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Slice of history

In the area hunt for this month's column, S.S.KAVITHA finds out some interesting facts about Puttuthoppu.


EVER WONDERED where all those vehicles zipping around on the city roads go when they develop a snag? If not all, then many surely reach `Puttuthoppu,' on the South bank of Vaigai.

As the name suggests, there are no hotels here offering a variety of puddings. Instead, a strong and combined smell of grease, petrol and diesel hit your olfactory senses along with a parody of sounds.

Then why is Puttuthoppu named so? There is a story behind it. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva performed one of his thiruvilayadals.

The Lord gave salvation to Manickavasagar and Vanthiammai, an old lady here on the river banks.

Bit of history

The Pandya King eager to protect his kingdom from the natural disasters like floods in Vaigai, ordered every citizen to rush to the bank and help in building a mammoth bund. The aged Vanthiammai was ordered by guards to carry baskets of earth for the work. As she was unable to carry out the command, she offered to trade a handful of puttu that she had cooked. All passers-by scorned at her for trivial offer. Lord Shiva then appeared as a lad and offered to work for her. Upon eating a fistful of the delicious puttu, he then slept off by the river bed while worked on. The king monitoring the progress of the work struck him with a cane. And a miracle is believed to have occurred. The blow on the lad landed on everyone's back including the ruler's. It is believed that Lord Shiva performed the thiruvilayadal to give `mukthi' to the old woman.

`Puttu thiruvizha'

In remembrance of this incident, people celebrate `puttu thiruvizha' during the month of Aavani even today. The managing trustee of Puttu Ursava Kattalai Trust, E. Manickam, says the Puttu Chokkanathar Temple was perhaps built during the period of Thirumalai Naick as the architecture of his palace is similar to the 36-pillared mandapam in Puttuthoppu.

Though the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment made attempts to take over the temple, the Puttu Ursava Kattalai Trust has restored the temple under custody. The trust founder, Mariappa Chettiar of Vaania Vysya Chettiar community, along with his relatives belonging to 18 villages, jointly bought about six acres of land of coconut groves, which was earlier called Arappalyam Village. The temple was built on one-fourth of the area roughly and the remaining land was leased out to people, who were required to pay rent for the site but could build their own houses. The puttu festival is conducted even now with much fanfare with the rent collected from the tenants now.

Unique feature

The unique feature of the Puttu festival is that Goddess Meenakshi, Lord Shiva from Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple and Lord Murugan from Thirupparankundram visit the temple.The supremely religious zone over the years has metamorphosed into a place of workshops of various kinds such as lathe, tinkering and painting works. Though there about a 1000 houses constructed here now but the area is more of a workshop belt than a residential locality.

Kannan, a resident, says employees of Madura Coats, Fenner company mostly live here now. With a relatively uninterrupted supply of water and power here, what the residents miss is perhaps shops, hotels, hospitals and schools in the vicinity.

Few grocery shops and tea kiosks and an elementary school is just about it all.

For most of their needs from educational to entertainment, restaurants to variety shopping, people of Puttuthoppu depend on neighbouring areas .

For the nearest eat-out, residents have to go up to Arappalayam bus stand, says Murugesan, a grocery shop owner for sixty years. Puttuthoppu may not be a hot favourite among inhabitants while scouting for a house.

But like many other landmarks in the Temple City, this place is definitely steeped more in historicity than modernity. It is the right place to see how the tradition of the Pandya capital comes alive.

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