River Cauveri runs through Trichy and separates Trichy and Srirangam. Cauveri is split into two rivers , Cauveri and Kollidam in Kallanai.
In Tamil KalAnai can be interpreted in two ways.
- Kal – anaithu -> could have become kal – anai -> kal – stone; anaithu – lots . So kal – anaithu can mean lots of stones, a description of a constriction on a river , dam.
- Kal – anaithu -> could have become kal-anai -> kal – stone; anaithu – hug; So Kal anaithu can mean hugged by stones. A river hugged by stones will have its movement restricted essentially referring to a dam.
Anyway, KalAnnai was initially constructed by Karikala Cholan in I century A.D. It was a marvelous feet of architecture acheived by people then, while most of the world had nomadic civilizations. It is one of the four dams that control the flow of cauveri. Another Dam on Acuveri near Trichy is Mukkomboo.
Mukkomboo in tamil means Three Sticks. Moonru – Three; Komboo – Stick. May be it was named so as Cauveri and Kollidam forming two of the three komboos and the inflow into dam forming the third komboo. Cauveri splits into two rivers, cauveri and kollidam ( koll – hold; idam – place; holding place for the cauveri’s water) at Mukkomboo and flows around Srirangam making it an island. Cauveri has wonderful banks all along when it approaches and departs Trichy. There are lots of Banyan Trees ( Alamarams) along the banks by the side of the road that snakes the banks. Near Trichy, there was a beautiful Mango Grove called Mambhaza Solai ( which is locally called Mambazha Salai) which used to have hundreds of majestic Mango trees with the river flowing and feeding them. With the current urban sprawl, most of the trees are cut to make space for houses. At the entrance of the Mambazha solai, there will be shops selling the fruits from the Solai. Even now the shops selling mangoes are there in the same place but the quanity of fruits are far less. Other than Mango trees and Allamarams, the banks will also have innumerable Coconut trees and Banana tress. ( Vazhathoppu).
Amamandapam sits on one side of the bank near Srirangam. Some of the houses of in Ammamandapam graces the river cauveri. With the river on their backyard, people intertwine their lives with it. We can see poeple performing religious rites on the banks at Ammamandapam. We can also see pilgrims taking bath in ammamandapam before embarking the journey into Srirangam temple.
Cauveri gracing Srirangam reaches Thiruvanaikoil ( Thiru – Aanai – kovil becomes Thiruvanaikoil in Tamil) , a Shiva temple where Shiva is in the form of Water.(Jalagandeshwarar) ( One of the panchaboodhams) . The river cauveri flows under the temple and always graces the temple Deity. When the river flow in Cauveri increases ,the water level in thiruvanaikoil also increases.
The best view of cauveri and kollidam together can be consumed from the Ucchi Pillaiyar temple in Rockfort. ( A good description of this awesome place can be found here)
Cauveri provides water for irrigation through its distributaries, Uyyakondan and Kudamuruti.
In Trichy, the bridge over cauveri between Srirangam and Trichy is one of the main artery of transportation. The roadway bridge will give a fantastic view of the river and hence will be crowded by onlookers if the river is flowing with full ferocity. Every Aadi perrukku, the water level in Cauveri will go up as the water will be released from mettur dam.
Of all the decriptions, I have read about Cauveri and its beauty with majesty, nothing compares to the descriptions in Parthibhan Kanavu by Dr. Kalki. You can really feel the power of the river in those words. But he was talking about cauveri during the mighty chola days. The sorroundings have changed a lot since then and it is sad to see that urban sprawl is gobbling up the beauty of the river bank and littering it with houses instead of trees and solais.