She Glitters the flow, She Does. Cauvery!

If you are flying into Tiruchi during the non-dry season, then quick land yourself in that prize-winning seat next to the window. Just a few minutes before touchdown, look out and prepare yourself for a spectacular view of the river that glides just below. That’s the Grand Cauvery.

Cauvery @ Kaveri 

Around Tiruchi

Tiruchi is the 4th largest municipality in South India and it sits right in the heart of Tamil Nadu state. You’ll find many higher education institutes and large industrial units here. Its recorded history dates all the way back to the 3rd century BC during the rule of the Cholas. It had also been ruled by many other dynasties and superpowers over the years, and each has left a hint of their existence among the culture, people, and architecture. I’d been here several times and even more in recent years thanks to Air Asia and Malindo Air, but each time the visits are usually only for a short stopover. Every time I fly in, I look forward to a glimpse of that glitter slithering below. The sight of Cauvery never ceases to amaze me. And this time, I touched her.

About Cauvery

Cauvery, along with her sisters Mahanadi, Godavari and Krishna make up what is known as the Peninsular River system in India. Some trivia facts about the 765 km long Cauvery.
  • She is commonly known as Kaveri in India. Cauvery is the British name for the same river. The Kaveri is also easier to spell for non-spelling bees like myself
  • She originates from Kodagu in Karnataka (a neighbouring state West of Tamil Nadu) and flows south-east into Tamil Nadu
  • The Cauvery river basin covers 4 states Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry
  • Cauvery drains into my good ‘ol pal, the Bay of Bengal
  • Just like the other Peninsular rivers, Cauvery too originates from the Peninsular Plateau
  • It is known as a seasonal or perennial river and is mainly rain fed. During the wet/rainy season, the river fills up. During the dry months, the river show the signs of being unfed, so if you are flying in during the dry months, you will not get the same view from 10,000 feet above
  • It is said that these Peninsular rivers are even older than the Himalayan rivers
  • Kaveri is a popular Hindu name for girls, and it means the life, river, naturally 😊
  • It is a holy river in South India. On new moon or Amavasya days (which are once a month), many local Hindus come here and offer special prayers for the worship of their forefathers.

Around the Cauvery, me, the goods keeper and the udupi coffee

My task today was to take care of everyone’s belongings (those of my parents and cousins) while they went in to take a dip in the river. Here’s where, later, I touched some of this precious water myself. Warm, complementing the hot weather. The only other two times I remember feeling any river water was when clumsy me accidentally lost my balance and fell in. Not pleasant, but this happened years ago.

Just outside are plenty of vendors selling flowers and vegetables. I also noticed they like their coffee as much as I do too. There are plenty of coffee and tea stands to fulfil the demanding caffeine needs, and this sight made me tremendously happy. Since I had two already, I couldn't have any more for the hour. The stall operators didn’t mind and were more than happy to let me watch them prepare the drinks and to pose for a picture or two. See if you can find the coffee in these shots. 

Specially for the readers.

In one of these pictures, you can also see an aunt (mami) holding a flask of special home-made Udupi-style filtered coffee. A couple of years ago, her husband took my cousins and me to one of the best Udupi coffee restaurants in Tamil Nadu. She remembered and prepared this one for us 😘.

The next is a picture taken at our family home near Pudukkottai.  My mom made me this great piping hot filtered coffee this morning. The beans were freshly ground in Tiruchi. It has the right consistency and taste. The atmosphere here is calm, away from the busy Tiruchi and KL. The air is a lot cleaner here, and I feel so relaxed. The coffee, can’t say more, it’s a good choice for sure.😍


When in Tiruchi or anywhere south of Tamil Nadu, remember to get yourself some Paneer Soda. This is a rose essence carbonated drink. I like Kalimarks, though I don't fancy the green bottles they are packaged in. This branding reminds me of Sprite, but I feel they can confidently go with a different image because their drink tastes even better. Look, here’s a picture for you. I have already had 3 within the last 8 hours. Well, it's hot, and those empty bottles speak a lot for themselves right now.

Refreshing Paneer Soda

There are plenty of things to do in Tiruchi. A visit to the Rock Fort Temple is one of them. The temple was built in 580 AD on an ancient 83m high rock by the Pallavas. The temple changed hands several times over the years under the different rulers of the period Pallavas, Pandyas, Cholas and the Nayaks. Plenty of steps to climb here. Be fit, and more importantly choose the right timing because it does get hot in the daytime. The climb up to the Ganesha temple is a rewarding one a spectacular view of Tiruchi.

Rock ye, Rock ye Fort

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple (Sri Rangam) is the largest Hindu temple in India and the biggest functioning temple in the world. It is surrounded by the Cauvery on one side and the Kollidam on the other. The magnificently structured temple is situated in the little islet formed by these two rivers. The temple's early inscriptions date back to 1 AD. The temple was rebuilt in the 14th century and then fortified and extended in the 15th and 16th centuries. It spans 0.63 km. One would have to pass all 7 concentric walled sections to reach the Raja Gopuram, which is 73 metres tall, and this is where the main deity is. There are 21 Gopurams (tower gateways) in total. Between each walled sections are little shops, coffee stalls and restaurants.  The temple, first built during the Pallavas reign, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu.

Also, near Rock Fort Temple is an ancient church constructed in 1840, Our Lady of Lourdes Church.  This is a Roman Catholic basilica. The church stands grandly on a busy street in the centre of the city, she is very pretty, and if you pass by without noticing or looking twice at her, I would be surprised. This is a large Gallo-Catholic designed church. The church conducts holy masses every day, and anyone can join in.

Lady Of Lourdes

Shopping is always one of the welcoming delights for travellers and visitors. Tiruchi offers a good selection of clothes, fabric, saris, sweets & snacks, silverware and other Indian products. The rule is simple, arrive with empty suitcases, and fill them up here.

If shopping doesn't get you excited, there is always a coffee and tea shop nearby grab a glass (or tumbler), sit along the Cauvery’s banks and listen to her poems as she whispers and do enjoy your drink.

Have a good week. 💗💓💗

Traffic Signals, Is It F1 Again?

Today I am home again and up early to see the sights and hear the city before the honking of cars invade my ears. This walk is just as characteristic as the previous one. My pace is slow, so stay with me; it’s Sunday. Enjoy your coffee; there are just so many flavours to savour. It’s not F1 or GP motor day, so there is really no reason to rush.

Before we begin, let’s get energised. Backward and forward bend, roll your hips, stretch upwards.  We are ready.  Now, meet Rimau, our mascot for the 29th South East Asia (SEA) Games and 9th ASEAN Para Games which have been held here recently.  He is the Malayan Tiger, an athlete himself who symbolises Respect, Integrity, Move, Attitude and Unity among the participating countries and athletes. The SEA Games is a biennial sporting event involving eleven countries from South East Asia (Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam). During my commute from work a week earlier, I met Alex, a Malaysian who had just flown in from Sipadan Sabah where he works. He was a volunteer for the Para Games and he shared interesting stories and experiences leading up to the event.  I say to Alex and all the rest of the volunteers for both games – well done! The Games were amazing, and you guys made it happen!  

Go Rimau, Go Go Go!

The SEA Games is a biennial sporting event involving 11 countries from South East Asia (Indonesia, Cambodia, Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines,  Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Vietnam). During my commute from work a week earlier, I met Alex, a Malaysian who had just flown in from Sipadan Sabah where he works. He was a volunteer for the Para Games and he shared interesting stories and experiences leading up to the event. Alex and all the rest of the volunteers for both the games – well done, the Games was amazing, and you guys made it happen!  

I am all warmed up, filled with that super Rimau energy. I hop on a local bus heading to Pasar Seni LRT Station. This area is what was once known as the Klang bus stop area, a place the SriJaya/IntraKota/Kee Hup Omni buses and pink mini buses (buses from yester-years) used as a hub. The Klang Bus Station closed in 2011 to make way for the newly opened Pasar Seni underground MRT station.    

New Pasar Seni MRT Station

Just outside the LRT station is a small waiting area for a few designated buses to pick up and drop off passengers. One of them is the GoKL bus service. This is an incredible service initiated by the local government to improve the quality of public transportation in KL within the central business district. And guess what? The purple buses you see in the next picture are free for commuters.

I am free!

I would like to take the bus, but it can wait until another time. My walk continues.  I am on Jalan Tun HS Lee. This street is a long and historic one. Its presence is often overshadowed by the more popular Petaling Street (China Town). The street was originally called High Street, changed to be called Jalan Bandar, and then to what it is known as today.  I didn’t count, but read that there are over 200 old shop houses, preserved as part of the heritage, on this street. Some of them are better preserved than others. Many of them today are renovated and used as cafes and budget hotels. Well-established banks have also marked their presence along this street.

The Maha Mariamman temple was built in 1873. This is the oldest Hindu temple in Kuala Lumpur. The temple is open for all, any time of the year. It gets a tad bit crowded during Thaipusam, an annual Hindu festival, when thousands of pilgrims who follow the Silver Chariot procession up to Batu Caves begin the journey here. Today, the entrance is decorated with two plantain trees indicating there is a special prayer and all are welcome.  The chiming of bells have started, meaning the homam is about to start. Outside, the flower stall vendors are preparing the jasmine garlands for the poojas. I have also included some night shots on this page. I hear the mantras being recited. It’s time for me to go in.

Maha Mariamman Temple

Guan Di Temple is a beautiful deep-red Taoist temple, less than 50 meters away from The Maha Mariamman temple. It is believed that the copper Guan Dao (Chinese pole weapon) here has special powers to bless and protect a person who touches it or to turn luck around. Well, this can only mean one thing. I need all the good luck I can get so I am going in. From where I stand, I see the coils of incense smoke puffing through the door and along with it, a soft fragrance that tickles my nose buds. The temple was built in 1887. It opens at 7 am, and stays open until 7 pm. 

Guan Di Temple

Next, I pass by the famous Petaling Street, or what you now fondly know as China Town. I was quite surprised to see some stalls opened early for business. Louis Vuitton, Rolex watches, Nike shoes, you name it, and they have it😊. The catch is, these are all counterfeit, but look close to the real thing.  The challenge is to make sure you don’t buy something that looks fake and to get it at the lowest possible price, even if it means having to lose your voice in the process.  I remember proudly showing off my Ralph Lauren watch once, and my friend flashed out her original in response. Oops! Well what can I say? I was young and naive then. Today, I am happy with just the functional basics – it just needs to do the job sweetheart; just do your job and not be too pretentious.

Perfecting the negotiation skills

China Town at night is more entertaining. With the lights out, the haggling intensifies, serious negotiations start, and you can begin feeling the energy of China Town as the ringgits exchange hands and the goods are handed over. Yay! A Michael Kors. 

When here, try the local food – you’ll get the best Soya Bean milk in town (trust me, its original–no fake beans used), freshly roasted chestnuts, and seasonal fruits. You can also find local restaurants serving freshly cooked dishes. China town has been the hub of traditional florists for a long time. I am transported back to my school years when my classmates and I visited every florist in China Town and Pudu to search out roses for the school’s rose-request fundraising project. That was a lot of work, but it sure was fun.  

I like them all.
The sight of roses makes one smile and yet that same rose could stir up strange and interesting tales after. Thank you for the bunch 💛💗💚

Well, if you are here and still don’t know what to get, pick up the T-shirts–they are a best seller. Most importantly - bargain

At the end of China Town, at the intersection, you see more heritage buildings. You can see these buildings in the next picture; there is another tall building that looks like a number ‘1’.  That’s the Maybank Head Office, a place where I spent five years of my COBOL days. It was built in the 80s and each time I had passed by this place on my way to school, I made a wish to work here someday. Wishes do come true (given the right ingredient).

Always a number One!
I continued onwards to Central Market. Up until the 1980s this was a local wet and dry market. It was the biggest market in Kuala Lumpur then. Today it is a centre for culture, arts and craft. This is THE place to get a variety of Malaysian souvenirs all under one roof. On Saturdays, there are cultural shows and some days there are outdoor stage performances. Kasturi Walk is one of the more recent and welcomed extensions to the market area. You get a better glimpse of the Daya Bumi building from here.

What shall I get now?
After seeing all that impressive handwork, it’s time to make a move,  this time passing through another old heritage – Medan Pasar via Bangkok Bank area (Bangkok Bank had recently shifted its operations to another location) or Jalan Silang. This area was once popular for textile and goldsmith industry and you can still see some of these today. Jalan Silang was also the central pickup and drop-off point for the notorious pink mini buses before they were replaced with the safer options. One of these buses had hit me in my shoulder then, and ouch! That's why I have a reason to call them notorious!  My favourite cafe I mentioned earlier this year, Mcgoo Deli is just around the corner, but it will have to wait for another time. Right now my tummy is calling for a yummy banana leaf lunch.

Before that – let’s see a famous mosque – The Masjid Jamek (Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque). This pink and white structured mosque is one of the oldest in the city. It is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers. The mosque was designed by Hubback, the designer who had also designed the Central railway station, Majestic Hotel and the Bangunan Abdul Samad. The design is Moorish or Mogul. The mosque was officially opened in 1909.

My walk today ends at the original Little India – this is Leboh Ampang. Come here for good vegetarian banana leaf lunch meals. The choices are plenty. You can end with a nice glass of Indian coffee. I was super-stuffed so I skipped the coffee. Leboh Ampang was made famous by the Chettiar community who established their money lending businesses here.  Along with that came other small business setups. This area (old Kuala Lumpur) is not only the confluence of the two famous rivers, but also the confluence of the traditional and modern financial institutions. The buildings here are part of the preserved heritage; you’ll find many of them painted with vibrant colours.

Hurry, I am hungry.

I am at a crossroads, deciding where the next place should be. I walk up a bit more, onto Jalan Ampang where a famous Tamil Press head office once stood. Tamil Nesan was established in 1924. Many memories I have here, good ones. I had a personal and special bond with its founder and with a few close relations who dedicated most of their working lives here to bring this paper to the readers. I head back to that crossroad. Lights change, and more decisions are waiting to be made.

I am back. My coffee is an Indian one, a takeaway from nearby. It’s an I-am-whom-I-am-coffee. So, I didn’t need to add any enhancer. It is a perfect start to the new week. Have a great week ahead!

Room with a View.