A Visit to Arni (Arani)

28 Feb


1952 hrs on 28 Feb 2017

From Arcot I asked Suresh my taxi driver to take me to Arni (Arani), some 27 kms due South.

Arni is famous for silk weaving. I checked on Google Maps and found it is only about 75 km from Kanchipuram, the famous silk weaving centre.

Arni is a rice growing area and the dominant caste is the Gounders who also own rice mills.

The town is small and the roads congested with two wheelers and four wheelers. Policemen could be seen on Market Road, but motorists seemed to be oblivious and followed their own rules.

I took a few photos of the congested roads and was waiting for my taxi to come from where he had gone to park. A serious looking man with ferocious muttonchop whiskers came to where I was standing and said, “Noorulla Sahib wants to see you…”


“Noorulla Sahib. That’s his shop.”

I walked in to the shop with both my cameras dangling from my neck… Noorulla Sahib turned out to be a short, ageing man running a chewing tobacco business.

“Why are you taking photos in our town?” He asked.

I had to think on my feet and said, “I am writing a book.”

“A book? About what?”

I could have been rude and walked out, but thought I would use the opportunity to find out where the Arni Fort is… or was.

“A book about Robert Clive!”

“Ah… Clive Sahib! He was only a boy when he fought the battle of Arni!”

The tough looking man who served summons on me to Noorulla Sahib’s court smiled broadly!

“I am soldier sir! Madras Artillery!” He said and gave me a salute before he went on his way.

“Where will I find Arni Fort?” I asked. Where is the ‘Por Kalam’? I asked, hoping Noorulla Sahib would understand the Malayalam word for ‘battle field’…

Noorulla Sahib nodded and spoke to Suresh, my driver. “Go to the Sports Stadium. Its still called ‘Kuthira Layam’ (Cavalry Lines). It was also a military parade ground. All our Government Offices and Courts are there…”

“And now, have some sherbet before you go… its high noon and very hot!” Noorulla Sahib smiled almost affectionately.

“No thank you, Noorulla Sahib”, I said and got up and gave him a smart salaam.

We were at the Arni Battle Field in about five minutes. It is now a sports stadium, surrounded by Government offices.

In the middle of the field is a monument to Col. Robert Kelly who died in 1790. That was a very long time after the Battle of Arni in 1751. I later read that he was an Ensign at the time of the Battle and worked as a Surveyor.


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One Response to “A Visit to Arni (Arani)”

  1. Sheila Andrews March 1, 2017 at 11:07 pm #

    That was great !! Glad you found it through the old Tobacco dealer !

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