Ponniyin Selvan: 1, or PS: 1, has been the talk of the town ever since it released. The movie, based on the books by Kalki (Ramaswamy “Kalki” Krishnamurthy), talks of the Chola dynasty and their rule. The dynasty has been credited with being patrons of literature, art and architecture, some of which can be seen in the temples and structures they left behind. Take a tour of the same with us today. By Anushka Goel
Mani Ratnam’s film, Ponniyin Selvan: 1, has been in the news for some time now. A story of the Chola Dynasty, it depicts a side of Indian history that was yet to make it to mainstream movies. However, as the buzz around the movie continues to grow, we take a look at the destinations you can visit to experience the grandeur of the places shown in the movie.
Who is Ponniyin Selvan?
Ponniyin Selvan translates to Son of Ponni. The river Kaveri was nicknamed ‘ponn’ or ‘gold’ as it was among the most fertile places (and probably the most fertile land in the Chola kingdom). Ponniyin Selvan was the river’s “son”, aka Rajaraja Chola I.
Ponniyin Selvan story
The story of the two-part movie derives from the books by poet, journalist and freedom-fighter Ramaswamy “Kalki” Krishnamurthy. It traces the adventures of Ponniyin Selvan, their raging wars and the places they conquered, cementing the Chola dynasty’s place in history as among the oldest and longest-ruling dynasties in the world.
The book Ponniyin Selvan was so popular that people used to line up to buy the books throughout their release between 1950 and 1954, reports suggest. The series was also a must-read for travellers, who would then visit these destinations. The Chola trail, thus, also became among the most popular tour routes in the South, with visitors travelling to places such as Thanjavur, Kumbakonam, Darasuram among others which are directly related to the dynasty.
Ponniyin Selvan tour
Apart from its grandeur, these tours that take one to the depths of the Chola kingdom serve as great learning experiences about India’s glorious heritage and past. So, if you want to experience the same grandeur you witnessed in Ponniyin Selvan: 1, check out some of the places you can visit. Oh and, some of these are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, too!
Brihadisvara Temple, Thanjavur
Among the most popular Chola temples, it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This temple was built during the reign of one of the famous Chola dynasty kings – Rajaraja I (aka Ponniyan Selvan). Designed by architect Sama Varma between 1003 and 1010 AD, this temple houses the tallest Vimanam in the world – a 3.7-meter tall Shiva Linga.
Where: Membalam Rd, Balaganapathy Nagar, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Airavatesvara Temple, Darasuram, Kumbakonam
Built by Rajaraja II, the temple is yet another stunning piece of architecture in the region. The temple is about 40 kilometres from the Thanjavur temple, and together with it and the Gangaikondacholapuram temple, forms the UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple features intricate carvings, a Vimana, and other structures that are characteristic of the construction during the period.
Where: Gurunathan Pillai Colony, Dharasuram, Kumbakonam, Tamil Nadu
Brihadisvara Temple in Gangaikondacholapuram
The third of the Great Living Chola Temples, this one is as stunning as the other two in the region. This structure was built by the Chola emperor Rajendra I, and is said to be the feminine counterpart of the temple in Thanjavur. Among the most respected temples in South India, this one also houses a Shiva Linga, and makes for a must-visit place when in the state.
Where: Gangaikonda Cholapuram, Tamil Nadu
The Veeranam Lake was built in the 10th century, during the time of the Greater Cholas. The lake, which acts as a water reservoir for Chennai, was built by Rajaditya Chola. The lake is one of the biggest tourist attractions during the monsoon.
Where: Cuddalore district, Tamil Nadu
These destinations have a lot of other temples that you can visit that have inscriptions which you can see. Apart from them, museums in Chennai and other destinations in the South also have artefacts from the Chola dynasty that can be seen to understand the dynasty better. You can also check out Ponniyan Selvan-based tours here.
Hero and Featured Image: Courtesy of Shutterstock
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Answer: Ponniyin Selvan by author Kalki is a historical fictional novel based on the Chola dynasty. It has been made into a two-part movie by Mani Ratnam.
Answer: No. While the movie is a historical fiction, it does have some references to real, historical events which makes it a great watch (or for the book, a great read).
Answer: Ponniyin Selvan is a fictional story, which draws inspiration from historical events and characters.