Cycling Around the Plains of Tamil Nadu

Part done by car and part on bicycles this is a great choice for clients with 2 nights in Thekaddy. This tour is a tribute to John Pennycuick, the British Engineer (born in Pune/ died in England) who built the 175-feet high Mullaperiyar Dam in 1895.

The background of this tour: THEN & NOW

THEN: The plains of Tamil Nadu which your clients will explore on this tour saw a great famine in the year 1876 that lasted for 2 years. It left 10 million people dead in the Madras Province (when present day Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Southern Karnataka, Southern Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and Southern Orissa were all together, before being divided into states on linguistic lines post India’s independence in 1947). The Great Madras Famine had people such as Florence Nightingale questioning Britain for failing to provide relief. The political fall out of this tragic event, even that went largely unnoticed, to which Allan Octavian Hume – a retired outspoken member of the Imperial Civil Service (later the Indian Civil Service, now Indian Administrative Service) – denouncing Britain, said it had lost all moral rights over India, who went on to form the Indian National Congress in 1885. Quietly entered John Pennycuick, who after much trials, tribulations and disruption built the Mullaperiyar Dam – an engineering marvel that took him 8 years to complete. The dam fed the parched plains of Tamil Nadu with water from the Periyar River in Kerala, made them forever fertile and ensured that future generations don’t die because of the want of water.

NOW: Today food grown in the plains of Tamil Nadu watered by the Mullaperiyar Dam is sold in Kerala mainly. For the Tamil farmers that have benefited from the Mullaperiyar Dam, John Pennycuick is no less than God. During the harvest festival of Pongal (one of the most important in TamilNadu) they offer a “Pennycuick Pongal” as a thanksgiving for the dam he built that changed their lives. There is even a memorial built in his honour, where you have to remove your footwear to enter. Children here are named Pennycuick and his photo is kept together with the Gods and Goddesses in the
shrines of Tamil farmers.

By: Kuntil Baruwa

Kuntil Baruwa is our explorer-in-residence. He travels all over the Indian sub-continent to make friends with locals and use their recommendations to design unique experiences for the inquisitive savvy traveller.

2 thoughts on “Cycling Around the Plains of Tamil Nadu”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *