March 06, 2011

Changing Face of Chidambaram

Heard of a soft drink called Bovonto?

It comes from the hugely famous Kali Mark group, a local brand that the previous generation will surely remember.

Bovonto holds its own in the rural market of the Pepsis and the Cokes. And when I saw rows of Bovonto in a cool drinks shop in Chidambaram this past week, I stopped, bought a drink and chatted with the shop owner.

I am in Chidambaram with the KutcheriBuzz team web casting the annual Natyanjali Dance Festival here. The job keeps us busy from 5 p.m. to well past midnight.

During the day, we explore the town. Each place or neighborhood has its own character and over time, it changes. The visual or mental record can make great archival material.

It is at the Bovonto cool drinks shop that I get the lead for a more significant development in Chidambaram. A dangler for a new apartments project that was to come up on the premises of an old cinema theatre here.

Today, as you drive into this temple town, you may not be able to sight the massive gopurams of the temple. Highrise apartments are the new gopurams.

They dot the shaven lands which once were fields on the edge. A few years ago, we had seen cement, yellow-painted boards advertising plots carved out of these fields.

Now, apartments seem to be selling faster than plots.

Advocate A. K. Natarajan who is also the president of the Natyanjali Trust says that the demand for apartments is big. He himself is developing a part of the ancestral property to build about 40 flats. These will be spacious but most sold ion the town are match-box sized.

So the tiled houses of the Dikshitars on the mada veedhis are giving way to apartments, office complexes and shops, all of them looking like long slices of cake. One block almost hugs the eastern wall of the temple.

Most flats here are bought by people who work at Annamalai University and at NLC, Neyveli and Natarajan tells me that they are investments for the buyers.

While the Kumbakonam-based Bovonto holds its own in Chidambaram the high-rises are changing the face of the town.

No comments: