The gala event is three weeks away, but certain groups have already drawn up exciting plans for it. Vipasha Sinha on a clique of photographers training their cameras on Parrys Corner, a peloton of cyclists launching a heritage tour of Mylapore and Triplicane and a pack of foodies masterminding a raid of Mint Street
Quite a number of days have to be struck off the calendar before Madras Week arrives. But the excitement is already building up. And various groups are working towards organising a fascinating array of events. Behind all this variety lies a sincere effort at celebrating all of those things that give Madras its character, charm and colour.
Here are three groups which will explore select neighbourhoods in three markedly different ways, during the Week (beginning August 18).
Cycling Yogis, a group that marries a passion for bicycling to an interest in the heritage of Madras, is organising rides of exploration and discovery. In one of the rides – On August 25 – a group of cyclists will roll through Mylapore and Triplicane and study heritage sites.
Food Trails @ Mint will give a taste of North Madras by taking people to the evening street food stalls of Elephant Gate and Mint. There is another flavour to North Madras – heritage. During the Week, Chennai Photowalk is expected to take photography enthusiasts to Parry’s Corner/ George Town, South Mint Street, Mannady and other areas that are laden with gems from the past.
Anyone who loves chaats and pani puris will be drawn to Mint Street, which is lined with makeshift street food shops specialising in these short eats.
Food Trails @ Mint makes such gastronomic journeys to the north easier. Pratibha Jain, a cookbook author, organised the first trail last year. During this year’s Madras Week, the group is expected to take the wraps off its next chapter.
Explaining the food walks, she says, “We divide a group into smaller units, each of which is guided by a volunteer, who takes it to designated stops for food tasting. Last year, we covered six to seven food joints and tried out a variety of preparations including chaats, pani puri, baadam milk, jalebis, crisp kachoris and kulfi. ”
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During the Madras Week celebrations last year, members of Chennai Photowalk organised two photo walks, covering Parry’s Corner / George Town and South Mint Street. The walks took two weekends. From the first outing, shutter bugs took away snapshots of Kaligambal Temple, Muthialpet School, Mannady, Krishnan Koil, Coral Merchant Street, Nagarathar Chathirams, the lungi merchants, Kachaleeswarar Koil, YMIA’s Gokhale Hall, Catholic Centre, St. Mary’s Church & Armenian Church and Kandasamy Koil. In the following weekend, they covered Ekambareswarar Temple, Chenna Kesava Perumal & Malleeshwarar Temple, the electrical and the gold trade areas and Rattan Bazaar Road.
Recently, the group explored T. Nagar and Ambattur Industrial Estate in a big way. “In our T. Nagar walks, we have covered iconic locations in the neighbourhood such as Panagal Park and Somasundaram Ground and the Raghavendra temple. Mehendi artists, who park themselves along Panagal Park, and the merchants on North Usman Road gave a dash of colour to the exercise,” says Ramaswamy N., a member of Chennai Photowalk.
During a walk through the Ambatur Industrial Estate, the group focussed on the change that have crept into the IE. A raft of information technology companies was one evident element of change. To know more about the walks, mail in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On their August 25 ride, Cycling Yogis are expected to stop at iconic structures and institutions in Mylapore and Triplicane. Those that have made it to the short list are: Senate House, Parthasarathy Temple, Vivekananda Illam, Santhome Church and also Dabba Chetti Kadai. On August 18, the group will take time to soak in the colonial past of Royapuram. They are expected to take a good, long look at the Royapuram Railway Station.
“These are interactive sessions where people are encouraged to share their knowledge,” says Ramajunar Moulana of Cycling Yogis.
For more details, call 9884023123.