CITYSCAPE The Senior Citizens' Park is a great place for the elders to get away from it all and enjoy some peace, serenity and exercise

It is a patch of green that you wouldn't expect in the bustling Nehru Stadium Circle. Two hundred and fifty trees in three acres right in the middle of the city, and a board right at the entrance that says, “First preference for senior citizens”, makes it a special place.

Renovated by the Coimbatore Corporation a year ago especially for senior citizens, the park is a haze of green. As far as the eye can see there are lush green lawns and neem, mango, teak, violet and peach bougainvillea trees, with not a leaf out of place. Besides, each tree that stands there has been planted by someone in memory of a loved one, in many cases, a grand father or a grand mother.

P. Raja Gounder in his crisp white dhoti and shirt is 77 years old. He comes to the park with his wife R. Muthulakshmi almost every day. “It is just very peaceful out here,” says Muthulakshmi. “We come here every morning and spend about an hour here. We used to go to the Race Course circle, but it was getting so crowded and we kept bumping into fellow walkers, literally. So, we now come here every morning.” Raja Gounder appreciates the fact that each round is around 800 meters and there are benches here and there where they can rest in between. Each bench has a thatched roof over it that provides walkers with shade when they sit down. One sees people seated on them, cooling off before they set off for their next round. Some listen to music, while a few read the newspaper. There are two wooden bridges right in the middle of the park with vibrant yellow kanni poo tress standing tall next to it.

R. Bhagyam (60) and S. Paapaathiamma (61) are fairly new to this park. It is just their third day here but they have already fallen in love with it. They stay close by in the Police Quarters. Once they heard that there was a park especially for senior citizens they decided to come here. “We really like it here. We are going to come here daily now,” says Paappaathiamma.

Dr. Vijaya Raghavan a surgeon who is 63-years-old begins his day here with a few breathing exercises and several rounds of the park. “I feel wonderful after a walk here. It is quiet. It is a perfect way for me to start my day,” he says.

A large neem tree draws people to it and they gather there to chat or exercise. Friends S.Palanisamy, P. Janardhanan and P. Doraisamy do sit-ups and stretches here together. What attracts them to this park is the greenery. “There are so many trees and moreover, we are not disturbed by the noise of vehicles in this enclosed space. And even if you come a little late, you are still protected from the sun because of the vast tree cover,” says Palanisamy. Nothing is ever out of place here. It is always well maintained and hygienic,” says Kaara Subbaiyan, another daily walker. Ten women and three men work hard to keep it that way.

The Senior Citizens' Park remains open daily both in the mornings and evenings. The timings are from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.