WhatsApp status picture from one of my friend, introduced me to this beautiful place, which retains the history of our ancestors, their way of living, the vehicles they used and the idols they worshiped, the beauty of Tamil and its neighboring languages, work of artist in the paintings, the books and some of the beautiful clicks of Madras during the colonial period all together took me century back and was living in my founders era on the last day of 2k17.
It’s been ages I travelled alone, which the last one was my Mahabalipuram visit, months back. Again after no from my friends for a museum visit, as expected and sometimes it’s good to leave those idiots, I planned to visit DhakshinaChitra heritage museum in ECR. After a warm ride reached the museum around 12.30 with expectations at peak.
Diversity of houses
When entered, there was a signboard characterizing four southern states of India namely Andra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala & Tamil Nadu. Architectures of the houses built in all the states before or during the colonial period have tons of reasons in its structure.
The first thing that attracted me is this main entrance door. The doors height will be in 6ft but entrance way will be in 5 ft maximum with some religious things are carved in the top to reduce the height of the door. These doors are made up of Teak wood, harder to break, and every person who wishes to enter must lower their heads while getting in.
This depicts that the person should give respect and let all her/his ego down. In Tamil, it’s said to be
தலை வணங்கி செல்க (Bow your head and enter)
Astonished by this fact here. Houses were treated as equal to temples one should worship and give respect to it. Our ancestors have preserved it carefully.
Next, the common thing I could see among 90% of the houses I visited is the air vent. When asked for details, the person worked here replied,
Let the air flow in and out and would take out the foul air, which most builders have discontinued that practice. Designing for a cool house is the simplest idea that our past generations have followed.
I found more windows than walls in the room. They (DhakshinaChitra) tried remodelling each houses using the same materials which were used by our forefathers and imitated as possible as they can. The work in refitting the entire houses are to be appreciated.
Thinnai or Veranda in houses – As you can see in the aforementioned picture, every house, hold this place to relax, sleep and spend some lovable times which is used by both the housekeepers and way passers.
Our fore-bearers had a very good knowledge in educating children’s. You can see the traditionally used items for children’s, in Tamil Nadu especially, made up of wood. Notice the technically sculpted wooden walker in the below picture. It’s the child’s helpmate for learning to walk. Elaborately carved in form and painted simple.
Dolls were originally wooden or of breakable clays but not plastics.
Take 10 years back. Do we give our mobile phones to children’s to stop them from crying? Think about it. Let us try to avoid at least plastics instead.
Old Nesavalar (Weaver)
Got a chance to speak with an old man, who was weaving traditional silk saree in his long weaving machine. This is the first time I am watching how the Saree is weaved, and amused in its elegance. Haven’t you watched too? Here is the video.
It looks like, he is sitting but he is indeed standing, working all over the day to make that single saree. He was accompanied by his wife. “Take some rest else your hand will bulge” is the word she keeps saying with all her care and the melodious song, running in the radio (which you could hear in the above video), charmingly expressed their love.
Kanchipuram is the only place which strikes our mind when we are asked about silk, especially silk sarees. But do you know the other 9 places in TN which are famous for silk centres? Arni, Mokshakulam, Salem, Rasipuram, Thirumbuvanam, Kumbakonam, Thanjavur, Paramakudi & our Madras are the places and if it’s promoted well, TN will have a very good growth in silk production.
While people keep changing from old-fashioned clothes to the new one, weavers trade values are going down and for those who wear traditional attires often or at least on festival days, keep proud of yourself that you’re not only preserving your culture but also supporting one weaver’s family.
Support their long-lasting work to continue forever.
The mythical creature, which could be seen in many Hindu temples, sculpted onto pillars. Many would have heard about this huge beast animal, portrayed as lion, elephant & the horse.
Yazhis are found in stone carvings in Dravidian architecture style of temples, which are said to be more powerful and are sculpted by the survivors of Kumari Kandam. Found some idols of Yazhis in DhakshinaChitra and my probe on it will soon make a new article.
Requesting people to give me knowledge about Yazhis, whatever you know about this beast in the comment section below, I will contact you.
Kanchipuram Kailasanathar temple is one, where you could spot Yazhi in many pillars. Another interesting fact is, one ball is carved while casting Yazhi inside its mouth, rolling over its cavity if moved which could be seen only in few temples. Don’t try to take this out, you may be fed up soon. You can’t take that ball out even if the ball is tied and pulled with 10 elephants. Wonder how this ball is sculpted in this mouth? Have a visit soon.
Moving to Kerala
My love on Kerala moved me into their tradition in DhakshinaChitra. The first thing I observed is the variety of costumes and manner of dressing, varied from community to community in different parts of Kerala. Although, they preferred to wear simple white, differences being bought out in subtle ways of draping and in types of jewellery which formed an integral part of the costumes in Kerala.
Hat – Earlier, hats are made from the sheath of the bud of the Areca nut tree in Kerala. The hat would be soaked and worn while damp so that each hat took the specific shape of its owner’s head.
Witnessed many more legendary things in and around the house and the layers of floors in it. Beautiful painting inside one house, portraying the appearance of women’s existed during that time was a show stopper here.
Not the end …
Missed some places at the end and couldn’t cover everything on a single day. There was a library inside, take a look at it only if you’re interested in learning because you will not be allowed inside normally. There are tonnes of books covering almost every topic and further detailed history of our tradition can be unearthed here.
Traditional dramas will be performed on the weekends and on festival days in Dhakshinachitra where old classical plays can be watched here.
I have covered only 30-40% of the work in this fascinating museum and don’t want to open other wonders for your visit. Every person must know their history to identify themselves.
Thanking Dhakshinachitra, left the place with the happiness of settling the day usefully. One of the most advised places to spend your weekend.
Places where Yazhi statue found with a stone ball in its mouth.
- Golden Mountain, Bangkok