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A good ground for preservation

Now, the Tamukkam Ground, because of its size and location, has become the most-preferred venue among the public for holding big conclaves.


THE TAMUKKAM Ground is to Madurai, what the Island Grounds is to Chennai and what the VOC Grounds is to Coimbatore.

While these are some of the prestigious venues of the respective cities, where conglomerations of massive stature are organised, the speciality of the Tamukkam Ground, is its ancient tradition.

"The Tamukkam, which dates back to the 16th century, was developed by Viswanatha Nayak, first king of the Nayak dynasty in Madurai, and Ariyanatha Mudaliyar. They are said to be the architects of the original Madurai city", says Venkatraman, retired professor, Department of Art History, Madurai Kamaraj University.

"Tamukkam, when created, was meant for conduct of sports events and for display of martial arts. Experts in different martial arts such as silambu, sword fight, etc., used to display their prowess at this ground. Similarly, sports events such as horse race, bull-fight, elephant race, etc., were also organised here", he says.

"During Rani Mangammal's period, a palace (the building at present housing the Gandhi Museum) was constructed in a part of the ground. Later, during the British rule, all these were stopped and for sometime it was an official residence of the District Collector", points out Mr. Venkatraman.

Now, the Tamukkam Ground, because of its size and location, has become the most-preferred venue among the public for holding big conclaves.

Almost all national and State-lever leaders gave reverberating speeches from the dais at this ground. Apart from this it also has the pride of holding crowd pullers, religious leaders, cine personalities, literary scholars, of other fields also in action. Some old-timers and regular visitors to most of the meetings at Tamukkam say, there were times when some leaders addressed the crowd the ground overflowed and also times when not even half the ground was filled.

Now, it is maintained by the Corporation of Madurai and is being rented for government and private functions generating good revenue to the civic body.

Detailing about the capacity of the ground, officials of the Corporation of Madurai say, "sprawled in an area of 50000 sq.ft., including the Kalaiarangam, an in-built theatre meant for organising cultural functions and other meetings. The Tamukkam can accommodate more than 1.5 lakh people and the Kalaiarangam nearly 20,000 persons. On rental conditions, they say, "the rent differs depending on the space requirement of the organisers. Similarly, the rate differs for government functions and for commercial purposes".

"For functions, organised by government departments and NGOs, to be held in Kalaiarangam alone, the rate is Rs.5,000 and for commercial purposes it is Rs.6,000. For use of the entire ground, including the Kalaiarangam, the rate for government departments is Rs.7,500 and for private parties Rs. 10,000. Besides this, a minimum deposit of Rs.4000 has to be paid towards electricity. The tariff charged for power consumption is calculated in terms of commercial category, which is fixed at Rs.12 per unit. If the charge, for the total power consumption, exceeds the deposit amount paid, then the balance will be collected from the organisers. On power tariff, there is no difference in the rate charged and it is common to all", they say.

Regarding booking procedures, the officials say, "the public should contact, three months in advance, the register wing in the `E' section of the Corporation Revenue Department to confirm the dates". As for the mode of payment, they say, "either the full amount or at least 50 per cent should be paid at the time of booking".

M.R.ARAVINDAN

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