Valluvar Kottam- A stunning architectural and engineered marvel in Chennai
January 1, 1970
by Revathy Dayalan
A few lines about Chennai:
Chennai is located off the Bay of Bengal on the Coramandel coast in India. Being one of the most visited cities in the world with 47th ranking, it attracts mainly tourists for its ancient pharmaceutical and health routines. It is one of the remarkable cities in Tamil Nadu, famous for its historical heritage spots. Being the capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai has got a lot of phenomenal places with a blend of both traditional and western cultures to visit.
Valluvar Kottam- A tribute to the glorious poet:
Now, travelling through the pages of history, the Valluvar Kottam stands majestically at the cross roads of Kodambakkam High Road and village road. The Valluvar Kottam was constructed to honour the memorable and scholarly poet Thiruvalluvar for his masterpiece in Tamil classical literature, the Thirukural.
Thirukural- A time-honoured composition:
The Thirukaural has 133 chapters (also called Athigarams) with 1330 couplets (also called Kurals) is a complete collection of ethics of life. The structure of Thirukural is such that it has 133 chapters with 10 couplets each which totals to about 1330 couplets. These 133 chapters are grouped into three sections:
(i) Arathuppal– concerning with the goodness, faith and morality
(ii) Porutpal– concerning with prosperity and richness
(iii) Kamathuppal– concerning with love and tenderness.
Thirukural is praised globally for its moral value and life facts which enrich the life of mankind. Due to its tremendous popularity, it has been translated in many languages around the globe with Latin being the first translation. Therefore, this Valluvar Kottam stands as a tribute to the veteran poet and his crown jewel.
Enactment of the Valluvar Kottam:
The Valluavar Kottam was formulated by then C. M of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M Karunanidhi during 1975- 1976. It was designed by the veteran south Indian architect V.Ganapathi Sthapati, who was also the architect of the Thiruvalluvar statue at Kanyakumari. On 15th of April 1976, the place was declared open by the honourable President of India by Shri Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Shri Kodardas Kalidas Shah, Governor of Tamil Nadu. During 2nd March 1984, new saplings were planted by then C. M of Tamil Nadu, Dr. M. G. R and sanctified Mother Teresa.
The Kural Balcony:
There is a whopping hallway called the ‘Kural Balcony’ in which the entire 1330 couplets were inscribed on polished granite stones of rectangular shape. All the stones are designed to look like leaves of an open book supported on pillars. The stone inscriptions were provided in three different colours depicting the three major sections. At the tail end of the balcony, is finished with the inscription of selected verses of Thiruvalluvar Maalai. Thiruvalluvar Maalai is a book written by other famous Tamil poets for honouring the renowned saint and his masterpiece.
The stupendous stone car:
The stone car stands massively at a height of 101 feet from the ground. The two stone elephants in front, each of 7 feet height looks as if they are pulling the chariot. Here you can see the lucid imagination of the architect. The stone car is flanked on sides by four wheels- two big and two small with a total of eight wheels. Each of the four big wheels is about 11 and a quarter foot in diameter and 2 and half feet thick, sculpted in a solid block of stone. Intricate sculptures from the levels of the chariot. Each of the carvings depicts the meaning of the couplets. The stone car has a kalasam on top which is about 5 feet in height. The octagonal sanctum of Thiruvalluvar is located at a height of 30 feet with a life size statue of the saint. The statue is 7 feet high and the three pointed fingers of Thiruvalluvar denote the three main sections of his masterpiece, Thirukural. The unique feature of this chariot is that, it is baseless and stands royally without any support which makes it one of the iconic heritage places of Chennai.
The ornate threshold of the auditorium is designed as a Thorana Vayil. The specialty of this ornate opening is that in ancient Tamil culture signifies the welcoming of the visitors. The auditorium is designed with grid type roofing to eliminate the pillar supports. The extent of the auditorium is about 220 feet in length and 110 feet broad and it is one of the biggest auditoriums in Asia, capable of accommodating 4000 persons at a time. The open rectangular terrace on top is 220 feet long, 140 feet broad from the southern end, which has direct access to the upper portion of the chariot.
Inspiration from another remarkable wonder:
The Valluvar Kottam which stands high is an architectural inspiration from the design of the famous Thiruvarur stone chariot. The valluvar Kottam resembles the humungous Thiruvarur stone car in Thiruvarur, Tamil Nadu. The stone car is used for the procession during a festival in which lord Shiva and his consort Devi Parvathi are brought to the stone chariot. This festival is called Therottam and lasts for more than 25 days on every summer between March and April. This is one of the ancient historical events which are still in practice. The chariot is intricate with wooden carvings and sculptures. It is one of the biggest chariots with a height of 96 feet and weighing more than 300 tons. The stone car requires a minimum of 10,000 persons to pull. This stone chariot is called the Azhi Ther, as it is the main one carrying lord Shiva and Devi Parvathi. Along with it are four other chariots for Subramanya, Ganapathi, and Sandikeshwerar, but these are comparatively small than the great chariot. The primary chariot was a beautiful one, burnt in 1922 for rebelling against the Brahmin agitation by the Justice party members under the influence of Periyar EV Ramasamy. A new one was again designed equal to that of the old one with the same old magnificence. Therefore, this Valluvar Kottam is also a tribute to this glorious chariot in Thiruvarur.
Also there is a beautiful park surrounding the place with blossoms and greenery. It is maintained by the Indian bank, Chennai. There is also a huge space available for car parking giving an amazing view even from where you park your car. The auditorium is occasionally taken up for exhibitions and other social occasions. When we went there, the auditorium looked busy with a exhibition cum sale of handicrafts and other range of products from various states of India. In addition there is a big hallway running around the auditorium which serves as a resting place for visitors. The items include handicrafts, jewelry, clothing etc. We would highly recommend to visit this place. Besides the chariot there are lot of things to learn and experience.