Thanjavur district is located in the mid-eastern part of Tamil Nadu. River Cauvery, in all her majesty, flows through this district making every tiny village and hamlet here fertile. Villages in this district are soothing to the eyes and mind, always green with lush paddy fields and gushing streams.
Kumbakonam is a small, yet busy town in Thanjavur district. It is this beautiful place I went to last week. Here are the photos from Kumbakonam and surrounding villages.
Trains in India are very cheerful, and ofcourse crowded :) Tourists are very few in the trains to Kumbakonam. It is mostly filled with migrants, returning to their native towns and villages for weekend visits / family functions.
Last time I visited Kumbakonam, it was greenery everywhere as it was only two months since paddy was sown. This time the look was different though… paddy was already harvested. All fields were golden yellow with hay lying bundled up on the roads.
Agriculture is the means of livelihood for majority of the population. This is the delta region for river Cauvery.. So, crops like paddy, sugarcane etc which need a good amount of stagnant water are grown here in abundance.
On first sight, this part of Tamil Nadu looks more like a hindu pilgrimage area. There are ancient huge stone sculpted temples in every street. But if you venture in to the country side, you will discover variety of art and craft forms thriving here from days of yore.
Chola kings who ruled these regions were stalwarts in bronze sculptures. Some of the best bronze sculptures are still created here.
Bamboo grows well in delta regions. So basket weaving is a craft form that still survives here. Basket weaving families are found by farms or on roadsides, chatting away… while their hands are busy weaving beautiful cane baskets.
Pottery, silk weaving, Carnatic music and folk dance are the other beautiful art forms you can enjoy here. This is an array of lotus shaped terracotta lamps sold in a wayside shop.
Almost every house in these villages have cows, goats and hens. Concrete houses are a rarity here. It is mostly huts in that look like tiny hamlets with thatched roofs. Backyard of these huts open out to fields… Weavers, farmers, potters, etc live in perfect harmony.
The photo below is of a typical “thinnai veedu”… Thinnai is a cement or mud bench on the front courtyard… This where people meet and have friendly chats. In olden days, there was no concept of walls around houses. All houses opened out to the street. These thinnais were built for weary travellers to sit and relax during their journey. Imagine the good old days when everyone was welcome everywhere, days in history when trust and faith in humanity were very high!
Tiles on the roof of this house are circular in shape. These are called “naattu” tiles, while the usual flat ones are called “seemai” tiles. These circular tiles are native to south india. They are semi circle in shape. They are arranged such that they lock into one another. They trap air and retain moisture… making the house cool. So these tiles are preferred in southern part of India, which has warm tropical climate through out the year.
People in these villages are very friendly… They lead a peaceful, active and healthy life. These villages in Kumbakonam are the ideal places to retire… nothing on earth can equal the innocence and peace they are blessed with.