The illustrious characters depicted in the Sangam age are being resurrected to give an insight into their good deeds and also to create a flair for Tamil literature among the people.

Thanks to the efforts made by the Highways Department the parapet wall of the flyover built across the railway track at Chidambaram is now being adorned with the figures of the seven famed philanthropic chieftains of the Sangam era.

These chieftains who ruled mostly from the hilly terrains were known for their exemplary munificence as they liberally donated their riches to those who sought their assistance. Some of them had excelled in the art of giving by even sacrificing their valued possessions to birds and plants.

The chieftains and their acts of philanthropy are as follows:

Paari of Parambu Hills gave his chariot to Mullai creeper; Kaari of Mullur Hills donated lands to the needy; Ori of the Kolli Hills gave away purses of gold coins; Began of the Palani Hills protected a peacock found shivering in rain by covering it with his shawl; Nalli of the Thotti Hills contributed his chariot to a help-seeker; Aai Andiran of the Pothigai Hills gifted away an elephant to a commoner and Adhiyaman parted with a rare kind of amla fruit to Tamil poet and saint Avvaiyar.

Sources in the Highways Department told The Hindu that the painting works were undertaken on the direction of the Highways Minister.

These characters were taken from the “Iniyavai Narpathu” theme of the World Classical Tamil Conference.

While one side of the parapet wall would be decorated with the paintings of Sangam era the other side would be decked up with contemporary scenes such as the mangrove forests as seen at Pichavaram, Lord Nataraja Temple and Sathya Gnana Sabai of Vadalur Vallalar.

The department had roped in the local artists for drawing the paintings for which separate fund allocation would be made.

G. Mohan (45), a painter who has been assigned the task, told this correspondent that he was given the broad outline of the characters and from his imagination he was creating the paintings.

Each character takes about two days to complete; right from drawing the sketch to embellishing it with oil paint.

Even while the painting was under progress it had attracted the attention of the large number of people and soon the pithy messages conveyed through them would also sink into their minds.

Mr. Mohan's only concern was that these paintings should not be vandalised or disfigured, nor should they be covered with posters and other wall writings.