Kaveri Poompatinam was an important port city during the Sangam Age in the 4th century BCE . It was the capital of the Chozhas. The flourishing capital city was also known as Puhar, aaru puhum edam, the place where the river enters the sea. River Kaveri drains into Bay of Bengal here.
The city is immortalized by the great literary work ‘Silapadikaram’ written by the Chozha poet prince Illango Adigal. It was in the golden sands along the river that Madhavi the dancer mesmerised the rich merchant Kovalan with her poetry and music.
‘Silapadikaram’ describes the city in great detail – the two regions Maruvoor pakkam and Pattina pakkam divided by sprawling gardens, the king’s palace built of wood, the temple taller than the palace, the viharas built by rich merchants for Buddhist monks, terraced mansions where the nobles lived, busy market places called angadis (there were the day and night markets called naalangadi and allangadi), the dockyard and the port where large ships from Roman lands visited carrying precious stones like carnelian and lapis lazuli.
Below is an artist’s recreation of the port city. Nothing of this has survived because it is believed that the ancient city was destroyed by giant waves.
You can read more about Puhar here.
I visit Puhar very often, it takes six hours by road from Chennai. Time cannot take away the magic of this place, the city is deeply entrenched in the collective subconscious of the Tamil people. There are too many ghosts here that beckon me. Here are a few paintings from my previous visit to Puhar.
I spent a week in summer, about six months ago, in Kandaghat. Based there, I visited Shimla, Mashobra, Tattapani and Narkanda. It was a relaxed holiday, I painted through the trip sitting at these sites for several hours while my family and my brother’s family trekked and explored around.
It is important in art journalling to write the impressions soon after a trip. This blog comes six months after I made the trip, experiences fresh and significant at that time, have receded from memory. All that I have to share are these paintings.
River Sutlej in Tattapani
Nectarines and Cherries from Shimla
I went on a sketch trail to Bandipur forest. I stayed in the bungalow located within the reserve forest, for three days. Herds of deer grazed the backyard of the guest house, there were tales of tigers and leopards being spotted. An elephant camp was next door, from where a tusker, a mother elephant with her calf that was only five days old ambled to the watering hole located beyond the bungalow.
I was out through the day, painting and sketching. I painted most of these at the sites, many of them done as wet on wet style.
I have been dedicating most of my time to writing, and have not been painting much. Filled with guilt I filled my book with these paintings and sketches. I had a lot of time to be by myself and reflect. I have emerged out of the forest with a resolution that I will remain balanced in 2015, I will paint as much as I write.
We travelled to Greece for The Virtual Paintout, in the month of July. I zeroed down on two locations. I have finished this right in time, but will go ahead painting the other location as well. Here is the google link to the beautiful place, move around to get the right view. See my painting and the screen shot of the location.
My mother’s friend lives in a small hamlet, some forty kilometres from the historical town of Kumbakonam. It is a quiet village tucked between acres of green fields, fertile because of the tributaries of Kaveri river that crisscross this region.
This is a painting of the agraharam, a place where a particular community of people live. The agraharam is lined with houses on both sides of the mud road. The houses have red tiles for roof. A thinnai or a closed porch at the entrance leads to a courtyard surrounded by rooms . The house opens into a large backyard with a well and a rambling garden where different types of vegetables are grown. My mother’s friend grows brinjals, cluster beans, pumpkins, bitter gourds, snake gourds, tomatoes and chillies.There are lemon, mango, coconut and drumstick trees that help to fill the larder with food supplies.
At one end of the agraharam is the temple for Lord Vishnu and at the other end is the temple for Lord Shiva. The Shiva temple has a temple tank. Even during the severest summer the tank does not run dry, it remains filled with moss covered, jade coloured water. The chidren in the village take delight in swimming in the tank, the water bursts into sparkles of green light when the boys dive in from the tall walls.
Around the agraharam in the village there are about 30 houses where people from different communities live. Beyond these houses spread the fields. Every household in the village is involved in farming activities, they either own farmland, or work for wage in farmlands that belong to others.
I visited the village soon after the harvest of rice, the fields were ochre coloured waiting to be dug and got ready for the next crop.
Home is where the heart is. I keep visiting Hosur whenever an opportunity arises, the town brings beautiful memories of the days that I lived there, of the times that I drove out with an artist friend to sketch and paint.
Hosur is a dusty and crowded town bursting at its seams with industries. What charms me is the fact that very quickly one can step out of Hosur and be on one of the many roads leading to the neighbouring towns. Each of these drives and treks offers a different landscape to explore. It is a rocky landscape along the road leading to Royakotai, lush green fields stretch till horizon along the road leading to Thenkanikotai, a typical Thomas Hardyesque landscape of green rolling hills on the drive to Thalli. There is a diverse platter to choose from.
I go to Hosur on work, or I accompany my husband when he goes there on work. I walk, paint, read, or just sit on one of the sun-warmed rocks and wonder how the sky scape is so unique to this town.
I painted a rock face that was close to the hotel where I stayed. The other painting is from along the Mathagiri road, I trekked from a village called Chempatti, on the rocks where grasses were singed by summer heat.
During the month of March Virtual Paintout took artists to the beautiful Slovenia. For the best part of the month I travelled around on my google map, seeing various places. I finally decided a location, navigated many kilometres around the spot. I have been painting water bodies of late – lakes, muddy ponds, the Indian ocean. The lake that formed the centre of the location was my weakness. First I wanted to do a pastel painting, but settled for water colours. This is the google link to the location. See my painting and the screen shot of the location.
Tarangambadi means a place of the singing waves. It was a sleepy town till it became a Danish colony in the early seventeenth century. It then came to be called Tranquebar. All the waves cannot wash away the history of the place, the town remains suspended in time, where the past whispers stories through incessant songs from the sea.
Srisailam is a temple town in the Nallamalla hills, on the banks of Krishna river. The serpentine river flows like a secret, deep and still. It is a steep climb down to the river, from the town. The main ghat is crowded with devotees who travel miles to bathe in the holy river.
I sat at two locations away from the main ghat, to paint. The first one gave a glimpse of small temples across the river. And from the other location I painted a private ghat, nestled in a dense forest cover.