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September 21st, 2014, 2:25 pm Top
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Where kings and traders paused to nap


Over 60 inscriptions immortalize history on the stone walls of a 1000-year-old Shiva temple in Sivapuripatti

“When Kulothunga Chola-I subjugated the Pandya kings in the 11th Century A.D., Jainism had taken roots in the Pandya country. A staunch saivaite, Kulothunga decided to resurrect the lost religion and constructed Shiva temples and mutts across the region,” narrates art historian Dr. R. Venkatraman. “Most of these places functioned as centres propagating Saivism and were situated along the major trade routes. These were also the places for the monarchs to rest.”

One such Shiva temple was built at Sivapuripatti, a village situated on the legendary trade route connecting two ancient ports -- Muziris on the west coast and Thondi on the east. “The Chinese traders landed in Thondi port, while the Romans used Muziris,” says Venkatraman. “The route which was later maintained by Rani Mangammal, exists till date and passes through a number of villages.”

Today, Sivapuripatti in the present Sivaganga district is much like any other village with tiled-roof houses, dry ponds, barren fields and tall trees under which men play Dhayam and Kattam. Probably, this was how the kings and traders also played in leisure when they stopped at the mutts in the village en route to business and wars.

Not a single mutt said to be built by the Cholas is seen today. Only the temple of Suyamprakasham stands intact, bearing a slew of 60 inscriptions on its stone walls.

Each inscription tells a story from the past, about royal families, peasants, damsels and warriors. “These inscriptions in Tamil script belong to different time periods starting from 11th to 17th Century A.D., showing that the village was inhabited continuously and a number of kings passed through this place,” says Dr. V. Vedachalam, Retd. Archaeological Officer.

Apart from four inscriptions by Kulothunga-I, few date to the reigns of medieval Pandya kings Srivallaba, Parakrama, Kulsekara, Sundara and Vikrama Pandya. Some also refer to Vijayanagara kings like Achutharaya and NagamaNayaka and the much later Polygars such as Vijaya Ragunatha Setupati of Ramnad and the Marudu Brothers of Sivaganga.

One of the inscriptions records the existence of 10 dancers in the temple and a nattuvangar who choreographed the performances during festivals. Another refers to a peace treaty signed between two clans that ruled the region – Nishada Rajans of Pon Amaravathy and Dwarapati Velans. It elaborates on the practice of giving lands in charity to families of martyrs.

Yet another inscription talks about how King Maravarman Sundara Pandya installed an idol of his predecessor Moothanayagan in the temple premises.

“The Inscriptions state that Sivapuripatti was called Nirubasekara Chaturvedi Mangalam and Chola Marthanda Chaturvedi Mangalam during various eras,” says Vedachalam, who also postulates that the village could have been among the 300 hamlets that constituted the kingdom of Pari.

“The Sangam literature sings the glory of Piranmalai which is close by and Sivapuripatti could have very well been a part of Pari nadu.”

“A Panchaloha Nataraja idol was apparently consecrated here, though we don’t find it now,” says Vedachalam. The village people say that the idol was taken to the Archaeological research centre in Chennai, a few years back.

Another rare idol found in the temple is that of Jyeshta Devi, along with Nandikeshwara and Agni.

“This can only be found in Pandya period temples. Jyeshta Devi was the clan-deity of Pandyas and symbolizes fertility,” says Venkatraman. “The temple reflects both Pandya and Chola architectural elements. The short vimana is a trademark style of the medieval Pandyas.”

Sivapuripatti is two kilometres from Singampunari and can be reached via Kottampatti.

The heritage walk was jointly organized by DHAN Foundation, INTACH and Travel Club.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/where-kings-and-traders-paused-to-nap/article6426806.ece


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October 1st, 2014, 1:35 pm Top
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A museum where Gandhiji is still ‘alive’

Gandhi Museum has his 14 personal belongings

“If someone were to end my life by putting a bullet through me and I met his bullet without a groan and breathed my last taking God’s name then alone would I have made good my claim.”

These were the words of Mahatma Gandhi on January 29, 1948, a day before he was assassinated.

As the country is all set to celebrate his 145 birth anniversary on October 2, a visit to the famous Gandhi Memorial Museum here creates a feeling as if the Father of the Nation is still alive. In fact, his above mentioned words welcome the visitors to the special enclosure where some of the original artefacts used by Gandhiji are preserved for posterity.

What stands out in the museum is a blood-stained cloth worn by Gandhiji on the day he was assassinated, which is among the most valuable artefacts that rekindle the memory of the Mahatma.

The Gandhi Memorial Museum, which was inaugurated on April 15, 1959 by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, has 14 original belongings of which the stained cloth stands out.

Going around the galleries on the 13.5-acre museum campus reminds everyone of the sacrifices, struggle and selfless saga of Gandhiji and his followers.

“Foreign tourists who visit the museum spend a lot of time near the original artefacts and those from the UK break down on seeing the blood-stained cloth. Some of them even say that they feel ashamed and embarrassed that Gandhiji was put to a lot of hardship by the British during the independence movement,” a woman guide said on Tuesday.

A pair of spectacles with box used by Gandhiji after 1947; an original letter dated March 7, 1937, written by him to Narayanasath Sanghi of Devakottai and signed in Tamil; original yarn spun by him and a wooden spoon of 1946; a shawl used on his visit to the 1931 Round Table Conference at Buckingham Palace; a pillow with cover, Gandhiji’s letter to Hitler in March 1939 to prevent war and a pair of footwear used in 1945 are among his original belongings that generate interest for the present generation.

The Gandhi Memorial Museum is one of the seven museums established by the All India Gandhi Memorial Trust to perpetuate his memory and propagate his message.

It is housed in the majestic summer palace of Rani Mangammal, a regent of the Nayak dynasty.

“Gandhiji is more relevant now since there is violence everywhere. Peace should become people’s culture and that is what he wanted. He told people to be courageous but not violent,” says M.P. Gurusamy, museum secretary.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/a-museum-where-gandhiji-is-still-alive/article6464626.ece


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October 1st, 2014, 1:37 pm Top
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“Preserve Madurai’s history”

Nearly 500 nature lovers and history enthusiasts converged at Samanar hillock on the way to Keelakuyilkudi on Sunday despite the rain for ‘Rock Fest,’ organised by the Green Walk team to mark their 40th exercise.

Retired archaeologist C. Santhalingam explained the historical significance of Jain remnants at Chettipudavu. He said it was important to spread the historical and traditional accounts of Madurai to every person. “It will not be possible to excavate places within the city to trace remnants of forts and other prominent sites. Therefore, we should conserve the sites around the city,” he said.

According to him, places such as Kazhugu Malai, an 8th century hillock, and Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple that eulogise the history of the ancient city, should be protected.

Writer N. Murugesa Pandian said it was necessary to protect Tamil traditions, culture and language. “Such gatherings and explorations are important to study the richness of our past,” he said.

Environmental thinker Theodore Baskaran explained how Jain inscriptions had engravings on the lives of the common men. “Until World War II, a lot of interest was shown in studying inscriptions that contained details of former kings in order to trace history. When people wanted to know about the common man, Jain inscriptions and ‘Nadukal’ were studied,” he said.

Mr. Baskaran said such gatherings gave people an insight into happenings in the outside world. “These activities create sensitivity in people, particularly among students,” he added.

A. Muthukrishnan, founder of Madurai Green, noted that people in villages showed more concern in protecting natural resources and historical sites.

Geologist Christopher Jeyakaran released ‘History of Madura-Voyage into Jaina Antiquity,” an English translation of a book titled ‘Madura Varalaaru.’

The third edition of ‘Madura Varalaaru’ was also released. Various activities were organised for children.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/preserve-madurais-history/article6456755.ece


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October 2nd, 2014, 2:33 pm Top
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http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/gandhi-museum-needs-donation-to-build-corpus/article6467996.ece?homepage=true

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The historic Gandhi Memorial Museum here has been spruced up for Gandhi Jayanthi on Thursday. The campus has been illuminated and volunteers are busy making the final arrangements for celebrating the 145th birth anniversary of the Mahatma on a grand scale for five days from October 2.

But, the museum is strapped for funds to meet its recurring expenses and conduct programmes. It is counting on donations from philanthropists to build a corpus fund for sustaining the momentum that started with its inception in April 1959.

The museum is being maintained with a fund of Rs.5 crore deposited in nationalised banks. Interest accrued from the deposit is used for maintenance, salaries of staff and other expenses. The State government offers Rs.3 lakh a year for maintenance. Since there is no entrance or parking fee for visitors, the museum has to rely on public support. During 2013-14, it attracted 3,26,617 visitors, of whom 24,229 were foreigners.

There are 25 employees working in the museum and on many occasions the administration, which is run by a management committee, finds it hard to pay their salaries, sources told The Hindu on the eve of Gandhi Jayanthi.

While the bi-monthly electricity bill comes to Rs.70,000, the museum also has to meet expenses for cleaning, maintenance, stationery and other things. Toilets are inadequate for the visitors and staff.

Gandhi Museum secretary M.P. Gurusamy laments that there is no covered auditorium on the 13.5-acre campus and hence it is difficult to host any event when it rains. “We are unable to hold programmes for students in the open. The museum does attract old people since there are no features to attract children. But we plan to have an audio-visual museum for children to know about Gandhiji,” he says.

The museum pins its hopes on philanthropists, public donors and increased government funding to sustain its operations.

The fund crunch notwithstanding, the museum has managed to line up several programmes for the five days with a bill for Rs.2.5 lakh.


If not large ,atleast decent funding both from public as well as CG,SG is much required to help the museum in serving its purpose .


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October 11th, 2014, 6:56 am Top
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October 21st, 2014, 9:26 pm Top
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Forest Department keen on making it an eco-tourism hotspot

One among the 25 sites identified by the State government to promote eco-tourism, the tranquil Kutladampatti is all set to get a fillip with the District Forest Department commencing work to make it an eco-tourism hotspot.

Funds to the tune of Rs.51 lakh have been allotted for eco-tourism development, and a meeting was held by officials of the Forest Department and members of Eco-Tourism Development Committee (EDC) of Kutladampatti to discuss the development of the spot.

The EDC comprises a general body which will have locals who live in and around Kutladampatti and an executive body consisting of officials from the Forest Department.

Speaking about the proposed development in the area, District Forest Officer (DFO) Nihar Ranjan said that the department would be engaged in training members of the local community in contributing and sustaining eco-tourism initiatives there.

“Following the model of eco-tourism which seeks to develop and maintain a place as a tourism destination while involving the local community, we will be engaging the locals as guides, cooks and facilitators for the tourists who visit the place. They will be paid by the EDC from the money earned through eco-tourism,” he explained.

“While the local community will be trained over the next few months to facilitate eco-tourism, the department will simultaneously concentrate on the development of infrastructure facilities in the area to help trekking activities,” Mr. Nihar Ranjan added.

An interpretation centre, eco-huts, trekking sheds, camping equipment, toilets, watchtowers and car parking facilities have been proposed.

Apart from the funds allotted to develop the area into an eco-tourism hotspot, an additional fund of Rs.30 lakh is expected to be sanctioned for the development of tourism activities around the famous Kutladampatti falls.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/kutladampatti-set-for-a-fillip/article6518664.ece


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October 28th, 2014, 7:52 am Top
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November 2nd, 2014, 9:15 am Top
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Kudladampatti waterfalls near Vadipatti, Madurai :

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CLICKED ON 01-11-2014

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November 6th, 2014, 2:03 pm Top
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March 12th, 2015, 1:25 pm Top
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Madurai has high potential as tourist hub

CII moots public-private partnership mode

Opportunities for showcasing Madurai district as a tourist hub, as part of the overall development of the region, are high, reveals the Confederation of Indian Industry’s District Development Plan for 2015-16. With the flow of foreign and domestic tourists growing every year, the plan has identified a range of alternative tourism activities, which include eco-tourism treks, visit to bird sanctuaries in the district’s waterbodies, village and agri-tourism.

“From November to February, migratory birds throng waterbodies in Madurai district. During the season, tourists can easily spot more than 50 species on any day. There is a lot of potential to promote bird sanctuaries here as birdwatchers have been recording rare species for over 40 years,” said N. Raveendran, coordinator of Madurai Nature Forum.

The Department of Tourism organises visits to villages during the Pongal season to give foreign tourists a feel of the festival. The plan suggests promotion of regular village visits and agri-tourism by taking visitors to paddy fields and jasmine gardens.

“This will require more manpower in the form of trained guides and persons who know the villages to escort tourists as there are safety issues involved,” said an official of the tourism department.

The report also details the setting up of a handicrafts bazaar and special shops to sell Madurai-centric items such as jasmine garlands and Sungudi saris. The CII report moots public-private partnership mode to promote new ventures that can be implemented by the Department of Tourism.

S. Sundar, president, Madurai Travel Club, noted that a long-term vision and contribution by all stakeholders in the tourism ecosystem was needed for substantial development.

“The presence of an effective user interface which will connect tourists to what the district has to offer is needed and sadly the Madurai Sightseeing Company, one such interface, did not attract much patronage. It remains to be seen how such a development plan can bring about a change,” he said. Madurai being the gateway to the south, serves as a base for travellers to reach places like Kazhugumalai, Kanyakumari, Tiruchendur, Rameswaram and Palani.


http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/madurai-has-high-potential-as-tourist-hub/article6984400.ece?ref=tpnews


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March 12th, 2015, 1:26 pm Top
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^^ ^^

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April 4th, 2015, 1:44 pm Top
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Tough time for peacocks


The famed peacocks of Tiruparankundram are reeling under water and food scarcity, stray dog menace and poaching threat.

Tiruparankundram, the first of Lord Muruga’s six divine abodes, is famous for several reasons. One among them is the peacocks, the national bird that is also revered as the symbol and vehicle of Lord Muruga. Devotees who had taken a girivalam around the hillock fondly recall feeding the birds. They say there used to be hundreds of them all around the hillock. But now only a few are seen following the threats that they face from encroachment, stray dogs and poaching.

Due to transforming of agriculture lands into housing plots and increased vehicular population on the girivalam road in the recent years, the birds were forced to confine themselves to a few acres belonging to the Subramaniya Swamy Temple behind the hillock. Flanked by the eco-park and Thenparankundram cave temple, the site where the peacocks currently live is now an ill-maintained bushy place.

A painted notice board mentions that the place which is supposedly the nandavanam (garden) of the temple was fenced in 2001 with funds from Tourism Department. However, the barbed wire barrier has come off in places, resulting in trespassing. “The land has also become a haven for anti-social activities. In the evenings, it is alleged, men loiter around and drink alcohol hiding behind the thickets,” says Balasubramanian, priest at a local temple. Members of Madurai Nature Forum (MNF), who undertook birding at Tiruparankundram last weekend, complained of the empty bottles of liquor, broken shards of glass, plastic bags and polythene water packets littered inside the fencing.

“Four years back when I used to come for bird-watching here, there were at least 200 peacocks. Now there are hardly 40 left,” says Raveendran, a member of MNF. “We are concerned about the safety of the peacocks, as several residents have told us that they haven’t seen the birds with chicks in the past two years.” Ganesan, a local resident who feeds the birds every morning, says that the peacock population has come down over the years mainly because of stray dogs. “Many dogs have taken shelter inside the temple land. I have seen them killing peacocks,” he claims.

“Some of the birds fly into the nearby Harveypatti tank and the surrounding paddy fields, where they get poached,” adds Ganesan.

Arumugam, an employee of Subramaniya Swamy Temple and the caretaker of the nandavanam, agrees that the stray dog menace has caused a drop in the peacock population. “The dogs also eat the eggs and hence we haven’t seen any young ones recently,” he confirms. “Building small raised parans (open lofts) with hay spread on the top can provide safe nesting for the peacocks as dogs can’t reach up,” he suggests.

MNF members say even monkeys can be the predators of peacock eggs. “Devotees and tourists to the temple feed the monkeys, which makes them aggressive. Instead, if more fruit-bearing trees are planted, the natural habitat of monkeys will also be preserved,” says Raveendran. “Earlier, this place was dotted with palm trees and now the seemai karuvelam plants have spread all over.” Arumugam adds that a huge Banyan tree and a few jamun trees have fallen inside.

Raveendran adds, “There is no proper feeding habitat and water facility for the peacocks. Cement troughs built for providing water to the peacocks have all gone dry. We need to take stock of the situation; else we may lose more peacocks.”

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner of Subramaniya Swamy Temple, Tiruparankundram, Mr. Chelladurai, assured that necessary action would be taken to prevent trespassing and littering of the Temple nandavanam. He added, “After inspecting the place, we will ensure that the peacocks living inside the area are protected.”

Where are the white peacocks?

A star attraction of Tiruparankundram is the white peacocks, which are a rarity. Many who have sighted the white beauty of a bird say there were three of them while some say there was a pair. However, what the residents uniformly say is that not a single white peacock has been spotted in the recent months. Arumugam, who guards the temple garden is clueless about what happened to the birds. “They don’t come out these days. Probably they are up the hill amidst the thick bushes,” he says. Residents and nature lovers fear that the peacocks were killed by dogs or they fell sick and died. “We will find out about the white peacocks soon and take care of their well-being,” says Chelladurai, DC of the temple.

District Forest Officer, Nihar Ranjan, says, “Since the place is not under forestry, we can only act after getting due permission from the Temple administration. However, the forest department is willing to extend support in reviving the peacock population in Tiruparankundram.”


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http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/tough-time-for-peacocks/article7065189.ece

State govt has money for creating a butterfly park for non-existing butterflies. But here for existing peacocks they have no money. What a shame


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May 17th, 2015, 8:28 am Top
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Helicopter services will soon be introduced in Madurai covering three major tourist attractions in southern Tamil Nadu to draw more foreign tourists and provide better transport facilities, said Minister for Tourism S.P. Shanmuganathan.

Delivering the keynote address at the inaugural of a 10-day summer festival and two-day flower show at Bryant Park here on Saturday, he said that helicopter services will be introduced to Kanyakumari, Mandapam in Ramanathapuram and to Kodaikanal from Madurai.

To begin with, the service will be introduced in Ramanathapuram and Kanyakumari. A four-acre site was identified in Kodaikanal for helicopter tourism.

After constructing the helipad, helicopter service will be introduced to Kodaikanal. Such fast services will help foreign tourists visit these places in short time and make it a most-favoured destination, he said.

Tamil Nadu was top in the country in attracting maximum number of domestic tourists and second ranked in the country in attracting foreigners, Mr. Shanmuganathan said.
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http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/t ... 215411.ece


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May 20th, 2015, 3:52 pm Top
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good thing indeed for the growth of tourism industry in the south. hope it is realised soon.


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February 11th, 2016, 4:45 pm Top
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10 Most Colorful Cities in India for all seasons

Be it the various shades of bangles or the intense decorative work on a pagdi or ghagra or the various hues of Indian festivals, colours are, indeed, synonymous to India and every Indian’s daily life.

Colours are what make us closer. It tells everyone where we come from. From the beautiful valley of flowers up in Uttrakhand, the French flavoured Pondicherry to the colourful peaceful temples of Madurai, there are colours at every step of this country. Check out some of the colourful places of India, which are accessible and pleasant all year long.
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5. Madurai

Down south, Madurai is one such city which is known for its beautiful temples. If you have been there you would know that, calling the temple beautiful is underrating the colours of the place. The famous Meenakshi Amman Temple of Madurai emits spirituality in its surroundings and vivid colours in its architecture.
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http://www.skymetweather.com/content/lifestyle-and-culture/10-most-colorful-cities-in-india-for-all-seasons/
Orginally shared by Sankkar/SSC


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