Week 2: Tirunelvelli

Tirunelvelli is, in many ways, the quintessential Indian small town: probably very charming and idyllic at one point, but just a mad, unplanned, overgrown mess today. While I wouldn’t want to live there, it is a great place to sketch!

The default architectural motifs? Cell phone towers  and hanging wires. Everywhere. And the occasional Syntex tank that I neglected to sketch.


Stray dogs. And herds of goats on the street. These two sketches are on the outskirts of the town. We wandered down a tiny untarred road. A herd of goats passed by. Goats and roosters wandered about. My NRI kids asked if we were at the zoo…

Hari feeds the kids. Appappa watches. Meals are hour-long sessions, accompanied by much story-telling and book-reading.

Kittu, the istrivalla appears twice a week with his cart and his iron. He still uses hot coals in his super-heavy iron, and goes from house to house collecting clothes and returns them, all nicely pressed, in the evening.

I sketched this overpass in Tirunelvelli early in the morning on my birthday: best way to start a new year, I think. Apparently it’s a landmark Tirunelvellians are VERY proud of – in the 70’s it was the “2nd longest double-decker overpass in Asia” they will all tell you. Ask which was the largest, and no one knows:)

I sketched this while sitting on the front steps of my in-laws house early one Sunday morning. This is NOT what the street looks like. It is usually totally packed with people, motorcycles,goats, lorries and heaps of construction sand and gravel.

Temples: There is NO getting away from them anywhere in South India- from huge “main temples” with towering gopurams in the center of a town to little roadside shrines.

And what do you get post-temple visit? A red tikka on your forehead. And a trip to Saravana Bhava for a dosai, filter coffee, and icecream.


About Suhita Shirodkar

obsessive-sketcher. graphic designer.
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