History of Temples in Tiruvanmiyur



DR S SURESH goes on a spiritual sojourn as he re-visits some prominent and lesser-known temples in and around Thiruvanmiyur.

The festival season has set in and all the temples in the city are busy preparing for special events and rituals connected with each festival.Thiruvanmiyur,which is presently a bustling residential locality on the southern fringes of Chennai city,was,for centuries,a small village with large temples and traditional tile-roofed houses.It was one of the last villages to be included within the modern city.
Thiruvanmiyur has a long and interesting history.According to the locals,the very name Tiruvanmiyur is derived from the name of the famous saint Valmiki,the author of the epic,Ramayana.He is believed to have lived here for some years,several centuries before Christ.There is a small temple dedicated to this saint in the area.

Between 300 BC and 300 AD,Roman traders frequented Thiruvanmiyur,which was then a part of the kingdom of the Sangam Cholas.The Romans came to India to buy our spices,gemstones,textiles,ivory and sandalwood.In return,India got wine,gold,silver and lead from Rome.Since the 19th century,Roman coins have been recurrently reported from the Mahabalipuram-Thiruvanmiyur coastal stretch.Thiruvanmiyur was located between two major ports frequented by the Romans,namely Mahabalipuram or Mallai and Mylapore.In Greek literature,the former port was called Malange and the latter port,Mylarpha.

After the decline of the Sangam Cholas,Thiruvanmiyur came under the control of the Pallava dynasty (fourth to ninth centuries AD).An interesting coin minted by this dynasty was unearthed from the compound of a school in Thiruvanmiyur in August,1989,when the school authorities were digging the ground for Independence Day celebrations.The coin was made of lead.It featured the bull,the royal crest of the Pallavas,on the obverse and a vase with a tree on the reverse.On typological grounds,archaeologists have assigned this coin to the fourth century AD.After the Pallavas,Thiruvanmiyur came under the rule of the Medieval Cholas or Imperial Cholas and later,the Vijayanagar empire.Subsequently,the region was passed on to the British.

The biggest and most important temple in Thiruvanmiyur is undoubtedly the Marundisvarar Temple on the East Coast Road.This temple has two main entrances – one facing east and the other facing west.Although the temple existed during the age of the Pallavas,most of the structures in the campus belong to the time of the Cholas and the Vijayanagar empire.The temple was extensively damaged when Hyder Ali,the Sultan of Mysore,invaded the area in the eighteenth century.Unlike many other Hindu temples where the main shrine faces east,the principal shrine in the present temple faces west.The vimana or tower above this shrine is over 30 feet high.The shrine of Goddess Tripurasundari faces south and belongs to the period of the king Rajendra I Chola (1012-44 AD).To the north-east of the temple is a large tank with a pillared Niradum Mandapa (bathing pavilion ).The tank has been cleaned and restored recently.It is rather strange that this beautiful temple has not got the publicity that it richly deserves.It is rarely visited by tourists.Hundreds of people pass by this temple each day,while driving to the tourist sites of Mahabalipuram and Dakshinachitra,but none of them are aware of its unique heritage.

The writer is the Tamil Nadu State Convener,INTACH and is presently in Washington DC,studying the American system of Heritage Conservation,as a Fulbright Scholar and this article appears in Times of India Chennai Edition dated 22.10.2011


The Valmiki temple in Thiruvanmiyur, which is steeped in legend, is believed to be at least 1,300 years old.
Be it a huge edifice in the centre of the road or just a small elevation beneath a tree, temples have always had special significance in Chennai.

And the Valmiki temple, sitting bang in the middle of East Coast Road in Valmiki Nagar is no exception.
Legend has it that poet Valmiki, after writing the Ramayana, was heading south along the sea shore and rested here.
Hence, the area is called Thiruvanmiyur. Although the temple looks like a mandapam, it is believed to be at least 1,300 years old.

During the Chola reign, the Maruntheeshwarar temple was constructed. Now the Valmiki temple is officially under the supervision of Maruntheeshwarar temple. But the Valmiki temple has been under threat from the development of ECR. The government planned to demolish the temple as it is in the centre of the road.
“The temple authorities have managed to get a stay order on the demolition.Now attempts are being made to widen the road around the temple, so that it will serve as a median and not be an inconvenience,” says Kuppuswamy, an officer at the Maruntheeshwarar temple.

Every year the Brahmatosav festival takes place in March and special pooja is done every month on the full moon day.

The above piece of information appears in the Chennai edition of The Hindu, dated Jan 23,2003.

The right “time” for everything

This article is published in the monday issues of  Times of India.This article was written by Dr V Saraswathi.

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

Even though he could not tell time, my three year old grandson was wearing a watch when I visited him. Later, when I was putting on my coat to leave, I asked him what time it was. He looked at his watch blankly, and then brightened. “It is time for you to go!” he said triumphantly. Those of us who can tell time can’t be smart enough to find such escape routes.

Often we commit mistakes when telling time. This is because we do not realise that there are different ways of expressing time in speech and writing. Usually, in writing, we use figures, for example, 6.30, 5.45 etc. This method is followed in time-tables and official notices. The minutes are always given in relation to the previous hour.

In conversation, however, we use words. And the way we express time in speech varies. Look at the difference between speech and writing in the text below:
Shortly before taking over as vice chancellor from his predecessor, Professor Dumbwit had to spend long hours being briefed about his responsibilities. As a result, he had to stay late in the office to attend to his work. His private secretary had to wait till after 10.30 p.m. After a week of suffering, the secretary made bold to address the vice chancellordesignate . “Sir , may I be allowed to ask a question ” he said. Being permitted to do so, he continued,”You stay in office till very late whereas the retiring VC leaves exactly at 5 o’clock . In the evening. Is it that you have not understood the work or has the workload increased” Thereafter Prof. Dumbwit left office exactly at 5.00 p.m.

Notice in writing we use figures and also abbreviations like a.m. and p.m. A.M. is abbreviation of Latin ante meridiem which means before midday. P.M. stands for post meridiem, that is, after midday. In speech, we don’t use these abbreviations but would say five o’clock in the evening or ten in the morning, for instance.

In speech, minutes up to thirty are expressed in relation to the preceding hour. For example, half past four; quarter pat six. Some say half six too. Minutes between thirty and sixty are expressed in relation to the next hour. For example, 1.50 would be ten to two and 5.43, seventeen minutes to six. Fifteen minutes past an hour is called quarter past, and thirty minutes after an hour half past. but forty five minutes after an hour is quarter to the next hour. (e.g.) 6.45 would be quarter to seven.

The exact hour is referred to as o’clock (short for of the clock).But remember not to use o’clock when a statement of minutes precedes the hour. You should say five past eleven, not five past eleven o’clock . For 12.00 hours and 24.00 hours, we use noon and midnight. Here’s a brain teaser before we close: What is two to two to two two ? The answer is four minutes; two to two means two minutes before two o’clock . Two two stands for two minutes after two o’clock .

American English vs British English

This article is published in the monday issues of Times of India.This article was written by Dr V Saraswathi.

Micmanz Lanugage Improvement series

America and Britain are said to be two different countries divided by one language. The Americans have tried their level best to Americanize English whereas the British have been desperately eager to preserve the purity of English Unfortunately, both have failed miserably. There are of course some differences between the two varieties, but they are peripheral, not central.

Let us look at some of the variations in grammar. Where the British use as if, Americans prefer like, as in the story below:
Some tourists in the museum of Natural History were marveling at the dinosaur bones. One of them asked the curator, Could you tell me how old these dinosaur bones arePat came the reply,”They are three million four years, six months old. “”You talk like you bred them! How can you tell their age so preciselyThe man replied, Well, the dinosaur bones were three million years old when I joined this place, and that was four and a half years ago.

Our grammar teachers ask us to use shall with the first person and will with the second and third persons. Americans flout this rule. For them, shall does not exist. A British professor said,I shall now illustrate what I have in mind,” and he erased the board.

An American professor would have used will instead. Adverbs of indefiniteness like just, already and yet are used with the present perfect tense in British English. The Americans use these words with the present perfect as well as past tense. Consider this conversation:

Patient: Everyone hates me.

Psychiatrist: Don’t be ridiculous. Everyone did not meet you yet!

Gotten is a hot favourite with Americans. They use it except when get means have. For the British, gotten is vulgar. The following conversation is acceptable in both varieties.
Joe: What sort of a car has your dad got
Jay: I can’t remember the name. I think it starts with T.
Joe: Really Ours only starts with petrol.

Notice the difference:
He has gotten a purse. (He possesses a purse.)
I got two sisters. (have)

Collective nouns like committee for instance, could be either singular or plural as the situation demands as per British grammar.

The committee is unanimous in their decision.
The committee are divided in their opinion.

In American English, all collective nouns are singular always.
The distinguished Reception committee at Harvard University is searching in vain for Sir Walter Raleigh, descendant of the famous personage in English and American history, due for a course of lectures at Harvard. Seeing an impressive looking stranger, the committee accosts him.Pardon me, are you. Are you Sir Walter Raleigh the chairman asks.Thunders , No!he answers with emphasis,I am Christopher Columbus. Sir Walter is in the next room playing cards with Queen Elizabeth.”

Google Earth in trouble


Pentagon has banned  Google from taking images and video of military installations.The problem the Pentagon had with these images was that they were shot with great detail and were found to represent a significant security risk.U.S. military and other world governments the satellite images and other footage Google offers on its Earth service represents a big security risk.Street View is a service of Google Earth that allows users of the application to travel down streets from the perspective of a car driver.

The U.S. military isn’t the only military force that has had problem with images shown on Google Earth. Back here in India,a Mumbai-based advocate has filed a petition in the Bombay high court for a “complete ban on Google Earth and similar sites like Wikimapia” as these could pose a security threat to the country.

According to the public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Amit Karkhanis, these websites provided minute details, photographs and “extremely accurate navigational coordinates” of sensitive areas. These could be utilised by terrorists, who have been reportedly depending on advanced technology and internet services such as Google Earth, maps and satellite phones for planning their operations. Earlier, former president Dr.Abdul Kalam had voiced his concerns about the availability of unrestricted images of sensitive locations in the country on Google Earth.

Meanwhile,ISRO is ready to compete with Google Earth .Bhuvan, which means Earth in Hindu Sanskrit, will be India’s home-grown web-based satellite imaging and mapping app when it goes live in March 2009, according to Indian media.Bhuvan (meaning is Earth) will work just like Google Earth or Wikimapia but it will allow zooming far closer.

”  If Google Earth shows details upto 200 metres distance and Wikimapia upto 50 metres, Bhuvan will show images upto 10 metres, which means you can easily see details upto a three floor high building and also add information…….count the lions in Gir or fishermen find concentration of fish in the sea ” : Times of India

Bhuvan will use the data recorded by the Indian satellites only. The prototype of Bhuvan will be ready by the end of November and ISRO is hoping to officially launch the service by March next…………With Bhuvan we will be able to produce very local information which will be specific to only to our own country. This information available from this mapping system will be useful in addressing very local problems like floods, famines, infrastructure development, education and much more,…………………..The information on Bhuvan will be layer wise and the options of viewing filtered information will be available. Inputs from a lot of local players, like farmers, fishermen and likes who know the local area in and out, will also being integrated in Bhuvan. This is for the primary reason to make it of more use to the general public.. ”  : ISRO Chairman Dr G Madhavan Nair