Upon hearing the name Vaigai for the first time, it is a common thing indeed for someone’s curiosity to get piqued. The name does stand out! The Vaigai river is Madurai’s most important river and there is an interesting legend behind the name. This river passes through the city’s centre and it is here where some of the events of the annual Chithirai Thizhuvila take place. The Vaigai river stretches 258 km and originates in the Varusanadu hills in the Western Ghats.
The name Vaigai is actually a combination of two Tamil words ‘Vai’ and ‘Kai’ which means to ‘place your hand’. Now this stirs the curiosity even more, doesn’t it? Read on to find out the full story.
The story behind
As the legend goes, a great many years ago, Meenakshi, who was the daughter of the Pandyan King happened to be a personification of goddess Parvati. Since a young age, she was determined to marry Lord Shiva and her family, though initially against the idea, agreed to it and when the time came, made the wedding arrangements. Lord Shiva was known to be an ascetic and on the day of the wedding, he arrived with none of his family, much to the dismay of the Pandyan king. The enraged king showed Shiva the massive amount of food that was prepared with the expectation of a large entourage arriving; food that would now go to waste. But then, Shiva assures him that all the prepared food will be eaten by his friend Kundodhara who had accompanied him and he does! Kundhodhara goes on to finish all the food and once he was done, asks for water. However, his thirst isn’t quenched. All the water from Madurai’s wells and water bodies is brought to him, but yet, Kundhodhara remained thirsty. On seeing this, Shiva asks Kundodhara to place his hand on the ground by saying ‘Vai’ ‘Kai’. Upon placing his hand on the ground, the land parts and a river flows for him to drink from and hence the Vaigai river was born!
There is also a variation of the story that exists where Shiva opens a hair lock of his, from which the Ganges sprouts out for Kundodhara to drink from and he says ‘Vai’ ‘Kai’ with the idea of cupping the hands together and drinking from the sprout.
Would you like to visit?
The Vaigai river is only about a 5-10 min drive from the Sangam Hotel. Ever since the Vaigai dam was built, the river runs mostly dry and usually gets filled up only during the monsoon months. The river bank in the drier months is a great location for photography. The Vaigai dam is also a nice place to visit and is only about an hour’s drive from the Sangam Hotel. If you’d like to plan a trip, please feel free to get in touch with us.
Thanjavur, or Tanjore as it was earlier known after the legendary demon in Hindu mythology called Tanjan, is an ancient city in the heart of Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The history of Thanjavur dates back to the 16nth century when it was the capital of the Chola Empire. Today, the city is an important cultural center known for its music, arts, paintings and dance forms.
The city is located in the Cauvery delta and is known as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Tamil Nadu; it mainly deals in agriculture and agricultural products. It’s well connected by roads and railways with an international airport located in nearby Tiruchirapalli, about 60km away. With its teeming ancient history, architectural beauty as well as famous monuments and art forms, it’s a popular tourist destination and many hotels are available for holidaying here, including the Sangam hotel.
Thanjavur is particularly famous for its paintings which are made in a unique way using multiple mediums and vibrant colors as well as gold foils, gems, glass beads, mirrors, etc. The themes of the paintings are usually Hindu gods and goddesses as well as scenes from Hindu mythology. They can be seen depicted on temple walls, pillars and as ceiling murals; their colors are almost as vibrant today as they must have been hundreds of years ago.
The Thanjavur painting method itself involves numerous steps with a canvas cloth being first pasted with Arabic gum onto a plank of hardwood such as teak or jackfruit wood. It’s then smeared evenly with a mix of chalk powder or zinc oxide. The painting is then created on this surface and decorated with gold foil, beads, lace or semi-precious stones to give a three-dimensional effect. Natural colors and minerals were used to brighten the artworks with jewel-like colors.
Due to their uniqueness, Thanjavur paintings are still very much in demand; artists these days have adapted this art form to modern times and are using cheap alternatives to recreate the beauty of these special paintings. Training programs, workshops as well as exhibitions are regularly conducted by government and private institutions to preserve this ancient art form. Due to the cost of authentic materials however, current examples of Thanjavur paintings use cheaper woods like plywood and synthetic colors and adhesives. Sadly, even the subjects of these paintings are changing these days as modern themes are being increasingly depicted.
There is a reason to cheer however as artists are unwilling to give up on this unique method of creating artwork and connoisseurs of these arts are ready to purchase such works in spite of the above-mentioned changes. So, happily, history still lives on!
Thanjavur is a small, multi-cultural town in Tamil Nadu where almost all the religions of the world are represented; this diversity is due to the ever-changing dynasties that ruled this town. It was the capital city of the ruling Chola Empire from 846 Ad till 1225 AD. Magnificent palaces and exquisite temples were built during this era. Sadly, many of these monuments were subsequently destroyed during the 14nth century when the Pandya Dynasty took over as a symbol of their rage against the Chola kings.
Famous temples here that come under the UNESCO World Heritage Site as the ‘Great Living Chola Temples include the ‘Big temple’ or the Brihadeeswarar temple as well as the nearby Gangaikonda Cholapuram and Airavatesvara temples. The Brihadeshwara temple is among the largest temples in India and is dedicated to Shiva. It was built around 1010 AD and some of the paintings and murals are still as colorful as in the earlier days. What titillates the curious mind is the tunnel system or the more than 100 underground passageways that are believed to exist under this temple! There is believed to be a whopping 40km long underground tunnel from the Thanjavur Brihadeeswarar temple to the Ganagaikonda Cholapuram temple built by the Gangaikonda Chola king; to this date, the mind wonders why such a long underground tunnel was made! The entrance and exit tunnels are still visible when visiting the temples, but due to suspected cave-ins, visitor’s excitements are curbed as they aren’t allowed into the tunnels.
Another important tunnel is known to exist between this temple and the Thanjavur palace which was later built by the Thanjavur Nayaks in 1535 AD. It’s also known as the Sivaganagai Fort and isn’t as grand or magnificent as a palace is expected to be. It was originally meant to be a fort and was later on added to by subsequent dynasties and elaborated upon. There are two underground tunnels known to exist under this palace. One is short and visitors are allowed in to feed their curiosity with goosebumps of an era long gone by. The second passageway is longer and leads to the Brihadeeswarar temple.
An amazing and must see location for the tourists interested in cultural history and artifacts!
There are two underground passages in the palace, only one of them is partially accessible by tourists. This is a relatively short passage and the Government is renovating it as of 2014. Another secret tunnel which is a mile long, connects the Brihadeeswara temple and the palace. It is wide enough to ride 2 horses in parallel and was designed as a getaway route by Kings during war times.
The historical city of Tiruchirappalli (known as Tiruchi or Trichy) is located on the scenic banks of the Cauvery river. It is the fourth largest city in the state of Tamil Nadu, India and is centrally located in the state with several beautiful temples, churches, and scenic tourist spots. Its rich cultural and architectural heritage is a major source of attraction for the first-timer in Trichy as the city provides a fine blend of the traditional and modern times. It is one of the oldest inhabited city in Tamil Nadu with earliest settlements dating back to the second millennium BC; it was earlier known as Uraiyur, the capital of the early Cholas for 600 years from the 3rd century BC onwards. Currently, Uraiyur forms part of the suburbs of Trichy.
// read more >
If you are looking to visit a city that is teeming with culture, heritage, and historical monuments, then look no further than Thanjavur (or Tanjore as it was earlier known), a beautiful historical city located in the state of Tamil Nadu, India. Set in the delta of the Cauvery river, this city is known as the ‘Rice bowl of Tamil Nadu’ and covers an area of about 36.3 square kilometers. The city is well connected by roads and railways, however, the nearest airport is in neighboring Tiruchirapalli located about 60km away. There is no dearth of hotels here as the tourist footfalls in this city of ancient architectural beauty are high and the Sangam group of hotels has a branch here too, to serve the discerning traveler’s needs.
// read more >