Through the lens of ancient mariners: the emergence of Poduke


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. Continue reading


“Faith does not teach us to harbour grudges between us”



“Sare jahan se accha hindustan hamara”

Co-existing in this world today seems to be quite a task. When we look around, all that we can see is intolerance and the usual love-hate relationship that’s probably going to be never-ending. However, what we forget to do these days is look around and realize that India is a standing example of co-existence. While we did have most of it damaged during invasions and wars, we still seem to have some of the best and the most magnificent structures around the world.

Co-existence not only in terms of religion, cultures and beliefs but also styles of architecture that were used to erect each of these structures. To add to that, nature seems to have played an important role in amplifying the idea of co-existence in India – the Mountain Railways of India and Rani-ki-Vav are shining examples.

As a continuation to our World Heritage Week Series, here’s our next 5 World Heritage Sites that stand tall and proud: Continue reading

Busting the Myth of the Seven Pagodas of the Coromandel Coast


These are exciting times for history and travel buffs to Tamil Nadu with the discovery of ruins 800 meters off the coast of Mamallapuram by the NIO (National Institute of Oceanography) and ASI (Archaeological Survey of India).


A NIO-ASI excavation near Punjeri village, 1.5kms from Mamalla in 2003 revealed remains an ancient sea-port from early historic and medieval times. During the tsunami in December 2004, locals had noticed a row of boulders when the sea receded before they were swallowed. One of them had remarked that they saw sunlight glistening off the top of a pagoda. Marine archaeological explorations in 2004-05 revealed many structures including long walls, pathways leading to a raised platform, scattered rectangular dressed stone blocks and a broken statue representing a lion. The presence of biological aquatic growth have made it difficult to pin-point the structures. These have now been reinforced by a recent exploration from March 10th to 18th. These were indeed vestiges of the ancient port. Continue reading


The Jewel of the Coromandel Coast – through the eyes of the Indian rulers


One thing that fascinates us whenever we travel to a place is the history behind it. The Good Friday weekend worked out well for us when we decided to head to the Coromandel Coast of The Bay of Bengal – Mamallapuram.

We decided to dig deep and look at how Mamallapuram came into being to what it is today through the annals avaiable. In this post, we look at Mamallapuram through the eyes of the Indian rulers.

One of the earliest references comes in a piece of early Tamil literature: Perumban-Arruppadai that talks highly of a local chieftain named Tondaiman Ilamtiraiyan (1st Century CE) as the ruler of Tondaimandalam with Kanchipuram as his capital. There is mention of a port with a lighthouse. With praises heaped on Mamalla from the 5th century onwards, it is likely that it was indeed the port mentioned in this text. Continue reading


Kanchipuram: it’s more than just silk sarees


Famously known as a ‘temple town with more than a thousand temples’, Kanchipuram is the capital of Tamil Nadu. We decided to hop on 576 – the air-conditioned bus from the T.Nagar Bus Terminus to go on our spiritual journey, last Friday. Only about 75 kilometres away, it took us less than three hours to get there.

There are other ways to get into town in case you aren’t okay with the bus:

  • You can drive by yourself (you might want to try Zoom Car)
  • You can hire a cab to drop you off (but that’s going to be expensive because you might have to pay the cab to get back to Chennai)

Continue reading