Kalki – The Legendary Tamil Novelist

The mere mention of the name ‘Kalki’ is enough to send most the Tamil readers of yesteryears into a journey of nostalgia. Kalki is a name that sparks off memories of kingdoms and the saga of war, patriotism, love and loyalty that go into the making and perishing of those kingdoms in the Chola dynasty period in South India.

Those who have read the novels by Kalki would instantly go into a nostalgic voyage of the scenes as depicted by Kalki at the very mention of his name. I am one of those who had a chance to read a few of his novels. I love his unique way of making us envision the events in our minds.

The beauty of nature and the fertile and colourful countryside, the thoughts running in the strategic minds, the expression of emotions and feelings running through the characters are brought out in clear detail. The vivid descriptions of every scene whether it is the preparation for war or a meeting between the two people in love, their conversations, the place and atmosphere and everything is so well crafted in his words. The inimitable style and the deft handling of situations and characters in his novels leave us wonderstruck about this rare ability.

For many decades Kalki’s novels were the craze of Tamil readers about half a century ago. To name a few Kalki’s masterpieces were serialized in the Tamil magazines Andnda Vikatan and later on in Kalki.

My favorite is Kalki’s ‘Parthiban Kanavu’ which was later made as a good movie. This is the story of how Chola King Parthiban’s dream of re-establish the Chola kingdom which was in the clutches of Pallava king Narasimhavarman. Parthiban expresses his dream to his son Vikraman who was very young and later gets killed. A monk vows to Parthiban that he would make Vikraman fulfill his dream. Vikraman after growing up and falls in love with a beauty under mysterious circumstances; he later fulfills his father’s dream of an Independent Chola with Uraiyur as Capital.

A series of gripping incidents follow in the intervening period depicting extraordinary courage, deceit, loyalty, suspense and mystery. The identity of the monk is revealed in the thrilling climax. One cannot help marveling at the strong characterization, sequence of events and the suspense throughout the entire novel with such lucidity that simply transports us to that era.

Kalki whose real name is R.Krishnamurthi is known to the vast population of Tamil readers as a well known novelist who wrote both historic and social novels. But he has to his credit novels, short stories, travelogues, biographies and essays contributing to all many types of Tamil literature.

He has brought a breath of fresh air into Tamil literary scene with his ability to infuse our social life and culture of our country in his characters and events, with realism. He was gifted with writing natural humour flowing through his writings making readers enjoy his writings and read them again and again. Being a patriot himself, he was able to portray patriotic fervor in his characters.

Kalki’s novels Thiaga Boomi, Magudapathi, Apalayin Kannir, Alasi Osai, Devakiyin Kanavan, Kalvanin Kadhali etc. and many more appeared as serial stories and later were published as books. It will not be an exaggeration to say that Kalki was the pioneer of historical novels in Tamil.


I have been avid reader of Tamil novels and stories and most types of Tamil literature. I had the opportunity to read and enjoy the works of legendary writers in the Tamil literary scene in the sixties and seventies. I have enjoyed the variety of style, themes, depiction of society and culture and the narration by different authors form the reader’s point of view. You can download and read ‘Parthiban Kanavu’ now from

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