A tour of Rock Fort and its environs

Rock fort, Trichy, seen from Theradi Bazaar
Rock fort, Trichy, seen from Theradi Bazaar

“Come O ladies, let us go see the Lord of Srirangam,” – thus sang Tyagaraja when he visited Trichy in 1836. I should have known that he was predicting a heritage tour of the area and sure enough it was with an all-woman audience.

AURA is a ladies association in Trichy which does much by way of social causes. It also organises bimonthly meetings for its members when a speaker is invited to address them. I had been there is 2009 and since then we have been in touch. This year they decided that I must come down and lead them on a heritage tour of Trichy. I was most reluctant. My knowledge of the town was limited to my going there on holidays. But it had a history that would make any enthusiast’s mouth water. And so, as it always happens when I try to get women to see my point of view, I ended up being convinced instead and committed myself to the tour.

As Trichy has a story to tell at virtually every corner, keeping time, traffic and temperature in mind we decided to restrict the tour to the Rock Fort and its environs and within that space to a select dozen locations. This was by no means a comprehensive tour but it gave everyone an idea of what Trichy’s heritage is. As I set about researching the locations to visit, I was helped by numerous people and my foremost thanks goes to my parents (“how can you not visit Coronation Park?”), Karthik Bhatt (“What? A tour of Rock Fort without Tawker Lane?”) and Dr Chithra Madhavan (“There are two caves and not one. Try and see the Pandyan cave temple also.”)

I sent the list of places in advance to the ladies and they, together with local enthusiast and trekker Sridhar Bharati, set about identifying them. On the 8th of January, I went down to Trichy and we planned the final route. Our tour, by van and foot, lasting three hours, took place on 9th morning.

Some of the places we saw:

The Natharvali Dargah
Nadu Guzili Street
Tawker Chattram Lane
Coronation Park, Theradi Bazaar
Mangammal’s Durbar Hall (now the Museum)
Thayumana Swami shrine, Rock Fort
The 100 pillared hall, Rock Fort
The tap donated by Va Ve Su Iyer
The lower Pallava Cave, Rock Fort
Christ Church and the House of Schwartz (Nandi Koil Street)
Clive’s Hostel
St Joseph’s and the Lady of the Lourdes Church (from outside)

We wound up by 9.30 am to a sumptuous breakfast at Hotel Sangam. It was a learning experience for me.

A more detailed report on each of the spots will follow.