‘Vishaal de Mal', the latest shopping address in town, synthesises all consumer activities and is as good for idle wandering

An old man stares at the display of a plush store, a group of women window shop, a kid poses against a mannequin, a young couple is all smiles taking in the new splendour and a bunch of college girls load their bags with cute pink tops and polka dotted bands.

Barely two evenings old, the newly sprung Vishaal de Mal, has become the undisputed hotspot, and, a traffic jammer as well. The crowd is swelling inside the cool comforts of this talk-of-the-town destination as much as it is outside, where passersby pause by the six-storied façade with eyes and mouths wide open. The otherwise calm Gokhale Road is suddenly cringing for space with vehicles parked on either side. Passing vehicles too brake at the entrance and slow down for a glimpse.

Dubbed as the first large-format mall of south Tamil Nadu, Vishaal de Mal houses 45 branded showrooms that stock over 200 brands. “We wanted to introduce metropolitan culture to Madurai and that's how we started building the mall,” says

N. Bhuvaneshwari Ilangovan, MD, Vishaal Promoters Pvt Ltd.

“From now on, it will be entirely a different shopping experience for the people.”

The mall, which took more than two years for completion, is spread over 2,30,000 sq.ft. The Rs.75 crores project is a much awaited delight for shopping freaks. “There is a spurt in disposable income and people are no more price-conscious. Everyone looks for quality these days,” says Sripriya, a homemaker. “Earlier we used to go to metros for buying stylish garments. Now we need not.”

If the Mall has ushered in fashion and style for some, it is also about entertainment for some others. “Stepping into the mall, I feel as though I am in Bangalore,” says 40-year-old Sathya. “This will be a hit as a family recreation spot as Madurai lacks good entertainment places.”

For the youth, the mall is surely a place to hangout and splurge. “I am pleasantly shocked to find some international brands here. I can't believe this is happening in Madurai,” says an excited Darshan, a college student. The shop owners too are hoping for a positive response going by the initial footfalls.

The Mall may help to change the lifestyle of its denizens. But few characteristic elements of the city remained even during inauguration. It was declared open by political bigwigs and not film star as done in big cities. An international sports brand opened the store with pujas and rituals instead of an MJ number blaring. A family entered the arena, not with the idea of shopping but to escape the wrath of power cuts. A middle-aged man hesitantly stepped on the escalator while his wife preferred the staircase.

Yet, when a woman draped in Kanjeevaram picks the pink dress for her daughter and puts the branded shopping bag in a Kattapai, there lives Madurai. The good old temple town is ready to take in the transition but with a strong hold on tradition.

Special features

Kids play area (10,000 sq.ft) with games like dashing car, bowling alley and 4d theatre.

An exclusive food court (12,000 sq.ft )

Five Inox screens with a total capacity of 1500.

The mall is eco-friendly. It has followed the green building rules by installing rain water harvesting and water recycling techniques, using only LEDs for minimum power consumption. The entire building is constructed with flyash bricks and instead of sand, quarry dust was used.