Thursday, October 30, 2008

Train Travel- A unique occurrence

A code that technology has not cracked or atleast Indian Railways has not cracked.


November 1 marks a revision in the timings of trains down South(Chennai Egmore to Kanniyakumari).

Technology has been a great enabler in terms of online train ticket booking. However, technology today proved that manual intervention still plays a role in life.

Here goes the story:

Salem-Chennai Express(Train No. 2298) leaves Salem at 21.40, arrives in Vriddachalam at 00.05hours and departs at 00.15 hours.(as per current timings).

Beginning November 1, this train will leave Salem at 21.00 and arrive at Vriddachalam Junction at 23.30 and depart at 23.40

Those who want to travel by this train(Train No. 2298) from Vriddachalam to Chennai on Friday night/Saturday morning (31st Oct night/ 1st November morning) will be in for a rude shock. The online portal(irctc.co.in) does not show the existence of this train!!!

Yes, Why so??

Because in possibly one of a kind occurrence, Train No. 2298(Salem Chennai Exp) halts twice on November 1 at Vriddachalam Junction.

The train that leaves Salem on 31st Oct at 940pm halts at Vriddachalam at 0.05hours on November 1(just after mid night) and Train that leaves Salem on 1st November evening at 9pm(after revised timing from Nov 1) halts at Vriddachalam at 23.30.

Hence, on November 1, the train No. 2298 halts there twice- first at 0.05hours and later that night at 23.30 hours.

The online portal as well as all the computer terminals recognise only the train that leaves Vriddachalam at 23.30. (i.e the train that leaves Salem on Nov 1 night at 9pm and not the train that leaves Salem on October 31 at 940pm)

Hence if you want to book a ticket from Vriddachalam to Chennai on 31st night/1st morning, you will not be able to book through online or through any of the computer reservation terminals.

You would have to do a manual booking – but that booking will be from Chinna Salem to Chennai Egmore because the train halts at Chinna Salem on 31st night at around 10pm.

Since technology recognises only one halt for a train number on a given day, two halts for the same train at the same station on the same day is a code that technology has still not cracked!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Sunil Gavaskar-Role Model Cricketer for Next Generation

CNN IBN Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Sachin-Gavaskar
Sunil Gavaskar as a role model

One would have hoped for some new insights from Rajdeep Sardesai’s interview with Sunil(Gavaskar) and Sachin(Tendulkar) but it turned out to be a damp squib. Guess it was meant to be a ‘positive hype’ interview of the two legends of Indian cricket and the aim was not to provide any fresh perspective into the cricketing lives of Sachin and Sunil. In fact, it turned out to be truly disappointing with the two players exchanging compliments.

Could not Rajdeep have asked them to select one other player instead of making it a ‘complimentary session’ for each other. It also seemed Rajdeep had not done enough research into the cricketing lives of the two or may be this interview was not meant for that.

Yesterday’s interview led me to ask if Gavaskar of the 1970s and 1980s was a role model for the next generation, as was kind of positioned in the interview( or may be he was a role model to emulate in terms of the number of runs he scored...but is 'Role Model' defined by the batting or bowling contribution alone) - Yes he did score runs and in tons and thousands. And no denying his great contribution in the number of runs he made, the quality of those runs, the soundest of techniques seen for an Indian opener, his almost flawless catching at first slip and his captaincy.

But was he a role model outside of the runs he made. Read the following:

1. In 1975, when India was chasing 300 plus in 60overs against England in the first World Cup under Venkataraghavan’s captaincy, Gavaskar scored 36 Not Out in 60 overs!!! Is that the mark of a role model- a team player?
2. In 1980-81, he forced his opening partner CPS Chauhan to walk off after being given out LBW to Dennis Lillee in a test in Australia. Was Australia’s biased umpiring in those days and/or Lillee’s provocation (if any) a justifiable reason for the world’s greatest opener to force his partner to walk off the ground in a Test Match!!!
3. In a domestic Ranji Trophy match in the early 1980s and a prestigious and high profile match at that (Bombay v Karnataka was one of the best duels in those days in domestic cricket), Gavaskar shocked one and all deciding to bat left handed, all of a sudden, leaving every one bewildered including the umpires!!! Is this a role model story???
4. In the mid 1980s, Gavaskar captaining India against the touring Zaheer Abbas’s Pakistan refused to agree to an early finish on the final evening when there was no chance of a result(other than a draw)- Reason….. Gavaskar was close to a century!!!! Zaheer protested….but ultimately match had to continue(because match could be called off only if mutually agreed by the two captains) and Gavaskar completed his century….Role Model????
5. Gavaskar dropped Kapil Dev from a test match for that one rash shot (which supposedly cost India the match) against England to teach Kapil a lesson and to make him more responsible….. Role Model!!! For someone who played 60 overs and scored 36 runs, any one playing a shot would be a villain…

While I guess Rajdeep’s interview was a platform to showcase the greatness of these two great Indian cricketers and to that end I think it served its purpose, I wish he had brought out the darker or tougher moments of these two great cricketers and asked as to how they handled those days….

Rajdeep also spoke about the two legends making runs against the toughest of opponents and asked if they moved a notch up playing against tougher opponents. Good line of thought….(Gavaskar against the West Indies and Tendulkar against Australia, but what about Gavaskar’s repeated failures in Australia when his team needed him the most)

For example, what was the dressing room scenario on the evening after Gavaskar batted 60overs for 36 runs or did he ever regret asking his helpless opening partner to walk off in that test in Australia in an embarrassing moment for Indian cricket.

There is no doubting that Gavaskar was the greatest opening bat of his generation and he thwarted many a new ball attack (and some of the best ones at that- yes Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Imran Khan etc…) in his fearless style in the non-helmet days. However, he was no role model… GRV recalling Bob Taylor in the Golden Jubilee test of 1980 was closer to a ‘Role Model’ scenario in what was once called a ‘Gentleman’s game’.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Darasuram Airavateswarar Temple

Chozha's 'Wonder Work on Stone'

This 12th Century AD Airavateswarar Temple in Darasuram (originally called Raja Rajeswaram) was the third in the series of temples built by the great Chozha Kings of that time.

While the 10th Century AD Thanjavur’s Brihadeeswarar temple, built by Raja Raja Chozha 1 is known for its tall tower, covers a huge area and symbolises bigness (hence called the Big Temple/Periya Koil), Darasuram’s Airavateswarar temple,built by Raja Raja Chozhan II,is a marvel and a standing example of the architectural expertise and 'work on stone' of the Chozha kings. The Jagannath Puri temple in Konark is believed to have taken inspiration from Darasuram’s architectural master piece.

The Name
The lingam is believed to have been worshipped by Indra’s white elephant (Airavatham) and hence the name ‘Airavateswarar’.

The Story
The Lord of Death, Yama, once incurred the wrath of a rishi and was cursed to have burning sensation all over his body. Yama is said to have visited this temple and invoked the blessings of Lord Airavateswarar by bathing in the temple tank. Pleased with his prayers, Airavateswarar is said to have liberated Yama from his curse.

Architecture
While being smaller in size, Darasuram’s Airavateswarar temple is easily the most artistic piece of construction among the four grand temples constructed by the Chozhas- Thanjavur’s Big Temple, Gangai Konda Cholapuram (North of Kumbakonam on the Sethia Thope-Vadalur-Neyveli Highway) and Thirubhuvanam (East of Kumbakonam enroute to Mayavaram).

Chariot Shaped Main Mandapam
The main Raja Gambira Mandapam is in the form of a chariot driven by Horses(Chariot Mandapam) - Eastern side and Western side. Inside this are 108 pillars, each one with exquisite sculptures depicting a historical event or a dancing moment- Shiva’s marriage attended by Vishnu and Brahmma, the entire sequence of Murugan Kalyanam, Saraswathi in Yoga Posture, Kannappa Nayanar, Annapoorani-with sharp nails that has been crafted beautifully, miniature forms of Pillayar, Shiva, Parvathi, Murugan.

While on the eastern side of the mandapam, one finds Saraswathi with a closed lotus (symbolic of the rising sun) and as one moves on to the western side one finds the depiction of Saraswathi with an open lotus (symbolic of the Sun having moved on to the west). On the upper walls of the Raja Gambira Mandapam, there are some drawings- of demons and birds, a large portion of which has lost its form and one finds only sketches.

Periya Puranam
Periya Puranam, a poetic account of the lives of the 63 Nayanmars, is depicted in a miniature form through 17th century vegetable colour paintings.

Some of the interesting and distinctive sculptures that stand out are Arthanareeswarar (half Shiva-half Shakthi) at the Eastern Entrance, Arjuna’s Penance, Agastyar and Naga Raja (Snake Lord) and Rathi-Manmatha story on the Southern side.


Chopped off Nandi’s head

On the Southern side of the temple, one finds a line of lamp posts on the ground. Lamps were believed to have been placed on top every evening. Along side the stretch of lamp posts are sculptures of Nandi, whose heads have been knocked off (I will stay away from the details relating to this rather treacherous act but one can guess as to who chopped off the head and during whose assaults at the Airavateswarar temple!!!!)

Yaali

At the Thirumaligai Mandapam, on the North Western side of the temple, one is welcomed by a beautiful depiction of Yaali, the mythological animal- Single body in 5 forms- Elephant’s tusk, Lion’s body, Goat’s horns, Pig’s ears and the tail of a cow. One can only wonder at the minute detailing of the sculptor and the effort that must have gone into this depiction.

A hiding Rama striking Vali in the Sugreeva-Vali fight is another interesting artistic work seen at the Thiru Maligai Mandapam.

Ball Dance of 12th Century AD
If one thought that ball dance was a recent invention, one would have to go back and look at this 12th Century AD sculpture.

Some of the artistic work that keeps you hooked on to the Northern side of the tower are Durgai, Mahisaasura Mardhini, Raavana on Mount Kailasa, Bairavar, a flute playing Radha Krishna and Dhanvantri. Across the entire stretch, there are also several carvings of ladies exhibiting their gymnastic skills.

On the North Eastern side, there is depiction of Vishnu playing drums in the Nataraja Dance Mandapam.

As one gets inside the Raja Gambira Mandapam and on way to the sanctum of Iravateswarar, one finds the pillars that are very simplistic and without any artistic work, reason being that one should not be distracted while praying to the Lord.
Wild Bull and an Elephant


A distinctive feature-Construction of the temple – Chozhas v Nayaks
While the base of the temple was built by the Chozhas, as can be seen from the granite construction, the top portion/structure was renovated by the Nayak Kings as can be seen from the mixture of the construction materials used- Gun Powder and Red Bricks.

The main Eastern entrance to the temple remains a Mottai Gopuram(no tower). Interestingly and not to be seen elsewhere, the Amman Sannidhi is in a separate temple just next to and North of the Airavateswarar temple.

Not to miss when at Darasuram
Beautiful Silk Sarees on the street opposite the Amman temple

How to reach Darasuram
Darasuram is about 3kms South West of Kumbakonam off the Thanjavur Highway.
Rock Fort Express from Chennai/ Mysore Mayiladuthurai Express from Bangalore to Kumbakonam. State Transport buses every 5 minutes from Trichy/Thanjavur to Kumbakonam.

Auto to Darasuram temple costs about Rs. 75/- from the Railway Station/ Bus Stand

There is a registered guide (Chinnadurai) at the temple to take visitors around the temple(He has been around since 1970).

Vada Madurai Soundararaja Perumal

The Northern Boundary of the Pandya Kingdom
Located about 16 kms North of Dindigul off the Dindigul- Trichy National Highway, Vada Madurai was once the Northern border of the Pandya Kingdom called ‘Vidaathi’.

After the fall of Madurai, people spread out and settled in different places. One Group is said to have come to Vada Madurai. These people, who could not go to Madurai every day to pray to the deity there, built a temple here so they could invoke (the blessings of) the Lord in their own place.

As a symbol of ‘beauty’, they built a Krishna temple here and named it as Soundara Raja Perumal. Kumbabhishekam took place recently in 2006.

Quick Facts

Deity: Soundara Raja Perumal
Goddess: Soundara Valli Thaayar(Separate Sannidhi)

Temple timing: 6am-12noon and 4pm-830pm

Festivals: 13 day Aadi Festival

Priest: Devaraj Bhattar/ Krishnamurthy Bhattar

Contact: 04551 238944/ 238781(call for the priest in this number)

How to reach Vada Madurai

Buses every 5 minutes from Dindigul(Trichy bound buses)

A couple of passenger trains from Madurai and Dindigul stop at Vada Madurai station.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Thadi Kombu Soundararaja Perumal

The Northern House of Maaliruncholai Azhagar A Prarthana Sthalam to overcome various problems in life

Located 8kms North West of Dindigul on NH7 (Dindigul-Karur-Salem Highway) is the  1000years old Soundararaja Perumal temple in Thaadi Kombu.This place was once referred to as  Thaalai Vana Kshetram (reference to the number of palm groves surrounding the Soundararajan temple). With the congregation of a huge Telugu population in this area, over time, this region came to be renamed as Thaadi Kombu (the place of palm trees).

The Legend
Having been turned into a frog, Manduga Rishi was undertaking penance here on the banks of Kumba River to relieve himself of his sins. Attacked by Asura Thalasuran, Manduga Rishi sought the help of Lord Soundararajan of Azhagar Koil who answered the Rishi’s prayers by killing the Asura.

A happy Manduga Rishi who got back his human form requested the Lord to provide darshan to everyone in the same form here at this place. As the Lord acceded to his request, this temple is said to be the Northern Home of Maaliruncholai Azhgar.

Solution to various problems
The temple is special as it houses in the same complex Lords who provide solutions to different problems. This is the only temple to house Goddess Saraswathi and Lord Hayagriva in the same sannidhi.

A Special Pooja is performed at the Dhanvantri Sannidhi on No Moon day to relieve one of any health problems. A visit to the Lakshmi Narasimha Sannidhi on full moon day is said to help solve finance related issues.

Special Pooja on Thursdays at the Rathi- Manmatha Sannidhi relieves couples of problems in their married life. A pooja during Rahu Kaalam on Sunday at the Swarna Aakarshana Bairavar Sannidhi helps one recover from financial losses and bad debts.

Sculptures
A big feature at this temple is the beautifully crafted sculptures on the Southern side of the temple similar to the one at Krishnapuram near Tirunelveli - 14 in all including Anjaneya carrying Rama on his shoulder, Vaikuntanathan sleeping atop Adhiseshan, Maha Vishnu mounted on Garuda, Battle with Hiranya and ‘Hiranya Samhaaram’ - quite a difficult one to carve.  There are also 7 musical pillars at the temple. Another unique feature is the presence of a standing Pillayar and Vishnu Durgai. 

The temple was renovated by the Vijayanagar kings, Achudeva Raya and his brother Ramadeva Raya in the 16th Century AD. Thirumalai Nayakar was responsible for the exquisite sculptures. One finds reference to the Northern House at Thaadi Kombu in inscriptions relating to Pandya kings who ruled Madurai in the 9th-12th Century AD,  an indication that this temple dates back to a time prior to that period and is well over a 1000 years old.

Inscription within the temple makes this reference - 
“……சுந்தர பாண்டிய மண்டபதிலே நானும் நம் பெண்டுகளும்
மூலகமா இறுகலில்
நமக்கு வடக்கு வீடான
திருமலை தாடி கொம்பு அழகர் 
….”

Capital of Dindigul
The British who captured Dindigul in 1801 made Thaadi Kombu the first capital of Dindigul.

Quick Facts
Moolavar   : Soundararajan East Facing Standing Posture
Goddess    : Kalyana Soundara Valli Thaayar
Time          :7am-12noon and 430pm-830pm. 
Contact      : Badri Jagannathan Bhattar @ 98655 37340 / Rajappa Bhattar @ 94420 30304 /
                    Ramamoorthy @94865 01122
Office       : EO Kathiresan @98655 35788 / 0451 2557232

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Veerapandiya Kattabomman

It was on this day, in 1799, that one of our earliest freedom fighters Veerapandiyan was hanged from a tree in Kayathar

209 years after that fateful day (16th October 1799) that saw one of the earliest and arguably the most inspirational freedom fighters of our state Veerapandiya Kattabomman hanged from a tamarind tree in the British Camp at Kayathar, West of Panchalankuruchi, what remains is just a memorial of Kattabomman inside a small rebuilt fort.

Panchalankurunchi wears a deserted look with only a few tea stalls in the vicinity. Bus services are infrequent and visitors to the fort only seasonal, mostly school students and foreign tourists!!!!

It is a matter of shame that the man who fought a heroic battle against the British and could only be captured because of traitors from neighbouring kingdoms (Ettayapuram/Pudukottai) and who was to be an inspiration to Rani Jhansi Bai and the well acclaimed first war of Indian Independence (1857) half a century later has been so forgotten in a world that today only seems to know/talk about ‘IT’ and ‘Stock Market booms and crashes’.

Even our maps seem to have relegated Panchalankuruchi to a non-highlighted region so much so that one has to search for the location. The one recent recognition was the commemorative stamp brought in 1999 to mark his 200th death anniversary!!!

The Kattabomman Clan
Jagaveera Pandiyan of Ottapidaram (then Veera Pandiyapuram) had a brave minister, GettiBommu (in Telugu), who had migrated from Andhra Pradesh to Tamil Nadu. Known for his fighting qualities, the minister at a later point in time came to be called Kattabomman(in Tamil).

Kattabomman ascended the throne after Jagaveera Pandiyan and came to be called Aathi Kattabomman(the first one). Veerapandiyan was born in this clan, on 3rd January 1760, to Jagaveeran Kattabomman and Arumugathammal. He had two brothers –Duraisingam and Dalavai Kumaraswami.

While Veerapandiyan was called the Karuthaiah(black prince), his brother Dalavai was referred to as the Sivathaiah (white prince). Interestingly, his other brother Duraisingam, who was a good orator, was referred to as Oomaithurai (dumb prince)!!! Oomaithurai was the one who held fort for a couple of years after Veerapandiyan’s death

Event leading to the Panchalankuruchi Fort
Once during a hunting expedition, Kattabomman was a witness to a remarkable incident that led to the building of the fort and the emergence of Panchalankuruchi. Several dogs chased a hare, which had to run for its life. However, suddenly, the hare stopped, turned back and in a daring incident, gave the hounds a chase.

Stunned by this event, it struck Kattabomman that this land had special powers and to inspire its people to lead a brave life decided to build the fort in this very same area and named it Panchalankuruchi, after his grand father Panchalan.

Veerapandiyan crowned King

In the Tamil calendar month of Thai(mid January-mid February)- on 2nd February 1790 at the age of 30, Veerapandiyan was crowned the 47th king and the 5th from the Kattabomman clan.

The Tiruchendur Temple connection
Veerapandiyan was a big devotee of Tiruchendur Lord Murugan and would begin his day only after the prayers to the Tiruchendur Lord. Veerapandiya Kattabomman installed around 40 bells, constructed what he called Mani Mandapam at various points between the Tiruchendur temple and the Panchalankuruchi Fort and appointed a person along this route to man the bells. Each of these bells would ring at the time of the pooja at the Tiruchendur temple and it was with the blessings of Lord Muruga would Veerapandiyan begin his day.

To this day, one can see the remains of these bells along the Panchalankuruchi-Tiruchendur route.

Kattabomman was also a staunch believer of Goddess Jaggammal. A temple in memory of this can be seen in the fort area.

Rivalry between Panchalankuruchi and Ettayapuram kings
From the very early days, there was bitter rivalry between Veerapandiyan and Ettappa, the ruler of Ettayapuram, a kingdom about 15kms North of Panchalankuruchi. Bitten time and again by the fearless Veerapandiyan, a wounded Ettappa was biding his time to seek revenge on the ruler of Panchalankuruchi. And it was this petty rivalry between the rulers of the neighbouring villages that was to prove fateful to Veerapandiyan a few years later.

Veerapandiyan was a powerful and fearless leader and very soon he had 96 villages under his rule and his name spread far and wide.

However, very early into his rule, he had to face the wrath of the British on the taxation front. The Arcot Nawab who had borrowed from the British gave them the right to collect taxes across the Southern region. When the Britishers came to Veerapandiyan to collect unpaid taxes of 6 years, he refused to pay and for a while even refused to meet them to discuss this issue.

The meeting with Jackson
Finally, he relented and met with British General Jackson in the Ramanathapuram palace in September 1798. Veerapandiya Kattabomman rendered a fiery speech stating that the British neither had a right over the land nor on the income (generated) from it.

This shook Jackson and the meeting ended on a bitter note. Veerapandiya Kattabomman slain several of the British soldiers. However, Veerapandiyan’s minister Thanapathi Pillai was captured in the ensuing fight and he was taken in their custody and sent to Tiruchirapalli for 15 days. Shaken by the ill treatment meted out to him, Thanapathi Pillai looted the Paddy Granary of the British in Sri Vaikuntam, about 30kms east of Tirunelveli.

With the help of Ettappan, who informed them about Veerapandiyan’s absence, the British led by Bannerman attacked Panchalankuruchi on a day when Kattabomman was away at the Tirchendur temple and in the battle that followed, captain Vellayathevan was killed.

In March 1799, Kattabomman was called for a meeting regarding the non payment of taxes but he refused to meet. Under Bannerman, the British attacked the fort of Panchalankuruchi from all sides. Kattabomman defeated the British who were left waiting for reinforcements, after which they renewed their attacks on the fort with cannons.

Brutal Execution of Chieftain
Thaanapathi Pillai was taken as a prisioner and executed, and in a brutal act, the British left his head hanging outside the Panchalankuruchi fort in an effort to send shock waves across the Panchalankuruchi forces.

Regardless of the presence of the huge British army, armed with deadly cannons, Sundaralingam, an important chieftain of Veerapandiyan, hoisted Kattabomman’s flag in an act in line with his leader’s dynamism.


Kattabomman leaves Panchalankuruchi
With the British strengthening their army, Kattabomman was advised to leave Panchalankuruchi and with his brother, left one night for Tiruchirapalli through an underground tunnel from the Panchalankuruchi fort.

Panchalankuruchi Fort Destroyed
In September 1799, Ettappan informed the British of Kattabomman’s departure from the fort. Taking advantage of this, the British attacked the Panchalankuruchi fort once again and demolished it with their cannons.

Kattabomman sought refuge in his friend Pudukottai Vijayaragunatha Thondaiman, who was also a close aide of Ettappan of Ettayapuram. The Pudukottai ruler did give refuge but he also informed the British of Kattabomman’s presence. The British attacked Kattabomman in Pudukottai and captured him.

Kattabomman Hanged in Kayathar

In October 1799, Veerapandiya Kattabomman was brought to the British camp in Kayathar and in what is widely believe to have been an unfair trial he was sentenced to death and hanged from a tree on the morning of 16th October 1799.And thus came to an end the life of possibly the bravest freedom fighter that Tamil Nadu has seen and one who continues to be an inspiration to this day. Even on that morning with death knocking on his doors, it is believed that Veerapandiya Kattabomman did not flinch an eyelid and walked to the tree with his head held high.

Panchalankuruchi after Kattabomman

Oomaithurai, the brother of Veerapandiyan, escaped from prison, gathered 7000 people and rebuilt the Panchalankuruchi fort in just 5 days (in February 1801). The fort rebuilt by him was compared to the Fort Gibraltor in Spain. However, in May that year the fort of Oomaithurai was destroyed in a brutal attack by the British. During this fight, Oomaidurai was gravely injured and fell unconscious.

In an unruly and shameful act, the British sowed Castor and Calostrophic seeds/salt on the area around the Panchalankuruchi fort so as to prevent erection of any structure on that spot in the future. And thus came down the huge fort built by Kattabomman, one that had its original inspiration from a hare chasing the hounds.

What remains today of the 30 acre Panchalankuruchi Fort

A memorial was set up for Veerapandiya Kattabomman in 1974 and a fort built on a 6 acre land here which is maintained by the tourism department. There are about 200 families belonging to the Kattabomman clan who still reside here. They have found jobs as day labourers, mechanics, policemen but it would not be far away from truth if one were to say that they are leading a financially insecure life.

There are seven arches (dedicated to the chieftains of Veerapandiyan) in the gateway to the Panchalankuruchi fort via Kurukkuchalai and Ottapidaram.

Photo sketch at the Memorial Fort
A remarkable photo sketch of the entire life of Kattabomman was done in Panchalankuruchi in 1974. Without any aid from technology, a photo of the hanging incident was sketched in a way that a fiery Veerapandiyan in his last moments seem to be looking at the onlooker from which ever direction you are at.

Conclusion

The map of Tamil Nadu may have handed out a 2nd hand treatment to Panchalakuruchi (quite shockingly, the Tamil Nadu tourism site has Panchalamkuruchi on the 7th page in the most important places of Thoothukudi!!!), the people may have forgotten (except on the day his movie is aired on one of the Television Channels) this inspiring and fearless freedom fighter of Tamil Nadu because of whom we have this freedom today, but make no mistake about it….the residents of Panchalankuruchi have something about them that truly inspires you. They believe in the soil and their valiant hero who gave his life in the battle for freedom. Just setting foot into this land and talking to the descendents of the Kattabomman clan creates a positive vibration and a fearlessness in you that one does not easily get to feel in this current day life.

It is important that Panchalankuruchi and Ottapidaram (the birth place of that other great freedom fighter VOC) are transformed into locations of national importance and hopefully Tamil Nadu Tourism will one day promote this region aggressively- Panchalankuruchi-Ottapidaram- Kayatharu- as the place from where emerged one of the earliest battles for freedom against the colonial rule of the British in Tamil Nadu.

In the absence of a concerted effort to bring back to glory the contribution of this valiant leader, Veerapandiya Kattabomman will remain only in the (school) history books and a once in a year movie on a TV channel.

Where is Panchalankuruchi
Panchalankuruchi is about 20 kms North West of Tuticorin and about 6kms West of Kurukuchalai off the NH45B Tuticorin- Madurai highway. It is about 15kms South of Ettayapuram.

How to reach Panchalankuruchi
1. Take Pearl City Express from Chennai to Tuticorin and then

a. Local bus to Ottapidaram (3 kms from Panchalankuruchi)
b. State bus from Tuticorin to Madurai and get down at Kurukuchalai

2. Take Pearl City or Nellai or Ananthapuri Express from Chennai to Kovilpatti and then

a. Take the bus from Kovilpatti to Tuticorin
b. Get down at Kurukuchalai (Kovilpatti to Kurukuchalai takes about 45minutes to an hour)

3. For Enterprising people Only - Take Pearl City or Ananthapuri Express to Kadambur or Vanchi Maniyachi and then

a. Explore a really infrequent bus service to Ottapidaram

While at Panchalankuruchi, one should also visit Kayatharu (about 25kms West) the place where Kattabomman was hanged. Again, buses every one hour from Ottapidaram.

Best to stay in Madurai/Thoothukudi/Tirunelveli