Chengam again.

I first saw the Chengam murals in 2007. I had just finished documenting the murals of South Tamilnadu, covering 11 locations in and around Madurai and Tirunelveli as part of a project of the Centre for Plants, People and Ecosystems (CPPE), funded by the Ford Foundation, with Dr. Balusamy as the Project Director. That project closed in 2006 (click here for details) after which I found my own ways to keep myself engaged with mural paintings in one way or the other.

The first great opportunity came my way when the Scientific Publishing Services company that I work for, TNQ Books and Journals, wanted a calendar for the year ahead and I 'conned' them into paying me for the travel to see and document the sites that the CPPE project could not take me to. Thus I ended up visiting many mural painting sites in northern Tamilnadu - Panamalai, Tiruvannamalai, Chengam, Tirumalai and Armamalai - besides Lepakshi in Andhra Pradesh.

Since the first visit, I have been to Chengam many times to look at the murals. Though very damaged, the line work of the Chengam murals had something intrinsically attractive about it. Profuse in detail and precisely executed, the Chengam murals had to be studied, explored, toyed around with, animated... but not touched.

- January 16, 2011, after the last visit to Chengam before the project was assigned to me by IFA.