Hidden gems off the freeway: A expedition through Tamil Nadu

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Hidden gems off the freeway: A expedition through Tamil Nadu

Pack in flower and stone craft workshops and a few wildlife sightings in your subsequent street journey throughout the state.

As we select street journeys throughout the state over air journey resulting from Covid-19, how about getting off that freeway to incorporate our conventional crafts? The craft councils have tried to help these artisans, however, plan workshops, and do your bit to maintain these endangered crafts alive. PS: whereas on street journeys, here’s a reminder that our sanctuaries are opening shortly.

Poetry in stone

Thoda Goundampalayam in Namakkal district, 400 km from Chennai

This village in Namakkal district is the heartbeat of the maavukkal (soapstone) carving business in Tamil Nadu. K Kandaswamy, 60, has been engaged on soapstone since he was 10 and at the moment, solely about 20 households within the village preserve the custom alive.

Throughout lockdown, lots of his creations corresponding to apple jars, plates, and lamps have been purchased by craft lovers in Coimbatore, below the aegis of Crafts Council of Tamil Nadu (CCTN). Food blogger Shanthini Rajkumar (@pink.lemon.tree), a patron of his artwork, realized that the feel makes for nice meal props. “I get pleasure from cooking and serving in conventional cookware and it struck me that they appear nice in images too,” she says. Just a few many years in the past, Kandaswamy was despatched by the Crafts Council of India (CCI), headquartered in Chennai, to the Regional Design and Technology Development Centre in Bengaluru to be taught new strategies. “Whereas it didn’t reap quick profit, at the moment that helps the artisan as a result of there’s an explosion of curiosity in conventional cooking and utensils,” says Gita Ram, President, CCI.

Nearer to Chennai, close to the Ayyanar temple in DakshinaChitra, sculptor P Thirupathi, 36, works on stoneware utensils. His workspace at Thoda Goundampalayam is strewn with mortars and pestles, candle holders-cum-urulis, and vessels to set curd in, in addition to the common paniyaara kuzhi and kalchatti.

The lockdown was particularly exhausting on these artisans — the CCTN assisted Kandaswamy by organizing a sale of his inventory and making certain the cash went instantly into his account. CCI additionally shares its merchandise at Kamala retailer. For Thirupathi, it was particularly robust as DakshinaChitra (the place he retails) was closed for months. He now conducts workshops — you’ll be able to signal as much as watch how they make all the pieces from chutney bowls to bigger chattis that vary between half a kilogram and Four kg.

Lakshmi Ramachandran of CCTN says they’re engaged in getting these artisans to design wall murals in stone, as seen in Sanjeevi Nagar close to Auroville. “We’ve to attempt one thing new to allow them to maintain themselves,” she says.


Garland makers

Coimbatore, 500 km from Chennai

Floral curtains made with tuberoses, parrots crafted from fronds, and rose petal artwork… these are only a few creations Coimbatore’s garland makers are recognized for. They grace stately weddings and excessive society occasions even in New Delhi, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.

A Murugan, 46, of Sri Murugan Flower Decorators (9443390983), has been tying flowers in different patterns and color mixtures for 30 years. The CCTN-trained artisan won’t solely present you around his store in Gandhi Park, but additionally, customize a workshop for ₹1,000. “What I do know, I ought to go on. If folks carry flowers, I’ll educate them revolutionary strategies of stringing them,” he says.

Why vacation to be taught floral artwork? As a result of it’s deeply therapeutic to work with flowers and also you assist the artisans who’ve suffered because of the lockdown. Plus, you come house with a greater understanding of our craft traditions. Among the designs, with flowers tied in banana stem fiber, return many years. Blooms like orchids and petals of rose and gerbera got here a lot later. “We supply flowers from Ooty, Kodaikanal, Hosur, and Bengaluru,” says Murugan, whose enterprise is slowly choosing up after months of low gross sales.

Why go to a sanctuary?

  • District Forest Officer Tiruvarur, Dr. K Arivoli says sanctuaries are treasure troves of tales — of migratory birds such because the Siberian crane that flies hundreds of kilometers, of an ecosystem that’s finely balanced by Nature.
  • Should you pay attention to those tales, you’ll naturally be drawn to sanctuaries and be concerned with its residents and guests. You’ll have extra consciousness in regards to the universe we occupy. You simply must nudge folks and present them what Nature presents; they’ll choose up and stroll far forward of us,” he says.

There are about 150 others like Murugan who tie-up with marriage ceremony planners. Their uncommon combos can, in a manner, even be attributed to the CCTN, extra particularly to 2 aged girls Kamala Sivasubramaniam and Indra Venkatswamy, who spearheaded the present ‘Pushpanjali’, an providing of flowers, in Coimbatore greater than 15 years in the past. The 2 girls beloved garland making and experimented with patterns. Venkatswamy’s daughter, Vijayalakshmi Rudrappan (who runs marriage ceremony decor enterprise, Krishna Parijata), remembers visiting Thailand along with her mom a number of years in the past. Later, the CCTN organized for native artists to coach with Phubast Chesdmethee, a floral designer and advisor from there. In 2018, he taught them to work with shenbagam (champak), erukkampoo (calotropis) and nandhiyarvattai (pinwheel jasmine). “We innovated. In Thailand, they work with a needle and thread. Here, we work with our fingers and naaru,” says Rudrappan.

Sujani Balu, vice-president CCTN, says that with slightly coaching, they “seamlessly incorporate the brand new with what they already know”. Venkatswamy discovered to learn how to get the impact of spirals on rose petal garlands by alternating colors.

Murugan makes spiral maalai, mayilkann maalai, chain maalai and rudraksha maalai for weddings. Whereas the variety of weddings has come down, work on backdrops remains to be on due to Zoom celebrations. With the closure of the flower market resulting from COVID-19 restrictions, the artists have been accommodated on the spacious grounds of Devanga Higher Secondary School.

5 sanctuaries to go to

Based on the State Forest Department, Tamil Nadu’s protected areas embrace 5 nationwide parks, 15 wildlife sanctuaries and bird sanctuaries every, two conservation reserves, and 4 tiger reserves — Anamalai, Kalakkad-Mundanthurai, Mudumalai, and Sathyamangalam. It is usually house to 3 well-known biosphere reserves — Nilgiris, Gulf of Mannar, and Agasthyamalai.

Many are questioning if the time is correct to go to certainly one of these reserves, however in a post-pandemic world, you do not need to fly lengthy distances for a vacation or head to overcrowded locations. The perfect state of affairs could be a driving vacation to a lesser-known, tranquil sanctuary. Travel fanatic Shrikumar Arjunan, at the moment in Kanthalloor within the Western Ghats, says Tamil Nadu is the one state to have each the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. “These are house to different landscapes – from evergreen rain forests to dry desert-like areas. We even have entry to superb seaside sanctuaries corresponding to Vallnadu, recognized for its blackbucks.”

Our choice of sanctuaries:

1. The Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary, Srivilliputhur: Set as much as defending the near-threatened grizzled squirrel, different frequent sightings embrace tigers, elephants, flying squirrels, gaur, lion-tailed macaques and the Nilgiri tahr.

2. Vallanadu Blackbuck Sanctuary, Tuticorin: Situated on a hilly observe, and guests often get to see the blackbuck graze on the slopes. Additionally, sight noticed deer, the jungle cat, and wild hares.

3. Point Calimere Bird Sanctuary, Nagapattinam: It’s truly an island surrounded by salt pans, the Bay of Bengal, and the Palk Strait. Comprising lengthy sand bars, intertidal forests, and mangroves, it’s a wetland of worldwide significance below the Ramsar Conference. Greater than 200 fowl species – spoonbills, sandpipers, gray pelicans, flamingos – have been recorded right here. It’s also possible to spot mammals, reptiles, and amphibians because of the bottlenose dolphin.

4. Kanyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary: Moreover the tiger, you’ll find the gaur, elephant, Indian rock python, the lion-tailed macaque, and sambar deer.

5. Muthupettai mangrove forest, Tiruvarur: Migratory birds were seen right here embrace the Eurasian coot, Eurasian spoonbill, greater flamingo, Eurasian pigeon, white ibis, and glossy ibis. The bar-headed goose is the star, and you’ll sight the birds until February.

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