Saturday, July 26, 2008
The eight blasts in Bangalore have thrown the city out of gear and it is very unfortunate that terrorists have started resorting to such cowardly acts to psyche people. The discussion is not about whether it is a low intensity or a high internsity act and how many casualities were there..Its sad that it happenned and we only hope the authorities ensure that it doesnt happen again. My thanks to those who inquired on my wellness and I do hope that fellow Bangaloreans are safe and healthy ..I was on the way to the railway station to catch my train to Madras and I am now posting this from the sunny city. I am travelling again tomorrow and will be back to the blogging world within a week to ten days..Until then , take care and have a safe weekend
Thursday, July 24, 2008
A window opens out to give me a glimpse of life in Arekere,a small village which is hardly 5 kms from Javagal . This is the main street that ends in the Hoysala temple there. The doors to this house were closed though .
I will be posting a picture or two every week which will be titled the same as above..It is mainly a perspective of rural India and the people Ive met in many of my travels..most pictures like these do not carry any text..I do hope you will appreciate the beauty of real India, the way I see it.
Ravi Kashyap , a gentleman from the US commented a couple of days ago (after almost a year) that the house belongs to his ancestors and was built in 1680.This is what he said in his comment which Ive published below.
"This is our ancestor home, was built around 1680's by my great great great grand father (Shanboug Rammanna, also know as saraf Ramanna), my relatives lived in this house till 1970's .
Most of our relatives have migrated to UK & USA and thus the state of the house, recently last month (aug 2009) we visited this place and have plans to renovate the house to maintain & keep the heritage."
Friday, July 18, 2008
These are not just another pretty travel pictures..There is a murky tale behind these waters..The mountains are shredded by greedy corporations and governments looking for gold , iron ore and other minerals and as they are battered and broken down, the result is this. I am not against mining or development per se, but definitely not at the cost of our environment
Monday, July 14, 2008
Saturday, July 12, 2008
More on the sunny city .I had just participated in the Carnival of cities and posted one of my earlier posts on Chennai. You could read it in A travel blog of an Indian Backpacker: This is not a travelogue ... posted in Escape from New York : Carnival of Cities July 9th Edition.I recommend all the posts on Wendy's blog in the carnival..great weekend read
Friday, July 11, 2008
In villages, the word Sandai stands for a local market which opens probably once a week and the entire village gathers . The local fares are all sold here , from cattle to vegetables and all the local produce . Its full of life, colourful and vibrant.It is an important day for the entire village, not only does it display their bargaining powers, but the entire village gets together on that day.
We were in Javagal on a Sunday morning when the Sandai was in full progress. Well, all sandais do not take place on a Sunday , it could be on a regular weekday as well,as we found out at Haranahalli, another hamlet where there is a Hoysala temple .
In smaller hamlets the wares are usually restricted to vegetables , cereals and local produce and cattle, but larger towns sell virtually anything from bangles to clothes.
I was told by my uncle that this was market was popularly referred to by the British as "shanty " and sometimes the market opens out in the evenings.
Besides the local wares, one can see nomadic skilled and unskilled craftsman walking from village to another. They mostly are like cobblers, or they sharpen knives, repair household items and even polish your old vessels. You may catch a few of them in some old localities in small towns and cities even today. When I was a child, Ive seen them and their particular cry is very distinct as they advertise their services and go from door to door advertising them. This is a tribe which is fast diminishing today.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I went home for an extended weekend and boy, was it hot ! So, amidst Kollywood and Kancheepuram sarees, the topic of discussion moved from the weather to the recent spate of real estate prices . While catching up with some friends, I gathered the latest buzz word was Chennai day or Madras Day which was to hit the city next month. It has been decided by the historians and the media that the city was born in the month of August and hence it has to be celebrated . Good to know that we celebrate the city. I for one, always celebrate the fact that I was born in Chennai or Madras as it was called then . But ignorant as I was (or probably am) I started researching on the history of this city and this is what I came up with ..But before that , here is a disclaimer - My apologies as I am not an esteemed historian , so , all my facts and figures may not be correct . I am just another individual interested in the history of my hometown , the way I see it
In the 17th century, most of the parts of modern day Chennai or Madras were either villages or settlements controlled by the local chieftains or the Europeans. The area was apparently ruled by the chieftains or Nayaks who were serving under the Vijaynagar empire. The British had just entered India and were looking for a suitable premise for their East India Company and I read that the Chieftain, Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu under the aegis of the Vijaynagar king Peda Venkata Rayalu gave a grant - a piece " waste land" to the British . They set up Fort St George here and the settlement came to be called Chennapatna in the honour of Damerla Chennappa Nayakudu, father of Venkatadri Nayakudu . Madraspatnam which lay further away was combined and the British shortened it to Madras with Fort St George forming the nucleus of the city.
Now I quote from Wikipedia -
"On 22 August 1639, Francis Day secured the Grant by the Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, Nayak of Wandiwash giving over to the British East India Company a three-mile long strip of land, a fishing village called Madraspatnam, copies of which were endorsed by Andrew Cogan, the Chief of the Masulipatam Factory, and are even now preserved. The Grant was for a period of two years and empowered them to build a fort and castle on an approximate 5 square kilometre sand strip.....Francis Day, his dubash (Interpreter) Beri Thimmanna Chetti and their superior Andrew Cogan can be considered as the founders of Madras (now Chennai). They began construction of the Fort St George on 23 April 1640 and houses for their residence. This area came to be known as 'White Town'. When Indians came to live near it, this gave rise to another settlement. The Company called the new place 'Black Town', as the Indians here met its needs of cloth and indigo.....The Fort still stands today, and a part of it is used to house the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly and the Office of the Chief Minister."
So much for Madras Day . Yes, it is historic to a certain extent and I do think the British have done their bit to develop roads , build buildings and promote education..Otherwise , I wouldnt have studied in a convent school and won medals for my Queen's English .
Personally , I have nothing against the celebration or the historic impact of August 22 or the colonial aspect . I like Fort St George and I must say that my forefathers like anyone else chose to live closer to the "White town " than to say, Mylapore or Triplicane..which are villages added , sorry acquired later by the British . However what probably saddens me is the fact that all the hype starts and ends with British history of the city and one doesnt even what to look further beyond . And what we decide as history is probably nothing compared to the cultural heritage of this city and its various settlements and hamlets put together .
For instance ..
1.The city as its known today has had its share of royal dynasties from the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Pallavas, the Nayaks, the Vijaynagar kings, the Nawabs, the Sultans, the Moghuls and finally the British .
2.It is said that the temples of Thiruvanmiyur, Thiruvotriyur, Thirvallikeni (Triplicane), Thirumyilai (Mylapore) have existed for more than 1000 years. They are mentioned in the Thevarams of the Moovar ..Agreed that they are all villages added to the city, but they are now thriving suburbs , right in the heart of the city .
3.The Kapaleeshwar temple in Mylapore was built in the 7th century and was probably once a Pallava port
4.The settlement at Santhome was controlled by the Portuguese and it was believed that St Thomas had visited the area today known as St Thomas Mount way back in 50 AD
And probably there is more if I keep reading and digging...and my simple question is why only colonial history when there is so much more to celebrate ?
I request all of you to participate in this discussion and let me know what you think ..and do join in the celebration.Im going to be celebrating as well as this is not just about my city or its history, but it is an integral part of me .
Tuesday, July 08, 2008
Some final images of Coorg as we leave this beautiful town. I cannot believe that we spent just three days and we gathered a wealth of information and made quite a few friends. Kishore to begin with, who had been our guide and told us about hidden temples and folklore behind them.
A Kodava home and a homestay that we stopped by at ..
We learnt a bit about their traditions and their weapons and understood why this agrarian community is also quite martial ..
Erstwhile, the sound of the bells at the temple in Madikeri Fort
And the flowers unveiled by the mist at Raja's Seat
At Bhagamandala, we met this man ruminating over simple aspects of life.It was interesting to know that Dassera here is celebrated in the night and ten decorated chariots with dolls of gods and demons depict the destruction of the evil forces by the Goddess Shakti.
We went to a beautiful waterfall , nestled inside a coffee estate called the Chelvarayan Falls..not much of water but lots of fun as I climbed down alone listening to the gurgle of the water and the buzzing of bees.
Our drive back took us to Virajpet - one of the key towns and erstwhile capital named after Virarajendra, the Haleri king . The interesting aspect is that Virajpet was once an amalgamation of various communities such as Telugus,Tamilians, Malayalis, Bunts, Moplas, Christians,Brahmins and even Bengalis.Even today you can see streets like Bengali Street, Telugu street going by the cosmopolitan nature of the town that housed several communities.
Virajpet which is just 30 kms from Madikeri is an important town today for coffee and spices and the St Anne's Church and Clock tower stand tall, today reminiscent of the colonial era .It is said that Dodda Veerarajendra established the town in the 18th century to commemorate his meeting with the British General Abercrombie during their joint war against Tippu Sultan .
This also became a shelter for the Roman Catholic Christians who were allegedly persecuted by Tipu Sultan .The St Annes Church was built under the patronage of the king himself, while Subedar Mukkatira Aiyappa was instrumental in erecting the Clock Tower in 1914 to commemorate the Delhi Coronation Darbar of King George V.
And finally we left Coorg as we drove through the forests of Tithimathi amidst through lush greenery, but no wildlife to give us company
One trail ends and another begins..
Thursday, July 03, 2008
Our journey into Coorg’s past continued as we went into estates and homestays, villages and towns. It is said that the history of Coorg was mainly deciphered through inscriptions . Several dynasties from the Gangas, Cholas, Hoysalas, Nayaks have left their stamp here.
However it is the Haleri kings who have reigned over Coorg for about 250 years. A prince from Ikkeri founded the dynasty by defeating several chieftains and called himself Vira Raja and ruled from Haleri.Bitter battles have been fought by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan and the British to conquer Coorg during their era.
We were in Madikeri when we heard this story..A Haleri king was on a hunting expedition when he suddenly saw his wild dogs chased by a hare in a small hillock. He decided to build a fort there as he felt that there was a powerful energy in the region which made a meek hare courageous . A mud wall garrison was built here and the hamlet, which became the capital was named after the king. The king was Mudduraja , the grandson of Vira raja and the place was called Muddu Raja Keri or Muddurakayray
The fort was eventually rebuilt in granite by Tippu Sultan who named the site as Jaffarabad. It was recaptured by the Haleri ruler Doddaveer Rajendra in the 18th century and it later fell into the hands of the British who renamed it as Mercara . Today the fort houses a palace, a temple, a chapel, a prison and a museum where you can see hero stones or virakkals among other things.
The sun was setting and a mist threatened to rob the sun of its last few moments of glory . We headed to Raja’s Seat to watch the tussle. This popular tourist spot which boasts of scenic views was the seat of the royalty to admire nature and also throw probably to throw their enemies down the hill.
Further away from the city is Cuddige or the Raja’s tombs, which are the samadhis of the kings Doddaveerarajendra and Lingarajendra. A solemn air hung around and it was deserted almost but for a few boys who were playing cricket. The tombs of the divans and army commanders were also placed here. The domes and the minarets at four corners mounted by carved bulls stand tall against the sky.
A visit to Madikeri is never complete without a visit to the.19th century Omkareshwar temple built by Lingarajendra II dedicated to Shiva. Built in the Indo Sarcenic style, it has elements of Gothic and Islamic architecture as well and it is said that there could have been a secret passage below that leads to the palace of the king.
It was dark when we drove back from Madikeri to Kakkabe where we were staying. Our shopping bags were full of honey and coffee, cardamom and pepper .The smell of the spices stayed with us until we reached Kakkabe for dinner .