Thiruvananthapuram

Chronicling history of Travancore digitally

Inputs piled up on the FB page Oru Nagarathinte Katha.  

For history buffs, the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple is where the past rests. For scientists, the temple is an engineering marvel while for tourists, it is a storehouse of riches and for the natives, the temple is a place that gives their city its identity.

These were probably the reasons why Aswin Suresh chose the temple as his documentary subject for his Visual Communication course assignment from SRM University. Till then, he had not even visited the temple though a city native.

But as he embarked on his project, he found his work growing into much more than mere frames that could win him grades. It spearheaded a parallel project that brought together those who shared a passion for Travancore.

They knew of the tales handed down generations. Some of them had records and anecdotes on remnants of the past scattered all over the region or information on the manuscripts waiting to be deciphered in the archives. But over time, they had tucked all these information away as history better left unsaid.

Facebook page

It was then that Aswin opened up the FB page Oru Nagarathinte Katha in January 2020. “It was to be a promo page for my documentary but I found it slowly becoming a forum where Travancore’s history began to be chronicled digitally. It seemed like there were people waiting for such a forum. In just three months, the membership of the group surged to 30,000,” he says.

The group now has 50,000 members. Posts of one such member, Mohan Nair, on the group has now been compiled into a book titled Ente Mohana Nagaram, which has such history and folklore listings.

“This apart, we also have a Youtube channel and a regularly updated series called Syanandoora Kathakal (Syanandooram was a yesteryear name of Thiruvananthapuram), where people with links to Travancore narrate its history. This is done after much research for which we get help from the palace archives as well as the State archives and also from resource persons like Prof. Nalin Ganesh,” says Aswin.

He also has a team working behind the camera to help with the shoots. “We are planning to allow media students to join this team. This would be like an internship for them,” he says.

Awards instituted

The forum has also spread its wings venturing into acknowledging talents in the field of history. “We have instituted an award, ‘Shankhumudra Puraskaram’, for good literary works on Travancore history. Also, those contributing informative posts on our group will be given the ‘Vyakthimudra Puraskaram,” Aswin says.

The 23-year-old displays a resolve to keep the commune going. “For those who love the history of the region, the real treasure is the legacy of the region and those who love that legacy,” he says.


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Printable version | Jan 29, 2022 4:41:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/chronicling-history-of-travancore-digitally/article37877380.ece

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