Saturday, March 23, 2013

Kumbakonam- The journey not the destination -4

On our way back home to Neyveli, we drove through Kumbakonam. This town which is around 37 kms from Thanjavur has many famous temples scattered around. All these temples are huge and have ancient written over them in culture and history. It draws theists from all over the world as each temple has a significance and keeps the faith of its  devotees. This town also hosts the ‘Mahamaham’ a kumbhmela which is held every 12 years once. This agricultural town is famous for brass vessels. Silk, scented supari(betel nut), sandal talc, betel leaves and many more. It also  lends its name to the filter coffee brewed in thanjavur household, The GI marked Kumbakonam degree coffee.
a section of the mahamaham tank, famous for Kumbhmela held every 12 years( a NatGeo spot too) 
Apart from the above, it also has thrown to the world some eminent stalwarts, scholars and educationists, the chief among them being Srinivas Ramanujam, The great mathematician. They were all educated in the premier college of this old town The Government arts college, which is proudly acclaimed as the ‘Cambridge of South India’.
It was close to 5.40 p.m when we were travelling through this temple town, we passed through the Mahamaha kulam( a sacred temple pond), but we had no intention of stepping into any temple. Not that we are atheists, we had already seen most of them during our previous visits and we had even washed our sins;) in the mahamaham tank  a couple of years back  on an ordinary day with no one around.(  it draws people only on auspicious days)
We were busy scouting for the landmark monument this time, Srinivas Ramanujam’s home.  After a cup of degree coffee in a hotel ( a separate post on this)  for which this city is known, we entered the Sarangapani street with the help of our GPS to visit the house of the Great mathematician. We could not locate the house in the busy narrow street and so enquired a few people who were localites. Nobody had a clue to where this house was. Finally a man suggested we ask at the town school which was at the end of the road, since Ramanujam studied there. We went around the main entrance of the town school and finally managed to get the direction from an autodriver. We followed his instructions around the school and guess where we landed?
Exactly at the place, where a  person directed to the town school. It is a very narrow and small house as you will see in the picture and not many localites are aware of it.
the thinnai( the platform ) of his house from where he solved many mathematical problems on his own without anybody's help.

It is taken over by SASTRA university and turned into an international monument now.  We were here on DEC 26th, just 14 days after his 125th birth anniversary. A fortnight back, There was a huge delegation of mathematicians from Europe to celebrate this event @SASTRA University. We spent a few moments with pride hopping in and out of each room and I signed the visitors register placed there. WE were lucky to be the last visitor because the visiting hours of the monument was only till 6.p.m and luckily the power also went off when we walked out of the place. The visit to this house was most fulfilling said my son who loves mathematics and all of us nodded our head. (Anybody who loves reading biographies, i would suggest read Robert Kaniegel's the man who knew infinity- a tribute to this mathematician and an inspiring read)
Out from there , we drove straight to our uncle’s place to Neyveli.

 The next day, we had a local visit to the lignite mines and the thermal power station of Neyveli. On Dec 28th,  after a lot of deliberations as to should we visit the gingee fort enroute to Chennai or tranquebar( which many elders like our uncle and aunt dismissed as a fishing village), I insisted we  visit Tranquebar and Karaikal.... and......I would rate Tranquebar was one of the beautiful places, I have ever seen.


  1. If you asked the average Kumbakonamite as to where Ramanujam's house was, the likely response would be, Ramanujam who ? What a pity.

    Kumbakonam and its surrounding areas has one of the largest concentration of temples anywhere. All of them have a rich history and legend and are extremely impressive - even if one is agnostic, it cannot fail to move you. The only other place that has such an effect, in my view, is Jerusalem.

    But for me, the Mahamaham tank is a big disappointment.

    Can't wait for the post on Kumbakonam Degree coffee. Logically thatshould beposted by the hubby, isn't it ?? Now, that's a readers' request ; nay a demand :)

    1. oh, never knew about jerusalem's surroundings.

      Your are right about mahamaham, not just this, even the thanjavur palace, museum and many such places need good maintenance and promotion.

      yes, will do the KD coffee post. I discovered the story behind the coffee in thirukadaiyur so following the sequence, it will be right after my tranquebar post. Put forth your demand to hubby and he told me to write on his behalf. LOL.

  2. Interesting travelogue! Such a famous person and his place is not known to the locals!!

    1. Yes shilpa, not many are aware of his house. he is more popular in europe.Sad indeed.