October 03, 2009

Neighbourhood Heritage Walks

On Gandhi Jayanthi day, the formal launch of Heritage Walks around Puducherry was held.
The event took place at a simple, well preserved piece of heritage which is now a 24-hour café on the seashore.
Decades ago, it used to be the office of the Customs, whose officers would examine the goods brought ashore from ships. Those were the times when the French ruled this place.
The Walks have been conceptualized and floated by the local chapter of INTACH, a national body which works on subjects related to heritage, culture and conservation. The Pondy chapter is a small one but it has done some amazing work.
To lay the ground for a successful Heritage Walk programme, INTACH invited local residents to a workshop where they were provided basic training that would equip them to conduct these walking tours.
25 people signed up and Ashok Panda of INTACH says they expect at least ten people to stick on and ensure the Pondy Heritage Walk programme turns out to be successful. It will also earn them money.
This is an idea that has been talked about in our city. But I put it to INTACH’s new Chennai team that it would make great sense to encourage residents of some of the most colourful neighbourhoods in Chennai to be part of a Chennai Heritage Walk project.
This could work for many reasons. One, a local person would know the ins and outs of the area fairly well. Two, he or she could be pulled out for a walk at short notice. Three, the volunteers would be proud of their assignment.
People visiting Chennai, be they Indian or foreign are a tad tired of the Kapaleeswarar Temple - San Thome Cathedral - Madras Museum - Valluvar Kottam -Guindy Park brochure-driven tours of the city.
Many want to see and experience it up close and in the real. Add to it the heritage and history and the offers can delight our guests.
There are lots of interesting neighbourhoods that offer Walking Tours. George Towne and Royapuram, Mint and Broadway, Mount Road and Triplicane. Mylapore and Adyar, Egmore and Vepery.
If there are people out there who believe that this idea can work, do get across to Dr. Suresh of INTACH (Ph: 2491 8479). Your enthusiasm may spur him and his team on.
If you want to check out the Walks in Pondy, here is the info. Walks are held only on Fridays and Saturdays. They start at 4 p.m. and are for 90mins. Head to Le Cafe on the beachside and pay fifty rupees to join the tour.

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