July 11, 2009

Adyar-Mahabalipuram Boat Service

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.


Anonymous said...

I am adding this comment here because I dont know where else to put it.
In the Adyar Times issue you talked about the boat ride, you had also talked about a book on the city of Madurai, "Alavay" by Sri. K.R.A Narasiah.
Odyssey, Landmark and even Madras Book House don't have it. Where can I buy it?
I have learnt the importance of documenting our own town's history only after a decade in the states. I want to record a piece of Madurai's history for my Son now. The only trouble is locating the book.

Anonymous said...

Hello Vincent,
Read your Jottings of Adyar Times on the Boat Journey on the Buckingham Canal.Great thinking.I hope Mr.Rao will set the ball rolling soon.But-----How you been to the any of the Buckingham Canal sites recently or anytime during the last five years ( On at least the stretch of the Kanathur Canal Bank, starting from the Raagas Dental College, AMET University and upto say Mayaajaal), just a short stretch.The banks of the Canal are a stench ground right through.Thanks to the PWD department.They have not cared to do anything.Garbage dumps have been heaped all along ,the left overs of all the Hotels on the ECR Road are brought along the MGR Street in loads of Bullock carts , waste and sewage from hotels and homes collected , is openly let out into the Canal by the Lorries in large numbers.I suggest that you drive down MGR street, adjoining Hotel Arun(at the Kanathur Market Junction on the ECR right side, after the Tollgate and hit the Buckingham Canal Road end ).The smell is intolerable and i strongly recommend a Doctor to accompany people when they go for an inspection.The Panchayat authorities have done nothing to stop this menace.We are talking about Global warming.Well with such types of Dumpings along the Canal bed, the environment will not be congenial for healthy living.The Government has been sleeping over these issues and so are the Local authoritries.Money talks at the expense of people like you and me. I had done my bit to stop this continuing but to no avail.Kindly help and relook at the Boat Trip.Let us not call it a DEATH RIDE.

Vincent D' Souza said...

The Madurai book is sold at Palaniappa Bros. in Royapettah. Or you can e-mail Narasiah at the ID we published - am sure he will direct you to a good shop.

Regarding the boat ride plan - its a wish that may well be a symbolic ride to demonstrate that if the state does maintain the Canal. it will serve wonderfully well
(If the author of this comment can forward this note to Adyar Times at adyartimes@gmail.com the weekly should be able to publish it.