Thursday, May 4, 2017

Experiencing the Wild Side-Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve

Travel through beautiful wooded trails is always exciting and soothing and appreciate the rich diversity of plant and animal life as the colours, scents and textures of this extraordinary landscape unfold before you  gives lot of excitement. Last month I got opportunity to visit wild life one is the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary, and another one is Bannerghatta National Park.

Ambasamudram is my husband native place of whenever we go to native we also made a detour for the famous Agasthiyar falls, which is also a religious centre. The Agasthiyar Falls lies inside the Kalakadu Mudunthurai Tiger Reserve Forest. After Pappanasam check post the entire journey is uphill and very scenic.First we went to Agasthiyar Falls.
Papanasam Falls (also known as Agastiyar Falls) are located in the town of Papanasam. It is a small town, yet popular tourist destination situated in the Ambasamudram taluk of the Tirunelveli (Nellai) district of Tamilnadu. The nearest towns are Ambasamudram, Vikramasingapuram,. The place is also called as Papavinasam.
The Papanasam town is a famous picnic spot amongst the locals and the tourists. The Pothigai Hills beautifully provide background to the Agasthiar Falls.
 Rich in culture and heritage, Agasthyamalai was at the core of the reserve, while several temples and teerthams set deep inside the wilds added a mystic touch to it.Tirunelveli’s perennial river Tamirabarani was joined by smaller rivers like Manimuthar which cascaded down the rocks. The best time to visit the Agasthiar Falls is in the morning, at the time of sunrise.
Legend of the Agasthiar Falls
The height of Agasthiar Falls is 120 meters. The shrine of Munivar Agasthiar is located atop the cascade. It is believed that during the holy matrimony of the Hindu God Shiva and Goddess Parvati, all the Gods and Goddesses from Heaven had gone to the Kailash Parvat, in order to attend the auspicious ceremony. This disrupted the balance of Earth, for which Munivar Agasthiar meditated at the Agasthiar Falls and the wedding was completed smoothly. To commemorate this event, a procession is taken out by the locals of the idol of Munivar Agasthiar on the anniversary of Shiva and Parvati every year.
There are other dams like Papanasam, Kodayar, Karaiyar besides Manimuthar, offering scenic views, but not all of them were open to the public as they were hidden in the dense habitat of the KMTR.After bathing in Agasthyar falls we headed journey toward Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary .
Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary:
Away from hustle n bustle of city life, drove yourself into the deep jungles of this tiger reserve.Located in the Tirunelvelli district of Tamil Nadu, at the foothills of Western Ghats and the adjoining areas. The flora ranges from forests of the tropical wet evergreen to the tropical dry deciduous and thorn forests in the lower hills and covers an extensive area of 895 sq km.About 14 rivers and seven dams are in this forest. This Hills have no possibility to stay anywhere inside sanctuary except for forest officials. Just a day trip.
Mudanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary is home to several hundred plants and animal species and Wild life lovers will thoroughly enjoy a visit to this wildlife park. The sight of so many members of the animal kingdom is sure to amaze everyone. 
Some of the wild creatures that can be sighted in the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary are Tiger, Mouse deer, Leopard, Rusty spotted cat, Brown palm civet, Leopard, Sambhar, Spotted deer, Malabar giant squirrel, Nilgiri Langur, Bonnet Macaque, Sloth Bear, Brown mongoose, Nilgiri Martin, Indian pangolin, King Cobra, Python, Monitor Lizard, Flying Lizard, Pit viper and others. It is certainly very thrilling to explore the dark mysterious forests and see all these beasts in their natural habitat

 If you want to behold the beauty of the winged creatures and listen to their sweet humming voice, the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary is also the right place for you to go to. The avifaunal population of the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary comprises of Ceylon mouth frog, Grey headed bulbul, Great Pied hornbill, Great Indian Hornbill, Malabar Grey hornbill, Oriental bay owl and Broad tailed Grass warbler.
                                                        Hydro Electric PowerPlant
The Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary is easily accessible and arranging a trip is no problem at all. The nearest railway station is Ambasamudram located at a distance of about 6 km. Buses are frequently available from here. The months of October to January are ideally suited for a visit to the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary.Trekking opportunities are also there in the Mundanthurai Wildlife Sanctuary in Tamil Nadu. However prior permission of the Wildlife Department is required if you are interested in trekking.

Although it is tiger Reserveit is very rare to see tigers and lepords. to explore the forest we need special Permission from forest ranger.

It is certainly very thrilling to explore the dark mysterious forests and see all these beasts in their natural habitat.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Soulful lullaby

A lullaby is a soothing piece of music, usually played or sung to young children.    There is something so magical and beautiful about these lullabies. A soothing music to help those tiny toddlers fall asleep is a beautiful practice followed by mothers across the globe since ages. A woman may not claim to be musically accomplished..but when she carries her baby in her arms and rocks him/her to sleep, she starts singing lullabies. No one teaches her before marriage about how to sing her baby to sleep. Yet, she gets this magical power to mesmerize, soothe and comfort her baby.
(Pic from google image)

I used to rock my kids in ‘thooli’ cradle made by folding and tying an old cotton saree. The tying of the ‘thooli’ itself is an art and perfected by my mother. The ‘thooli’ swinging to and fro and singing song to my kids in the soothing tone is like almost hypnotizing the baby to sleep. I used to sing few Bhajans. Sometimes I use to hold babies in my chest and sang these sweet lullabies. But in spite of knowing all these songs, I used to sing some favourite Classical Carnatic songs to croon my babies to sleep. They used to listen to my rendition of “Karpagavallinin porpadangal”,chinachirupenpole,Parathpara Paremeswara Papanasamsivan songs, few Bharathiyar's song and Uthukkadu Venkata Subbaiyer songs. At the end of these songs, they will open an eye and say mmmaaa and I would start off again :)

However, unfortunately times are changing and this custom has undergone many changes with time. What has happened to the mothers of today? Motherhood itself is changing drastically with most urban women doing a balancing a fulltime job and the task of childcare. Unlike our mothers and My generations mothers who could easily sing those soothing lullabies and  that would put us to sleep in no time, new age moms are finding the act of putting a child to sleep a tough one. Why?  Simply because most of them actually do not know how to sing a soulful lullaby!Initially few days even my daughter doesn't know song to console her she holding him and started singing songs what she knows:)

My beautiful newborn one month old grandson, has been with me from the day he was born. I speak to him in our mother tongue. I even put him to sleep with lullabies. He puts his little arms in my neck and puts his small feet on my lap while I sing him a lullaby. The two of us share these tender, blissful moments with each other.

For him I sing songs what I sung for my Kids. Apart from that he likes "varam thantha swamiku " a Music composition by Ilayaraja in Neelambari raga. 

Whenever he cries I sing this song and he stops his cry . This raga that is soothing like a lullaby that cradles one’s senses. This is a raga that is associated with relaxation, peace, and slumber. 
 Another song he falls asleep listening is Chinnanjiru kiliye'. Its a famous Bharathiyar song based on raagamalika in tamil.  so many thalltu songs in Tamil to sing. 

Today’s moms save songs on mobiles and pcs..One of his another favorite is aararo aariraro, aaraaro aarirero ,aararoo.. aarirero....

yaradithar enaluthai aditharai soliyalu, kanne navamaniye- a laali/lullaby song for baby krishna by Bombay Jayashree and

 Manikkam katti - P. Unnikrishnan. whenever he listens this song before end of these songs he sound asleep.

 While it is not advisable to put a toddler into this habit of depending on a gadget to fall asleep, it will be lot nice if they get to sleep listening to some ‘meaningful lullaby’ instead of a movie song. Mothers, who worry about inability to sing a lullaby, not to worry as babies do not care what their mothers sing or how bad their voices are, as long as they perform it with soul! We have all seen it how much every kid loves the warmth that the mother gives them and make them fall asleep. In a new research it was mentioned that child-mom relationship getting stronger with soulful lullabies.The children who go to sleep listening to lullabies of mother grow into more confident people , its feels protected and emotionally happy.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Contrast Colours!

A little uplifting of the mood
by beautiful contrasting colors
live in a world of yellow and green,
An abundance of colors rarely seen,
deepest red among darkest green;
pink shells on brown hand          
cobalt blue ocean
wave against orange sunset
A tree fell on the front lawn
Crushing pink tulips;
Creating a beautiful panoramic view!
Their cheerful forms and colors
Mesmerizing nature with various hues
when your vision is able to capture
all good things of life
It depicts that life is beautiful !

Friday, November 4, 2016

Dakshinchitra-Heritage& culture

India is such a country which has a strong base of culture and community. Our forefathers were learned and had a strong sense of taste in each and everything. Being a south indian, I can vouch this as we have standing proofs like temples with amazing architecture, old houses, medicines and many more things.

Recently our son in-law took us to Dakshinchitra as a one day trip. It  is located about 25 km from the metro city of Chennai.  Dakshinchitra, a small picturesque tourist village outside Chennai. It is neither a resort nor a theme park.  It is a kind of museum for South Indian heritage and culture.It reminded me my good old days of being brought up in village. Those days houses were built according to ecological impact.

It is an open air museum that gives you an authentic picture of the yesteryear life in South India. Our culture and heritage has been moved to museum! The museum with more than 4000 artifacts on display has some really unique collections pertaining to the art, Craft, folklore of South India.  Items used in daily life were my favorites especially the various kinds of articles used during worship, vessels and kitchenware seen  only at museum. There were few decorative objects outside of the prayer room and generally it was the kitchen utensils which took pride of place. The nostalgia was so overwhelming that I almost choked.

In my childhood and as grownup girl  I have seen  in my village that the architecture is very different and interesting where stones are arranged in rows above the wood with out plastering and these houses are huge with many rooms.  Long wooden box called Marapetti was used to store things. Same type Marapetti was in my home.
We can see long corridors and they are well ventilated .Also distinctive is the raised verandah or seating area in the front of the house also called as "Thinnai" with pillars, where the socializing happened.

The passageway leads to a the Main Door -Nilai Vasarpadi in Tamil which has intricately carved designs.

 The rectangular designs on either side of the door are excavations in the wall called "Maadam" in which- lamps are placed. 

In mainhall or puja room  the musical instruments were kept on display used in both folk and classical music. In our village everyone earnt and Know about Music very well.  but some instrumenys are no longer in use

In our village on hot days we  use to sit on the stone porch outside the entrance or swinging on the huge swing somewhere inside. Staying in a traditional Agraharam house, included oonjal.

Oonjal is one of my favorite .I use to love to swing by just kicking the feet to start and going to and fro inside a home. Those were thrilling moments. It is perfect for all ages. It’s nothing less than a Divine experience to sip a cup of filter kaapi relaxing on the oonjal.
Another one swing is called  thottil. This thottil is for small babies and children to sleep and Play. In my mother-in-law's house, we had this thottil.

Household Items:

Most of the households in the 20th century relied on copper or brass cookware for cooking. Originally the kitchen, this room now displays cooking vessels of brass, copper and bronze. . Owing to its high durability, stability and long lasting nature, copper or brass cookware can be used effectively for generations.  The vessels were large to feed a big joint family and the cooks and helpers were always men.They also show how families lived and coexisted together and how non-materialistic those lifestyles were

 Pannai /pot like utensil was used to drink water and used for hot water for bath. We used to say venneer paanai. It is made of stainless steel, copper and brass and comes in different shapes and sizes. They look similar to pot with curved neck.. Brass Chombu, Kalasa and Kunda were used to store water & in marriage for cooking variety items in huge quantity.
I still remember in my home my mother used to cook in vengalaPaanai and in function my amma used Kuthupooni to serve food.As seer she gave me this kuthponni set.Now still used by some in our village.Saapadu Thattu, made of stainless steel or brass. The plate will be flat with straight rims. The bottom will have either steel or copper finish. Small stainless or brass bowls are used to serve sambar, kootu, rasam, curd, poriyal.

Variety Of Kendi and Kooja :
 Kamandalam/Kendi was used to fill water for  Pooja. Kooja Antique Milk Can, to carry milk and used for drinking water while travel. It is made of bronze and weighs heavy.

Measuring Items:

These items are known as Padi (in Tamil) and used to measure rice, lentils, milk and other liquid ingredients. To measure huge amount or small amount they used marakal, padi alakku, Olakku.  Now we get these made of brass & stainless steel. I had few measurement cups in stainless steel given by my mother.

The open courtyard, an essential part of a typical village house, provides ventilation and light for the whole house.  Stone grinders and mills used to pound flour, grind rice, lentils, herbs and spice paste and an old chekku (oil mill) are stored here.  The tulsi plant in the centre is both sacred and healthy.
Here comes  Masala Grinding Stone (Ammikallu), and attukallu used to grind Idly Dosai maa made of stone. Designed to grind masala paste and also be used to prepare thick chutney / thogaiyal. It comes in all sizes. Unlike mixie / food processor, it sure takes time to grind the paste, however the masala prepared with ammikallu leaves an unique authentic flavor. I have a small ammikallu to grind paste and powdering spices. Once you perfect the skill of grinding masala, you will never go back to mixie.
This grinding stone used to make rice powder called maa uralMortar-Pestle / Hamam-Dhasta, made of wood, stone, brass, ceramic & steel. Used to grind herbs & spices for curries, rasam,etc. I’m using stone mortar pestle, though its heavy, yet love the result. In modern day cooking, masala grinding stones have taken a back step and replaced by electric mixer primarily due to the time it takes.

Muram / Winnow,  comes in different sizes. They are also made of  bamboo.My mother and grand ma  used it often to remove dust particles / small stones from grains by throwing them into the air. The thin air will blow off the dust particles & grains will fall off on murram.
 They are also used to dry the ingredients .Small box calle olai petti to store household items.
A plough is a tool or farm implement used in farming for initial cultivation of soil in preparation for sowing seed or planting to loosen or turn the soil.
 Ploughs are traditionally drawn by working animals such as horses or cattle. Ploughs are of three types: wooden ploughs, iron or inversion ploughs and special purpose ploughs. Oil turning ploughs are made of iron and drawn by a pair of bullocks or two depending on the type of soil. 
 Traditional tools used for agricultural operations by the farmers in my village.This tools always kept in kottil last place of home.


Used by families for long travel. It pulled by bullock cart with lot of bells jingling oni ts neck.We friends goes to school in Viilu vandi.Oh my heart beats with nostalgia!

 After spending few hours in Dakshinchithra gave me to relive the nostalgia of the years spent in the village and keep the tradition going undisturbed.Its true that people love innovations and are enjoying new technologies but they don’t forget their past, they don’t forget their traditions and they don’t forget the real happiness Finally I felt that Still some of our villages  are being the preserver of our heritage, which is soon to be extinct.  Though some of our remote villages  are still following our old ways, modern concretes and culture has been replacing our old way of living at very faster pace. Some decades after our culture will be seen  only at museum. As we moves towards westernised way of housing and culture, our culture and heritage has been moved to museum!