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Sunday, August 1, 2021

Horsemen, lake - and more !

 

Horsemen do interest us – Vallaravayan Vanthiyathevan was a famous horseman in Ponniyin selvan – one may not immediately recognize the other horseman at  Godavari in Andhra Pradesh – in case if you would be interested, do read this post :  

 


Come Summer, Chennai would be hit by water shortage – the home of millions of people coming from all parts does not have a perennial lake or river – and sadly no reservoirs to keep the rain water too. 

விஜயாலயச் சோழனின் பேரனான முதலாம் பராந்தகச் சோழன் சோழப் பேரரசுக்கு அஸ்திவாரம் அமைத்தவன். தில்லைச் சிற்றம்பலத்துக்குப் பொன்கூரை வேய்ந்து வரலாற்றுப் புகழ் பெற்றவனும் முதலாம் பராந்தகச் சோழன் தான். 

சோழசிகாமணி, சூரசிகாமணி முதலிய பெயர்களோடு விளங்கிய இவன், வீர நாராயணன் என்னும் பெயரையும் பெற்றிருந்தான்.  1011 - 1037 ஆம் ஆண்டுகளில் அமைக்கப்பட்ட இந்த ஏரி, 16 கிலோ மீட்டர் நீளமும் 4 கிலோ மீட்டர் அகலமும் கொண்டது. தொடக்கத்தில் 74 மதகுகளும் வாய்க்கால்களும் இருந்தன. இப்போது 28 வாய்க்கால்கள் மட்டுமே உள்ளன. 1445 mcft கன அடி நீரைத் தேக்கி வைக்கும் திறன் கொண்ட இந்த ஏரியில் இப்போது 935 mcft கன அடி நீரையே தேக்கி வைக்க முடிகிறது.  

அமரர் கல்கி தனது “பொன்னியின் செல்வன்” நாவலின் கதையை, அப்போதைய சோழ சாம்ராச்சியத்தின் நிலையை, சுவையோடு தொகுத்தளிக்க ‘வந்தியத்தேவன்’ என்கின்ற கதாபாத்திரத்தை கச்சிதமாகத் தேர்ந்தெடுத்தார்.  அக்கதாபாத்திரத்தின் போக்கிலேயே நம்மை காஞ்சி, கடம்பூர், குடந்தை, திருவையாறு, தஞ்சை, திருப்புறம்பியம், பழையாறை, கோடிக்கரை, இலங்கை, மாதோட்டம், அனுராதபுரம், தம்பள்ளை, நாகைப்பட்டினம் என ஒவ்வொரு இடமாகத் தரிசிக்கச் செய்தார்.   இன்றைய தமிழகத்திலே, சித்திரை வெயிலிலும், வற்றிப்போன காவிரிக் கரையோரத்தில் தாமரையும் அல்லியும் மண்டிக் கிடக்கும் இரண்டு மூன்று குளங்கள் மிச்சம் இருக்கின்றனவென்றால், ஆயிரம் வருடங்களுக்கு முன்னர், நீர் மேலாண்மைக்குப் பெயர்போன சோழ தேசம் எவ்வாறு இருந்திருக்கும் என்பது ஒரு இனிமையான கற்பனை.    அதன் உண்மை பிரதிபலிப்பு தான் வீராணம் ஏரி !!  

The lake that  is referred is not within the geographical bounds of our city. But though it is 235 km away, it would be no exaggeration to state that it is Chennai’s lifeline, supplying roughly 50 to 180 million litres of water to the city every day. Nothing prepares you for its vast expanse — 11.2 km in length and 4 km in width (as per Wikipedia), and when full of water, it is an awesome sight. I allude to the Veeranam Lake, located in Cuddalore District. We need to thank the Chola prince Rajaditya for this.  – it is the Veeranam lake.

The man in the left is horseman fighter Vanthiyathevan .. .. and on the left collaged is a Britisher – the statue now stands at his museum that was  inaugurated by the then  Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Sri Nadamuri Tarakarama Rao on 25.2.1988 and is located in the building which was previously under the occupation of Executive Engineer, Godavari Head Works Division Dowleswaram.

In 1877, at the height of the Great Famine that devastated the south, a distinguished Englishman, recently knighted for services rendered to the British empire, yet again took a vociferous stand against the policies of his queen’s government in India. For years he had railed against imperial overzeal for the railways—a sophisticated scam that funnelled out Indian resources while delivering unconscionable profits to faraway investors—and now he was vindicated. For “we have before our eyes," he noted, “the sad and humiliating scene of magnificent (rail) Works that have cost poor India 160 millions, which are so utterly worthless in the respect of the first want of India, that millions are dying by the side of them." The railways certainly brought grain to starving masses, but the costs were so disproportionately high that nobody could afford to buy them—official profiteering perverted even the delivery of famine relief.

The British,  the man,  thought, brought “disgrace to (their own) civilized country" by their “grievous neglect" of India. He decided to make amends. When the Godavari project was sanctioned in 1847, he  asked for six engineers, eight juniors and 2,000 masons. Instead, he was allotted one “young hand", two surveyors, and a few odd men. Yet he persevered. “To save on masonry work," Jon Wilson writes, “he copied the method of construction" used by the Cholas. “Cotton created a loose pile of mud and stone on the riverbed, which he then covered in lime and plastered with concrete, instead of building up entirely with stone." The whole project was finished at a third of the cost initially estimated, till 370 miles of canals (339 of which were navigable) irrigated some 364,000 acres of land, transforming a dry expanse into the “rice bowl" of Andhra Pradesh.

Wonder who the man was ? - General Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton KCSI (15 May 1803 – 24 July 1899) was a British general and irrigation engineer.

Cotton devoted his life to the construction of irrigation and navigation canals throughout British India. He helped many people by building the Dowleswaram Barrage (Rajamahendravaram), the Prakasam Barrage and the Kurnool Cuddappah Canal (K. C. Canal).   Sir Arthur Cotton Museum has been built in his honour in Rajahmundry, Andhra Pradesh. The museum holds approximately one hundred images and 15 machine tools that Cotton used when constructing the barrage in Andhra Pradesh from 1847 to 1852.  

In the 1830s, (later Sir) Arthur Cotton, the engineer who later harnessed the waters of the Krishna and Godavari, studied the  veeranam tank in detail. He noted that there was no serious defect in the tank (this, 900 years after it was constructed) apart from the narrowing of the mouth of the Vadavar River that connected the lake to the Kollidam and the tendency of the bund to breach when filled to the brim. Interestingly, Cotton’s report is full of anglicised Tamil terms — totie (thotti or tank) and calingula (from kalingu or sluice) being two commonly used words.

In  1967, C.N. Annadurai, then freshly elected Chief Minister of the State, mooted the idea of supplying water to the capital city from Veeranam. He died in 1969 and it was left to his successors to execute the plan. The project, estimated at Rs. 21 crore, was then the biggest to be sanctioned in independent India. The contractor put up a plant at Tirukazhugukundram in collaboration with a Greek firm for making the pre-stressed concrete pipes. What happened next reflected no credit on any of the parties involved. There were allegations of corruption, delays in sanctioning foreign exchange and quality issues. With the DMK government being dismissed in 1976, the matter was taken to court, and in the middle of it all, the contractor suddenly died. The pipes were abandoned all along the Cuddalore-Madras route and were put to good use — entire families were raised in them and some others became latrines.

Today is Aadi Uthiradam – celebrating the birth of Acaryar Alavanthar who was born in Kattumannarkovil – veeranam lake is named after Perumal at this sthalam Sri Veeranarayanar.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
24th July 2021.

4 comments:

  1. As usual, very informative post on history and history makers. Glad some Britons are still remembered with gratitude for their welfare works.
    Whatever Sir Cotton's opinion was on constructing the Railways, it is the life line today.

    In the highlighted Tamil passage in the beginning, the capacity of the Veeranam lake is mentioned in cubic feet. I think it should be million cubic feet. Correct me if I am wrong.

    Regards.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jagannathan Sir, many thanks .. have corrected

    ReplyDelete