What you need to know about the headliners, deals and some affordable B&Bs this season
DECEMBER is all about music, dance and rasikas in Chennai. Till January, the city sees both emerging artistes and established names showcasing their talent at sabhas and auditoriums across town. From newcomers like Amritha Murali and Nisha Rajagopal to well-known names like Rithvik Raja, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Saketharaman and Maladi Brothers, together with stars like Bombay Jayashri and Ranjani-Gayatri, there is a lot to pack into your schedule this year. Here’s our pick of what you wouldn’t want to miss, plus some ‘homely’ places where you can check in during the season.
T M Krishna
With over 10 performances this season, T M Krishna continues to be one of the most sought after carnatic singers in the country. His last collaboration with Priyadarshini Govind for Saayujya, a coming together of music and dance, was a masterpiece. This season, his first performance will be at Vani Mahal, on December 10, from 6.30 pm onwards. As always, all his performances will not be ticketed. Details: 28152166
This is an important year for singer Sudha Raghunathan, as she will be honoured with the Sangita Kalanidhi award for 2013. Ragunathan is from the fourth generation of musicians from the G N Balasubramaniam (GNB) school. A post graduate in economics, she too has about 10 performances this season, with the first one at Kartik Fine Arts, on December 11, from 6.45 pm onwards. Details: 24997788
He won the National Award for his debut film song Ennavale Adi Ennavale by A R Rahman. P Unnikrishnan has more than 11 performances this year. He is known for his experimental work. We expect a performance on his favourite Bhogeendra shayinam, always a crowd puller. The singer will begin this year at Kartik Fine Arts, on December 9, from 6.45 pm onwards. Details: 24997788
Adventurous, with a well-trained and poised voice, S Sowmya has over 20 performances. Sowmya is one of our popular singers today. Starting at Meenakshi Sundarajan Fine Arts Academy, on December 10, from 6 pm onwards. Details: 24725466
Despite a tragic start to the year, where Nithyasree Mahadevan suffered a personal loss, the singer is back with a dozen performances. Nithyasree is also known for popularising compositions of Gopalkrishna Bharthi, a Tamil poet. She starts her performance at Brahma Gana Sabha tomorrow, from 6 pm onwards. Details: 24642767
With music lovers from across the globe participating in this confluence of carnatic music, here are some pointers on accommodation. Given their proximity to prestigious sabhas like the Music Academy and Narada Gana Sabha, the most preferred hotels are the New Woodlands and Maris. “The package offer is Rs 2,250 per night. ‘Maris Mela’, scheduled on December 24, is open to the public and will feature prominent artists like Malladi Brothers, Mysore Manjunath, etc,” says Kalpana R of Maris. Details: 28117472
Babu P G, the operations manager at Hotel New Woodlands, says, “Many customers have been coming for decades as the prices are affordable, at Rs 2,700 for a double room. Additionally, we book tickets for the various concerts.” Details: 49113111
Hotel Savera offers their guests, mostly French citizens, special tickets to the Music Academy, which is at a walking distance. With their restaurant, Malgudi, known for its South Indian cuisine, they also offer a special buffet: lunch (Rs 1,111) and dinner (Rs 1,110) during this season. Details:28114700
Meanwhile, the Taj Corom-andel’s 2D/1N package at Rs 20,000 includes a welcome drink, tickets to one concert during the period of stay, transport to the venue and a complimentary lunch at their restaurant, Southern Spice. The package, launched last year, includes an informal interaction with a distinguished performer. Details: 66002827
Serviced apartments are also popular among visitors. Sushrutha Sridhar, a music lover from Miami, says, “I prefer a serviced apartment because I have all the comforts I could ask for at a much lesser rate.”Nakshatra Serviced Apartments have introduced a new methodology of payment, for expats who come for a limited period of time. Blossoms, located at T Nagar, offers home stay options at just Rs 2,000. Lotus serviced apartments is another popularhome stay in the same locality. Rajashekar, manager of Star-City Serviced Apartments, says, “We have 85 per cent occupancy during the season in Santhome. We offer rooms with all facilities at Rs 2,900,” he says.
Fancy a snack between kutcheries? Choose your canteen carefully for hot dosas, paniyaram and idlis. Krishna Gana Sabha is known for its khichdi, puris, pongal, vadais and kesari. At Narada Gana Sabha, opt for dosas with different stuffing, their famous pesaretu and bhajjis.
In the spirit of the season, many music teachers have opened their homes to rasikas and music enthusiasts. Bhushani Kalyanaraman, a popular carnatic musician and teacher, says, “I train a lot of students over Skype. With December being the holiday season for my students abroad, they come down for direct training and enjoy the ‘Indian’ way of living at home.” Karaikudi Mani, the famous mridangist, located in Pannayur, welcomes his students from Australia, London and the US.
— Mrinalini Sundar & Amrutha Ananth