Saturday, August 30, 2008
Triplicane or Tiruvallikeni as it was known in the Puranic age is one of the oldest villages that is a part of the Madras (Chennai) city today . It is in fact older than the city itself. Located just half a km from the Bay of Bengal coast and Fort St George , it is today synonymous with the Parthasarthy Temple and the agraharams where the Brahmin community lives till date . The name Tiruvallikeni or Tiruallikeni refers to the lotus pond in front of the temple. The place was also referred to as Vrundha-raNyam (beautiful garden) in Puranic scriptures.Today, it is a maze of narrow lanes and alleys, each having a character of its own.
Initially Triplicane was a part of Mylapore suburb sandwiched between the temple township and the Chepauk palace. Besides the Parthasarthy temple, the place is famous for the Chepauk stadium, the Amir Mahal, the home of the Nawab of Arcot, who lives there to this day. Near Amir Mahal is the Wallajah mosque also known as Badi Masjid or the Big Mosque built by the Nawabs.
Nobel prize winner Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar attended the Hindu High School (1922-1925) in Triplicane. Subramanya Bharathy, the freedom fighter and poet, lived his last years in a house there; the house has since been bought and renovated by the Government of Tamil Nadu (in 1993), and named Bharathiyar Illam (Home of Bharathiyar).
We started an early morning photo walk at Triplicane from the Parthasarthy Temple. A sort of a field trip, we were clicking images of the locality. People and homes have always been my twin fascination and so I began clicking away. But before that - a little bit of legend
The Parthasarthy temple built in the 8th century is considered to be one of the 108 divadesams or the abode of Lord Vishnu . The name 'Parthasarathy', in Sanskrit, means the 'charioteer of Arjuna' as Partha is another name for Arjuna. and Sarathy means charioteer. The legend says that this is where the Lord gave darshan to King Sumathi in the form of Parthasarthy .
The interesting aspect of this deity is that the face is scarred by the arrows that have been hurled during the Kuruskshetra war. Scholars suggest that the Pallavas built it as early as the 8th century. However, additions and renovations were constantly made over the next four centuries by the Pandyas and Cholas and the Vijayanagar kings.
A walk around the lanes only reflect the traditions and the old world charm that is still retained in the four main streets around the temple. Triplicane is called the Bachelors Paradise of Chennai. The locality has a large number of mansions - a local synonym for guest houses.Think food and think Triplicane.
Be it messes, cafes , idli shops or bhavans, Triplicane gives you great food for thought.While this post is more to do with the faces of Triplicane, the following post will showcase some of the old houses and the lifestyle followed probably 200 or more years ago .
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Its been a while since I posted a post - as in write about a destination and I hope to do that in my next post. Until then, here is an attempt to be alive in the blogging world. I have been travelling extensively all of August and all roads pointed to Tamil Nadu. I started with Chennai aka Madras , then drove down to Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Pondicherry and smaller villages and towns around these places. The next trail took me to Madurai and Kodaikanal and then again to Chennai, the capital city which recently celebrated its birthday. I will be doing more of TN in the next few months. For now, I am back in Bangalore with a sore throat .
This picture of MGR,(M G Ramachandran) former Chief Minister and famous actor framed on the wall was taken on the roads of Triplicane . In a way he represents the spirit of the people there .There is a reason why I say this. I saw a carton of cardboard boxes lying on a bench and this picture of MGR hanging on the wall. Not a soul around. .When I was busy framing a shot, a lady ran from the other end of the road, screaming in Tamil which I'm penning down without editing a single word.
"Avaroda sethu ennaiyum oru photo edungama ..Avar en deivam .Avarthan innivarikkum ennakku saapaad poduraru.."
Please take a photograph of me along with his picture. He is my God .He is the one who feeds me even till day .
I learnt later that she runs a book shop and all the books are locked inside the cartons. She claims that he is the one who has inspired her to run the book shop .It doesnt matter to her that MGR died more than two decades ago.I took two pictures - one close up as well as she requested .
Saturday, August 23, 2008
Madras Day/Week Celebration is on full steam and I am here in this sunny city. I went for a photo walk this morning around one of Madras's oldest villages, Triplicane where the famous Parthasarthy Temple stands. On the occasion of Gokul Astami or Krishna Jayanthi, there was a buzz around the area .And I met these kids who were only excited to pose for me . I took two pictures and could not decide which one was better..so here you have both .I am off to the next event and will get back to active blogging next week .Have a great weekend
Thursday, August 07, 2008
Women working in the paddy fields in Thanjavur, called the Rice Bowl of Tamil Nadu . Situated on the deltaic region of the River Cauvery also known as Ponni in Tamil Nadu, it is believed that every inch of soil here is equal to an ounce of gold. Pon in Tamil means gold and Cauvery is called so as the river yields "pon" or gold in the form of paddy.
Paddy cultivation happens across four seasons and the crops are short term or long term as described below. The first is called Kuruvai - the short term crop from June to November, the second Thaladi which is from November to March, the third is the most important season , Samba which is the long term crop . This is usually sown from August and is harvested between January and March and it constitutes more than 60 % of the total paddy cultivated here. The final season is summer which is from December to April.Besides paddy, pulses, gingelly, sugarcane , coconuts and groundnuts are cultivated here.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
July end will go down in my travel diary as one of the best trips Ive ever had this year. And I must thank a few people for this. First and foremost, my uncle, second, my mother and then, a couple of friends Sivaram and VJ Kumar and my father for not missing my mother's absence :)
So where did I go ? I was in interior Tamilnadu and was lured by the art and architecture of the Chola kings- Raja Raja 1, Rajendra Chola and Raja Raja 11 , all built between the 11th and 12th century. Words defy me as I stood near the Big or the Brihadeshwara temple at Thanjavur whose Vimana is a staggering 216 feet tall, the Brihadeshwara temple at Gangai Konda cholapuram, the forgotten capital of Rajendra Chola and Darasuram of Raja Raja II. When someone asked me how I felt, I said - humbled !
Saturday, August 02, 2008
In the pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddesses, are the guardian Gods who serve as protectors. They protect villages and are called "grama devatas" or " Kaval deivam " in Tamil. In Tamil Nadu, the guardian god is portrayed as a mustachioed male and is called Ayyannar.
During my recent visit to interior Tamil Nadu, I passed many road side shrines of fierce male deities with idols of horses and elephants placed around. In ancient days, villagers worshipped Veerakal or hero stones which were erected in the memory of fallen soldiers. These later became cult shrines . Ayyannar is often referred to as a vira or a brave one who rides horses, brandishes a trident and fights demons and protects the villagers. His associate is Karuppusamy who rides a tiger .
As you drive down rural Tamil Nadu, you will find their shrines placed at the frontiers of villages and the deity is seen riding a horse. Sometimes, horses and elephants stand close to a tall colourful statue of the deity. The horses and elephants are the vehicles of Ayyannar when he goes on his rounds around the village.
In some villages, the deities are small and are placed below trees or near the open fields.Weapons such as swords, spears, tridents or lances are also placed at the shrine.
The Ayyanar is said to protect the village from the malevolent forest spirits and he punishes the guilty.Most officiating priests are not from the Brahmin caste and are from a local lineage that had initiated the cult generations ago. It is said that they hail from the community of potters .As in a cult practise, animal sacrifices especially chicken and goat are offered to please the Gods.