Madurai

The city and a decade’s change

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From the epithet of big rural village, Madurai is transforming into a vibrant city.

River Vaigai is always the talking point of the city’s denizens. And happily the year is ending on a brimming note with water flowing not only across the city’s lifeline but many of the old tanks, such as the Teppakulam and Tallakulam have also filled up. Rivers change the landscape as much as the infrastructure and development does. And the city has many to cite. From fly overs to malls to people taking to running marathons and the evolving food scene, the past decade has been a happening one.

Fountains and flyovers

We frown each time we get stuck in a traffic jam now where the new flyovers are under construction on Natham Road, Ring Road and Kalavasal. But imagine the spectacle these state-of-the-art passageways would be once completed. They would not only ease the congestion on city roads but by the virtue of being feeder routes of national highways, they would also reduce the travel time.

And have you yet noticed the multi-coloured fountain near Raja Muthaiah Mandram? Does it not add to the city’s night glow.

The city and a decade’s change

Statues and graffiti

The popular Tamil folk deity and the city’s warrior, Madurai Veeran, got a prominent spot at the airport recently. Whether you are leaving the city or arriving, you cannot miss the statue of the city’s protector carved out in a single stone and installed in the green island in the middle of the two gates. Statues of political leaders, actors, poets and activists cast in metals and stones stand tall everywhere and added to the long list recently were the Jallikattu bull at Arapalayam and twin statues of MGRamachandran and Jayalalithaa near the K K Nagar arch.

The city and a decade’s change

Three years ago, the then Madurai Commissioner initiated several drives for aesthetic enhancement. The pillars of Albert Victor Bridge, the walls of the Race Course, Bharathiyar Park, near Arapalayam bus stand, opposite Gandhi Museum, underwent colourful transformation with amateurs and professional artists and local school and college students showing their prowess with painting brushes. The themes mostly center around the city’s history and social and environment issues. However, one wishes they are better maintained.

Changing city Top view of flowing Vaigai, Graffiti on Gandhi Museum wall, Madurai Veeran Statue at Airport and Krishnan Subramanian of The Yellow Bag.

Changing city Top view of flowing Vaigai, Graffiti on Gandhi Museum wall, Madurai Veeran Statue at Airport and Krishnan Subramanian of The Yellow Bag.  

Going green and plastic-free

Is a work-in-progress. In 2016, the then District Collector initiated the no-plastic drive in the city’s uzhavar sandhais compelling buyers to carry cloth bags from home. With TN government’s plastic ban imposed from this January, the big business houses and city hoteliers have consciously shifted to eco-friendly alternatives such as jute bags, glass and metal utensils and cutlery paper straws, banana leaf and other natural fibre utilitarian products.

The city and a decade’s change

The small traffic islands and roundabouts in many parts of the city have been adopted by banks and corporates to beautify and green them. Several NGOs, clubs like Rotary, Lions and Soroptimist, youths and private citizens have chipped in to build small green zones using less-water consuming Miyawaki and hydroponic methods or growing with seed bombs. The efforts have to be sustained.

The city and a decade’s change

The city runs together

In 2017, the first edition of Madurai Marathon was launched and ever since the first Sunday of January is earmarked for the event that is only growing bigger. From 1000 participants in the first year, the number grew to 3000-plus this January and one-third participants were women. The stage is set for the fourth edition on January 5, 2020. It all began when the Devadoss Multi-speciality Hospital reached out to informal runners concerned about general well being. Each year the run has a different health theme.

The city and a decade’s change

The popular Walker’s Club in lake area was converted into an open air gym three years ago with basic exercise equipment installed. It has ushered in a wave of fitness among the regular walkers and also many others in the neighbourhood who are sceptical about burning money in gyms. On an average 800 to 1000 people visit the park now fitted with waist twisters, double parallel bars, aerial strollers and sit-up stations.

Madurai loves to eat

The food scene is exploding like never before. Barely a decade ago, the conventional mess serving traditional food was the order of the day. Now roadside kiosks and dining in containers to themed cafes and restaurants, food courts have mushroomed and changing peoples’ eating out experience with fusion food and cuisines from across the globe. The first and the only food trail introduced in 2011 by Foodies Day Out saw a rise in overseas food bloggers in last five years and more than a dozen Indian bloggers visited in the last 12 months.

The city and a decade’s change

Movies and more

In the last decade, two malls (Milan-em and Vishal-de-mall) were inaugurated and soon became the hub of shopping and eating. But what really changed the fun of outing was the coming of INOX six years ago. Subsequently many old theatres went for a major refurbish with multiple and over-sized screens, stylish seatings, dolby digital sound systems to make movie watching an unforgettable experience for the audience. Another mode of entertainment that has hit off well in the last one year are the stand up comedy shows.

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Printable version | Jan 24, 2020 7:10:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/from-the-epithet-of-big-rural-village-madurai-is-transforming-into-a-vibrant-city/article30413768.ece

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