Ariyalur and Badaga Pilgrims

Ariyalur and Badaga Pilgrims

by Dharmlingam Venugopal [Nilgiri Documentation Centre]

The moving story recalling the chilling experience of the Ariyalur train tragedy in the columns of the Hindu has rekindled varied memories connected with the incident.

Among the 142 ill fated victims of Ariyalur train accident on Nov 24, 1956 were 34 Badaga pilgrims from the Jakkanarai village of Kotagiri in the Nilgiri district. Members of the village  Pandarpur Bhajan Sabha, a group of  60 of them were returning from Pandarpur when they decided to extend their tour to Rameswaram.

An young lawyer from the same village who had then just finished law in Chennai  had pleaded with them to wait till the cyclonic rains abated. He had also had an ominous dream the previous night. The pilgrims consoled the young lawyer saying that a young one’s dream was harmless and proceeded towards their watery grave.

14 of them escaped with serious to mild injuries but some of them died soon after haunted by the nightmare of the ghastly memory, one man literally taking his gun out and shooting in the darkness for days.

The young lawyer later got all the victims compensation through a prolonged effort and they all together invested in an Ariyalur Tea Factory which ran for over twenty years.

The people of Jakkanarai village built a memorial near the spot of the accident with the names of the victims and for the next fifty years regularly offered prayers at the spot on the day of the tragedy. The memorial still stands covered by roadside bushes.  Since then they have built a replica of the memorial in their village itself for offering annual prayers.

Ariyalur[Click on the pix for enlargement]



2 responses to “Ariyalur and Badaga Pilgrims

  1. Sir in that the guru .narayanaswamy is mentioned he is our grandfather and he is only the guru and elder one in that group


  2. Dear Sri. Dharmalingam Venugopal,

    I was astonished to read your article about the pilgrims from your village who perished in the ariyalur accident.

    I was a child of one year and was in the compartment which was saved in the accident. My parents lived in Tiruchirapllai at that time. We later on shifted to Mumbai and today I am an industrialist. But I have always wanted to know more about the train accident.

    I was told that when we boarded the train at Chennai, we did not travel by the reserved compartment but were put along with some Bhajan Goshti. This saved my life. I am touched to read that this group was from your village….

    When Pandarpur conferred the title Maharashtra Abhang Ratna on me for singing Marathi abhangs – I had not known any of these details. I travel all over the world for singing Marathi Abhangs.

    I would like to meet you for further details. Please give me a call at 98 921 68688.

    Thanks and regards
    K. Ganesh Kumar


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