Treasures of Chola Empire in Cauvery Delta

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#1 Mar 28th, 2012, 02:07
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Twenty-four hours before my arrival, I did not know I would be in my hometown, Srirangam. A phone call, late into Tuesday evening changed all that. The strategic location of Trichy at the centre of Tamil Nadu would mean that I could catch almost any train leaving Chennai bound to the Southern districts (save the ones bound to Salem and Coimbatore) - you could find a train leaving Madras Egmore that halts at Trichy every hour from 3 PM till 11 PM. On a weekday, there is every chance you will find vacancy in any of these trains.



The picture captures the busyness of Tiruchirappalli Junction


I arrived at 1 AM in the morning. Another striking feature in Trichy is the excellent round-the-clock public transport system. The route that connects the Central Bus Stand to Srirangam is numbered '1'. Popularly called the One Route - it's the busiest and it's the route with maximum bus frequency in the city.

Not until friday evening did I visit any of the temples, the couple of days preceding that were quite busy with little time for anything else. I set for the Renganathar temple on foot. Hang on! One of my friends has given birth to a cute little girl. I stopped at my friend's, welcoming the new member into our extended family after which, I proceeded to the temple.

A Riverine Island, Srirangam is isolated from the mainland by River Cauvery to the South and River Kollidam to the North.



Srirangam is a fortified city of the medieval ages - one has to cross three layers of huge walls (Madhils) - each with a Gopuram (Tower) at the Entrance in each direction. The Temple faces South and the Gopuram over the Entrance at the outer Southern Madhil is the famed 'Rajagopuram' (The King among towers) - the tallest structure and the identity of Srirangam. The inner Southern Gopuram is affectionately called the 'Renga Renga' Gopuram.


The 'Renga Renga' Gopuram




We always enter the temple via the Eastern Entrance. And exit via the East or the North. There is a common pattern the locals follow - right from entering and exiting the temple to the deities we seek dharshan. To avoid getting lost amongst the visitors, we do not take the Southern (Main) entrance. The Eastern Entrance is capped by 'Vellai Gopuram' (The White Tower). Unlike any of the 14 other Gopurams of the temple, this one is monochromatic 'Eka Varnam'.



Vellai Gopuram




With three-layered fortification, the Inner Ring Road (Uthra Veedhi) and the Outer Ring Road (Chitra Veedhi) houses families who have lived here for centuries. One could still witness houses and mutts that were constructed err.... so long ago, long long ago


Facade of a typical house in Srirangam

A significant percentage of the locals visit the temple daily - enter the temple via Vellai Gopuram, proceed to Chakrathazhvar Sannidhi (The Sacred Wheel - weapon of choice of Renganathar), proceed to Garudazhvar sannidhi - the Huge 50-foot portrayal of Garudan and finally proceed to the Thaayar Sannidhi. If it's festival, following Utsavar would be the order of the day.


On a lighter note, it's always been fun associating a particular facet of the temple with things/happenings that's innocuous and - as we forget ourselves, put the rationale behind. This way, one gets a personal bonding with the temple. Tackling at emotional level is healthy in spirituality. Chakkarathazhvar, for instance, has long been renowned for his 'Good Luck' blessings to his staunch student-devotees. Needless to say, during the schooling and college days, strong prayers and extra pradhakshanams would be the order during the days preceding the exams, and even stronger after the exams!
The age-old tree at the Thayaar Sannidhi Prahaaram (corridor) will have a strands of cloth tied to the trunk or the branches. It's believed that, this way, the wishes for new dress would be summarily granted. You may expect a couple of girls around the tree at any given time!



Thayaar's Prasadham being carried away


Talking of girls, many of us sincerely believe the girls from Srirangam count among the most beautiful on Earth. It's a cynosure to get to see them arrive at the temple in traditional attire. Manalveli, a sandy retreat along the periphery of the temple, warrants a special mention. During my college days, it's usual for us, guys to hang around the manalveli. We never miss out on the saturdays Recollecting a singular conversation I had with my friends a few years back..

"Why do we come to Manalveli on Saturdays?" (Saturdays being considered auspicious for Renga)
"You know, why"
"So, why do girls come to the Temple on Saturdays"
In came the reply - "Because we come to the temple on Saturdays!"




Madhil





Inside-out view of the fortification and the corresponding Towers



Of late, the city does look a lot cleaner.
The gopurams and the ring roads have been lit ambiently.
Prominent Signages have been strategically placed for the ease of the visitors.
--> Chief Minister's constituency does get special attention
One has to live with a 9-hour-a-day power cut, though. Tamil Nadu faces severe power crisis.



Signage

It was indeed a great evening - an evening of reflection. Recollecting memories of my childhood and formative years, I strolled along the Uthra Veedhi, and halted then and there - briefly - for a click. The sodium vapour lamps lighting the streets did indeed produce a surreal ambience, projecting the edifices in golden shade - perhaps befitting a medieval city...


Nadai Sathudal - Closure of Gates
Be Bold, Be Confident, Be Happy, for you are on the right path..

Temples of Chola Empire
Tirunelveli
Konkan
Trek - Western Ghats
Last edited by vaibhav_arora; Oct 10th, 2014 at 12:06..
#2 Mar 28th, 2012, 02:23
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#2
Good start. Nice photos as well. As you said, the lights lend a very soft golden glow to the ambience. Looking forward to more.
#3 Mar 28th, 2012, 03:02
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Very nice article supported with beautiful photos...waiting for photos of appakudathan temple. I planned to visit this temple but got cancelled at the last minute due to urgent work.
#4 Mar 28th, 2012, 10:47
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Thanks prasannasankar for this awesome article with photos. I am looking forward to visit there in Sep/Oct 2012 during my Tamil Nadu trip.
#5 Mar 28th, 2012, 14:57
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#5
Thank you, Siva This one is a mini Travelogue (a home log, I should say). Half my trip report is already over

Next post on Appakudathan 'Under Construction'
#6 Mar 28th, 2012, 14:59
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Marked Sir, will be back here shortly
#7 Mar 28th, 2012, 18:18
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Here I am ! I am a bit disappointed . You have deprived us of the complete set of photographs!

Quote:
Talking of girls, many of us sincerely believe the girls from Srirangam count among the most beautiful on Earth. It's a cynosure to get to see them arrive at the temple in traditional attire.
I would completely agree with your sincerity, had you posted some photographs of those beautiful girls in the traditional attire! I would love to see them in the 'Langa Daavani'! I used to myself love the attire during my college days . Ofcourse, a strand of Jasmine flowers would only complete the picture with a dozen or two red & green bangles in both the hands and cute little bindi, too.

Before I forget, a very cheerful write-up, Prasanna.
#8 Mar 28th, 2012, 22:10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post Here I am ! I am a bit disappointed . You have deprived us of the complete set of photographs!



I would completely agree with your sincerity, had you posted some photographs of those beautiful girls in the traditional attire! I would love to see them in the 'Langa Daavani'! I used to myself love the attire during my college days . Ofcourse, a strand of Jasmine flowers would only complete the picture with a dozen or two red & green bangles in both the hands and cute little bindi, too.

Before I forget, a very cheerful write-up, Prasanna.
I am also waiting for those photographs eagerly
#9 Mar 28th, 2012, 22:49
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@ prasannasankar - lovely travelogue. Crisp and very nicely written. Good information on how to reach from Chennai as well. I visited back in 2005 as a last part of a driving trip from Chennai-Tanjore-Trichy but didn't take many photos. Your report brings back fond memories!

thanks for sharing!

Vaibhav
#10 Mar 29th, 2012, 00:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post
I am a bit disappointed . You have deprived us of the complete set of photographs! I would completely agree with your sincerity, had you posted some photographs of those beautiful girls in the traditional attire!

And get noticed by someone who knows our family; and my mother would be getting a phone call the same evening, "You know what your son has been up to recently?!".

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post Before I forget, a very cheerful write-up, Prasanna.
Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by naveenamohanrao View Post I would love to see them in the 'Langa Daavani'! I used to myself love the attire during my college days . Ofcourse, a strand of Jasmine flowers would only complete the picture with a dozen or two red & green bangles in both the hands and cute little bindi, too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kimbalaji View Post I am also waiting for those photographs eagerly
Balaji, no! How was the trip to Tirunelveli last week?

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaibhav_arora View Post @ prasannasankar - lovely travelogue. Crisp and very nicely written. Good information on how to reach from Chennai as well. I visited back in 2005 as a last part of a driving trip from Chennai-Tanjore-Trichy but didn't take many photos. Your report brings back fond memories!

thanks for sharing!

Vaibhav
Thank you Vaibhav
#11 Mar 29th, 2012, 01:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by prasannasankar View Post
Balaji, no! How was the trip to Tirunelveli last week?
The trip got postponed because of some urgent Office work due to Financial Year end. Planned for 1st or 2nd weekend of April. Hope it should work out.
#12 Mar 31st, 2012, 01:11
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#12

Appakudathan temple

8th among the 108 Dhivya Desams of Lord Vishnu, Appakudathan temple, located in the tranquil village of Koviladi n the banks of the River Cauvery, is situated 20 KM downstream from Srirangam.



My Trip map

With my Aunt complaining her mundane home-making tasks, and it being a Saturday, I asked her if she was up for it. With my bike (a real stag) back in Chennai, I turned to my cousin to check what she had in store. She pointed to her scooty, which she called 'Pinky'

Ahem... Was never a big fan of the vehicle, make or the colour

Packing my cousin to college, my Aunt and I set for the temple. Once we crossed NH 45, the journey was along the banks of Cauvery.



A click along the way

We passed multiple brick kilns along the banks - many of which still use traditional methods while a few have switched to modern methods. It's the ones using the traditional methods that were eye-catching.



With my Aunt insisting that we be in temple before Uchchi Kalam (12 noon), we kept our photography session to the minimum during the onward journey. We crossed the Kallanai Dam (Grand Anaicut) - where we witness the confluence of River Cauvery and River Kollidam. This marks the eastern tip of the Island.





River Cauvery

A further 5 KM downstream, with Cauvery on the right and Kollidam on the Left, enter the Village Koviladi. Technically, we crossed into Thanjavur district once we crossed Kallanai. We were 12 noon on the dot when we reached the temple - Just in time, Toyota would've been proud of that!

Appakudathan translates to 'Guy with a pot full of Appams (Sweet)'. Rules stipulate that Royal Kitchen dishes out 108 Sweet Appams daily. Prasadham reckons!


Temple Gopuram


Dhwaja Sthambham along the Steps

The temple was constructed with an elevated base (that explains the unique Dhwaja Sthambam-on-steps), just in case Cauvery decides to have a full go. Along the way to the temple, we noticed government signage on flood levels of both Cauvery and Kollidam. The only time I witnessed flood was back in 2005.




View of Cauvery from the Temple

The moolavar resembles Renganathar - laid back on Adiseshan, and in addition, has the sweet pot hanging a few feet away from him. His consort, Kamalavalli Thayaar has a separate Sannidhi (Southerns!)..

A few clicks around the Prahaaram (corridor):












View from the Front


Charriot in Ruins

Prasadham is not distributed in the temple, though. We must get it from the Priest's home - third one on the Left (from the temple) on the road connecting to the temple. Three Ghee Appams for INR 20 is reasonable. Could've added a little more Jaggery while preparing.... but Prasadham is a Prasadham! No complaints!
#13 Mar 31st, 2012, 12:32
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Thanks prasanna for the photos of appakudathan. I enjoyed it very much with my family.
#14 Mar 31st, 2012, 13:45
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Scooty the name and the color - both cute! I don't have one, that's a different issue .

I loved the last photograph of the chariot in ruins! When I see it, it gives me a feeling of going a few centuries back.
#15 Apr 6th, 2012, 01:07
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#15

Kallanai Dam

Throughout our journey, the only source of disturbance were the numerous lorries carrying sand from the river bed. We did not understand the scale of the whole business until we saw this.....


A sample of the 'lorry-train'





A culvert and a mature Baniyan tree (with rooted Prop Roots)

Kallanai, or Grand Anicut is the furthermost dam, downstream Cauvery. The earliest arrangements for the diversion/distribution of Cauvery water have been in place for close to two millennia, thanks to King Karikalan of Early Cholas.


Chola King Karikalan

Under the British rule, a proper dam was put in place.


A closer look at the apex/lever of the sluice gate

Further down-course, River Cauvery gets distributed into innumerous channels, and gets lost while catering the paddy fields of Thanjavur (popularly called the rice bowl of Tamil Nadu), while a few channels drain into the sea. It would be safe to say Kallanai as a vertex of the Cauvery delta

Variety of men and women throng to Kallanai. Kallanai serves as a picnic / hang-out spot for the local residents.


A group of school kids from Pudukottai

It's a tradition that's easily over a thousand years old - annual gathering on the banks of Cauvery for a sumptuous, three-course meal on the 18th day of the Tamil Month Aadi - Tamarind Rice (Puliyodre/Puliyogre), and Coconut Rice followed by Curd rice. Ponniyin Selvan - arguably the most celebrated Tamil Novel - opens up with people gathering on the banks of Cauvery celebrating 'Aadi Perukku'.


Story of Sage Agasthyar and the crow - origination of River Cauvery










Humans weren't the only visitors at Kallanai






It would have been a lot more pleasing had we embarked on the trip during Monsoon/Winter, with Cauvery brimming, but this wasn't all bad, either. We were back home for Lunch.


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