Steps are afoot to preserve the distinct identity and architecture of Kalpathy, which occupies an important place on the cultural map of Kerala.
A `Walking tour of Kalpathy,' a project taken up by the Government of Kerala to make Kalpathy Heritage Village a centre of study of civilisation and tradition, will go a long way in preserving its past glory.
In this concrete world, the old-world charm of architectural heritage, which includes streets and buildings, is fast disappearing, often resulting in an area losing its identity and character. There is, therefore, a need to conserve some of our great heritage.
Temples and car festivals
The Kalpathy village located in the heart of Palakkad town is famous for its temples and car festivals. Records prove the antiquity of the `agraharam' (Brahmin village) on the banks of the Nila (Bharathapuzha). A stone inscription at the Kalpathy Viswanatha Swamy Temple has been dated to AD 1425. The agraharam is believed to have been established by Brahmins from Tanjore.
The story is that the Palakkad Brahmins refused to offer ritualistic services to the then rulers and so the rulers invited Tamil Brahmins to Kerala and gifted them land. Thus 18 Agraharams were established in Palakkad.
Kalpathy is the oldest and most prominent. It can be regarded as a typical agraharam. The two old agraharams of Old and New Kalpathy are separated by the Viswanatha Swamy Temple in the east and the Lakshmi Narayana Temple in the west.
These villages were carefully laid out to enable the residents of all the houses to get a `darshan' of the temples at the end of their respective streets . The villages were also built along the river .
But Kalpathy is no longer the same. The life style of the residents has drastically changed. Many of the residents have moved away from their ancient means of livelihood. The pressures of modernisation has taken its toll on the heritage value of the village. Old buildings are slowly yielding way to new concrete structures, which often mar the aesthetics of the heritage village. One can see a number of commercial establishments replacing the old houses. The river is no more the lifeline of the village. What once used to be the river is now a stream.
The project taken up now is a long-standing demand of the people, particularly those living in Kalpathy. Although the young generation take pride in their heritage, economic factors prevent them from preserving their heritage.
As part of the measures taken to preserve this heritage, various schemes are being worked out. Designed on the lines of Venice, Horence (both in Italy), Ahmedabad in Gujarat, Udaipur in Rajasthan and so on, these projects highlight the fact that careful planning and conservation can preserve this heritage.
A museum, a Vedic school and a heritage society headed by the District Collector are some of the projects meant to safeguard the distinct heritage of Kalpathy.
The museum would display artefacts of cultural and heritage value.
Books, handicrafts, pictures and photographs would trace the proud history of this place. The Vedic school, which has 30 students now, is being rejuvenated. The school building is given a face-lift .
Steps have been taken to create awareness and educate the residents in Kalpathy about the value of their heritage and need to preserve it.
A Heritage Society headed by District Collector has been formed to implement the projects.
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