We are planning a boat journey on the Buckingham Canal.
From a point off Panayur on the East Coast Road to Mahabalipuram.
Would you like to give the boat we hire a name? What would be an appropriate one?
Many senior citizens of our city have shared with me stories of their picnic trips to Mahabalipuram fifty years ago. Of a time when they got to the Lattice Bridge point of the Canal which was constructed in 1887 and runs from Pedaganjam in Andhra Pradesh to Marcanum (Marakkanam) off the ECR.
It was a long, slow but pleasant journey. The sail would go up if there was sufficient wind but in most cases two men would pull the boat on the landside.
Long before Mahabalipuram became a destination for tourists from our city, the boats were the only means of transport - carrying firewood, salt, rice and agri produce.
They moved north from the Mahabalipuram and Marcanum / Cuddalore region to the city and those from Nellore and Ennore travelled south and northwards to areas that are now in Andhra Pradesh.
Last week, I joined heritage buff D. Hemachandra Rao in rediscovering the Canal south of our city. Rao is documenting the Canal and armed with a simple but informative book written by the English engineers who worked on this project, we undertook the journey by road.
We wanted to look at the locks and bridges of the Canal, and thanks to a Jack-of-all-Trades resident of a Mahabalipuram village who appeared out of the blue and knew lots more about the Canal and its life, we got a lot of work done.
Ramu has promised to organise a boat trip on a section of the Canal he knows best. But it will have to be undertaken only after a good monsoon when the water level will go up and the boat can take at least 10 people.
The boat landing place in Mahabalipuram where Rao, then a six-year-old and his family got off is now a garbage dump yard ( you will notice it on the left of the new bridge that links the ECR bypass on the fringe of Mahabalipuram town).
If the PWD can dredge the Canal and the Tourism department can arrange traditional boats, an Adyar-Mahabalipuram by Boat Service will be an attractive proposition.