Chennai

Beaches sport festive look on ‘Kaanum Pongal'

Be it the beaches, trade fair or the zoo, residents made the most of Kaanum Pongal to go around the city on Tuesday. A view at the trade fair in Island Grounds. Photo: R.Ravindran

Be it the beaches, trade fair or the zoo, residents made the most of Kaanum Pongal to go around the city on Tuesday. A view at the trade fair in Island Grounds. Photo: R.Ravindran  

MTC deploys 250 additional buses, expects revenue to exceed Rs. 3 crore

After hours of playing blind man's buff with their grandfather and making sand castles on the beach, when little children savouring their ice candies and tugging on to their mother's sari, begin making plans for spending the entire day on the beach next year too, you know it is a great time to be with family, at least on ‘Kaanum Pongal.' The last day of the Pongal extravaganza was celebrated with much gaiety here on Tuesday.

Thousands of people thronged the beaches, among other places, to mark the tradition of spending the whole day outdoors, and for most, the crowds only seemed to enrich the experience. “Kaanum Pongal is to see actually, not only places, but everything. The day is meant for families to spend time having fun together,” says R.Vetrimaaran (69) of Tiruvallur, who came with 16 members of his family on a bullock cart. Several others from Villupuram and Kancheepuram came by trucks too.

The Metropolitan Transport Corporation had deployed 250 additional buses for the festival. While they were largely empty in the morning, they were packed by the evening. “We expect today's revenue to exceed over Rs. 3 crore. The increase in bus fare was not an issue as the number of passengers had also increased,” says V. Paulraj, Managing Director of the MTC.

MRTS services too were packed with Lighthouse, Triplicane and Chepauk stations seeing extensive activity throughout the day. Parking lots remained full and many visitors resorted to parking in unauthorised slots outside station premises.

“It makes sense for us to come till Chepauk from Avadi and take a train to Adyar. Bus fare hikes have made the travel very expensive,” says M. Veerapandian, on his way to Children's Park (Guindy National Park) with his children.

The number of visitors to the park exceeded 1.5 lakh by noon. Nearly 50 policemen and Forest Department personnel were deployed in the park and Gandhi Mandapam. “Only deer were open to public viewing today, not lion and tiger. That was disappointing,” says R. Bharathi, who had come with her family from Pattabiram. The park usually closed on Tuesdays, but was kept open for the festival.

Anna Square, Besant Nagar, Mamallapuram, Vandalur Zoo, Birla Planetarium and the Chennai Book Fair saw considerable crowds too.

“We go where the children want to go, within our affordability,” says Priya Udhayakumar, a home-maker from K.K. Nagar, whose family had come to the Marina.

Besides barricades that prevented people from entering the water, 12 watch towers with public address systems were set up on the Marina that monitored the crowd, while nearly 2,000 policemen, many in plainclothes, patrolled the area. “We have just one buggy to go on the coast. We plan to get a few more next year,” says Joint Commissioner of Police (East) S.N. Seshasai. All 145 children who went missing were retrieved and handed over to parents.

“We didn't allow the visitors into the sea because of which it was easier to maintain order,” he adds.

Nearly 1,000 additional stalls sold a range of stuff, including plastic toys, kites, candy floss, various eatables, masks, soft toys on the Marina shores. “After the tsunami, for a few years, the number of visitors to this beach had come down. This year too, it is not as much as compared to last year. Many people now prefer to stay at homes and watch TV,” says K. Kalaivalan, a fisherman, who sells hand-made straw nets on the occasion every year.

On Tuesday alone, totally 62,665 persons, including children, visited the Arignar Anna Zoological Park at Vandalur. Its director K.S.S.V.P. Reddy says the zoo saw an all-time high in visitors on a single day on Tuesday. Last year during the same day, 57,217 people visited the zoo. At the zoo, lion cub Veera turned out to be a major attraction, Mr Reddy says.

Tourist spots on the outskirts of the city too attracted a lot of people. TTDC officials said their restaurant on Island Grounds sold 2,000 plates of chicken briyani and 1,000 plates of veg briyani. The number of visitors to the Tourism and Industrial Trade Fair touched around 1.2 lakh, slightly above last year's figure. While the TTDC Rain Drop Boat House in Mudaliarkuppam played host to 1,850 vistors, Muttukadu boat house had 4,500 visitors.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 2:36:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/Beaches-sport-festive-look-on-%E2%80%98Kaanum-Pongal/article13370720.ece

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