Isnt it a wonderful feeling to go to your birth place!
My train journey started in Muthunagar Express, also called or nowadays often called Pearl City Express, taking us to Thoothukudi, which is believed the Portuguese converted to Tuticorin for easier tongue twisting(?!).
A short detail on the city –
History of Port
In Literature, the earliest mention has been made in 88 AD in Greek work “Periuplus of the Erythrean Sea”. In AD 124, the earliest reference was made by Ptolemy who has observed – “Country of Kareoi, in the Kolkhic Gulf, where there is a pearl fishery, Sosikourai and Kolkhoi, and emporium at the mouth of the river Solan”. There is little doubt that Ptolemy’s Sosikuorai is no other place than Tuticorin. From AD 200 to AD 1000, no records pertaining to Tuticorin are available. http://www.vocport.gov.in/port_history.aspx
Rulers in various centuries
The 7th to 9th Century AD were ruled by Pandya Kings and 10 to 12 Century AD it was ruled by Chola Kings. There is a mention that there was a well guarded and natural Harbour where ships could anchor in safety in Tuticorin. Portuguese, Dutch and British ruled India in different time frame. Portuguese sailed into Tuticorin in 1532. In 1649, Dutch captured Tuticorin. Many European visitors particularly English travelers have meticulously recorded their impression of Tuticorin in 17th Century. The impression recorded by Philip Baldaeus, an English missionary, who visited Tuticorin in 1675 are graphic and valuable. The lucrative pearl fishery that flourished under the Dutch is vouchsafed by Jean De Lacome. The English East India Company took over the administration of Tuticorin and its other dependent cities like Kayalpattinam, Punnakayal, Manapad etc. on the 1st June 1825.http://www.vocport.gov.in/port_history.aspx
the temple Tiruchendur
The Name – Thoothukudi
Originally denominated as ‘Thirumandhira Nagar’, the name of this city was transformed to Tuticorin by the Portuguese who could not pronounce the actual name. Tuticorin is called ‘Thoothukudi’ in Tamil. This term finds its origin from two Tamil words, Thoothu and Kudi. Thoothu means to dig and Kudi means to drink. As this interurban doesn’t have rivers, the people living there have to dig wells and fetch their drinking water. As the other interpretation goes, Thoortha means ‘the land recovered from the sea’ and Kudi stands for a colony or a human settlement. So, the combination of these two terms means a colony that is established on the land which is recovered from the sea. http://www.indiahotels.com/tuticorin/362-tuticorin-tourism
thoothukudi macaroons made of cashews, egg whites and sugar!
and the french macarons
and the various options
This is the city where I started my early schooling, later after we shifted to Mainland Madras aka Chennai, Thoothukudi was our most favourite holiday destination. The reason was purely, solely one… Thaatha Veedu- grandfather’s house.
Nostalgia! I truly relish!
As kids, we would wait for the last day of the school academic year. Not to just enjoy the start of the vacation, but to catch the train on the same evening to ‘thaatha veedu.’ Wasting even a day in Chennai was not accepted!
Today, when the train crossed Madurai, started my count of speciality foodies and goodies, exclusive to those towns.
- Madurai Malli – jasmine flowers and idlies (rice cakes) as soft and white as jasmine;
- Kadambur poli -sweet rotis;
- Maniyaachi murukku – savory;
- Kovilpatti kadalai mittaai – groundnut chikki and inji maraappa – sweetened ginger cubes;
Not in the train route, but closer to Thoothukudi,
- Srivilliputhur paalkova – sweet milk khoya;
and the very special –
- Tirunelveli halwa – sweet made of wheat flour and lots of nei – clarified butter;
and many more I have missed..
The salient features of the district include its lengthy,curvy and scenic sea coast which was an international cynosure in the days of yore for its pearl fishery; beautiful coastel villages with their sacred temples, churches and mosques like Tiruchendur, Manappadu and Kayalpattinam respectively, Adhichanallur, one of the cradles of the ancient civilizations, Korkai, an ancient port of the Sangam Pandyas,Kayal, the confluence of the river Tamiraparani with the Bay of Bengal,one of the five illustrious rivers of Tamilnadu,
Panchalamkurichi, the capital of Veerapandiya Kattabomman, an early martyr, for the cause of freedom,
Ettayapuram, the birth place of the great poet Subramanya Bharathi,
Ottapidaram the home town of V.O.Chidambaram Pillai,who dared to sail ships as a measure to combat British imperialism;
Maniyachi, where Vanchinathan assassinated Ashe, the British Collector for this high –handedness against the leaders during Swadeshi Movement;
Great missionaries like G.U.Pope, Veeramamunivar, Caldwell and others who, besides their missionary work,contributed a lot for the development of Tamil language and literature and above all the enterprising and hard working people who now constitute a major trading community in the State. http://www.thoothukudi.tn.nic.in/profile.html
Coming to the goodies corner, Thoothukudi is known for its exclusive sweets – Macaroons, Mundhiri Halwa – Cashewnut Halwa; savouries like Omapodi, Karasevu, Mixture; and those very special bakery products – Plum Cake and various other biscuits!
My memory seems to drive me backwards.. At least some twenty years back!
There we arrive in Thoothukudi, to meet all of nearly ten cousins, nine aunts, minimum of four uncles and aachi and thatha (grand mother and grand father). The palatial house is filled with laughter and giggle, chit chats and continuous cooking, eating and munching special goodies like halwa, macaroons, mixture, omapodi, Kara sevu and many more specialities of Thoothukudi.
The day starts with fresh milk milked from our own thatha veetu maadu .. Cows that belong to grandpa’s house! On Grandpa’s own cows read – https://dosaikal.com/2012/06/18/the-dutch-dairy/.
Ground floor, in the kitchen, all the ladies are cooking for almost thirty people per meal, amidst laughter and crazy gossips; we the youngsters climb up the stairs for some secret teenage talk…
Upstairs is a long house, in which some of the rooms are meant to store raw mangoes and guavas. The mangoes are kept in thick patches of straw to ripen faster.
The chat session starts after breakfast, then it continues with the search of ripe mangoes… as a munchy snack! We bend down to search for some ripe mangoes… Successfully pick a few.
Then it is time to wash, squeeze well with hands and make a hole on top and voala! Mangoes are ready. We enjoy those juicy, fruity, tasty mangoes (never count how many). We chat again till lunch…
There is a call from downstairs. We are asked to bring some (more) ripe mangoes for Thayir saadham (https://dosaikal.com/2011/12/22/thayir-saadham-mor-milagaicurd-rice-sun-dried-chillies/) or as lunch dessert… The search is on again in the big room. We pick the mangoes and proceed downstairs for lunch.
The same search holds good for guavas too! A few of us who would like guavas raw and the few others like me who would prefer ripe… The same straw patch – same search – same enthusiasm.. the fruits are different.
We were young enough for the search.. young enough for the munch and young enough for the non-stop munch to digest too!
I am brought back to reality, not by the train that stopped at Thoothukudi station, but by the voice of vendors in Kovilpatti Station, who sell Kadalai Mittaai and Inji Maraappa, which is exclusive to Indian trains.
A short travel and we reached Thoothukudi. We entered Thatha Veedu – Grandpa’s House! I become a kid whenever I step into that house where i spent most of my vacation time as a little girl.
A trip to Tirunelveli, place of my paternal grandparents and Tiruchendur – the famous Hindu Shore Temple of Lord Murugan used to always be part of the holiday agenda.
I did not want to miss that this time too. We visited Tiruchendhur – the sacred Temple of the Tamil God Murugan-
where he defeated the demon Sooran…
Where Kanda Sashti is celebrated at its best… (https://dosaikal.com/2011/10/31/paanakam-the-energy-drink-of-south-india/);
the temple premises
and the trademark elephant
Thiruchendur is one of the very few places one can get ‘cheppu chaamaan’ – wooden toys for kids… Easy to play, less hazardous than plastic, has authentic south indian household utensils, wrapped in exclusive palm leaf baskets.
I was disappointed to find the cheppu chaamaan – wooden toys packed in plastic bags;
Another disappointment was that the number of utensils had drastically reduced.
But, thankfully the traditional puja basket, which has the offerings to Lord Murugan came in the same panai olai petti – palm basket!!
traditional puja basket
Got a wonderful dharshan at the temple and returned back to Thoothukudi. Got to the train station with innumerable thoughts and nostalgic emotions… And got to the next destination to meet more near and dear ones!
Our travel continues…