A Cultural Legacy
THE TRADITIONS OF TAMIL NADU
Nadu, a state in southern India, is rich in ancient heritage, ruled by different dynasties over centuries. There are about 74 million Tamil people today. An ethnic group with a history dating back to the Sangam era (400 BC to 300 AD), Tamils belong to either the Saivites or Vaishnavites group of Hindu pantheists. Tamils all over the world are deeply invested in safeguarding their cultural traditions, which include a wide array of rituals and ceremonies.
Temple architecture showcases the Dravidian style: towering gopurams (temple towers) in which statues of gods and goddesses are engraved, with various filigree designs carved into towering edifices. Particularly notable architectural gems include the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai and the Brihadeeswarar Temple in Thanjavur, but there are countless others scattered throughout the state, serving the beliefs of the predominantly Hindu population.
While temples are replete with sculptural marvels, there are several monuments and buildings that also offer a glimpse of the architectural finesse of the seafaring Pallava rulers (275 BC to 897 AD), who were also known patrons of the fine arts.
Tamil is recognised as a classical language by the Indian government. Like the other languages of South India, Tamil is a Dravidian language, unrelated to the Indo-european languages of northern India, although it has some influences from Sanskrit. However, unlike Sanskrit, the language has continued to expand, adopting new words and phrases from other languages in the region.
Classic Tamil literature ranges from lyric poetry to works of philosophy, and represents the oldest body of secular literature in South Asia. One of the earliest texts is Tolkaapiyam, written around 500 BC, which established a grammatical system for Tamil. Other notable works include Thirukkural by the Tamil savant Thiruvalluvar, Silapathikaaram, Manimegalai and Tamilannai, or “the Tamil mother”, all of which have been central to the Tamil identity.
Fly to Chennai and explore the rich traditions of Tamil Nadu – India’s centre of language, dance, poetry and Hindu religion in the deep south.
Temburong District in the eastern part of Brunei is the country’s greenest, hilliest and least populated area, and is considered one of Borneo’s most pristine rainforest environments, host to a range of ecological research and ecotourism activities.
Ulu Temburong National Park covers about 500 square kilometres of largely undisturbed forest, boasting extensive visitor facilities and resortstyle accommodation. The park houses several suspension bridges, boardwalks, treehouses, wildlife observation points and a canopy walkway – rising some 50 metres above the forest floor.
From this bird’s view vantage point, you can admire undisturbed Nature. Snakes often glide through the treetops, such as the striking, and venomous, Wagler’s pit viper. Lizards are easier to spot than snakes, and with luck, you may catch glimpses of the five-lined flying lizard ( Draco quinquefasciatus) and Peter’s bent-toed gecko ( Gonydactylus consobrinus). Ulu Temburong is also home to various amphibians, such as Wallace’s flying frog ( Rhacophorus nigropalmatus), which glides from tree to tree.
By some estimates, there may be as many as 400 species of butterfly in the park. However, many of these inhabit areas not easily accessible to the casual visitor. Other insects to look out for include forest centipedes, giant forest ants ( Camponotusgigas), lantern bugs and mounds of ravenous termites.
Higher vertebrates are harder to spot. The bushy crested hornbill ( Anorrhinusgaleritus) can sometimes be seen near the park’s accommodation chalets, but rarer species such as the rhinoceros hornbill ( Buceros rhinoceros) are more likely to be heard than seen. The black and yellow broadbill ( Eurylaimusochromalus) can often be found foraging for food, and fast-flying swiftlets can be seen hunting for insects along the river.
The primate “king” of Borneo, the majestic orangutan, is not found in Ulu Temburong; rather, his little cousin, the Bornean gibbon (Hylobatesmuelleri) rules the treetops here, bellowing his loud call across the rainforest early each morning. This grey-brown, tailless species is completely arboreal, only