The waterfalls near Thirunelveli

In 1970, The Statesman, Kolkata, brought out Maurice Shellim's The Daniells in India and the Waterfall at Papanasam, a slender book that details the life of the brothers Daniell, their travel to India and the pictures they made. I saw this book about 10 years ago for the first time, having known of Papanasam only indirectly, via the name of the great modern composer of carnatic music, Papanasam Sivan. The book is long out of print and only available at fairly steep prices via antiquarian bookstores, but it is interesting in its way.

The picture on the right is also by the Daniells, of another of the waterfalls near Thirunelveli. The town of Kutralam (or Courtallam) is famous for it, and generations of vacationing tamilians have visited the falls over the years. But the region has been famous for centuries through
Melagaram Tirikutarasappa Kavirayar's epic, Kuttrala Kuravanji. The gypsy fortuneteller- the kurathi- is a standard character in classical Tamil drama, and forms the focus of the Kuravanji dramas, of which there are several.

Kuttrala Kuravanji has been translated recently by Professor David Buck as
A Kuravanji in Kutralam during his sabbatical at the Institute of Asian Studies in Chennai, and published by them last year. The book has been well received- quite apart from being possibly the only translation available, reviews have been favourable. The Hindu, for instance, found " David Buck's research paper on the Kuravanji tradition and the socio-political ramifications of Kavirayar's thoughts makes A Kuravanji in Kutralam a rich contribution to Tamil studies."

The Institute for Asian Studies has an amazing publication program with a great list of titles in Tamil and the other Dravidian languages, some in translation, dictionaries... All of which can be seen at their website.  Please write in to us, though, since all the titles are not on the site. At least not just yet.

Rs 350. ISBN 81-87892-21-8