October 29th, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Business & Economy, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Records, All, World Opinion
What makes the bonding between the two families significant is that it has expanded to become a relationship between two cities (Coimbatore and Esslingen) and two countries
It was September of 1939 and Europe faced the Second World War. Forty- six-year-old Gopalswamy Doraiswamy Naidu from Coimbatore was on a business trip to Germany and was at Holzmaden, Esslingen. He had no place to stay or get vegetarian food and spent a night under the open sky.
Berta Stoll, wife of Gottlieb Stoll, saw G.D. Naidu and invited him to their home, which was nearby. Naidu stayed with the Stoll family for four or five days, cooked his own food with vegetables picked from their garden and thus began the story of a friendship, which has lasted for 75 years, between the two families.
A few years after his visit to Germany, when businesses were down in that country and there were no buyers for German products, Mr. Naidu wrote to his friends the world over, recommending Festo products from the company of the Stolls.
What makes the bonding between the two families significant is that in the last seven-and-a-half decades, it has expanded to become a relationship between two cities (Coimbatore and Esslingen) and the two countries.
About 20 members of the Stoll family are here on a five-day visit. The second, third and fourth generations of the two families — Stoll and G.D. Naidu- gathered in the city on Sunday to celebrate 75 years of their friendship.
Members of the two families recollected the visits to India and Germany, their education and early days of work at each other’s factories, exchanged gifts and cut a cake.
There is a proposal to twin Coimbatore and Esslingen and the Esslingen Coimbatore Association has been formed. Over the years, the Stolls have also contributed to institutes and hospitals here.
“The Stoll family is into water conservation and research on waste water treatment. We can work together for water conservation and waste water treatment projects here,” says Vanitha Mohan, Managing Trustee of Siruthuli.
According to Coimbatore Mayor P. Rajkumar, cooperation between Esslingen and Coimbatore will help in technology transfer and exchange of ideas. The Mayor of Esslingen is expected to visit Coimbatore next year and efforts are on to have an agreement between the two cities.
“The common interests and value systems have strengthened the friendship between the two families over the years and the friendship has made Coimbatore attractive to them, says a member of the G.D. Naidu family.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Coimbatore / by M. Soundariya Preetha / Coimbatore – October 29th, 2014
S Swaminathan, Director, Center for Nanotechnology and Advanced Biomaterials (CeNTAB) of SASTRA University has been selected for the Young Career Award in Nano Science and Technology for 2015, instituted by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India.
The Young Career Award will be presented to him in January 2015 during the Nano India Meet along with Dr P S Anil Kumar, Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore who is the other selected for this award. CeNTAB has been involved in the research on the development of novel three-dimensional polymeric nanofibre scaffolds for tissue engineering of skin, cardiovascular arteries and nerve regeneration using aligned and random nanofibres.
Swaminathan received his Ph D from Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA, and his thesis on bone tissue engineering was nominated for the Best Dissertation Award. Swaminathan was the recipient of Materials Research Society of India Medal for 2009 and has also received the Innovative Young Biotechnologist Award from the Department of Biotechnology in 2006.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by Express News Service / October 27th, 2014
The Washermanpet resident wants to compete in the 2016 Rio Olympics
C.A. Bhavani Devi, a resident of Washermanpet, has been winning medals at the International level quite consistently.
Recently, the 20-year-old won a silver medal in the sabre category of the Asian u-23 fencing championship in Philippines. Though blessed with a fantastic touch and control in a sport that is yet to get any recognition in India, Bhavani’s major problem has been sponsorship.
She has quite a few events—World Cup (USA), Asian Championship (China) and World Championship (Hungary) coming up and the Chennai girl is desperately scouting for funding.
Bhavani now trains in Kerala, but hopes that the Tamil Nadu Government will recognise her achievements and guide her in her dream of competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. Bhavani was felicitated by W.I. Davaram, president, Tamil Nadu Olympic Assocation, recently.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> Downtown / by Special Correspondent / October 25th, 2014
How did the once-famous Aiyer Hall in Triplicane get its name? Why is it now locked and left to crumble?
The new board outside the run-down double-storeyed building flashes the standard warning: Trespassers will be prosecuted. “You can’t go in!” shouts Thenmozhi, the flower woman nearby. “There used to be a watchman; even he is gone.” But I need answers to the multiple questions this building sparks: What is a Theosophical Society building doing in Hanumantala Street in Triplicane, far away from its headquarters in Adyar? Who built it? Why was it named Mani Ayyar/Aiyer Hall (the name is spelt in two ways on the building-front)? What went on inside? Why is it locked and left to crumble?
The long-time resident in the house opposite claims he’s been inside. “Beautifully done up in wood,” he offers. “The main hall has a lot of wood carving around. The floor is wood, as is the upper balcony. The wooden furniture inside is priceless.” Co-freemasons met here till about four years ago, he says, but “I’m afraid undesirable people may use it.”
At the Adyar library on the Theosophical Society campus, curator Jayashree finds an old booklet on the subject. The Triplicane Theosophical Lodge was founded on February 11, 1898, it says. After two decades of meeting in different places, members registered it in 1920 and decided to build a hall for its activities. The place would have a library, guest rooms, an outhouse and an “industrial school” for the poor. People like C.S. Swaminatha Mudaliar, T.B. Ramachandra Mudaliar, M.S. Venkatramana Iyer, Seshadri Iyer, Kanakasabai Pillai and P.S. Ramaswami Iyer pooled cash and with Rs. 33000, the structure was completed in 1928. The school closed down but, in 1934, additions were made on the first and second floors for meetings. “Mani Ayyar Hall is the only lodge in the Madras Theosophical Federation to own a building,” says the book and ends the chapter with, “we have 25 members, at present. Regular activities are attended by both members and non-members.”
Fine, but why Mani Aiyer? The hall was named after Dr. Sir S. Subramania Aiyer, popularly known as Mani Aiyer, venerated as the “grand old man of India,” says the book. Born on October 1, 1842, he took his law degree in 1868, enrolled as a high court vakil in 1869, made a name for himself in the Ramnad Zamindari case, improved facilities in Madura as its municipal commissioner, and became an MLC in 1884. His wife Lakshmi passed away that year and that was the beginning of a new phase in his life.
Mani Aiyer met Colonel H.S. Olcott and became an ardent theosophist, serving as vice-president of the Theosophical Society under Dr. Annie Besant.
In 1885, he was nominated to the Madras University Senate, and was its member for 22 years. In 1888, became government pleader/public prosecutor, the first Indian appointed to that post. The British government showered him with titles of CIE (1889), Diwan Bahadur (1891), and Knight Commander (1900). When Annie Besant was interned, he surrendered his knighthood in protest. His work in the fields of social reform, local self-government, political awakening of Indians, revival of Sanskrit studies and support for Indian culture made him one of the most famous men of Madras. Newspapers covered his exemplary work in and outside the court and the Gazette Extraordinary issued a statement praising him. In 1914, Annie Besant wrote: “He joined the Society in its early days and has kept unbroken his loyalty and devotion to it… [He] is a remarkable example of the ideals of youth still cherished in old age.”
The hall is one of the stops on historian V. Sriram’s walking tours of Triplicane. “The second Conference of The Music Academy was held here in April, 1930,” he said. The hall honours theosophist Sir S. Subramania Aiyer, the first Indian to become acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, he says. A member of the University of Madras Senate, he is commemorated with a statue — unveiled in 1935. “Mani Aiyer is remembered for his daring act of writing in 1914 to the U.S. President Woodrow Wilson that America must not assist the British in WW1, unless they commit to freeing India.
He was one of the founding members of the Indian National Congress.”
Surely, this historical building, named after an illustrious man, deserves to be restored!
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Geeta Padmanabhan / October 21st, 2014
Indian-origin Singaporean poet and writer K.T.M. Iqbal will be awarded Cultural Medallion, the country’s highest cultural award by President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Thursday night in Singapore.
It is the highest recognition for the 74-year-old Tamil poet whose achievements include more than 200 children’s songs written for Radio Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as seven collections of poetry.
Mr. Iqbal said he was “delighted” to receive the award which was “an incredible honour”.
“My first love is poetry. We have been together for 60 years. I never imagined this would bring me the Cultural Medallion award,” The Straits Times quoted Mr. Iqbal as saying.
Mr. Iqbal learned the basics of Venpa, a form of classical Tamil poetry from a poetry-writing workshop. “I would sit on the street in the evening to write or an idea might come when I was on the bus,” said Mr. Iqbal.
The poet, also a retired bank executive, has received recognition in the education system of Singapore also.
Mr. Iqbal’s compositions are studied in schools and some of them have appeared in the subway stations as part of efforts to bring the arts close to the community.
Mr. Iqbal migrated to Singapore at the age of 11 with his father from Kadayanallur in South India in 1951.
A Tamil newspaper Malaya Nanban, which is now defunct, introduced him to the simple but evocative compositions of Tamil poet Mathithasan. The poet’s vivid depiction of people and values in society inspired the young Iqbal to start penning poems.
The retired bank executive continues to pen poems and hopes to produce an edited collection of his best Tamil poems and an English translation of it.
Along with the award, Mr. Iqbal will get 80,000 Singapore Dollar grant, which can be used to fund artistic endeavours over their lifetime, according to The Straits Times.
“The money once spent is gone. But to have the nation recognise your contribution is great and it will encourage people to keep writing poetry,” said Mr. Iqbal.
The award will also be given to sculptor Chong Fah Cheong, 68, and 51-year old Alvin Tan, the artistic director of a theatre company, The Necessary Stage. Recipients are each eligible for a 80,000 Singapore Dollar grant.
The award, instituted 35 years ago, has been presented to 115 artists to date, including Mr. Iqbal, Mr. Chong and Mr. Tan.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> National / by PTI / Singapore , October 16th, 2014
October 21st, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, World Opinion
William Dalrymple talks about his next book The Anarchy that traces the rise of the East India Company and why he still treasures the curiosity and surprise of the outsider perspective
It takes a William Dalrymple to fill malls and college halls with crowds that will wait hours for him to arrive, and hang on his every word while he launches a book that’s over a year old. “Imagine yourself far away from Chennai,” he whispers, “seated on a bleak, empty step in the borderlands between Iran and Afghanistan. It’s a cold, harsh winter in November, 1837. A war is about to break out, and what you are to witness will change the course of history, forever.” Through a rapid tale of pride and ambition, folly and misfortune, Dalrymple spins us through the narrow passes and cruel terrain of Afghanistan, alongside an 18,500-strong British army with Indian soldiers that forces new governance upon a conquered nation, only to be catastrophically overthrown and reduced to one surviving man. It’s the story of Dalrymple’s most recent work Return Of A King, and this is a lecture he’s delivered before numerous heads of State, the Indian Army, at the White House and to former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, himself.
Dalrymple is in Chennai though, for different reasons. The city stars in his next book, The Anarchy, which traces the rise of the East India Company from a private company “five-windows wide and run by 35 people” to a coloniser of nations.
The book opens amidst the drama of 1739, when the ‘Second Alexander’ Nadir Shah of Persia invades the Mughal empire, captures its ruler Mohammad Shah, plunders Delhi and loots the land of wagons of jewels and gold, all of which is shipped back to Persia. As the empire begins to crumble, the French and British East India companies creep into strength. Chapter two cuts to the Madras of the 1740s, to the rivalry between Robert Clive and Marquis Dupleix that unfolded here, and proceeds to trace the Company’s expansion henceforth.
Chronologically, The Anarchy prequels Dalrymple’s last three works White Mughals, The Last Mughaland Return Of A King, all of which unfold from 1790 and 1850, the relatively “unwritten time” between the fall of the Mughals and the rise of the British. As with Return Of A King, though, The Anarchy finds uncanny relevance in modern times. The Return release of Return Of A King coincided with the period of “regime change” the British foisted on Afghanistan, followed by the recent withdrawal of its forces, an event that Dalrymple notes almost exactly replicates the First Afghan War. “I’m most interested in how history echoes backwards and forwards into modern politics,” he says.
With The Anarchy, he examines the relationship between State powers and corporate power. “There’s much to be learned from how the Company infiltrated British Parliament and Parliament aided the Company. Moreover, when Clive and the Company were granted diwani powers , it was the most extreme example of privatisation in history, and when the Parliament finally gobbled up the Company, that was nationalisation right there. Because these events are locked in history, we cease to look at them in modern terms, which gives it a whole new perspective.”
The Anarchy also ties in with a project Dalrymple spent the last year on, writing a sweeping cultural history of the nation that he couldn’t ease a “coherent narrative” out of. The spoils of all that research will now seep into The Anarchy, in true Dalrymple style of soaking his stories in the music and art of their times. “All through the chaotic events of this book, where every small village has its own raja fighting insurgent wars against the raja next door, there was the decentralisation of art. When the Mughals ruled, great art flourished in Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Lahore, but now, schools of painting grow out of the small towns of Rajasthan and the hill towns of the North.” This was the high point of the Jaipur and Jodhpur schools of miniature, and in architecture the mighty forts and palaces of Hyderabad and Lucknow grew in this age, he adds. It is the vastness of this book’s imagined canvas that, at this stage, enthuses and challenges, yet humbles Dalrymple. “Till you figure out the shape of the thing, it’s like a new relationship. You flirt with the subject initially, realise something interesting is going on, and then at some point, you’ve to make a commitment to it. I’m still haven’t gotten over this flame!”
Back in his Mehrauli farmhouse on the outskirts of Delhi lie the fruit of many past flames. Three travelogues, the first written when he was 22, followed by three historical works and books of essays in between have perfected for Dalrymple an “anal system” of research and organisation, of physical index cards for every piece of information he unearths. All that he discovers about Dupleix, for instance, goes under the ‘D’ category of people cards, and under another label organised topic wise. “It’s the only way I don’t write myself down a blind alley and have to find my way back,” he says. It’s also these early times of research and travel in the average four-year birthing period of a book, before he’s “shackled to a desk”, which Dalrymple finds most exciting. In Chennai, for The Anarchy, he hopes to stumble upon records of the Carnatic kingdoms from the attic records of old families, besides spending months here holed up in archives. “Once all the material is well organised, my writing year can move quickly. You reach a point, eventually, where things seem to just write themselves, where wonderful phrases turn up that you haven’t particularly planned, where it’s all sort of pouring out, and that’s very rare.”
As a writer, Dalrymple firmly places himself as a narrative historian, in the traditions of those like Antony Beevor and Simon Schama. From his days of travel writing for In Xanadu, City of Djinns andFrom the Holy Mountain, he takes the tendency to now write “history books with a strong sense of place”, travelling between the library and the places he’s reading about. And from 30 years of living in India, he still brings to the table the “curiosity and surprise” of the outsider. In writing history, though, he sees it as a “sliding scale between the academic world of the social sciences on one end, and literature at the other end”, with him tilting toward the latter. “History can be wonderful literature, and no less scholarly or valuable for it being written in fine prose. I’ve learnt that there’s no shame in telling a good story.”
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Books> Authors / by Esther Elias / October 17th, 2014
Arushi Nayar, Akshay Venkataraghavan, Aditi Balaji, Abinaya Raman and K S Adhithya Kumar of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan, K K Nagar, won the Debating Matters International Final 2014 held in London on October 18.
The debating championship was organised by British Council in partnership with the Institute of Ideas in the UK.
Student participants said the competition was known for its rigorous and intellectually challenging format that valued substance over style. The final round pitted students of PSBB Senior Secondary School, KK Nagar, against their peers from Franklin College of Grimsby, UK.
This year’s debate motion was, “We should be willing to compromise our privacy in the interests of national and international security.”
The Indian students spoke for the motion, while those from Franklin College in the UK spoke against the motion.
The PSBB students had to compete with the best in the country at the national level of the competition, after facing an online elimination round and zonal finals, before heading for the international final round in the UK.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Chennai / by M Ramya, TNN / October 20th, 2014
As promised last week, here are a couple of tales about the building of bridges in 19th Century Madras as related to me by civil engineer D.H. Rao who has made delving into the histories of the city’s bridges his hobby. These are stories arising out of Government’s practice of getting estimates for civil work and then finding the costs have been exceeded. Inquiries follow, then as now, but what happens next? Nothing seems to change.
In the case of the 1840 18-arch Elphinstone Bridge over the Adyar (now lying derelict but looking solid, while constant maintenance work goes on on its neighbour, the new Thiru Vi Ka Bridge), on its completion, the Military Board declared it a magnificent piece of work. But Governor Lord Elphinstone did not think so; he wanted to know from the Board why the cost had exceeded the estimate, particularly when it had been approved by the Court of Directors in London with the proviso that the approved amount should on no account be exceeded.
In his reply, the Superintending Engineer cited the costs of two other bridges he had built to show that the costs incurred in building the Elphinstone Bridge were on the same lines. The extra cost incurred was only because the river was always full of water and several persons had to be employed in constantly bailing out the water to keep the coffer dams dry while raising the foundation. This was totally unexpected. The arguments went on for months, but in the end the matter was happily resolved to the engineer’s satisfaction.
It was in another instance too, but in this case it caused the builder of the 1805 St. George’s Bridge (now the Periyar Bridge) considerable more concern for months. Lt. Thomas Fraser was not only censured for the cost over-run but also had his commission and other benefits withheld. In this case, Fraser justified the excess expenditure by pointing out that after the foundation work was completed, he was asked by the Council to re-align the bridge. So, he once again had to sink wells for the foundation, piers and abutments. Further changes were ordered by the Council from time to time and he carried out the Council’s orders every time. He was therefore not responsible for the final cost — which was entirely due to his only having carried out the orders of the Council. In this case too, the arguments continued for long, but eventually Governor Lord William Bentinck accepted Fraser’s appeal and restored all his benefits.
On a third occasion, a bridge on South Beach Road needed substantial repairs. These were carried out, but a couple of years later the Military Board sought further funds to carry out additional repairs to the bridge. The Governor was not ready to sanction the amount until he was told why the bridge had not been regularly inspected for maintenance, who was responsible for such inspection, and “why he had not carried out his work sincerely.” What eventually happened in this instance is not known, but what is clear is that, at one time, heads of government kept a sharp eye on even comparatively minor expenditures. But then those were more leisurely times, weren’t they, and heads of government had time on their hands.
A reluctant sale
Some time ago I had mentioned in this column that the land on which the handsome Egmore Railway Station (then of the South Indian Railway) was built had belonged to Dr. Pulney Andy (Miscellany, September 20, 2010) and that he had sold it for Rs.1,00,000 to the SIR in 1904. It wasn’t a particularly happy sale, I now learn from a copy of Dr. Pulney Andy’s letter to the Deputy Collector of Madras, J.R. Coombes, which was sent to me by a reader from ‘Trichinopoly’, N.C. Martens. The land in question was 1.83 acres in extent and had several buildings on it. It was his attachment to those buildings that were the cause for the reluctance of ‘S. Pulney Andy M.D., M.R.C.S. (Eng.), F.L.S.’ to sell the property, the letter of ‘15th February 1904’ makes clear.
Reacting to a letter from the Deputy Collector citing ‘Act I of 1894’ requesting his property for “the remodeling of the S.I.R. Egmore Station”, and asking whether he had any objections to handing it over to the S.I.R., Pulney Andy writes, “I have very strong reasons for not wishing to part with my property…” He goes to state those reasons.
He writes that he had bought the property “mostly for the benefit of my health which was broken down after long service in the Travancore state… (and the environment proved itself over) about 30 years… not a case of any illness or death occurred among the dwellers on this estate.”
Secondly, the house was designed and built by his wife before she passed away in Travancore, after which he returned to Madras to spend the rest of his life in the house “which perpetuated her memory” and which he had improved by developing an orchard around it.
Then comes his most significant argument. “After retiring from Government service, I have turned my mind to the remodeling of the Indian Christian Church and am the founder and the President of the National Church of India. My residence in Egmore is the Head Quarters of the movement and I have utilized a building here for the purpose of worship and there have been already two ordinations of Ministers during the past year. It was also my intention to erect a substantial building as a Temple for public worship by members of the Christian Community on the land… (which) is centrally located.” With such extent of land not available in a central area, a move to a distant location where space might be available would inconvenience his congregation considerably, Pulney Andy goes on to explain at some length. He, however, concludes:
“But should it be considered that my property is absolutely required for the purpose of Railway construction and should Government desire to compel me to part with it, under the provisions of the Act, I beg to state that I may be granted a compensation of not less than one hundred thousand rupees (Rs.100,000) for it and sufficient time should be given me for removal.” His request was met with alacrity but not generosity, the ‘not less’ ignored, it would appear, for the handover was quick and the station was ready to flag out its first train, the Boat Mail, on June 11, 1908.
Search for the Old Jail
Where is or was the Old Jail, wonders Jayanthi Selvam, saying she uses Old Jail Road quite often. The road is the central portion of a three-part road, from east to west being Ebrahim Sahib Street, Old Jail Road and Basin Bridge Road in the southern shadow of what was the North, or Old Town, Wall, of which only the stretch preserved with the Maadi Poonga atop it is all that survives. It was south of a bastion of this wall that the Old Jail was established in 1804, though its roots go back to 1692.
The Old Jail’s premises, at the corner of Popham’s Broadway and Old Jail Road, was cleared of prisoners shortly after Independence and the campus was given to the Congress Prachar Sabha which ran a cottage industries training centre in the numerous buildings there. When Kamaraj stepped down as Chief Minister in 1963, the enthusiasm for the training centre waned and the premises were handed over to the Central Polytechnic Institute and a new Arts College for Women in 1964. Four years later the last of the CPI’s constituent units moved to Adyar and the college expanded into the Bharathi Women’s Arts College. It was many years before the College got new buildings for its students, its early batches having used many a prison block, some of which survive, derelict, till today.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by S. Muthiah / October 19th, 2014
When Anjum Khan received her PhD on Monday, it meant more than it does to most doctoral candidates-the 27-year-old lost her vision at the age of five after an attack of measles and has studied entirely in Braille.
Anjum is an assistant professor of English at Avinashilingam University. Her family moved from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh to Coimbatore in 1993 for her treatment but doctors said she would never regain her vision.
“While my parents were thinking what next, the doctors told us about Avinashilingam school for girls,” says Anjum. She began learning Braille and use audio technology to help her read, write and study.
Her father, Mehmood Khan got a job at a private cement company in Madukkarai, 27km from Coimbatore. If Anjum had to continue her studies, Avinashilingam was among the few options as it had facilities and faculty to help her.
“I decided I would live in hostel and study. It is then that I realised that to gain something, one has to sacrifice something,” Anjum says. She lived in the hostel for 12 years from Class 6 till she finished her postgraduate degree.
After finishing school, Anjum joined the Avinashilingam University for Women to pursue a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. “She finished her masters’ degree and applied for her doctoral studies in 2009,” says S Kalamani, Anjum’s guide and an associate professor in the department of English, Avinashilingam University. “Anjum had to leave thehostel after her MA, but, regularly visited me every Friday and told me how her research was progressing,” she says.
Anjum’s younger brother Abid Ali died in a road accident eight years ago while she was doing her masters’ degree. “My father had bought him a bike to make his commute between college and home easier,” says Anjum.
“It was a difficult time for the family. But, I have faced so much that I treat happiness and sorrow equally,” she says. Anjum has dedicated her PhD to her brother.
Anjum did her research on ‘Ethnic Silhouettes: An Interpretation Of The Community In Select Works Of M G Vassanji In The Light Of New Historicism’. She became an assistant professor in January 2013 in the university in which she studied.
Besides teaching at the university, Anjum also teaches blind children Braille and computer operations. “I consider teaching a means to reach people,” she says.’
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / by Adarsh Jain, TNN / October 14th, 2014
Legend has it that Pandya kings had major ‘Akkasalai’ (coin minting units) in Tirunelveli, where many artisans and goldsmiths worked. When the units were wound up, they migrated to Madurai. The king then provided them land at a place in the city which is now called as Akkasalai Pillayar Koil Theru.
Akkasalai Pillayar (Lord Ganesh) is worshipped by these artisans and goldsmiths. Akkasalai Pillayar temples also exist in Korkai and Sivaganga, where goldsmiths live.
Most of the residents in Akkasalai Pillyar Koil Theru and the adjacent Ezhuthanikara Theru are goldsmiths. Chinnakadai Theru, another street next to Akkasalai Pillyar Koil Theru, once had numerous shops selling tools for goldsmiths. Retired archaeologist C Santhalingam said Akkasalai means coin minting units and goldsmiths were involved in minting coins for Tamil kings ? Chola, Chera and Pandiya – in those days. Archaeologists have unearthed a bronze statue in Nagapattinam known as Akkasalai Nayagar, he said.
Nonagenarian M V Mani Chinnakadai Theru, adjacent to Akkasalai Pillayar Koil Theru, also confirms that Akkasalai means coin minting unit.
Akkasalai Pillyar Koil Theru is a narrow lane, predominantly a residential area, sandwiched between Vaikolkara Theru and Ezhuthanikara Theru in South Gate area. Along with houses, there are also a number of gold ornaments making workshops and a Lord Ganesh temple, situated at the entrance of the street.
The temple was renovated some two decades ago, says Venkata Subramanian, 49, who resides nearby the temple. Before the renovation of the temple, there was an ancient temple built of stones, he said.
“Renowned film personality M K Thiagaraja Bagavathar worshipped in this temple and also sang bhajans at times,” he recalled. Subramanian says the street has not seen much change for many decades and remained intact. “Most of residents are from goldsmiths of Viswakarma community and demographics of the street did not change much like other places in the city,” he said.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Madurai / by J. Ariockiaraj, TNN / September 09th, 2014