Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXVI No. 01, April 16-30, 2016
As it steps into its 26th year, Madras Musings is happy to find that the maximum number of greetings and best wishes for its continued existence has come in on social media – the preserve of the young. This makes us most happy for we believe that by making an impact on the next generation, we have carried forward the concerns over heritage – both built and natural – as well as over our city to the guardians of the future. This by itself is a victory for us.
It was only in the last issue that we made it known that we as a publication have completed 25. Ever since then, we have received countless messages on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter wishing us well. We have published some of these messages elsewhere in this issue (See page 3). We thank every one of these people and promise them that we will live up to their expectations. At the same time, we also express our gratitude to these young people who have dispelled the notion that concerns about heritage and the city are exclusive to the elderly. This is a definite sign of changing times.
Let us take for instance Facebook forums that discuss our city. The Madras Local History Group is perhaps the best known. The focus is chiefly on uploading photographs of our city’s past and the volume. The variety that has been dug up from various online and offline sources is simply amazing. This remains one of the busiest groups with uploads happening all times of the day and night. Singara Chennai looks at various places in our city that add colour, vibrancy and beauty. There are other groups that specifically concentrate on waste reduction, environment and water bodies. On the blogging front, there are numerous writers who devote columns to their areas of interest within the city – its arts environment, theatre, temples, and general city history. Mention must also be made of people like Ramaswami Nallaperumal and R Shantaram who add a photograph every day to the World Wide Web from our city and have been doing it for years.
The walks and tours are another success story. Gone are the days when Mylapore or Beach Road was the only choice for a heritage walk. Hundreds of routes have been mapped across the city and, on any given day, chances are that a group of volunteers have set out for some unknown spot, making a picnic outing from it. The bulk of these people are young and adventurous.
Ask any tourist as to what is the first destination he or she has in mind when they visit our city and the Mylapore Kapaliswarar Temple will most likely be the answer. For most Chennai residents, this ranks high as a place of worship, as evinced by the vast numbers who throng the shrine on a daily basis. On festival days the numbers swell to unmanageable proportions. The shrine is maintained well the year round and has, in the last month, undergone a spectacularly successful consecration.
Several crores are spent on its upkeep and deservedly so. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of its environs, to which the authorities and the general public pay the least attention. The surroundings have degraded terribly over the years.
On a train journey back to Bangalore from Thanjavur recently, one of my fellow passengers, overhearing that I live in the Nandi Hills area north of Bangalore and conduct curated heritage walks in the foothills, asked me if I knew about the curious case of Omkar Swamy and his ‘ashram’ in the area. I wasn’t very enthusiastic about entering into another tale of a ‘godman’, most likely a rather forgettable one, and so replied that while I knew of the existence of the man and his ‘ashram’, I had no knowledge of, nor particular interest in, him. My fellow passenger, however, ploughed on and I, politely, listened. What followed, however, kept me enthralled and led me to further research. This is what I found.
Nandagopal in Delhi…… and Narasimhalu & Udhayakumar in Madras
Art Alive Gallery New Delhi, has been presenting “The Metaphysical Edge of Sculpture” – a solo exhibition of S. Nandagopal’s sculptures.
Rajaji was born in Thorapalli Agraharam near Hosur in Krishnagiri District in his family house. It was from here that he launched the prohibition of alcohol movement throughout the Salem District in 1938 during British rule. On his request, the Government created a new post and posted J.C. Ryan, Deputy Registrar of Co-operative Societies at the time, as Special Development Officer to implement Rajaji’s prohibition policy and programmes to rehabilitate toddy tappers and ex-addicts.