July 26, 2017

House for Sale near Rangammal Hospital

Information below about a modest one-bedroom house located off NH-66 and adjacent to Rangammal Hospital. The house has just been completed and is up for sale. 

Information about the house is as follows: 

15’ x 12’ Hall 180 sq.ft 
9.5’ x 13’ Bedroom 123.5 sq.ft 
7’ x 6’ Kitchen 42 sq.ft 
7’ x 7’ Verandah 49 sq.ft 
4.5’ x 13’ Bathroom 58.5 sq.ft 

Plot Size 1200 Sq. Ft. 60’ x 20’ 

The house has excellent darshan of Arunachala and is equipped with a very good water filtration system and bathroom with BATHTUB. For information about pricing and to be connected with the person dealing with this property, please send me a message via the Contact Form on the left side of this Blog. 


1 Bedroom House for Sale

Excellent Water Filtration System

House owner showing House, work just completed

Metal Staircase to Roof

Inside the House

Looking through house from Bedroom

Kitchen with quality Water System

Bathroom with Sink


Roof. Large Overhead Water Storage Tank

Arunachala Darshan from House Roof

Map of Arunachala. The 'X' marks area of House Location

July 7, 2017

Tree Jasmine: Millingtonia Hortensis


The name Millingtonia (Hortensis) honours Thomas Millington, an English botanist of the 18th Century and hortensis means "grown in gardens". Common names for this tree are Tree Jasmine, Cork Tree and in Tami—Mara Malli. Although this tree is indigenous to Burma and the Malay Archipelago, it now grows wild in most parts of India as well as being extensively cultivated both in gardens and avenues. 

Tall and straight, with comparatively few branches its claim to popularity lies in its ornamental value rather than any shade-giving properties. It is fast growing tree, with brittle wood, liable to be damaged by storms. In favourable positions it can reach 80 feet in height, but can be grown as a small compact tree if trimmed or as a nice container specimen. The ashy bark is cracked and furrowed and numerous fissures make removal of the cork an easy matter. 

From April until the rains and again in November and December, a profusion of silvery-white, fragrant flowers crown the foliage. The tree flowers at night and sheds flowers early in the morning; fragrant blooms falling and carpeting the ground around. The waxy characteristic of the flowers ensure their freshness for a long time. 

Between January and March the leaves are shed and renewed during April and May, although the tree is never quite naked. The fruit is very long and narrow, pointed at both ends and contains thin, flat seeds. Trees do not seed very easily in India. 

The tree grows to height of between 18 and 25 metres and has a spread of 7 to 11 metres. It reaches maturity between 6 and 8 years of age and lives for up to 40 years. It is a versatile tree which can grow in various soil types and climates with a preference for moist climates 

The tree is evergreen and has an elongated pyramidal stem. The soft, yellowish-white wood is brittle and can break under strong gusts of wind. 

The fruit is a smooth flat capsule and is partitioned into two. It contains broad-winged seeds. The fruits are fed on by birds which aid in seed dispersal. In cultivation, the viability of seeds is low unless they are sown immediately after the fruit ripens, so the plant is generally propagated through cuttings. 

The tree is considered ornamental and the pleasant fragrance of the flowers renders it ideal as a garden tree. The wood is also used as timber and the bark is used as an substitute for cork. The leaves are also used as a substitute for tobacco in cigarettes. Extract of the leaves of Millingtonia hortensis have good antimicrobial activity and the dried flower is effective as a bronchodilator—root-lung tonic. 

Flowers of the beautiful Tree Jasmine

Flowers before blooming on the Tree Jasmine 

The waxy flowers of the Tree Jasmine

Brittle bark of the Tree Jasmine

Fruit of the Tree Jasmine


According to mythology, this is a heavenly tree brought to earth by the god Krishna. A quarrel over it ensued between Satyabhama and Rukmini, Krishna's wives. But Krishna planted the tree in Satyabhama's courtyard in a way that when the tree flowered, the flowers fell in Rukmini's courtyard. 

Another romantic story woven around the tree is about Parijataka, a princess. She fell in love with the sun but when he deserted her she committed suicide and a tree sprung from the ashes. Unable to stand the sight of the lover who left her, the tree flowers only at night and sheds them like tear-drops before the sun rises. 

Jasmine Tree Sapling on my Roof Garden

My Sapling
This tree is a particular favourite of mine because of the enchanting, intoxicating, heady aroma of its flowers late in the evening. For this reason I have a potted Tree Jasmine sapling on my root garden, which will be transferred and planted into the ground by the end of the year. 

April 11, 2017

Tank Maintenance Scheme at Tiruvannamalai District

Bund at irrigation tank, Kozhunthampattu Village

A system of maintenance of irrigation tanks has been introduced at Tiruvannamalai. This system is known as ‘Kudimaramathu’ in which a community takes responsibility for the maintenance of a water tank. 

100 crores has been allocated to this project in Tamil Nadu. Tiruvannamalai will receive 1.33 crore to carry out the maintenance of 18 tanks at: Mel Karippur, Kozhunthampattu, Radhapuram, Keel Vanakkambadi, Sorppanandhal, Mel Pennathur, Mel Chengam Pudur, Mel Vanakkambadi, Beemanandhal, Allappanur, Edathanur, Sadhakuppam, Mazhuvambattu, Serppapattu, Kungilinatham, Then Karumbalur, Kottaiyur and Vanapuram villages. 

The work entails clearing acacia bushes, repairing bunds, implementing outlining works in outlet canals and replacing disturbed boundary stones. It is anticipated that 10% of project cost will be taken care of by those connected with the specific tanks and the cost of labour and construction materials, will be funded by the Government. 

In connection with such irrigation tank works, a 550 metre long bund was recently strengthened at Kozhunthampattu under the scheme. The 18 tanks taken under the scheme irrigate 2050 acres of land. 

Construction of 1,000 Gabion Check Dams

Gabion Structure created at Thumbakkadu Village, Javadi Hills

A new watershed mission has been launched at Tiruvannamalai District to facilitate the ground water table during rainy seasons. 

For this purpose 10,000 Gabion Check Dams with recharge pits are to be constructed across water courses at Tiruvannamalai District. At present, sanction for 1,000 such structures has been given at an estimated cost of 9.25 crore. 

At each structure, small rough boulders will be stacked without mortar into a retaining check dam across the currently dry water stream courses. To prevent the stacked boulders being washed away in upcoming rainy seasons, they will be held by mesh. Near each wall a recharge pit is to be dug and contain a 50 foot deep borewell. 

When it rains the Gabion walls temporarily retain water and slow its course thereby helping the water to percolate and improve the water table. The borewells in the recharge pits directly take water to the depth of 50 feet in order to recharge the water table. Construction of 32 Gabion Structures has already been completed and further constructions are expected to be expedited. 

August 17, 2016

Project Green Hands Nursery, Tiruvannamalai

Project GreenHands is an environmental initiative of Isha Foundation that aims to increase the green cover of the state of Tamil Nadu to 33% green cover by planting 114 million trees. 

Launched on World Environment Day, June 5th 2004, as a grass roots ecological initiative, the project has till date planted more than 28 million saplings in Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry by involving more than 2 million volunteers. 

Some 4 years ago a nursery on leased land of around 8 acres was started on Golipannai Road (near Sparsa Resort Hotel) here in Tiruvannamalai. As well as developing saplings for distribution amongst farmers and reforestation organisations, Project GreenHands also sells saplings and herbs at an inexpensive rate to members of the public who visit the nursery. 

August 3, 2016

Samudram Eri -- Sand Quarrying Devastation

The Samudram Eri is approximately 700 acres of poramboke land located south of Arunachala. It is indispensable to Tiruvanamalai in its function as a massive water catchment area during the monsoon season. From the Eri, a pumping system sends its water to other catchment areas such as Thamari Nagar Tank, which are essential parts of the Tiruvannamalai's water supply. 

The Samudram Eri has been a valued part of the ecological system of Tiruvannamalai for hundreds of years but sadly we are not treating it with the respect it deserves. Already Tamil Nadu has a severe water shortage, and it is truly madness to destroy the existing system we currently have in order to provide lucrative gains for the very few. 

About 10 years ago industrial level sand quarrying started in the Tiruvannamalai area. Previously the Eri was undisturbed except approximately every 15 years encroaching thorny bush cover was felled. This occurred again about 3 years ago, which unfortunately gave even greater unfettered access to heavy sand quarrying machinery on the Samudram Eri. 

About a month ago sand quarrying on the Eri was halted, as to whether or not it starts again, only time will tell. But for the well being and future of our children and grandchildren, it is hoped that we begin to treat our ever diminishing resources with greater respect. 

Just a small part of the Samudram Eri devastation

Sand quarrying has created massive holes throughout the Eri

Numerous quarries throughout are now interferring with the water table

Some of these unnatural lakes are 20-30 feet deep and many acres in size
Deforestated Eri will be turned into massive quarries if work recommences

View of private farms and forestated land at the edges of the Samudram Eri

View of trees on top of the Samudram Eri bund

Magnificent Banyan Tree on Bund -- wonder how long it will be standing?

Part of the Samudram Eri trying to recover from the massive deforestation which occured several years ago

March 27, 2016

The Wonderful Palmyra and Nungu Fruit

Borassus Flabellifer also known as the Asian Palmyra Palm, Toddy Palm, or Sugar Palm, is native to India and the official tree of Tamil Nadu. It is also known as the “Karpaha Veruksham” (Celestial Tree) because all its parts have a use. 

At Samudram Eri bund. Cluster of Palmyra Trees back right

Borassus Flabellifer is a robust tree which reaches to a height of up to 100 feet and lives more than 100 years. In the initial stage, the young Palmyra grows slowly, but grows faster with age. It has fan shaped leaves. Ringed with leaf scars, the large trunk of the tree bears a resemblance to that of the coconut tree. The fruit of the tree, in Tamil “Nungu” is also commonly known by the name “Ice Apple” which was originally coined by the British in India. The tender fruit resembles ice. Scoop out the contents and drop it in a glass of tender coconut water. Keep it in the refrigerator for 15 to 20 minutes and have a delicious drink. 

Palmyra Trees back left of Horse

The fruit of this tree is borne in clusters and is about 4 to 7 inches in diameter with a black shell. Inside the black shell are three sweet jelly seed sockets covered by a thin, yellowish-brown skin. The fleshy white body contains watery fluid; however the fibrous and ripened outer layer of the palm can also be eaten raw, boiled or roasted. 

Cluster of older, taller Palmyra Trees

The Nungu fruit is valued for its nutritional benefits. It is known to; prevent chicken pox, improve digestion, cool the body, good for acidity, acts as an anti-inflamatory, helps eliminate body toxins, useful as an expectorant and laxative, good for ulcers, liver and spleen disorders and prevents constipation in pregnant women. However when using palm fruit its important to use tender fruit, as over ripe fruits will be hard to digest and may cause stomach problems. 

Large number of unripe fruit in Female Tree

Once the Nungu fruit has been opened it does not last well, so should be used immediately. The fruit’s rapid fermentation over the course of a mere three hours is the main reason why villagers use Nungu as a fast, inexpensive and easy source of alcohol. The sap of the tree involves tapping the top shoots and collecting the dripping juice in hanging earthen pots. The freshly collected juice is very refreshing and not intoxicating but will quickly ferment into an alcoholic drink i.e. “toddy”. 

Male Palmyra Tree

The leaves of the Borassus Flabellifer are used for thatching, mats, baskets, umbrellas and writing material. Literature in ancient Tamil Nad was written in preserved Palm leaves known as Olai Chuvadi. The writing utensil was in the form of a sharpened iron piece called an Eluthani. 

The stem of the leaves of this Tree has thorny edges which can be used to construct fences by nailing the thorny edge leaves together. The skin of the stem can be peeled off and used as rope. All parts of the tree and fruit are utilised. 

Fully ripened Nungus

The Nungu season generally runs from May through August. Nungus turn a brilliant shade of deep, blackish purple when fully ripened. Full-sized fruits share the same size and shape of large eggplant, although their tough texture resembles a coconut. 

Cluster of ripe Nungus

If not intended for immediate consumption, choose to scoop out each section intact, with the tan, fibrous skin still encasing the pod. This preserves the life of Nungu (placed in a fridge) by a day or so. 

Each section has been scooped out intact. Water sac surrounded by fibrous covering

Video showing Opening Nungu Fruit

January 2, 2016

Garden Nursery, Tiruvannamalai

Considering Tiruvannamalai is situated surrounded by countryside, there are not many Garden Nurseries located in this area. Fortunately several years ago a very nice Nursery i.e. "Sesha Nursery Garden", opened up next to NH66, about 4 kms from the Town Centre. The Nursery sells; Flowering Plants, Fruit Trees, Creepers and a large selection of Green Plants.

Yesterday I visited the Nursery to pick up some Rangoon Creepers, Ferns and a selection of bits and pieces. The plants at the Nursery are in excellent condition and everything is kept in good order.

Probably like most people, I find life easier when prices are clearly labelled and didn't appreciate having to haggle for every leaf and branch purchased at the Nursery . . . particularly as I succumbed to "haggling fatigue" early on, and probably ended up paying extra. Certainly when I return, will bring good backup to ensure a better deal!