Friday, March 1, 2013

GKC- The journey not the destination - 3

At 6 in the morning we left Neyveli  township after a days rest on Christmas We drove out of the township to enter a village lane leading to Thanjavur which was our destination. From Neyveli, MIL too joined us on the road trip  filling us( especially the children) with lots of anecdotes from yore since this territory is familiar to her. This made the journey more interesting.  

 Throughout the journey we were blessed with the best driving weather. We had our windows downed and the car was on medium pace so that we could stop at many places and soak the  beauty of the countryside and  breathe in the fresh air.  Either side of the road opened up to scenes which were refreshing and novel for urban souls   like lotus/lily laden, duck wading ponds, the carpetted luminscent green fields, flock of white birds in the sky, the meandering rivulets of Cauvery and its tributary coleroon( kollidam) , the dung plastered thatched huts, traditional pucca house, the simple life of the villagers enjoying rural bliss, walking to their fields,  chatting under tree canopies, driving their flock of sheep, and herding their cattle, some enjoying doing nothing and  watching people on the move.  All scenes moved past  in time to an older, slower world till we reached the sign board of a village Jayamkondan( the victor in tamil)

At Jayamkondan,  we took a detour of 3 kms  to the left which led us to the once thriving chola capital-  Gangai konda Chola puram(GKC) which is now a UNESCO declared World Heritage site. In tamil, it means the chola who conqured ( held) the Ganga.They  made it their capital after they conqured till the Ganges in the north and hence the name. Their stamp of architecture is evident in  The  replica of Brihadeeswarar temple modeled on the The big temple in Thanjavur. More than a temple of worship, the gigantic and grand Chola temples were home to art, architecture,culture and social work. The temples and palace were destroyed during British aggression but still a major part of the temple remains making this a great living temple of Chola while  the ruins of the palace are buried. Excavated remains of the palace remain though some 10kms away.  But that is 10 century old  History and very far away back  and may be a  topic for me to make a post on GKC. This is now a sleepy village except the area marked  and maintained by ASI, this place has not much  visitors and is not very famous like its parent temple in Thanjavur unless a few curious foreigners and Indians visit.We spent our time clicking photos where there were no visitors except us  apart from The ASI employed malis who were tending the gardens.

From there  we were back on the road to cross a narrow but long metallic and concrete bridge, we were stopped by a policeman with a walkie talkie.

He stopped us and the dialogue between him and the H flowed thus.

Policeman: You can't cross the bridge now.  This is oneway.

The H: oh! sorry, i will take the alternate but which way to Thanjavur

Policeman: This is British one way. wait here for some time.

As, we were waiting we clicked some pics from the beautiful bridge under which River Kollidam, a tributary of Cauvery was pretty much in glory. This place is called Anaikarai (dam in tamil) the primary occupation is fishing and agriculture here.

By then, the policeman who stood there explained that this is a very narrow and weak bridge which can allow traffic only one side. The bridge is nearly 1km long and at the other end another policman with walkie talkie mans the bridge. Between them they talk on the walkie talkie to regulate the traffic and ensure the traffic is flowing on one side only alternatively. After the oncoming vehicles were off the bridge. The vehicles from our side were allowed to move on the bridge.  Every 5 minutes they coordinate, job requires alertness. For pedestrains though there is a small pathway on either side enough to allow one person.  This he said was British one way and the bridge was built during 1940. This was an interesting and a new experience.

And finally after all these, we reached our destination  at Thanjavur - The Saraswati Mahal Library  One of the oldest library in the world set up in 1700AD

Check some pics here, click on them to feel the place.

            Neyveli lignite mines as seen from the road. It is deep and for me it looked like a mini Grand canyon.

                                                  beautiful young green  paddy fields              

These lenghty grass by the river beds are called korai grass and are used for making grass mats

             The lifeline of the Granary of South India,  Thanjavur - the river Cauvery. Without this the whole area would have been a barren land. I love and have grown drinking this water. Water they say is tasteless but she (cauvery) is an exception.

                                        The Brihadeeswarar temple in GKC is beautifully maintained. It is now undergoing a facelift.(hence the scaffolding on the tower(vimana)
                               This is a well called Simhakeni. Meaning the lion faced well

                                                One of the side walls of the main tower
One of the entrance leading to the main temple.
One of the small temples within the temple premises . there are 4 such temples on either sides.

                                                       The lotus and lily laden ponds enroute

Specifications of the bridge-  clicked while we were waiting for the clearance to cross the bridge.

Clicked the Coleroon river from the bridge while whiling our time. the pic from my mobile does not have good lighting but i loved the way the trees bowed towards the river.

P.s: I find some of the general words in my post linked to google sites, i don't know how. Only on publishing it gets linked, it is not there in the draft. Especially in this post, the word "employed' and in the previous post words like "work". I also receive lot of anonymous comments. Can anybody help fix this problem?


  1. Oh yes - GKC is a fine place although it is a telling fact that virtually no Indians go there. Our sense of history is fairly low. Even the incomparable Brihadeeswara temple will probably attract much less visitors had it not been for the fact that it is a working temple.

    Yes the famous Anaikarai (Lower Anicut) is still the only way to reach Kumbakonam from this side. A couple of years it ws closed completely and you could only reach via Thanjavur. The bride is indeed weak and its a commentary n India that the British built this in 1940 and how far reaching their thinking was and that we have been talking about building another for decades and done nothing. Did you notice that the anicut was built in 7 months or so - can you imagine that happening today.

    1. I liked GKC more than the big temple. Like you say, less people appreciate history.

      Oh, was the bridge closed for couple of years. That must have caused a lot of inconvenience then no?

  2. Wonderful post Asha!
    It brought back memories of these places visited by us. The lotus pictures are truly beautiful. Once we had to attend the wedding of our nephew, which was held in Kumbakonam, and while there was enough time, we visited all the Iyengar temples and also the historical monuments. We stayed in the beautiful Swamimalai resort, and really enjoyed the trip.
    The next time, I specially planned the trip to visit the Garbarakshambikai temple which is a little distance from Kumbakonam, a really beautiful and calm temple without any crowds.
    My husband's home town is Kodavasal which is in Kumbakonam, had lot of fun shopping for the special coffee filter made of brass, for which this place is famous, and also bought a big dancing Tanjore tali atti bomai, Thatha Patti, and two rocking dolls too.
    These places are really worth visiting. I can see you all thoroughly enjoyed your visits to these places.

    1. Thank you, Rama. Glad to know you enjoyed this region. and that resort is Anandam Swamimalai i suppose. We wanted to go there but we overshot the road and we had no time to retrace that place.

      Lovely pieces of art you have picked up.

  3. Enjoyed the beautiful and elaborate write up. Had been to the calm and serene Garbarakshambigai temple in Dec. We have a very rich heritage which needs to be saved for the future generations. Looking forward for many more from you.

    1. I have heard about the Garbarakshambigai temple, never been there. Especially this whole region is a treasure trove of rich heritage. Thank you, Ms.chitchat:) glad to see you here after a long time.

  4. Enjoyed the journey through your eyes!
    Loved the lotus and lily ponds! It must be a sight!

  5. yes, shilpa. The sights, sounds and smell of some rural areas is a sensory feast for many urban souls.