Monday, April 18, 2011

World Heritage Day

Today (April 18) is World Heritage Day.

The following are the world heritage properties in India.

1. Ajanta Caves.
2. Ellora Caves.
3. Agra Fort.
4. Taj Mahal.
5. Sun Temple, Konarak.
6. Group of Monuments at Mahabalipuram.
7. Churches & Convents of Goa.
8. Khajuraho Group of Monuments.
9. Group of Monuments at Hampi.
10. Group of Monuments at Fatehpur Sikri.
11. Group of Monuments at Pattadakal.
12. Elephanta Caves.
13. Great Living Chola Temples at Thanjavur, Gangaikondacholapuram and Darasuram.
14. Budddhist Monuments at Sanchi.
15. Humayun's Tomb.
16. Qutb Minar and its Monuments.
17. Rock Shelters of Bhimbetka.
18. Champaner-Pavagarh Archaeological Park.
19. Red Fort Complex.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Quotable Quote

I don't know in what context this was written but I love it.

An individual human existence should be like a river: small at first, narrowly contained within its banks, and rushing passionately past rocks and over waterfalls. Gradually the river grows wider, the banks recede, the waters flow more quietly, and in the end, without any visible break, they become merged in the sea, and painlessly lose their individual being. -Bertrand Russell, philosopher, mathematician, author, Nobel laureate.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sport is War minus the Shooting

Much hyped India-Pakistan semi-final cricket ODI in Mohali today.
All the best to both teams.

Nirmal Shekar has written a wonderful essay.
Read here

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Megamalai and Alamparai

Just the other day, The Hindu reported that Megamalai and Alamparai fort being the cynosure of all eyes at the international tourism fair in Berlin. I have been curious about Megamalai all along and now Alamparai is also added to the list of must see places. I did some research on Megamalai on Google. Wiki has it that Megamali "is a cool and misty mountain range situated in the Western Ghats in Theni district, Tamilnadu, South India. It is a place of natural beauty dotted with cardamom plantations and tea estates. The place is situated at an elevation of 1,500 m above sea level and it is rich in flora and fauna".

Alamparai fort, one is surprised to know, is quite near Chennai. After some googling, came across this link. Worth checking out.

Monday, March 14, 2011


One learns constantly from crypic crosswords. In today's The Hindu Crossword (10101, dated March 14, 2011), there was a clue " Irish pounds littered about we find." The answer was "unswept". I came to know that punt or Irish Pound was the standard unit of currency in Ireland. The other day, there was a clue "an enemy plane". The answer was "bandit". Bandit is a slang for a hostile aircraft, especially a fighter aircraft.

Monday, February 28, 2011


Being a history buff I seldom miss Pradeep Chakravarthy's articles. He has come out with an interesting article on a place called Pullalur. Here is the link

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Books to look out for

Two recent books, one by Vilayanur Ramachandran, The Tell-Tale Brain, and another on cancer, The Emperor of All Maladies, by Siddhartha Mukherjee, have caught my attention. I would be looking forward to reading them soon. Nilanjana has reviewed these two books along with another book by Oliver Sacks in today's Business Standard. Here is the link:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Good Doctor from Palestine

The Hindu featured an article on Palestinian doctor who lost his three daughtes due to Israeli tank shelling and yet who talks peaace. Here is the link:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Guns and America

An engrossing and perceptive article by Ed Pilkington in The Guardian on gun culture in USA carried by The Hindu. Here is the link.

"Ponniyin Selvan" on Celluloid

The Hindu dated January 12, 2011, carried an news item about ace director Mani Ratnam planning to convert Kalki's magnum opus into a movie. Though we have come across earlier attempts, let us hope Mani's idea comes to fruition. More on Ponniyin Selvan here

Here is the news item.

After making several films with contemporary themes but with elements of history or mythology, director Mani Ratnam is now set to embark on an ambitious venture of converting Kalki's epic novel ‘Ponniyin Selvan' into a film.

Sources involved in the project said it would be a big-budget film requiring over Rs. 200 crore and Kalanidhi Maran's Sun Pictures is likely to be the producer although the agreement is yet to be finalised.

Mr. Mani Ratnam is planning a full-fledged adaptation of the novel, instead of culling out a few episodes from the narrative. Industry sources say the director has roped in noted Tamil writer Jayamohan to pen the dialogues for the film.

Ponniyin Selvan, a fictionalised account of Chola King Raja Raja I, was serialised in the Tamil weekly ‘Kalki' by celebrated writer R. Krishnamurthy.

Later, the novel was published in five volumes.

A highly popular novel known for its colourful characters such as Vanthiyathevan, Alwarkadiyan, Pazhuvettaraiyar brothers and Nandini, the story has captivated generations of readers for the last six decades.

Though the title Ponniyin Selvan is a reference to the Chola prince Arulmozhi Varman who was later known as Raja Raja I, the novel depicts a cross-section of medieval Tamil society spread over Thondai Mandalam in the north, Chola Mandalam in the Cauvery delta region and Pandi Mandalam in the south, besides one impressive volume set in Sri Lanka.

Making the film has been the dream of many a director, even actor Kamal Haasan, as bringing to life the rich tapestry of characters, episodes and locales from 10th century presents a huge challenge. The events dealt with in the story are set in the years 940-970 AD, just before the heyday of the later Cholas. Its characters included ambitious kings, brave warriors, enigmatic women, wily spies and committed political assassins.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Lord' Compassion

The Hindu on January 12, 2011, in its religion column featured an article I wish to share. It talks about Lord Vishnu's boundless love for his devotees. Let me quote the article in full.

The Lord is bound by the love of His devotees. Just as an elephant is controlled by a mahout who uses a small stick to prod the animal, so does our bhakti enslave the Lord.

Our bhakti is akin to the mahout's instrument. An example of how He is tied up by our bhakti is seen in the Krishna avatara, in which Yasoda ties Him up to the pounding stone. But in reality, does she indeed tie Him up? Is it possible for us to tie up the Lord, without His willingness? In Yasoda's case, He was tied up because of her love for Him. Our love is the rope that binds Him. He allows Yasoda to tie Him up; He allows us to tie Him up with our love, said Kidambi Narayanan.

When Yasoda tries to tie Him up, she finds that the rope she has with her is always two feet short. Krishna therefore shrinks His body, so that she can tie Him up.

The Lord who measured the three worlds becomes smaller, because of Yasoda's love. Why is the rope short by two feet? Here, there is a philosophical meaning to be read into the episode. There are two things we need to approach the Lord. One is gnana and the other is anushtana, the observance of prescribed practices.

We all have pride. Unless we give up our pride, we cannot have gnana. If we realise that He is everything, He becomes a slave to us. In the Krishna avatara, He humbled Himself to become Arjuna's charioteer. He even bathed the horses! When His childhood friend Sudhama comes visiting, He seats His friend on a throne and asks His consort Rukmini to wash his feet. He remarks that the water, having touched Sudhama's feet, has become pure. He is happiest in the presence of His devotees. He says He gladly takes any name His devotees choose to give Him.

At the end of the Kurukshetra war, when Yudhistra approaches Him and asks Him what He has been doing, Krishna replies that He has been worshipping.

Surprised, Yudhistra asks Him who He has been worshipping, and Krishna replies that He has been worshipping the best of His bhaktas — Bhishma. Thus the Lord, the Supreme One, worships His devotees!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

34th Chennai Book Fair

I visited the 34th Chennai Book Fair held at St. George Anglo Indian Higher Secondary School, opposite to Pachaiyappa's College on January 8, 9 and 10.

Here are some of the books I purchased