One can never imagine what those 150-odd travelers in the Pamban-Dhanuskodi Passenger Express experienced when the infamous 1964 Rameswaram Cyclone swept them away in the wee hours of 23rd December. Things took an ugly turn and the small town of Dhanushkodi would never be the same. Once a thriving port town that buzzed with activity all day and night, this place has a historical significance as the name goes. Lord Rama is said to have marked this place with his bow for his army to start building the bridge to Lanka. Coincidentally, this point is hardly 30 minutes away from Sri Lanka by water.
We know this post is a tad bit late; an entire month in 2017 has gone by. With a few important decisions to be taken, things have taken a different turn this year (definitely for the best) and has taken up some of our time. We’ve promised ourselves to get back to writing on a more regular basis and what hit us last week was when a dear friend who was visiting said – “frankly, your blog is almost dead”. This is most definitely true and it’s unfair that we haven’t been sharing our travel tales with you. 2017 is going to be better, we promise 🙂
2016 was quite an eventful year for us; filled with travel to new places and discovering the lesser known was a hidden agenda for us. It’s amazing what this can do to your soul.
It’s been almost five months since we left Siem Reap but we cannot stop reminiscing our moments with the Khmer Empire. While our memories of the unforgettable Angkor Wat and the magnificent Angkor Thom still remain fresh, we can’t help but go back to the time we set foot on the North-Western hills of Phnom Kulen to reach Kbal Spean.
Literally translated to ‘Headwater Bridge’, Kbal Spean was carved our during the reign of King Udayadityavarman II, possibly between the 11th and 12th centuries. Dedicated to the Trimurtis: Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, this Bapuon-style group of sculptures is definitely one-of-a-kind.
About 15 odd kilometers away from the famous Mahabalipuram-also known as the Jewel of the Coromandel Coast-lies the hidden town of Sadurangapattinam. A small town tucked away next to Kalpakkam, was once famously known for a fairly big Dutch settlement. The Sadras Fort is one such imprint that the Dutch have left us with before they were driven away by the British.
“Long years ago, we made a tryst with destiny and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom.” – Jawahar Lal Nehru
Pondicherry had an immense role to play in India’s freedom movement. Firstly, it fought for its own freedom. Secondly it actively supported the Freedom movement against the British and even housed nationalists who courted arrest by the British.
No trip to Pondicherry is complete without a visit to Aurobindo Ashram. Aurobindo was influenced by studies on rebellion and revolutions against England in medieval France and the revolts in America and Italy. Even though he favoured non-cooperation movements and passive resistance publicly; in private he took up secret revolutionary activity as a preparation for open revolt, in case passive revolt failed.
“Imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism.”
The proximity of the ports on the Eastern parts of India, to Southeast Asia and China, made them very attractive for the Europeans. The first Europeans to set foot on the shores were the Portuguese in the 16th Century; in all probability they were linked to Jesuit missions, as well as the spice trade which started to dominate the scene right across Indian coastline then. Details of their travels to South India can be traced in the accounts of Jesuit Antonio Rubino, written in early 17th century.
The Danes were next in line, setting up a trading base close by in Tranquebar (Tharangambadi) in the year 1620. The Dutch East India Company built the magnificent Sadras fort as a commercial outpost at Sadhurangapattinam in the early 17th century.
Think of Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Khmer, Champa and Eastern Indian dynasties. What connects them? Not just the fact that they were colossal empires, but ones that specialised in maritime trade. The secrets to unlocking the history behind any region is often linked to its description in ancient literature and based on accounts of sea faring traders and merchants.
Tamil Nadu has numerous entries for ports of commercial trade dating back centuries ago mentioned frequently in Sangam literature as well as that famous book for seafarers, Periplus of Erythrean Sea. Mylapore, Mamalla/Poonjeri, Kaveripumpattinam, Nagapattinam, Korkai and Kumari were important maritime trade centres.