During my recent visit to the relatively interior parts of Tamil Nadu,namely Thanjavur, Thiruchirapalli and Srirangam, I couldn’t help but notice the stark contrast between them and Bangalore. They are poles apart, despite being not too far from each other. (They are less than 500 kilometers apart!) As a person who has grown up in two metropolitan cities, the difference was quite evident to me.
From where do I begin? I have no clue! For one, these places are up quite early in the morning, unlike our city. I got down at the railway station at around six in the morning, and was surprised to see that a major part of the town(city?) was already going about usual business! The places are culturally very rich,to this day. I could hear the Gayatri Mantram being played in quite a few shops, and hotels tuned in to TV channels broadcasting devotional songs in Tamil, early in the morning. Literally almost every forehead had a religious mark on it, either vibhuti or turmeric and vermilion or sandal paste! Compare that to Bangalore, where people only don such marks on festivals or, as is the case with the student community, during examinations. On other days, such a mark is often seen as odd. Speaking of the attire of the people too, it is largely traditional. The streets are lined with shrines, both large and small, dedicated to many different deities. The Tamil language is seen literally everywhere, and seems to be the uniting factor for adherents of different faiths. Whether it be “Om Namaha Shivaaya”, “Amman Arul” , “Sriranga”,or “Mariye vaazhga” (The Tamil equivalent of ‘Ave Maria’ ) or “Masha Allah”, they are all written in Tamil.
Speaking of means of transport, the autorickshaws have no meters on them, not even as a formality. As a result, you may have to cough up any amount that the driver demands, however short the distance. Thankfully though, there are buses plying literally every minute that are quite cheap and comfortable. However, owing to their frequency, there is a mad race and sense of competition between bus drivers. My god! They speed like mad, and doubly so while on highways!
Speaking of the climate, there is obviously no comparison. Bangalore weather is undoubtedly the best! In the mornings and evenings, the weather is bearable, but it becomes really hot in the afternoons! In comparison, Chennai weather is heavenly!
The walls are lined with political posters, and if I had to talk about Tamil Nadu politics in depth, it would take up an entire book! There are just so many layers to it! Ironic though it may seem, for a place with so many religious people, it is the very birthplace of atheistic Dravidian politics, propagated by E.V.Ramaswamy, better known as Periyar.
The people are extremely courteous and speak very respectfully, unlike in cities like Bangalore or Chennai.
Let me save the best part for the last- the food! It is simply amazing, and going by Bangalore standards, is quite affordable and is complete value for money. No wonder multinational food chains such as McDonald’s haven’t yet made inroads into these places. Dishes such as Idly and Dosa may be found in all parts of southern India, but there is a very distinct Tamil Nadu touch to the food served here, which is unlike any other and has a homely feeling associated with it, even in restaurants! Steaming hot idlis and vadas served on a banana leaf, complete with upto five different types of chutneys, each garnished with curry leaves and mustard seeds, sambar and podi, each with a distinct taste, when washed down with a cup of fresh Kumbakonam degree coffee is pure bliss and makes for the perfect breakfast! ❤ In order to make the average Bangalorean understand better, it is like Adyar Ananda Bhavan but ten times better and half the price! That was just breakfast, lunch is equally amazing, if not better! I can go on and on about it, but I am guessing the reader is likely to lose patience at this point. 😛
On the second day of my stay,I went to Srirangam,to seek the blessings of Lord Sri Ranganatha. The temple is massive and has a great deal of history associated with it. It being a Saturday however, it was quite crowded as it is a day considered especially auspicious for the worship of Lord Vishnu. Quite like
in Tirupati, I could only manage to get a fleeting glimpse of the lord in the sanctum sanctorum, although I wished I could spend more time there in his company.
On the whole, these are places that provide an escape from the hustle and bustle of metropolitan city life, and are definitely a must visit for tourists. But at some point, you do tend to miss home!
Written By: Shivansh A. S (Biotechnology)