Tuticorin : A decade-long wait for residents of the historic Kayalpattinam town, situated 33 km from here, to have recreational facilities along the beach has come to an end with the inauguration of a park on Sunday.
Though the first proposal to set up a park along the beach was submitted to the State Government by the then district administration in 1997, the project found light only now.
Situated on 10,000 square metre area on the beach, this park has been constructed on an outlay of Rs.30 lakh.
"Of the total project cost, Rs.15 lakh was borne by the Department of Tourism, Rs.10 lakh taken from the small savings incentive fund and the remaining from the Kayalpattinam municipal exchequer," T. Chellappa, District Tourism Officer, told The Hindu.
The park has three attractive fountains built at a cost of Rs 1.14 lakh, which can entice any visitor. Two of the fountains are placed near `artificial mountains' with eight toy birds `sitting' on them.
Stylishly trimmed lawns at the park set up at a cost of Rs 6.3 lakh provide greenery and attract visitors, who love the smell of nature.
Nicely laid walking tracks, constructed at Rs.four lakh, and play materials such as swings and slides for children worth Rs.two lakh attract visitors of all ages. In all, 15 mercury lamps and 10 cost-efficient lamps adorn the park.
The authorities have built 50 benches made of granite stones inside the park, on an outlay of Rs.1.25 lakh, for the visitors to sit and enjoy the beauty of the cascading waves.
|Once an important trade zone frequented by Greek, Roman and Arab merchants, it’s well-kept beach today attracts hordes of tourists, writes Soma Basu|
Well, you may think that in any coastal town beaches look the same. And wonder whether the ‘road’ to the beach could be a ‘less travelled’ one. In fact on weekend evenings, there are always more people, more vehicles, more v endors and more garbage on beaches. Kayalpattinam in Thoothukudi district is no different. Yet, till you go there you will not be able to perceive the beauty of the place or know its centuries old history. Indeed this ancient city by the sea (in Tamil, “Kayal” stands for the sea and adjoining lands and “patnam” means a city or a town) has history, archaeology, religion and fun. From the heart of Thoothukudi, it takes less than 40 minutes to get a magnificent view of the ocean of froth. Once I criss-cross the narrow streets of Kayalpattinam town, the tar road lined by sandy pavements quite surprisingly widens and culminates at the sea. A big arch welcomes you and gives a feeling of a place well-kept. And then the panoramic picture of the ocean unveils and the sight of rising and falling waves beckons you. The district administration has built recreational facilities over a sprawling 10,000 square metres. So I step on the neatly laid walk past the stylishly trimmed lawns that hold granite benches, cemented umbrella-shaped shelters, colourful swings and slides. You can not miss the three fountains and the small green mounds artificially created on which perch terracotta birds. Overall, it lends a nice ambience, an effort that apparently took a decade to materialise.
The time is late afternoon and perhaps people have not woken up from their post-heavy lunch Sunday siesta. So it is all quiet on the beach. I walk barefoot along the coastline and choose a quiet spot where I can hear nothing but the music of the sea water forming into big white foamy waves. And then, falling and breaking into small white sparkling waves to lash the shore gently. As the water recedes it leaves a sketch on the wet sand bed, which almost resembles an ECG graph! The dance of the waves against a fading sun is mesmerising. The breeze gets a bit stronger. The sky, the water, the beach, everything looks so clear. There is hardly a scope for beach combing here except the occasional shell tugging at the toe when the waves recede. A dozen-odd brightly painted boats stand still on the waters. The sun is about to set and the beach starts getting its visitors. Noisy children head straight for the waters and splash around. Young couples holding hands search for that spot of privacy. Time to go, I tell myself and return to the park. The park is lit with mercury lamps. I sit for a while and brush up my history talking to the seniors around. The ancient city finds several references in travel works as a flourishing commercial port. This important trade zone was apparently frequented by Greek, Roman and Arab traders before the advent of Muslim missionaries from Mecca and Madina in 633 A.D.
The legend goes that on the shadows of Mount Mukhadham near Cairo, existed a town called Qirafathul Kubra. In 824 A.D., 200-odd descendants of the first caliph of Islam, Abubacker Siddique, left the Egyptian shores, under the leadership of Mohamed Kalji, in a ship made of wood and hit the shores of Kayal, which was then ruled by Pandya king Abhirama Raja Adhiraja Raja Jayaveera Rajukaar. It is said that those who arrived were given land by the King to settle and carry on their trading.
Interestingly, Kayalpattinam is also known for its burial grounds from where centuries old Chinese porcelains, swords and arms and Arabic coins were excavated by the State Archaeological Department.
The antiquity of the place is further established in the recordings of Kayalpattinam as the capital of second Tamil Sangam, called Kapadapuram, 5,000 years ago. It was also known as Alaiwaiport while Greeks named it Periplus port.
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru also mentions in "Discovery of India", Madurai was the capital of Pandiyan Kingdom while Kayal was its port. The port was also called Sonoharpattinam. It was closed in 1937.
The town of Kayalpattinam is dotted with tombstones and mosques, the first of which is said to be built in 633 A.D. by Arab businessmen. Kayalpattinam was known by several names during different periods like Vaguthai, Pavithira Manikka Pattinam and ThenKayal.
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