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Busy yet uncluttered

Photo: G. Moorthy

BUSY: A stretch of Tirupparankundram Road between shopping complex Bus Stand and Crime Records Bureau.

Tirupparankundram Road is a major destination in the city for which one need not seek or give any direction particularly to the autowallah. And neither a local person would really need an introduction.

Famous as one of the six abodes of Lord Murugan atop the Tirupparankundram hillock, the eight km long arterial road draws its fame from a dash of religion and a slice of history.

A busy road always but what beholds the sight on TPK Road is the fleet of some old and impressive buildings and some remnants of ancient architecture.

Take for instance the walls of the old Fort which once encircled the holy town of Madurai. Partly maintained and partly neglected, parts of it are seen here on TPK Road where now stands the Corporation office.

Further down the road is another old building converted to a police station and also houses the Crime Branch. Quite paradoxically it stands bang opposite to one of the major Khadi Gramodyog outlets, a reminder of Gandhiji’s dream of a self-reliant and non-violent India!

The 120 year old Madura College and atleast half its age is the Madura Polytechnic, and almost of same age is the erstwhile Meenakshi Mills now converted into a residential area (Agrini) are all landmark points on the TPK Road.

Equally historical are the 100 year old CSI Church and Pasumalai which houses over the Century-old British property of Madura Coats and now better known as the Taj Garden Retreat boutique hotel.

If these heritage buildings on TPK Road are riveting, there are two joyous and colourful occasions which turn the TPK Road into a sea of humanity. “Vaikasi Visakam” is the time when thousands of devotees walk from Meenakshi Temple to Tirupparankumdram Temple in the month of May carrying the colourful U-shaped “kavadis” made with colourful flowers and peacock feathers and the “palkudam”.

Again during “Kanda Sashti”, Lord Sundareswarar is taken in a colourful procession from Madurai to Tirupparankundram attracting mass of people en route.

The charm of TPK Road remains intact as Mr.Meenakshi Sundaram, a known Advocate of 49 years in the city and Secretary of the Madura College Board for the past eight years vouches. He admits that his “traveling time to the college from the other side of the city has doubled in the past one decade given the increase in vehicular population, and so have the pollution levels risen.” Yet one of these main entry points to the city – the TPK Road which starts from the West Gate opposite to the bus stand -- is sans the clutter of interior town roads.

Yet another feature about TPK Road that attracts him is the plethora of small and big shops near Pasumalai that sell the old grinders and stone pounders. Its amazing and a good feeling to know that modern gadgets (like present day electrical grinders) have not replaced the age-old traditions, he ponders with a sense of nostalgia and pride.

And the very mention of TPK Road evokes an element of reverence not only in him but all Maduraiites perhaps.

Soma Basu

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