December 29, 2005

New Year Eve Quote

This quote was mailed to me today:

"Youth is when you're allowed to stay up late on New Year's Eve. Middle age is when you're forced to."
~Bill Vaughn

IISc Attacked

One more cowardly attack on an institution. Yesterday night Intruders had opened fire at the folks in IISC, who were returning after a seminar. One person , Mr.Puri (an IIT, Delhi prof) has died & 4 other people were injured.
Abi, who is with the IISc gives an inside-view of the happenings. Straight to the NanoPolitan blog for the field report.

P.S: One exasperating stuff: The attack happens around 7.15 p.m & the chief minister Dharam Singh is informed abt it. He calls for an EMERGENCY meeting at 10.A.M next day morning. Now, what emergency stuff would be discussed after a good 15 hours? :-(

Update: Dharam Singh says that the IISc campus was chosen as a random target with an intention to create fear. More in the NDTV report

December 23, 2005

Hampi Ruins in India - World Heritage Site

Came across this wonderful site -

Global Heritage Fund is a non-profit, international conservancy to preserve and protect humankind’s most important archaeological and cultural heritage sites in developing countries.

One of their conservation projects is in Hampi. The site has some wonderful photos of Hampi.

Their work is one of the first privately- funded archaeological conservation efforts by an international NGO to receive approvals from the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).

They list the Primary Threats to Hampi World Heritage -

1. Urbanization and Unplanned Development: Encroaching infrastructure and uncontrolled construction of buildings are a constant threat to Hampi as only 58 of the 550 total monuments hold heritage protection status.
2. Environmental Threats - Stone quarrying, ramped pollution
3. Lack of Cultural Resource Management - Hampi’s future is falling victim to the politics of three major controlling authorities (National, State and District) that work independently and parallel to each other.

The third point is a hard-hitting statement on the current affairs. Sad but true.

December 17, 2005

Welcome Back - Rajdeep Sardesai

Rajdeep Sardesai is back to the tube with CNN-IBN channel. The general news channel will be headed by Rajdeep.

A formal launch party for the new television channel is likely to be held in the first week of Januaray in New Delhi where top journalists from the CNN -- including Larry King -- are likely to be present.

Rediff has more on this.

We are waiting for the show, Rajdeep!

December 16, 2005

30 min Dance Show - 35 Lakhs Payment

It happens only in India.

Uttar Pradesh's ruling Samajwadi Party MP Jayaprada was paid 35 Lakhs (there are some reports that give the number as 40 lakhs) for putting up a dance recital at Lucknow Mahotsav, organized by the state government. The dance program was for 30 minutes.

Hindustani classical music veterans Bismillah Khan, Bhimsen Joshi and Pandit Jasraj had also given performances. The shehnai player was packed off with only Rs 2.5 lakh, and the vocalists for Rs 3 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh, respectively.

Express had an apt headline to cover this story -
UP dances in fury as Yadav pays Jaya lakhs

Telegraph also reports this.

UP Tourism Minister Kokab Hamid, however, justified the payment to Jayaprada saying she had led a big troupe of artists of 67 people.

AmarSingh has a different song - "not a single paise was paid from state government exchequer but Zee Group, which paid Rs 30 lakh, and Sahara Group had sponsored the Lucknow Mahotsav." Sounds really fishy.

Who said India is a poor country?
People nearby die for want of food ..n ...u have obscene amts of money being thrown away like this. It sucks big time!

December 07, 2005

Sekar Gupta's take on Incredible India's Heritage

Sekar Gupta vents out his anger is a rather "feel-bad" Article on the way our Heritage structures are maintained.
Entire Article - India's Incredible Junk Yards can be accessed in Indian Express.

In June, Indian Express had a series of reports on the various "jewels" of our heritage right from TajMahal to Sun Temple.

An effort worth appreciating !!

Experts from Sekar Gupta's report on Madurai'Meenakshi Temple & Tanjavur's Big temple

"But you walk in through any of the spectacular entrances and chances are you would wonder if you have come into one of the finest temples built in the history of mankind, or a makeshift bazaar. Right along the temple alleys leading to the 12 gopurams you have shops on both sides, selling everything, from the usual curios and souvenirs to buckets, brooms, bags, spices, soaps and oils, shaving brushes, Made in China flashlights, underwear and banyans, almost anything you might need in the course of a day. What, you wonder, is this supermarket doing in the bowels of a temple that now claims, quite deservedly, to compete with the Taj Mahal and others for the title of the seventh wonder?"

thousand-pillar hall - "They have converted it into a museum which is not the ideal thing to do, but acceptable, if only the “museum” looked anything like you’d expect it to be. There are random, poorly labelled exhibits piled into wooden show windows with soiled glazing and decaying sides. You even see one most distressing exhibit, some attire worn by the deity, now fully eaten by termites, a few strands of the clothing still hanging on top of a heap of dust. Sure enough, there is a sign on the window saying, delicate, do not touch! Delicate indeed, it is now dust."

Sekar is bit mellowed down when it comes to hammering Tanjavur -
"you think at least this part is still in reasonable shape. No shops, no squatters, no filth."
"you look at the parikrama where, in typical southern tradition, you would expect to find rows of sculpture in continuous walkways. You do find some sculpture, but mostly you find bags of cement and debris, concrete mixers, other tools and junk. These are areas from where old idols have disappeared, or removed into storage for repair and restoration and meanwhile the ASI is using these as a junk yard instead"

I just hope, the ASI wakes up to the ground realities, atleast for the sake of their own jobs...Comeon...if our heritages crumble & vanish, what will these people be paid for?

November 28, 2005

Danushkodi Ramasamy - A great man

Danushkodi Ramasamy 63, an eminent tamil writer & teacher passed away on Thursday night (24/11/2005).
The Hindu reports his death here.

Danushkodi Sir was from a very humble background, His tamil prowess left people spellbound and his dedication as a teacher was something that the teacher community should emulate.

He was a very good family friend of ours, with the bonding going back to his first posting as a teacher in my native village - kallakulathur, near Tindivanam, in the late 1960s. Over the years he had grown into a close associate of my Grandfather & respectable "Sir" to my parents. I had always looked in awe at his 'kambeera kural'. Tamil definitely sounded 100 times better when he spoke. Even though, he had migrated to Saatur (near madurai) & settled there, the ties were very much strong.

He had spent his last days at our house in chennai, getting treated for Cancer. But alas, nature got the better of him. He is survived by his Wife (a very pleasing aunty) & his son, a doctor (Aram).

I'm sure I'm going to miss his "Vaangha Engineer Madam" ;-(

November 19, 2005

Chola Murals in Thanjavur Temple

Chola murals, which remained hidden for three centuries, can now be viewed at the Big temple in Thanjavar.

Painted on the inner walls of the sanctum sanctorum, the murals, which are at least 1,000 years old, could not be seen because Nayakar paintings were mounted on them about three centuries ago.

Technology lends the helping hand in preserving both the older chola murals & the latter Nayakar paintings.

The Hindu reports that The Archaeological Survey of India digitally documented the Chola murals and mounted them on fibre panels.

BTW, this is World Heritage Week ! Letz see what the ASI is doing abt it.

November 10, 2005

Welcome back - Sunshine

Hurray! Good old Sunshine is back in chennai after three weeks of Rains. Not even in my wildest of dreams, I would have dreamt of this welcome song!
Now I understand West's obsession for Sunshine..& why flatter a girl by glorifying her as sunshine...Unlike our places, where the girl is always linked to the Moon..Nila ;-))

November 09, 2005

Arikamedu archaeological site

Arikamedu has a unique sequence of archeological cultural deposit from Iron Age (300 BC) to French rule in 1800 AD

The 60-acre archaeological site at Arikamedu near Pondicherry will soon get a major facelift. The Hindu covers this development.
"Once the land is leveled, the ASI would start new excavations. For the conservation of the old excavated site and for the new excavations the ASI would spend Rs. 10 lakhs, said T. Sathyamurthy, Superintendent ASI (Chennai Circle),. "HUDCO is expected to start the work by January next year", he added.
I was particularly thrilled to read ""A master plan is also being worked for Senji Fort, near Tindivanam. The idea is to make Arikamedu-Senji-Thiruvannamalai a heritage tourism circuit," he added."
Ideas like this should be encouraged & more such circuits should be developed.

Have a look at, they have a Save Arikamedu Program running. The arikamedu blog gives us more info.

Ahh ..An Article

Comeon...Rediff can post something more worthwhile in its real estate..
If u simply have nothing to do..Read this How to Reycle your Diwali Gifts Article.
The author should be a whizkid of one kind to belt out ideas like
"Distribute the sweets & Gift Hampers to ur neighbours"
"Store the dryfruits in airtight containers & use it later"
"Recycle the gift wrappers"...

I'm sure I can write better columns than this!! Rediff ..are u listening??

November 07, 2005

Vyasarpadi Tragedy

Six women died and several others were injured in a stampede at Dr. Ambedkar Arts College at Vyasarpadi, north Chennai, on Sunday Nov 6th, when flood-affected residents made a dash to a relief distribution centre there.
It happened at the wee hours in the morning ..around 4.30 a.m, Even though the relief distribution was to begin at 8 a.m.
Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has announced an ex gratia payment of Rs.1 lakh to each of the next of kin of those killed and Rs.15,000 to the injured.
These incidents just make me sad at the sorry plight of affairs.
Hindu reports on this Stampede

Worse..was yet to come. The ruling party starts off to say it was because of a rumour that the incident had happened. And, that the opposite party was the mastermind behind the incident. Jaya TV has started blazing its gun at SUN TV & squarely blaming them for spreading rumours. Obviously, SUN TV is having flash news roll, blaming the government over the deaths.
These people have trivialized the entire issue & are resorting to gain political mileage out of the tragic incident.
"News" always meant "opinion" in TamilNadu's Media.

P.S: Sometime back in the North, there was a stampede at a function organized to celebrate Vajpayee B'day & a quite a few ended up giving up their lives for a 200 Rs. Saree..The news had created a ripple then ..& I wonder what happened to the organizers. I dont recall any arrests or any one being convicted in that case...So much for our Legal system!!

November 03, 2005

Hitting the Jackpot with Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism is one hell of a Jackpot that promises to be a great potential for generating revenue. India has scores of such sites, just literally being converted in to ugly looking ruins with near perfect programming.

Active Heritage Tourism would serve a dual purpose

- The all-precious past is saved from fading in to oblivion
- Cash cow - with Dollars & Euros pouring in (Rupees will follow)

Problems that are confronting us

- The mighty majority is simply not bothered. Can't blame them, when getting a decent roof over their head itself is a question mark. Atleast people can restrain from vandalizing the monuments.

- That leaves the Government & NGOs to pitch in. The tourism department as such has quite a lot of fund at its disposal, using the money for building the much needed infrastructure around the heritage site would be a straight task for them..But then U know where the money goes...

- Lack of information.

Bright Bulbs from my head

- From the school level, the children should be trained to be responsive to the environment; awareness & a sense of pride should be inculcated.

- The tourism ministry should raise to the occasion & deliver what is expected out of them, that includes - extensive information thro all communications channels( The website is just plain pathetic now), Decent transport & infrastructure should be developed.

- Corporates, NGOs & Government should form a network & work out things. ( For eg., Infosys can sponsor a truly world class accommodation facilities in Bellur)

- Mainstream Media can increase their focus to these areas too..It is a pity that I cant watch History, Discovery channels (Curse the CAS in Chennai). Jaya TV, has a 5 minute slot every day in their news bulletin to showcase forgotten monuments in tamilnadu. A good watch, I must say.

More thoughts would follow!!

Late Tamil Sangam age temple - discovered near Mahabalipuram

Superintending Archaeologist, T. Satyamurthy, (ASI), Chennai Circle) who is the director of the excavation at the site, said the brick temple "definitely belongs to the late Tamil Sangam age. There is no doubt that it is 2,000 years old. It is the most ancient temple discovered so far in Tamil Nadu. I can say that with authority."

According to archaeologists, the temple is dedicated to Muruga. An inscription in Tamil on a rock near the excavated site led to the discovery of the temple. The rock, lodged in sand, was exposed fully by the tsunami that struck Mahabalipuram on December 26, 2004.

Frontline gives the rather long story with some nice snaps

BBC focusses on the Tsunami factor in the discovery.

I look forward to more such excavations to fill in the missing links & clear up the air in tamil history...of which not much is documented and easily available.

Why is that we don't get access to the progress made after the excavations. I'm still in the dark as to what happened to this 'oldest temple' in Tamilnadu.

November 02, 2005

Stanford University wins DARPA race

The Stanford Racing Team was awarded 2 million dollars for being the first team to complete the 132 mile DARPA Grand Challenge course.

The Grand Challenge is an off-road robot competition devised by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) to promote research in the area of autonomous vehicles. The challenge consists of building a robot capable of navigating 175 miles through desert terrain in less than 10 hours, with no human intervention.

Stanley, the Car finished in just under 6 hours 54 minutes and averaged over 19 miles per hours on the course.

More info on The Grand Challenge
Awesome stuff behind Stanley : Read it here Techonolgy

October 28, 2005

It was a Rainy day indeed

What a day it was...
Starting from 26th afternoon, Rain was at its best till 27th night..A great performance indeed..
Chennai could always brave the relentlessly scorching sun but not a day of rain...
The roads bared their makeup & the ugly potholes sprung everywhere,,
Never before, we were in our house for 24hrs together...that too without electricity ..

Now, we know how it is to be in Blore ;-))

October 24, 2005

India's 1st e-literate district - Malappuram, Kerala

It was heartening to read the article in rediff.

- In November 2002, the state government of Kerala put into place a project, piloted in Malappuram, that aimed for one person in every family to be computer literate in that district.

- One year later, the scheme had already found success -- over 500 Akshaya centres (basically computer labs) had been built throughout the district, and a village, Chemaravattom, was already fully computer literate (perhaps the first of its kind in the world).

- The next step, to create a network so that the villagers and residents of Malappuram would be able to utilise this new computer literacy, and log on to the Internet was carried out thro Tulip, an IT services company

- Tulip came up with a cost-efficient way of ensuring that the entire district of Malappuram was connected -- entirely wirelessly. What they did was put up point-to-point and point-to-multipoint radio masts (they didn't even need to construct towers), using Versatile Intelligent Network and Wireless in Local Loop technology.

- Akshaya is also a scheme for more efficient governance, and not just for local government offices being hooked up, but Malappuram residents can also pay their electricity and telephone bills online. The Tulip network reaches sectors such as life insurance, housing loans, police stations, senior secondary schools and panchayats, making financial transactions much easier.

- Thanks to the success of this pilot, the government of India is now looking at expanding this model over 20 states.

Way to Go!!

October 20, 2005

Narayana Murthy Miffed

DevaGowda does it again!!

It is sad to observe how constructive development is simply impossible with politics having a say in all affairs..

Infosys boss Narayana Murthy today resigned as chairman of the project to build a new international airport in Bangalore.

Sify gives you the entire transcript of the resignation letter.
Deve Gowda, speaking to the press about the lack of contribution to the Bangalore International Airport Limited during the last five years, did it.

The incident reminds that all the hype & hoopla about being the next big thing could vapourize into thin air if our infrastructure does not stand up to a decent level.

October 14, 2005

Vijayamangalam - Lost Tamil Jain Heritage

Few years back, my parents happened to be in Erode for a marriage. On their way back to chennai, they visited the Vijayamangalam Temple. They had interesting stories to tell about the temple & its beauty.

Last sunday there was an article in the Hindu on the temple: Monumental neglect

"Once a flourishing place of worship for the Jains in Kongunadu and said to date back to the 6th Century, the temple is now a neglected stone monument that has suffered the ravages of time. The temple, built by King Konguvelir, is an art lover's delight. According to the inscriptions in Pali and Tamil found on the pillars, a few Jain munis had attained mukthi here by fasting till death. The birth of Mahavira and his life is carved on the top as a panel.A dance mandapam, dating back to the 13th Century, is another highlight."

The shocking part of the coverage was "Unfortunately, the idol of Chandraprabha Tirthankar was stolen some months ago. Now only an idol of goddess Kushmandala Devi and that of Mahavira remain. "

More from the article "There are similar shrines in disrepair at Thingalur and Seenapuram, 10 km away. The one at Thingalur is set in scenic surroundings but is a nightmare once you open the door, as it is now a haven for bats. The priest hurriedly clears up the bat droppings to reveal a temple that must have stood out for its architecture centuries ago. "

Writer Subha J Rao expresses her anguish "The beauty of this Jain temple complex leaves you feeling sad and awe-struck at the same time for it has no power supply, no guidebooks, no one, except the priest, to tell you more about it." gives some more information abt the temple:
Pullava, the younger sister of chamundaraya (978) the great minister of Ganga king rajamall-4, died performing this rite (salekana - fast until death) and a slab was set up within the chandranatha basti at Vijaymangalam. The dead sravika pullavva is shown on the upper niche seated in padmasana with folded hands.

The village is celebrated birthplace of Jain Monk Bhavanadi, he is the author of the tamil grammer book - Nannul.
Incidentaly, Tolkaapiyam , the oldest grammer book in any language was written by Tolkaapiyar, another Jain monk.

M. AROKIASWAMI, M.A., Ph.D. writes about Jain Vestiges in Coimbatore District.

How to reach : The temple complex is about 20 km from Erode. Driving down from Coimbatore, it is 27 km from Avanashi on the NH-47.

Other Blogs on Tamil Jain heritage
Samanar Malai - Madurai

October 03, 2005

Ruins of India

Came across this interesting flickr group

Feels good to see people sharing my anguish, in the way historical monuments are being treated !
Have a look at the collection of these photos.

September 23, 2005

My MBA dept - DOMS, Madras University

Was pleasantly surprised to see a big photo & an equally big write-up on DOMS (Department of Management Studies) University of Madras in the Hindu.

The occasion was "release of Placement brochure".
The Placement activities are fully handled by the students themselves through the VOX Management committee. VOX is VoiceOfeXellence, an elected student body that comprises of a General Secretary, Placement Coordinator, Cultural Secretary, Public Relations Officier & a Treasurer.

I was the cultural secretary during my years at DOMS (1999-2001).
Want to know more about VOX - Click

Can you believe that VOX was formed way back in 1977 !
The MBA department is one of the oldest Management institutions ..started way back in 1955!!!

September 17, 2005

Moral behind marriages - love?

Yesterday happened to attend a 'love-cum arranged marriage' of a relative. It was a first for me for many reasons.
1. The girl was from a different state (Kerala). The guy is our relative (Tamil). Both of them are working.
2. The girl's family didn’t turn up or rather..they didnt know
3. The guys’ family had arranged for the marriage in a very happy manner with out any ill feeling of being compelled by their son
4. The marriage was held in the Groom's house with all the "dhada pudal" associated with a typical South Indian marriage.
5. Only the near & dear were invited which could easily mean there was a crowd of 50-60 people.

After marriage, the bride's family was called up to inform that the marriage had happened. They had earlier refused all discussions on the marriage topic. After a six year wait, the couple decided to move on.

We came home after a sumptuous meal. Something kept on nagging me...

Was the happiness of the marriage complete without the bride's family's blessings?
If the bride's family had also accepted the marriage, it would have been one gala evening of festivities, But…they chose the other way.
The guy is from a good family, works in a good company..more than that, their daughter loves the guy & they have been going around for the past six years.. so 'infatuation' argument is also ruled out.

I'm left to wonder, in these times of globalization when marriages across cultures are fast happening, what makes the parents so rigid. I can safely say "ego".
Most of the parents do a turn around after a year or two, & accept the marriage. Why not before?

September 15, 2005

Chimps & Humans

Came across this extremely interesting site on Human Evolution.
It contains a well made documentary on 'Becoming Human'...It traces the origin of Human Race. Technically, the site seems to be well made.

Wish this should be shown at the school level to all the students lest they get corrupted / confused by the millions of magical gods outside :-))

Hard to digest fact is
"Scientists have sequenced the genome of the chimpanzee and found that humans are 96 percent similar to the great ape species."
More on this in National Geographic News

Saravana Bhavan - Sprialling Prices

It came a rude shock for me when the cashier told me 80+ Rs. for tamilnadu meals in Saravana Bhavan.
It is the not the question of affordability but the value-for-money.
Come-on.. this was supposed to be an upper middle class restaurant till a little while ago.
U are not pampering urself by dining in a 5 Star it the ambience...or be it the variety. The quality is definitely much better than many hotels around. But quantity takes a beating.
Dhams & me finally settled down to quick lunch, which was costing us around 40+ per head.
Now what do I get for small helping of sambar sadam, tomato rice, curd rice, sarkarai pongal, potato chips & pickles.

I might as well have walked down a little to New Woodlands or Savera...

September 14, 2005

Indian Government Website

Comeon ..try guessing the name of our official government website...
I'm sure u would not be able to guess it...
It is

It is quite a huge directory of links to all departments.
Incidently, I lost count of the number of states & union territories that we have..
Checked it out..
The grand total is 35

September 12, 2005

Interesting Observations on Godmen!

Read a probing article - Where have all Brahmin godmen gone? by T S Sreenivasa Raghavan.

"The mutts promoted by Mata Amritanandamayi, Kalki Bhagawan, Bangaru Adigal, Vethathiri Maharishi, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and others in a growing list, are enjoying unprecedented influence today. Meanwhile, the number of mutts promoted by Brahmins since the time of Adi Sankara is more or less the same."

"The most defining difference is the extent of social commitment and the associated visibility of non-Brahmin mutts, particularly Sai Baba’s and Mata Amritanandamayi’s. Sai Baba, while producing holy ashes and gold chains, also created unique drinking water projects, hospitals and educational institutions for the poor."

"Mata Amritanandamayi’s social contribution in Kerala and other parts of the country is enormous. Brahmin mutts have not built such enduring visible monuments for the poor but have poured plenty into dressing up or washing the gods. The Seer of Kanchi recently gifted a diamond studded crown to a temple. Grand, captivating events, but transient and forgettable unlike huge modern hospitals and colleges. "

"Even today, orthodox Brahmins claim to worship only higher forms of god. Lakshman Singh, an ardent follower of Bangaru Adigal the head of Melmaruvathur Mutt, says: "Non-Brahmin worship is different from Brahmin cult. Brahmins worship the higher form of Shiva and Parvati. Non-Brahmins worship them in the lower form of Muneeswaran and Kali."

September 11, 2005

Agassi - defies age

A well written commentry in Rediff , on the great Agassi - James Blake quarterfinals in the US Open Tennis Championship 2005.

"Agassi had no answers to Blake's baseline play. The errors, especially on the forehand, were on the rise. And in an hour he had conceded the first two sets, 3-6, 3-6. Then he lost his serve early in the third set. But another brave effort from the Las Vegan was ready to unfold under the floodlights of the Arthur Ashe stadium.

If anyone had to comeback from a hole like this, it had to be Agassi. He may be seeded seventh, is the crowd favourite, but all know that every round he wins is a bonus at the age of 35. The depth of men's tennis does not provide any place to hide."

From there on Agassi went on to win the next two sets and forced a tie breaker in the fivth set.

"The match hung at 6-6, ready for a tie-break. Blake began on a high, winning the first three points, but, in the end, it was Agassi who lapped it at 8-6."

Great way to..Agassi..
Now Agassi would be facing Federer in the Finals..One hell of a match that would be...

September 09, 2005

Twisted Technology

The 190-metre high, 54-floor Turning Torso apartment tower in Malmo, Sweden become the talk of the town...
See the picture to know the reason.

September 03, 2005

Kalki's Ponniyin Selvan

Ponniyin Selvan is a 'must-read' for all tamil lovers.
Was thrilled to see the entire Ponniyin Selvan on the web
Ponniyin Selvan on the web is maintained by Baskaran Sankaran.
The site has all popular historic novels of Kalki. And also, has detailed steps on how to download & use the Tamil Fonts.

Happened to find the book cover in the wikipedia of Ponniyin Selvan.

Go ahead or rather Go back to the great times of Cholas & Pandiyas.. Njoy the trip!!

August 24, 2005

Raja Ravi Varma's Master Pieces

Stumbled upon a terrific link in
The Genius of Raja Ravi Varma

Ravi Varma was born in the royal palace of Kilimanoor, which is situated 25 miles from Thiruvananthapuram, in Kerala, India. He got the patronage of Ayilyam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore when he was 14 years of age, and was taught by the palace painter Rama Swamy Naidu. He was later taught oil painting by a British painter Theodor Jenson.

Raja Ravi Varma came to widespread acclaim after he won an award for an exhibition of his paintings at Vienna in (CAN U BELIEVE!!) - 1873.

The lighting works in this painting of the Lady giving alms is astounding.

Found some criticism on the wikipedia
He is criticised for having overshadowed the traditional art forms.
He lacks dynamism of expression. Moreover, his approach of frontality, which is in turn an application of the western "Academic Art", has severe limitations in terms of space and movement

Another article in on Ravi Varma.

Whatever may be the pros & cons...I was spell-bound by this painting. Just notice the detailing in all the costumes..Great Orchestra! I should say!!

August 23, 2005


Sittannavasal ('sith-than-na-vaa-sal') is the best-known archaeological site in Pudukkottai, TamilNadu. It is famous for its cave paintings, which are second only in importance after Ajanta paintings in the art history of India. It is perhaps the only place where you can find inscriptions in Tamil from the 3rd century BC to the 13th century AD. Also there are megalithic monuments such as stone-circles, urn and cists burials spread in the plains around the hill

One of the steep hills in the village contains an isolated but spacious cavern. Locally, this cavern is known as Ezhadippattam, a name that is derived from the seven holes cut into the rock that serve as steps leading to the shelter. Within the cave there are seventeen stone berths aligned into rows, and each of these has a raised portion that could have served as a pillow-loft. The largest stone berth has a distinct Bramhi inscription assignable to the second B.C.E., and some inscriptions belonging to eighth C.E. are also found on the nearby beds.

The Sittannavasal cavern continued to be the "Holy Samana Abode" until the seventh and eighth centuries. Inscriptions over the remaining stone berths name mendicants such as Tolakunrattu Kadavulan, Tirunillan, Tiruppuranan, Tittaicbaranan, Sri Purrnacandl"an, and Nityakaran Pattakali as monks, who no doubt, were resolved to spend their lives in isolation at Sittannavasal.

The neighboring hill, not far from these natural caverns, possesses a rock-cut temple The basement mouldings of the shrine are rather simple and its architectural style belongs to seventh century.

The shrine has a row of three Tirthankaras carved on the rear wall. These icons are almost identical in seated padmasana posture and crowned by triple umbrellas. They are said to be Adinatha, Neminatha and Mahavira, even though their identifying symbols are conspicuously absent. The lateral walls of the mandapa contain two niches accommodating bold relief's of Parsvanath and another unidentified icon, probably of a preceptor. The image of Parsvanatha is majestically shown seated in the dhyana posture and is canopied by a five-hooded serpent. The calm countenance in contrast to the sturdy nature of the torso exhibits the superior skill of the Pandya sculptor. gives details on the Jain Cave Temple, the Sittannavasal Paintings, Ezhadippattam, and The Navach-chunai,

The Hindu also covers sittannavasal in their Rocky Retreat.

August 18, 2005

Lucky Bum - Porsche as a Tip

A waitress in Sweden thought her elderly customer was joking when he offered her his Porsche as a tip, but he kept his word and gave her the keys to the car, daily Aftonbladet reported.

Times of India gives this "smoke in the ears" Report.

Justin was waiting tables at the Njuraanger Cafe in Sundsvall in central Sweden when the man, who had recently retired and was dining with a group of gentlemen, asked her age. When she told him, "he said I would get his Porsche as a tip."

Hmm...Some careers can be really rewarding!!

Arundhati Roy - Narmada Bacho Andolan

Thanks to Abi! I read one powerhouse of a book.
The Greater Common Good
And Thanks to OutLook , I'm able to share the Essay on whats happening in Narmada.
(Inadvertently, I have stumbled on the links to her other writings too...Need to catch upon with those)

The Essay gave me a different and a rather moving perspective of Dams, Narmada & Tribals.

Few Insights:

" India has 3,600 big dams—they have devoured 50 million people already. Silently. Now it's the turn of the Narmada."

"India lives in her villages, we're told, in every other sanctimonious public speech. That's bullshit, just a fig leaf. India dies in her villages."

"The Bargi dam cost 10 times the budget, submerged three times more land, and irrigates only 5 per cent of the area planners claimed it would."

"Between 1947 and 1994 the World Bank received 6,000 applications for loans from around the world. They didn’t turn down a single one. Not a single one. Terms like 'Moving money' and 'Meeting loan targets' suddenly begin to make sense."

"Time and again, it's the same story—the Andhra Pradesh Irrigation II scheme claimed it would displace 63,000 people. When completed, it displaced 150,000 people. The Gujarat Medium Irrigation II scheme displaced 140,000 people instead of 63,600. The revised estimate of the number of people to be displaced by the Upper Krishna irrigation project in Karnataka is 240,000 against its initial claims of displacing only 20,000.

These are World Bank figures. Not the NBA's. Imagine what this does to our conservative estimate of 33 million."

"Day by day, river by river, forest by forest, mountain by mountain, missile by missile, bomb by bomb—almost without our knowing it, we are being broken.

Big Dams are to a Nation's 'Development' what Nuclear Bombs are to its Military Arsenal. They're both weapons of mass destruction. They're both weapons governments use to control their own people. Both Twentieth Century emblems that mark a point in time when human intelligence has outstripped its own instinct for survival. They're both malignant indications of civilisation turning upon itself. They represent the severing of the link, not just the link-the understanding-between human beings and the planet they live on. They scramble the intelligence that connects eggs to hens, milk to cows, food to forests, water to rivers, air to life and the earth to human existence."

Anna University + IT Park

It is a good move on the part of Anna University to open an IT park on its campus for research and development with the involvement of multi-national IT majors.

The University is also looking at using open source software to provide cost-effective solutions to the colleges that need to constantly upgrade their systems and software. This is a very prudent way to cut costs!

Letz wait & see, if things materialize ;-)

Photo Moment - ShivSena's warring cousins

I think this photo in the front page of 'The Hindu' has come out brilliantly! It has captured the mood of the scene!!

FIRST COUSINS AGAIN: Uddhav Thackeray (right), executive president of the Shiv Sena and son of Bal Thackeray, and his cousin Raj Thackeray emerge from a reconciliation meeting at `Matoshri,' the Sena supremo's residence in Mumbai. Uddhav Thackeray and Raj Thackeray patched up after a meeting with party chief Bal Thackeray.The crisis erupted after Mr. Raj's trip to the Konkan region. On his return, he alleged that Mr. Uddhav had sent Sainiks to the region, causing tension.

NDTV report - Useful Impact

Few days ago NDTV had covered Theni, a southern district in TamilNadu in their newsbyte. The medical college hospital here had tones and tones of biomedical waste heaped in its compound, triggering a threat of an epidemic.

After the coverage, Governmnet has acted on it & cleared up the bio waste.

It was heartening to read NDTV impact: Theni hospital cleaned up Report on

Wish the local channels regularly feed these kind of reports to increase awareness instead of sensationalising a Frog & Frog marriage!!

August 17, 2005

Bangalore, Autos, LPG, Kerchief

Last weekend, we (me, my hubby & MIL) had been to Bangalore..The chill weather was very inviting...a welcome change from the hot, hotter, hottest chennai!!
The autos are an integral part of blore..The most positive aspect would be the correctly running meters & the peace of mind, very unlike chennai, where commuting by autos & paying the "huge" amount demanded is very much akin to Day light robbery!
BUT,there was this suffocating smell of the LPG cylinders that are fitted into most of the autos. Gosh!! I never used my hand kerchief so much in my life..
The once famous Garden city is fast transforming itself to a highly polluted city..
Hey Banglore!! Pull up ur socks!!

August 12, 2005

IDFC - Sizzling Debut in Dalal St.

Infrastructure Development & Finance Corporation (IDFC) took a very impressive opening in the Stock Markets.

The IPO was for Rs. 34 & the markets closed on a high of Rs. 69.55 ( 104.56% increase )
And that is quite a number!!

Analysts recommend a long-term hold.

World's Tallest Topairy in Manipur

Listed in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1999 The family, which nurtures the 61-feet tall topiary, does not have enough money for the tree's growth and maintenance

The Hindu reports that the topiary is locally called Sambanlei Sekpil & the botanical name is duranta repes linn.

The owner had this interesting grumbling
"The growth rate has almost come to nil as we do not have enough money to buy the required [a small amount of] chicken's blood for its maintenance. We had approached the Government several times. But only assurances are given but till date we have not received any money. Sometimes, the chicken traders help us,"

Topiary: n 1: a garden having shrubs clipped or trimmed into decorative shapes especially of animals 2: making decorative shapes by trimming shrubs or trees

August 11, 2005

Saturn & Oil prices - Great Astrology!!

All economists would give their left hand & leg to this astrologer..I guess..

"In the millennium chart, Saturn is neecha in the eighth house. Oil is related to Saturn. So the prices are bound to go up."

Read the full prediction in

"Oil prices will further go up. It can reach even $ 65 per barrel before the year-end. There are bound to be fluctuations in mid-August.
The Indian government will try to resist a fuel hike, due to Left pressures, and increase the oil prices in the margin of Rs 2-Rs 5. Kerosene and diesel will still run on subsidy."

So much for breaking ur head on oil price control!!!!

August 10, 2005

Kamat's Potpourri - Indian historical treasures

Amazing website
Kamat's Potpourri is a very large website -- perhaps the largest personal (mom-and-pop) website on the web
And one great Kamat Family...
All Indian History lovers should definitely visit this site.
I'm completely hooked to this website...One day..I should also be having something like this...;-))

Archaeology on the move

A travelling exhibition, Realise India, that aims to inculcate patriotism in students by educating them on India's ancient civilisation is currently underway.
The expo features 40 exhibits, mostly photographs, of various archaeological treasures unearthed during excavations in Taxila, Dwaraka, Arikkamedu, Adhichanallur, Mohenjadaro and Harappa. "Indian ivory statues unearthed during excavations at Pompeii in Rome show the strength of ancient trade links between the two countries," T.K.V Rajan, founder-director of Indian Science Monitor said.

More in the Hindu report.

August 05, 2005

Madras Day - Aug 22 1639

The Madras Day' celebrations will begin on August 22 and will go on till August 28.
Lots have been planned...visit to know more

AUG 22 - 1639

It was on that day, in that year, that a silver of land, where the Fort. St. George and the secretariat now exist in Madras - now called Chennai, was sold to the East India Company.

The deal was struck by Francis Day, his 'dubash' Beri Thimmappa, and their superior, Andrew Cogan, with the local Nayaks.

It is believed that this deal was made on this day and these three men are considered to be the founders of this city.

Mercurial Mamata

Once again!Phew!! This lady never tires!!
Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee on Thursday caused a sensation in the Lok Sabha by flinging papers at the Speaker's podium and announcing her resignation from the House as she was "being denied to speak."

Read the entire Hindu report.

July 15, 2005

Quarrying threatens Jain sculptures

It has been happening for quite sometime..But the authorities gave a damn abt it.

Indiscriminate quarrying is threatening Perumal Malai, a serene hill on Theni-Madurai main road about 18 km from Madurai, which had once been the seat of the Jains and contains exquisite sculptures of Jain priests, a geologist and residents said.

The Hindu report says alleged local officials could be conniving with quarry workers.

It is high time the authorities wake up to save atleast the remains of this great Tamil heritage.

Read One of my earlier posts on SamanarMalai near Madurai.

July 12, 2005

Shameless Creatures

Happened to get this picture thro a forward. Even though we are used to atrocities of the administrators, this one shook me..
I guess thousands of such incidents are very much happening...But it takes a picture to give that knock out punch..Kudos to Indian Express photographer for taking this photo of a joint commissioner of police - K. Kumaraswamy—riding on the shoulders of a constable in Vadodara, his trousers rolled up,as the man carrying him wades through flood waters.
KPS Gill gives a tongue lashing in Indian Express : Framed: Indian Administration

July 08, 2005

Underground Cellar - Chennai Fort St. George

We are just scratching the surface of digging ..I presume...;-)

A mysterious underground cellar or vault has been discovered in the building that houses the Fort Museum on the premises of the historic Fort St. George.

This building, completed in 1795, housed the Madras Bank (now State Bank of India).
This underground room was perhaps used as a vault for safe-keeping," Mr. Satyamurthy,Superintending Archaeologist, Archaeological Survey of India, Chennai Circlesaid.

In 1787, Peter Massey Cassin, "a free merchant of Madras," wrote to the Madras Government, proposing the construction of a building to house an Exchange to conduct trade. An Exchange company was formed with a capital of 25,000 star pagodas. A piece of land with a house, belonging to another free merchant, Robert Hughes, was bought. The present building was completed in 1795 after demolishing the house.

More in the The mystery of the underground cellar article in The Hindu.

Madras Univeristy Senate House - Facelift

Something to Cheer about ;-)

A building more than a century old will come back to life again.

A shining example of what is called the Indo-Saracenic style of architecture, the building, begun in 1869, was completed in 1873. A prominent Chennai landmark, it bears testimony to the genius of its architect Robert F. Chisolm

At a press conference on Wednesday, Vice Chancellor of Madras University, Dr. Thyagarajan said, "The roof is done, the woodwork is done, the coloured glass work is done, the lime plastering is done, and the fresco restoration is also done with vegetable dyes." The renovation is estimated to cost around Rs. 6 crores.

Read more in Senate House on the road to resurrection article that appread in the Hindu.

July 07, 2005

SamanarMalai - Madurai/TamilNadu - Jain Caves

Jainism flourshied in SouthIndia 2000 yrs back. Now the number of Tamil Jains (samanar/nainar) has trickled down to few thousands.
I would bring to you info on a series of ancient jain temples in tamilnadu:

To start with - SamanarMalai/SamanaMalai

Samanar malai is situated just 12 km west of Madurai.

Right at the centre of the hill is a big natural cavern in which Jain monks lived 2,000 years ago. A Brahmi inscription is engraved on the `forehead' of the cave and another on the lithic bed which dates back to the 1st Century A.D.

The Jain rock sculptures of Mahavira, Gomateswara, Yaksha and Yakshi and bas reliefs bear inscriptions in Vatteluthu, dating back to the 9th Century A.D. Archaeologists have recorded the existence of a Jain school and a natural fountain called "pechchi pallam" here.

Read the Road-Less Travelled article in the Hindu on Samanar Malai.

June 25, 2005

TajMahal is mine! - great-great grandson of Bahadur Shah Zafar

Very funny to read that , The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the waqf board, an Agra resident... and now one more claimant pledging to be the true Mughal descendant has emerged from Hyderabad for "custodianship" of India's prized Taj Mahal.

It happens only in India !!

'Prince' Yaqub Habeebuddin Tucy , who says he is the great great grandson of Mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, arrived in Lucknow to stake his claim for the famed 17th century monument in Agra as a "true descendent of the Mughal lineage".

June 23, 2005

Pathetic Chennai Government Museum

Nearly 75 per cent of the bronzes from the Chennai Government Museum's world-famous collection are not on display. The reason: no space and no funds to create space.

"Things would be much smoother if the museum became an independent entity with financial and decision-making autonomy," said an official.
"The British Museum in London uses government support and private donors, but has independence in its operations."
The museum here was considering approaching the Government to restructure its position. "This might improve the overall situation," the official said.

Read the entire article in The Hindu.

Life in Andipatti and Modur during the megalithic periods

Andipatti, (now dont mistake this for Jayalalitha's Andipatti) in Tiruvannamalai district, 15 km from Chengam,TamilNadu, India was under the spade for quite sometime now. ASI has excavated a terracota bull, shell bangles, Mother Goddess figurines, pot shreds with graffiti marks and spindle whorls.

According to the Special Commissioner of Archaeology, T. S. Sridhar, the recent excavations have highlighted the material aspects of civilisation in this part of the country. There had been continuous settlement in Andipatti from the megalithic to the historic period.

More Info .. Click here

Official Site of Archaeological Department of India

After a tedious round of googling, found the official site of Archaeological Department of the Indian Ministry.
Archaeological Survey of India

Few Comments:

1. does not go to the ASI main page, but a index page that has a link only to National Informatics Centre (NIC).
2. The title of the page is in a paining font
3. I guess would win hands down, the worst opener for a website everdone,
"No spectacular event inaugurated the birth of archaeological studies in India. "
So much for being passionate!
4. The site gives basic info. abt the department rather than the monuments in India. They have a link called monuments which has six subdivisions, only one link is working & the others are under construction. very Funny!
5. Only the contact info may be of some use, provided they are being updated regularly.

It is high time, the department pulls up its socks to have an informtive website.

June 22, 2005

Mudhal Mudhalai..

Yahoo! I am on to blogging after many false starts..
Hope to fill it in with my ramblings...
wanna write abt my interests - Archaeology, Current Affairs, Software & Technology, Humanity.....the list goes on...