Women, beautiful and silk-clad. Children, curious and chattering. Men, proud and vociferous. The entire town, alive and excited, awaits the arrival of the mighty King. Perhaps it was Mahashivarathiri. The puja would soon begin. Hundreds of litres of milk, yoghurt, honey, ghee, sugar, all set to drench Lord Shiva in his linga form. Devotion meets celebration. Fervour meets festivity. All this, suddenly interrupted by trumpets and drums, loud and thunderous. Enter Rajendra Chozhan, the Mummudi Chozhan, with his crown that could overshadow a thousand suns. The crowd erupts into a cheer, loud enough to douse the sounds of the instruments. They shower their love for him in the form of flowers. A rain of petals colours the scene. If this wasn’t prosperity what could be? Ivan Gangaiyaikondan, thammakkalin anbaiyum kondan. (He won over the ganges, he also won over the love of his people.)
Such are the scenes evoked by Gangaikonda Chozhapuram as you walk into the gates of what remains today of King Rajendra Chozhan’s capital city. What follows is a time-warping experience you can’t help but surrender to.
My visit to Gangaikonda Chozhapuram was preceded by a trip to Thanjavur and Kumbakonam. Read the travelogue here.