Q is for Quintessentially Chennai , #BlogchatterA2Z

Quintessentially : Representing a perfect or typical example of something.

Niche Idols: I have no idea what they are called, or if there is even a name for it, so I refer to them as ‘Niche Idols’. Simply because they are idols of Lord Ganpati  placed in little niches.

Niche Idol -Chennai-Sirimiri-Quintessentially

These niches are not in temples. They are placed on the outside of the wall bordering independent houses and apartment complexes. Or near the gates.

Niche Idol -Chennai-Sirimiri-Quintessentially

If the house is in, or faces a bad direction, or if a road faces the house, or even a tree or alleyway is blocking it, that is when these idols are placed. They are placed at a certain angle as it is believed that doing so supposedly stops misfortune / bad luck from befalling on the house and its occupants. The idol placed inside the niche is a protector and supposed to bear the bad effects if any.

These Niche Idols literally safeguard the house and correct the alignment of it.


What particularly amazed me was each of these Niche Idols has a priest to care for them. So early mornings, and sometimes evenings too, see the Lord Ganpati in these niches bathed, dressed in a change of clothes, adorned with fresh flowers and a garland with a lamp lit in front of it. I can’t tell you what a pretty and soothing sight it is!

Autos of Chennai: If you haven’t already heard stories of the notorious Auto Rickshaw Drivers of Chennai, let me tell you some. These Auto drivers will quote an astronomical price for a ride which would of course be unacceptable to you. You might haggle, they will not. As you move away from them they will shout out to the auto drivers nearby ‘this person is not going to pay, don’t waste time with them!’.

They are also known to take you for a ride, literally. By taking you around a long route to get to a place, so they could charge more. Of course, the advent of Google Maps, Uber and Ola Auto’s have managed to put a big dent on them and their attitude, but they  still stand strong and are still notorious.

Fruit Shop on Greams Road: This place serves the freshest, and purest, juices in town.  They have an exhaustive menu, with juices named ‘California Quencher’, ‘Glenn Turner Special’, Spitfire’. They started with serving only Juices and Milkshakes but have now added Salads, Desserts, Sandwiches Burgers, Meal in a Cup and Coffee to their menu. What is unique about Fruit Shop on Greams Road? All 17 of their outlets across town have the same name! Greames Road is an area of Chennai, where they opened their first outlet, hence the name.

Rose Milk: You will see sealed glasses or small bottles holding this delicious Pink Drink in almost every restaurant in Chennai. It is served chilled and I confess to having got addicted to it. I blame the heat for that.

You can find Horlicks on Restaurant Menu’s too, and it has takers, lots of them! Horlicks also finds its way into a Mysore Pak and that is popular as well.

Written for the theme

My A to Z of Chennai: The City Viewed Through An Outsiders Eye


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  1. Mayuri Nidigallu Deepa

    Ganpati in front of a house is interesting and new to me. But heard a lot about autorickshaw walas and experienced it too when we were there. They are popular all over the world for pretending they don’t know any other language except Tamil and charging high. I would love to try that rose milk, sounds delicious.

  2. Even I don’t know the names of the ‘pillaiyars’ in the corner of every street – but he is sweet there…in Bangalore, there ‘hanumanji’ is in every corner too… 🙂
    And yes, those autos…!! (sigh!)

  3. Autos – Bangalore autos actually made Chennai autos look good to me. But I must mention that from my experience, I realized that they would never respond to you if you spoke in Hindi. This was 2005. Only after I spoke in English, the man responded and before I got down he made sure that I knew that he had understood my Hindi words but as a proud Tamilian, he chose to speak only spoke Tamil and English.

  4. Yes, dear, I have seen these niche idols too buddy and wondered why they are placed at such odd corners. Also, my mom used to buy me Horlicks milk there when I was tiny, so I remember them to be on their menu. Such fond childhood memories.

  5. Niche idols are interesting and make sense actually! Also, they might help in keeping the area clean. Gosh! The auto-drivers are really cheeky!! We have their brothers here too but the Chennai ones are the Big Brothers for sure.
    Yeah, have seen Horlicks in the menu of the restaurants. I think, I will have it on my next visit, it’s been ages since I have had Horlicks 😀

  6. I loved the first pic, I found it very cute and transported me to my ancestors home. We call these niches as “Aalas” in Hindi. After a few rounds of renovation, I still have a few aalas left in my ancestors home which is 100+ years old. Interesting to know about the auto walas of Chennai, no different from the ones in Banglore as they sound. And that rose milk – it is quite popular at my place in summers but I am not fond of it though my gals love it.

  7. We have a lot of these Niche Gods here in Andhra too. Vastu and keep off the evil eye and bring prosperity are various reasons. Chennai auto walas are notorious. Fruit shop…..love the juices there.

  8. crazy love for Chennai continues and thank you for such a sweet post. vetri vinayagar everywhere

  9. That’s so cute. Niche idols – never knew about them. This made an interesting read. 🙂

  10. Mayuri Nidigallu Noor Anand Chawla

    I had noticed similar niche idols in Spain and Portugal- usually of saints. In Delhi, we have tiles painted with gods and goddesses on many buildings/ roads; they’re just a way to discourage people from peeing there

  11. Hihi. I was a taker of Horlicks too! Slurrp!!! And yup. Chennai autodrivers can be nasty.

  12. You have really captured the nice oddities that we can only see in Chennai in this post. Loved the way you handled it

  13. I’ve seen Ganpati idols outside homes for good luck but having a priest care for them twice a day is something new. Quite a positive vibe it must have.
    The autowalas, I know M. My one day in Chennai and these autowalas drove us so mad that we chose to go by bus! It wasn’t pleasant, obviously, but we paid less than half for the same ride.
    Rose milk is something I love too. So refreshing in summers!

  14. Niche idols are something I am seeing for the first time, maybe I di not notice in my short travel. Had terrible experience with the auto and taxi walls in Chennai, they are so weird man.

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