hard not to be captivated by the small but impressive fort on the side of the road above the village of Tirumeyyam. The wedding in Pudukottai wouldn't wait and promising myself that we would come back the same way I had a quick glance at the fort as we went on. The sumptuous food needed to be burned off and what better way to do it than climb the hill? Fortunately as I came back, the sun had permitted a few rain clouds...

Handsome and prosperous

IN SINGING the praise of the Lord of Thentirupperai, the last on the southern bank of the Tamiraparani, on the main Tirunelveli-Tiruchendur Road, Nammazhwar, again, assumes the role of the heroine. The girl confides in her friends the fact that she has surrendered to the charms of the deity. She says: The sound of Vedic chanting rivals the roar of the ocean. Amidst this, holding the conch, he rests at Tirupperai. I have lost myself to him and sent my heart to retrieve myself. But my heart too...

Pining for the Lord

PERUNGULAM (THIRUKULANDAI) is 8 km from Srivaikuntam on the Srivaikuntam-Tiruchendur bus route. Nammazhwar's hymn goes like this: ``... in Thirukulandai nestled among verdant groves, He sits on the Garuda and wields the fiery discus. I went after him in search of my heart that he took away, I pined for him as my bangles slip away from my emaciated wrists... " — Tiruvoimozhi (8.2.4) Like most other of his pasurams on the Nava Tirupati, here too Nammazhwar takes on the nayika bhava, a...