Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy, often known by his pen name Kalki, was a writer who has several short stories, novels, novellas, and editorial works to his credit. In addition to being a writer, he was also a journalist, poet, critic, and Indian Independence activist. He adopted the pen name “Kalki,” which refers to the future incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu. His other pen names include “Kalki,” “Ra. Ki,” “Tamil Theni,” and “Karnatkam”. Here goes a list of Kalki Krishnamurthy‘s most loved books across various genres.
Best Kalki Krishnamurthy Novels!
1. Sivagamiyin Sapatham (சிவகாமியின் சபதம்)
A Timeless classic! Sivagamiyin Sapatham is a historical novel set in the 7th century that was first serialized in the 1940s in Kalki magazine. The themes of art, architecture, and war are all woven together in this work. The book starts with the story of the Pallava dynasty. The story’s key characters include Mahendra Varman, the king of Kanchi; his son Narasimha Varman; his lady-love Sivagami, a trained dancer; her father Aayana Sirpi/Aayanar, a sculptor, Naganandhi Adigal, a Buddhist priest and the Chalukya king Pulikesi. The commander of the Pallava army, Paranjothi, also plays a vital role in the plot. The book is divided into four parts:
(Part 1) Paranjothi’s Journey: As the title implies, Paranjothi and other significant characters are introduced in the first section. The book also depicts the budding love between Narasimha Varman and Sivagami. The story’s main character, Mahendra Varman, is continually critical of his son’s relationship and has a significant part in the plot.
(Part 2) The Siege of Kanchi: The relationship between Narasimha Varman and Sivagami and the gradual revelation of Naganandhi’s actual nature play significant roles in the second half. In a turn of events, Naganandhi even attempts to kill Narasimha Varman. On the other hand, the character arc of Paranjothi begins to take shape. Pulikesi launches an attack against the Kingdom toward the book’s conclusion.
(Part 3) The Monk’s Love: Unbeknownst to Narasimhan, Pulikesi changes his behavior and befriends Mahendra Varman after being unable to enter the fort. A little while later, Pulikesi captures Sivagami and brings her to Vatapi. When he mistreats her, she vows not to leave the place until Narasimhan burns it down and saves her, thus indicating the title. The third half shows the connection between Naganandhi and Pulikesi.
(Part 4) The Shattered Dream: War is the main topic of the last section. Years go by as Narasimhan gathers an enormous army to defeat Pulikesi. Meanwhile, he marries a Pandya princess and has two children. Will Narasimhan be victorious in the war? What happened to their love story? Who was Naganandhi? What was Mahendran’s role in all this? What awaits Sivagami at the hands of fate? Mahendra Varman’s passion for art and architecture is evident throughout the novel.
Mamallapuram, a well-known heritage site, was named after King Narasimha Varman, also known as Mamallan. Both Kanchi and Vatapi are perfectly described. Throughout the book, there are a variety of opinions about the war. Narasimha Varman was a hothead when it involved battles, whereas Mahendra Varman had his crafty strategies. The heartwarming transition of Paranjothi into Siruthondar and his understanding of the devastation that war may do were both powerful.
The novel is an epic narrative of love, battle, and the arts! The fact that the romance between the leads is not always happy-go-lucky sets this book apart from Parthiban Kanavu and Ponniyin Selvan. They don’t always think well of one another, they have their egos, and their relationship has ups and downs. These factors make their relationship relevant and relatable, especially in today’s society. After all, does everybody get the privilege of marrying their loved one? You can get the book here! 📖
2. Parthiban Kanavu (பார்த்திபன் கனவு)
The Chola dynasty forms the backdrop for the story. Cholas were ruled by the Pallavas and were not independent kings. The Chola King Parthiban had high expectations for his country’s rise to Independence. He also uses paintings to convey his ideas. He is married and has a son named Vikraman. His failure to pay tributes to the Kanchi kingdom leads to a battle that ends in his death. Just before his death, he expresses his desire for Vikraman to rule an independent kingdom to a Sivanadiyar.
The Sivanadiyar commits to fulfilling his wish and also discloses his true identity. Vikraman later fights in battle against Narasimha Varman and loses. He is arrested by the Pallava king and sent to Shenbagatheevu to rule himself. He is not allowed in the Kingdom under any circumstances. In the meantime, he meets a beautiful girl, and they both fall in love at first sight. Three years later, desperate to see his mother and the mysterious girl, he disguises himself as a trader named Devadachan and reenters the country.
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He is shocked that his mother was abducted by a cult that practiced human sacrifice back then. Also, he learns that the beautiful girl he fell in love with was none other than princess Kundhavi, the daughter of his sworn enemy Narasimha Varman. Will he rescue his mother? What will happen to Vikraman and Kundhavi? How will Parthiban’s dream come to fruition? Who is the Sivanadiyar? It is inspiring to see Parthiban portrayed as a determined king who is unrelenting in his pursuit of an independent nation.
It’s interesting to read about how Vikraman, his son, tries to fulfill his desire. Human sacrifice portions are horrific to read. This book can be quickly finished in one sitting because it is a short novel with only 300 pages. Readers may easily follow the book’s happenings because there are few characters, and it moves quickly. The fact that Parthiban’s wish finally came true a hundred years later during the rule of Arul Mozhi Varman, also known as the Ponniyin Selvan, is one significant spoiler that one may foresee easily before reading the climax. This book is a must-read if you want to start reading historical fiction! After all, dreams do come true! You can get the book here! 📖
3. Ponniyin Selvan (பொன்னியின் செல்வன்)
Ponniyin Selvan, one of the greatest novels of Tamil literature, was written in newly independent India, and it remains a cult classic to date. The movie based on the novel was recently released, and the book’s sales skyrocketed after that. The film had been popular for a long time, with one more part on the way. You can get all the books here! 📚
King Sundara Chola has three children:
1️⃣ The courageous Aditha Karikalan, who has been extending his rule via battle.
2️⃣ Kundhavai, who manages the political realm.
3️⃣ Arul Mozhi Varman, the youngest child, who Kundhavai hopes to make the king.
A comet appears in the sky to signal the start of the tale. There are predictions that a royal family member will pass away soon. It is believed that Sundara Chola, who has been bedridden for days, will die, igniting a struggle for the throne. The novel spreads over five parts:
(Part 1) Pudhu Vellam – Vallavarayan Vandhiyathevan, the ruler of the Vanar clan, is a friend of Adhitha Karikalan and fights alongside him in the battles. The latter entrust him with the responsibility of delivering two Olais, aka letters, to Sundara Chola and Kundhavai. The majority of this part revolves around his journey to both places. He encounters spy Azhwarkadiyan Nambi, also known as Thirumalayappan, while traveling. Despite growing enmity with the Pazhuvettarayars, the Kingdom’s guards, he manages to deliver both messages. In return, he is tasked with delivering one more letter to Arul Mozhi Varman by Kundhavai.
(Part 2) Suzharkaatru – Sundara Chola’s flashback is revealed in this part. He fell in love and promised to marry Mandakini, a deaf and dumb girl, while stranded on an island as a young prince. Things go wrong, and he marries another princess. He thinks Mandakini killed herself, and her ghost has been haunting him ever since. The plot’s rebellious rower Poonguzhali, also known as Odakkara Pen, discovers the ships on their way to arrest Arul Mozhi Varman and informs him. A fight follows, and Vandhiyathevan and Arul Mozhi fight together. In the end, it is believed that Arul Mozhi has drowned. (Remember the climax of Ponniyin Selvan part 1?)
(Part 3) Kolai Vaal – Arul Mozhi is brought to Choodamani Viharam, where the Buddha Pikshus attends to him. Aditha Karikalan is then invited to the Kadambur palace by Nandini. Meeting Kundhavai, Vandhiyathevan tells her of Arul Mozhi’s condition. Aditha’s visit to the palace is forbidden by Kundhavai, who worries for his safety. She requests that Vandhiyathevan protect him. She also encounters Arul Mozhi and advises him to remain in the Viharam for the benefit of the Kingdom and himself. Later, a sword that belonged to Nandhini is found, and it is hinted that the sword would be crucial to the assassination.
(Part 4) Manimagudam – Mandakini is found to be alive and is taken to Sundara Chola. A meeting happens at Kadambur Palace. Manimegalai is the sister of Kandamaran, who is Vandhiyathevan’s friend. A hunting trip brings everybody under one roof, and Manimegalai is shown to love Vanthiyathevan.
(Part 5) Thiyaaga Sigaram – The plot intensifies, and many secrets are revealed. An unexpected death occurs, prompting everyone to choose the successor. A sacrifice is made, symbolizing the title. What sacrifice was made? Will the conspirators attain success? Who gets the throne at the end? Will good win over evil? Whose death did the comet foresee?
Reading chronology: Readers can start with Sivagamiyin Sabadham, which provides background information about the Pallava empire and the rise of Narasimha Varman to the throne. Secondly, one can read Parthiban Kanavu, which stars Narasimha Varman and Paranjothi from the former in vital roles. Ponniyin Selvan, which fulfills Parthiban’s wish and provides a fitting conclusion to both novels, can be the last pick. Additionally, all these novels are beautifully illustrated by Maniyam Selvam (Popularly known as Ma.Se). These paintings help us imagine the characters and places and complement the text. You can also check out our Ponniyin Selvan audiobook review here.
4. Kalvanin Kadhali (கள்வனின் காதலி)
Of contrasts, conflicts, and paradoxes! Kalvanin Kadhali is a social novel written by Kalki that was released in the 1950s. The book was based on true events. It narrates the story of two star-crossed lovers, Muthaiyan, a thief, and Kalyani, which translates to the Thief’s lover. The story ends in tragedy as the lovers unite only after death. The story was first written as a serialized story in Ananda Vikatan. Due to the overwhelming popular response, it was later published as a book.
The story opens in Poongulam, where Muthaiyan and his sister Abirami reside. Kalki initially characterizes Muthaiyan’s background as unlucky and not having anything meaningful in his life. His love for Kalyani is his only source of comfort. With his share of financial issues, Kalyani’s father fixes her marriage as a second wife to Panchanatham Pillai, who is significantly older than her as he has a lot of property in his name. Abirami, Muthaiyan’s sister, is naive and frequently blames herself for all of Muthaiyan’s troubles.
Things change when a person called Karvar Pillai tries misbehaving with Abirami. Their intentions for a better future go awry, forcing Muthaiyan to turn to robbery. Abirami lives in a secure location and is unaware of her brother’s whereabouts. On the other side, Kalyani stays dutiful to her husband until he dies due to guilt and remorse. Together with his drama artist friend Kamalapathy, Muthaiyan makes persistent attempts to find Abirami. He eventually locates Abirami and even reconciles with Kalyani.
Is that all, though? Why did tragedy strike them as everything looked to be falling into place? Will Abirami and Kamalapathy have a future relationship? Beautiful descriptions of Poongulam are given in the book’s opening pages. Each chapter starts with an in-depth description of the situation, including the setting, props, and other details. The ending of each chapter summarizes the point that we are yet to read. Though most of the last sentences seem negative, they prepare us for the tragic climax.
Every character seems perfect from their point of view. The success of this novel lies in the fact that the characters feel exactly what we want them to feel. The book also discusses conflicts, such as how good people suffer indefinitely while evil people live contentedly. The point where individuals who dreaded Muthaiyan as a thief repent for his death was very touching. It also emphasizes how situations play a vital role in deciding one’s life, irrespective of one’s character and upbringing. To summarize, if you want a page-turner with aspects of romance and sentiment, this is the book for you! You can get the book here! 📖
5. Solaimalai Ilavarasi (சோலைமலை இளவரசி)
The story is set against the backdrop of Indian Independence. The book narrates the stories of two couples, Maranendhal Ilavarasan Ulaganatha Devar and Solamalai Ilavarasi Manikavalli, along with Kumaralingam and Ponnammal. These two stories are told side by side in a way that blends the past and present. The events of the past are narrated through dreams, while the present is a reflection of the past. Around the time of Independence, Kumaralingam is sought after by the British government.
He begins dreaming of events that happened centuries ago while on the run. In his dream, he transforms into Ulaganatha Devar, prince of Maranendhal. He is compelled to hide in Solamalai during the battle between Maranendhal and Solamalai. There he is met by Manikavalli, the princess of Solamalai, who helps him hide. Eventually, they both fall for each other. In reality, he meets Ponnammal, who resembles Manikavalli and helps him hide from the British. The prince and the princess both die in his dreams.
Meanwhile, Kumaralingam is arrested by the British. What will happen to him? Will their relationship succeed in reality? What happened to Ponnammal after he was arrested? This novel is only a little over 200 pages long. The book has a fan following for showing a sweet romance, even though it may not be as captivating as giants like Ponniyin Selvan and Sivagamiyin Sabadham. This book is an excellent choice if you’ve already read the four books recommended above and want something historical but light enough. You can get the book here! 📖
A perfect read for afternoon boredom! How many of these books have you read? What are some of the author’s other works that you enjoy? Do share your comments below! Happy reading!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)❓
How did Kalki wrote Ponniyin Selvan?
Ponniyin Selvan was first serialized in a Tamil weekly magazine called Kalki (established by Kalki Krishnamurthy and T Sadasivam) for more than 3 years. After this, they made it into a book format. He traveled to several places in South India and visited Sri Lanka many times to get more information and inspiration for writing this.
What is the actual name of Kalki?
His real full name is Ramaswamy Krishnamurthy, and his pen name is Kalki, which is also the name of the magazine he founded along with T Sadasivam. The name “Kalki” is the final incarnation of the Hindu God Vishnu.
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