Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A re-release

I wish I could say that all the Madras Week celebrations have been keeping me occupied, to the extent that today's post barely meets the deadline. Sadly, that's not the case; though I did have the opportunity yesterday to attend the re-release of Prof. KV Raman's book on the history of the Chennai region, upto the time of British occupation. To me, that has been one of the good things about this year's birthday celebrations - that there seems to be some more inquisitiveness about what this whole place was, before there was Madras.

It is generally accepted that in the middle of the 17th century CE, there were a few villages around what is now Chennai, all of them vassals to whichever king had ascendency; these villages, like others of the day were all centered around a temple and were more or less entirely self-sufficient. Prof. Raman explores the history of these villages through the inscriptions found in these temples, and traces their history back to about the 9th century. But he doesn't stop there; he brings his considerable expertise to play in educating us about how the region around the city is a keysite for paleolithic settlements. Very early in this book, Prof. Raman throws Chennai's antiquity back to stone age times - Pallavaram, near the Chennai airport, is the first site in India where a paleolithic relic was found. With this kind of excitement being provided by a quick sampling of the book, I'm looking forward to more such as I read through it entirely.

Prof. Raman could not have foreseen that there would be a gap of almost half-a-century before the second publication of this book of his. It just goes on to show the utter lack of studies about the pre-British history of this region. With the kind of support that the Madras Day has generated this year, it is likely that we will be seeing some competition to Prof. Raman's books - and it will not be a day too soon!


Ravindran said...

Does Pallavaram has any connection with the Pallavas?

Sometimes I don't, sometimes I do said...

>> Ravindran>> It sounds too close to not have any connection!