Friday, September 14, 2012

A tiny dose of culture, a little temple,a short travel tale and a mini collection.

We were driving past the old Begumpet airport in Hyderabad. This is one of the busiest roads in Hyderabad where we have bumper to bumper traffic during peak hours and racing cars at other times but busy anytime of the day. When our car was idling in the traffic, a hoarding  caught my attention near lifestyle store.

The advertisement issued in public interest  by greater Hyderabad traffic police was aimed at motorists to wear helmets. It   had  Lord  ganesha holding an helmet and warning as below.

                                 (the above photo is from a social network)

I found the advertisement very educative, innovative and it also brought a smile on my face seeing Ganeshji standing beside a bike with a helmet in the hand. I suddenly, recalled I visited a place in the Thanjavur region long back, where I visited a unique Ganesh ji temple in the Thanjavur region of Tamilnadu. Thought of sharing this journey here.

One of my favorite travel routes is the Thanjavur – trichy belt in Southern Tamilnadu. This district is unique for its agricultural activities since it lies in the deltaic region of the famous River Cauvery. The numerous criss crossed canals and the rivers  tributaries which meander around the little villages having emerald green fields(during winter) is a sight to behold. These rivers which irrigate the fertile land give rise to many agricultural lands and so the traditional occupation here is agriculture. These lands yield bountiful crops giving this place the  name “ Granary  of south india”. This place was the cradle of tamil culture , literature and civilization and many rare historical books in the ancient Saraswathi Mahal library in Thanjavur further authenticate this fact.  Despite many invasions and other political turmoils the art, architecture and culture has not suffered much destruction. The people of the Cauvery basin region like Trichy, Thanjavur   are supposed to be connoisseurs of art, craft, literature, cuisine and even communication(talking smartly) etc.,All these are attributed to the waterr of river Cauvery. Most of the development in this region is owed to the Chola kings. Chola bronze art today fetches a huge value in the international market.

Do you get the drift, Why am I describing this region and praising the people so much? 

Hehehehe....yes, me by origins both from paternal, maternal and marital side belong to this place . Originally my ancestors belong to this region.

So ,this is one of my favorite travel routes. I  have’n t visited these places much  in my childhood except for a few occasional visits to my aunts place. So,  we love connecting our children to these places, whenever opportunity arises. And these opportunities arise often since my husband’s uncle place(Neyveli) and his grandparents place(Lalgudi) are close to this region. Most areas in this region is rich in ancient history and so it becomes a historical tour for my children and they easily connect to it. The river banks are also  home to many temple village. These temples are ancient and some predate to thousands of years like the Brihadeeswarar temple. ( World heritage site). You don't have to be religious to visit these ancient temples. But do visit one of them anywhere and you will feel the   powerful mystical cosmic  power. The idols in ancient temple built according to agama shastra are said to have esoteric power due to lot of chantings  than the newly constructed designer temples.

 Travelling through these villages in a car  is very difficult  since most of these are narrow,dusty and muddy roads, but you will discover the fun of a peaceful and tranquil rural life from every small daily happening of the locals . A real treat for  urban souls like us used to the glistening malls, bumper to bumper traffic and  living in concrete jungle drenched with neon lights.

 You have to take a sturdy amby or sumo for these roads which are called “otthai adi padhai” in tamil meaning one way lanes.  We had   real fun once when we navigated through these muddy  roads .The villagers scatter their harvested paddy  bounties so that the cars pass through the paddy and gets threshed.  We visited  many places each of which is rich in ancient history and deserves a post from me.  Not all villages are so backward, in fact when I passed through a village called Mudikondan I found people in agraharams( quarter around the temple)  speaking in impeccable english  although wearing the typical tamil costume of madisar sari(draped like the maharashtrian navsari) and the dhoti clad men. Most of who are retired judges and have held senior positions have made their native as the base for retirement our uncle told.

During one of our visits, we  passively helped the local villagers by threshing those paddy harvest by driving past those and after  manoevuring those roads fit for rally drivers we reached a place called Thilatharpana puri.

As the name suggests in Sanskrit 'Til' is gingelly, tharpana is the hindu ritual of offering respects to the departed souls and puri is city. Lord Rama is supposed to have offered respects to his father and hence this place is called Thilatharpana puri. The native story goes that Lord Ram offered his respects to his departed father here. Lord Dasharatha is supposed to have attained salvation(mukti) because of this. Hence, the main deity in the temple of Thilatharpana puri is called Muktheeswarar and his consort is called Sornavalli. It was a sleepy temple with not much activity around but every stone and wall had the stamp of antiquity.  When we came out of the temple precints,  we found a small temple dedicated to the scribe of Mahabharatha – Ganeshji. I would have overlooked him, if not for the name  Aadi(first in tamil) vinayagar written  in Tamil.

Immediately, we called a local to ascertain if it was ganeshji and why he had a human face.  The locals told it was the idol of Lord Ganesha in the human form much before he got his replacement of the elephant head. Also, called Nara Ganapathi. Not many people are aware of this temple and until we reached here neither were we aware of this temple.  Nothing much is known either about this temple.Wish historians like William Dalrymple travelled this route to find the hidden history here.Sometimes i feel foreigners are the ones who are more interested in our history and tell us how rich and glorious our past is. 

                                             (Photo courtesy: Google image)

There are very few temples with Ganeshji having a human face. This is one of the them.  There are many beautiful and ancient temples around here. Till then, I was used to seeing Ganesha in traditonal form and sometimes as a sports man, musician and other avatars with his elephantine head . For the first time, I got to see the Lord with a human face.Many of you know the story how he got his elephant head, for those who don't know. You can read it here.

 I love collecting his idols  and among my many unique ones are where he is the scribe of mahabharatha in  Sage Vyasa's hermitage, a traditional standing ganesha ,a ganesha walking under an umbrella and another 1/2 cm coral Ganesha and a wooden Ganesha festoon.

The middle shelf has a kondapalli creation ganesha as a scribe and the papier mache walking ganeshji with an umbrella is outside.
 I'm looking for a pretty big reclining ganesha in papier mache now to adorn my beauty wall between my drawing and dining hall. Something like the one you see below.

The above one which awaits polishing is a redsanders Ganeshji costing 60,000INR at shilparamam. My search is on for a economical one in papier mache. Hope to pick it up at any crafts village soon.

My other posts on Ganeshji are here and here.


  1. wowww...this is fantastic news..there is really a place with human head pullyaar is it!! woww...!!! come u knew abt it??!!

  2. anga pora varaikkum enukkum theriyadu.... I just love this area. Must mail some historians like Dalrymple to visit the place and unearth the history. It is a good spot to promote international tourism and earn foreign exchange.

  3. Interesting, informative and funny - how I loved the warning about the non-wearing of helmets.

    1. isn't he cute with the helmet? Even i loved the message.

  4. You really must become a travel writer. Your posts are unique and attract like a magnet.

    The Mudikondan story is interesting - had no ideas such a place existed. Maybe I should check it out - seems an option for me :)

    No doubt I can land up at your place for some kozhakattais !!

    1. for that lovely comment you will not get just kozhakattais, you will be treated for its chinese veg version of dimsums(Momo).. anytime you are in secbad:) anyways, thanks for that lovely comment and I cherish it. I am a freelancer.

      i will mail you the route taken. may be it will help you to plan when you make a trip.

  5. I really loved the Helmet Ganesha, and the message. It was good ot know about the human faced Ganesha too.
    Your collection of Ganeshas are good. Even I am an ardent collector of Ganesha idols and i have many of them. I have cute reclining baby ganesha in soap stone found just by chance in Mahabalipuram many years ago.
    You are a treasure house of such interesting information.

  6. Thanks for those beautiful words. will treasure them. nice to know you collect them too. I too have a reclining one bought at Victoria institute, madras. but it is very small. I am looking for a big one.

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