On a musical trip to Madurai, Rameswaram and Thanjavur

Vikram performs a concert focused on the spiritual centers of Madurai, Rameshwaram, and Thanjavur, accompanied by Sraddha Ravindran on violin and Akshay Ram on mridangam.
| Photo Credit: Courtesy: Naada Inbam

Naada Inbam’s esteemed Kshetra Sankirthana Vaibhavam series recently took audiences on a melodious expedition to Tamil Nadu’s revered temple cities, with performances by emerging musicians. Vocalist P. Vikram led listeners on an aural excursion to Madurai, Rameswaram, and Thanjavur through his rendition of songs associated with these historic locales.

Madurai’s horizon is dominated by the towering edifice of the Sri Meenakshi Sundareswarar temple. The temple stands as a central fixture in the city’s daily rhythm, exemplified by its vibrant festivities such as the celestial marriage during Chithirai Brahmotsavam, the auspicious Navarathri in September-October, and Masi Mandala Utsavam, celebrated in February-March.

This sacred site, devoted to deities Meenakshi and Sundareswarar, is celebrated in ancient Sangam literature. Stretching over 14 acres, the temple complex features 14 ornately decorated gopurams, halls featuring thousands of pillars, the golden lotus pond known as Portramarai kulam, and the Kambatthadi mandapam, renowned for its sculptures of Shiva in 25 distinct forms.

P. Vikram selected Madurai, Rameshwaram, and Thanjavur as the focus for his series of thematic concerts.

P. Vikram opted for Madurai, Rameshwaram, and Thanjavur as the themes for his concert series.
| Photo Credit:
Courtesy: Naada Inbam

Out of the nine enchanting compositions presented by Vikram, six were tributes to Madurai. Standing out among them was Syama Sastri’s ‘Sarojadala netri’, a dedication to Meenakshi. Vikram’s Sankarabharanam alapana echoed the fullness and beauty typical to this comprehensive raga. Trained by his father, the renowned vainika-gayaka S.P. Ramh, Vikram’s performance was marked by his versatile voice, innovative interpretations, and emotive expression.

Demonstrating remarkable competence, Sraddha Ravindran provided commendable violin accompaniment, showcasing her advanced training with the famed A. Kanyakumari. Akshay Ram on mridangam delivered a rhythmic performance replete with aesthetic beauty, notably in his Khanda nadai portrayal.

The concert opened with the stirring Navarasa varnam ‘Angayarkkanni’ by Lalgudi Jayaraman, a tapestry of musical hues spanning multiple ragas. Vikram followed this with impeccable renditions of other kritis, including the joyful Anandabhairavi and the melodious ‘Thenmadurai vaazh annaiye’ in Hamsarupini, further enriched by a delightful chittaswara sequence. Additional dedications to Meenakshi were delivered with grace, linking the essence of Madurai to the power of music.

Thanjavur’s magnificent Brihadeeswara Temple, constructed by King Rajaraja Chola I circa 1010 AD, is a marvel in stone. It houses an immense Lingam and Nandi, and its towering 216-feet temple tower is unmatched in its grandeur.

In his homage to Thanjavur, Vikram performed two pieces, one being Dikshitar’s ‘Paranthama yuvathi jayathi’ in raga Dharmavati, and another honouring the deity Rajarajeswarar with devout lyrics by Karuvur Thevar.

Rameswaram’s grand Ramanathaswamy Temple is intertwined with the lore of Rama’s divine pursuits. Within its sacred walls lie 22 holy wells.

Vikram’s piece for Rameswaram, a rich Pantuvarali alapana, segued into Dikshitar’s ‘Ramanatham bhajeham’, with the familiar passage ‘Kumara guruguha viditham’ adorned in the singer’s spirited improvisations.

Ravindran’s violin resonated splendidly throughout Dharmavati and Anandabhairavi alapanas, while Akshay Ram’s mridangam added lyrical depth to the ceremony.

Executing thematic concerts demands considerable scholarship and careful orchestration, and Vikram’s performance was a testament to his dedication and artistry.

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