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Wednesday, July 6, 2022

the turtle story of 'Kairavini pushkarini' aka Thiruvallikkeni

 The beautiful Temple pond is home to some big fish, ducks, water birds, sparrows and more .. .. and  .. .. and I found something else on a moat – zoomed my camera and took some photos – interesting ! – who let them in ? someone have intentionally brought and let them inside ! 

In the divyadesam of Thiruvallikkeni, the tamil month of Masi has special significance. On Masi New moon [Amavasyai] starts the float festival at Thiruvallikkeni.   The tank of Sri Parthasarathi Swami is famous ~ it is  ‘KairaviniPushkarini’… the pond of Lily – ‘allikkeni’ from which the place itself derives its name (~ and my blog is titled KairaviniKaraiyinile  literally meaning on the banks of holy Kairavini, the temple  tank)

முத்கலன் எனும் முனிவன் முன்னொரு காலத்தில் கோமதி நதிதீரத்தில் ஆஸ்ரமம் அமைத்து தவவாழ்க்கை வாழ்ந்து வந்தான்.  தவவலிமை பெற பின்னர், . முத்கலன், கைரவிணி திருக்குளத்திலே பலநாட்கள் நல்லதவம் செய்தான்.  அவ்வமயம் அங்குள்ள மீன்களின் கோலாகல ஆர்பாட்டத்தினால் தவம் கலையக்கூடுமென உணர்ந்த முத்கலன் - மீன்களை தங்கள் பரிவாரங்களுடன் நீங்குமாறு கூற - மீன்களின் கூட்டமே, இவ்விடத்தை நீங்கி வேறு தடாகத்திற்கு இடம்பெயர்ந்தனவாம்.   இவ்வாறாக இத்திருக்குளத்திலே மீன்களே  கிடையாதாம்!! .  காலம் செய்த கோலத்தில், நீர்தடாகம், சிமெண்ட் தரையாகி மழைநீர் தேங்க, அல்லிமலர்கள் பூப்பதில்லை ! - குளத்தை சுத்தமாக வைத்து இருக்க கெண்டைமீன்கள், கொசுக்களை அழிக்கும் கப்பீஸ் மீன்கள் முதலியன விடப்பட்டு, இப்போது குளத்தில், பல பெரிய பெரிய மீன்கள் உள்ளதை காணலாம். 

From a distance, could not recognize  .. ..  .. but from a closer point and with camera zoom, it was Tortoise .. .. Tortoise or Turtle .. .. I chose to call them turtles.   Biologically, these organisms have various adaptations that clearly distinguish them from each other. One of the critical difference between a turtle and tortoise is the habitat. Most turtles are aquatic while tortoises are terrestrial reptiles.  Both belong to the order Testudines, which includes all tetrapods with a true shell. 

Before we read something on the turtle at Triplicane, here is something read in newspaper.  Wildlife officials in the city are worried about the resurfacing of star tortoise smuggling cases from Chennai. In the last six months, three cases were reported in the state, of which two were at Chennai airport. Enforcement agencies seized live specimens and handed them to state forest officials.  According to an official,   in the two seizures at Chennai airport, more than 3,600 live star tortoises were recovered. The third case was in Bengaluru in which 600 live star tortoises were seized by authorities. There was a lull in this illegal trade during the past two years due to lockdown and non-operation of flights. Now, with flights operational in both domestic and international sectors, the trade has restarted, he said.

Preliminary investigations in the three cases pointed to the involvement of pet traders in Kolathur. A trader from Chennai, who was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment for smuggling flap shell turtles from Uttar Pradesh, is one of the kingpins of star tortoise smuggling from Chennai to destinations in South East Asia, besides Sri Lanka.  It is stated that star tortoises are collected from shrub jungles of Madhanapalli and Palamner in Chittoor district and Ananthapur district Andhra Pradesh. Star tortoises are bought as pets in western and south east Asian countries. 

Tortoises and turtles are both reptiles from the order of Testudines, but in different classification families. The major difference between the two is that tortoises dwell on land, while turtles live in the water some or nearly all of the time. The bodies of tortoises and turtles are both shielded by a shell, the upper part of which is called carapace, with the lower portion called a plastron. The carapace and the plastron are attached by a bridge, which means that though the head and limbs of a turtle or tortoise may be withdrawn from the shell, the whole body can never be totally detached from it. These reptiles are generally reclusive and shy in nature.

In case you wonder, whether they are good or bad .. .. tortoises are not considered good though some have them as pets.  A few turtles in the pond, especially sliders, can be good for the pond's ecosystem as they help keep it clean while having a minimal effect on your pond biologically.  Turtles are omnivorous creatures, eating plant matter as well as sick and deceased fish.  Even snapping turtles, which are considered predators, will typically eat sick or dead fish over live ones. This is mainly because turtles, in general, are no match for a fish's speed and agility in the water. The biggest disadvantage to having turtles in your pond is they can reproduce quickly. If left unchecked, they can overpopulate a small pond in a short amount of time, leading to water quality issues, competing with other pond life for resources, etc.

While turtles typically prey on dead or weakened fish in your pond, there is the chance that they will eat healthy fish too. They don't differentiate between nuisance plants and the healthy aquatic plants.  It is not safe to swim in a pond with snapping turtles in it. The snapping turtle can grow quite large and have a powerful jaw with sharp claws on its feet;  unfortunately, they can be aggressive, causing serious injury to those in and out of the water, especially during the egg-laying months of June-July. Turtles also carry salmonella bacteria, which can be transmitted to humans …  ..

But .. .. how come they entered the holy pond ? – who put them in !?!? – some may know, yet there would be no answers.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd July 2022.


  1. முத்கலன் என்பவன் பெரும் பாவி களின் தலைவன். அவன் ஒருநாள் கோதானம் செய்யும் போது கிருஷ்ணாய' என்று சொல்லித் தானம் செய்தான். பின்னர் அவன் காலகதி அடைந்தபோது யம தூதர்கள் வந்து நெருங்கி அவனை யமனிடம் கொண்டு சென்றனர்
    தொண்டரடிப்பொடிகளும் திரு மாலையில் இதுபற்றி குறிப்பிடுகிறார்..

  2. Surprising to know that turtles in our kulam!!!!!