Tripunithura holds a special place in the hearts of the three musical maestros:T.N. Krishnan, T.V. Gopalakrishnan and K.J. Yesudas

Two of them carry Tripunithura in their names , while the other holds it close to his heart. And when they, Tripunithura Narayanan Krishnan, Tripunithura Viswanatha Gopalakrishnan and Kattassery Joseph Yesudas, got together at the Platinum Jubilee celebrations of the RLV College of Music and Fine Arts, it was time to share memories of the town from where their musical journeys began.

And T. N. Krishnan has even chosen to celebrate his 84th birthday (October 6) in his home town!

“This birthday plan was just accidental. Being here, in my home town, I thought it best to celebrate it here with family and a few close friends. A visit to the temples, lunch… that’s it,” says the violin maestro after a mesmerising solo performance.

Krishnan was eight-years-old when he accompanied Kittan Bhagavathar (T. G. Krishna Iyer) at the ootupura (dining hall) of the Sree Poornathrayeesa Temple during the annual festival. “That was, if you could call it, my ‘arangetam.’ It was not a publicised event as these days. And since then, every time I perform in Tripunithura, I can feel the positive vibes; I feel inspired.”

Rewind to the past

Krishnan then switched into flashback mode—of times when there was no electricity and Tripunithura used to be a favourite haunt for almost all the great musicians. “We moved to Ernakulam when I was still a child. But I used to accompany my father for every concert held in Tripunthura. The first time I heard Semmangudi (Sreenivasa Iyer), Tiger (Varadachari), Chembai (Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar) and other greats were at Tripunithura. Even while walking back to Ernakulam, the music could be heard in the silence of the night.”

“He (Krishnan) has been our inspiration,” Gopalakrishnan chips in. “For me, who started off in Tripunithura, listening to people like him was education in itself. I must have been 10 when I gave my first vocal recital. Those days, for the temple festival, the first day’s concert was by the members of my family. There was so much interest in music then. And even today I find that passion here,” he adds.

There is a reason why Yesudas keeps coming back to Tripunithura and Kochi, in general. They fill him with living memories. “I have always thought if there is one place that does not change as rapidly it is Tripunithura. I was shocked to learn that the old RLV College buildings have been pulled down. Personally, I would have loved to keep them undisturbed, as a heritage monument. But that’s how life is,” he says.

Tripunithura brings back for Yesudas memories of days of struggle, hunger, not being able to pay college fees; more happy memories of his teachers, music lessons, the kind hotel owner who fed him free so many times. “And talking of Krishnan Sir, I have been amazed at his dedication. I have watched him practise for more than two hours in the hotel room before a concert even now. That’s how one should approach music.”

Krishnan’s experience and meticulous training came to the fore during his concert. When one of the violin string’s broke, Krishnan went on playing not bothering to change the instrument. For the rest of the concert it was magic on three strings. “Strings tend to break when you practice, it is usual. Instead of trying to repair it one should continue playing,” he advises.

It was late into the night and still there were people waiting to meet these masters, chit chat with them and others to seek their blessings. “I can tell you more about those great days. Maybe another time,” says Krishnan, as T. V. Gopalakrishnan and Yesudas move towards their cars.