Kerala

Raj-era building collapses in rain

The building, at Bodhimettu on the border with Tamil Nadu, was used as a ‘chunkapura’ or tax collection centre by the rulers of erstwhile Travancore.

The building, at Bodhimettu on the border with Tamil Nadu, was used as a ‘chunkapura’ or tax collection centre by the rulers of erstwhile Travancore. | Photo Credit: TH

Heavy rain has ruined a historical building on the Tamil Nadu border at Bodimettu, which was used as ‘chunkapura’ (Customs House) under the erstwhile Travancore rule. It was one of the few buildings still in use in the district as a legacy of the Raj era. The building, with the royal insignia of conch on the facade, was constructed in 1905 by Sri Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma, ruler of Travancore. It was later renovated by Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma. The building was known as ‘chunkapura’ as taxes were collected there. Till its collapse, it was functioning as the godown of the Commercial Taxes dept.

Stone and ‘surkhi’

A portion of the building fell at a time when a proposal for its renovation was under consideration. According to local people, the renovation of the building was long pending  and the structure, constructed using stone and ‘surkhi,’ was in a dilapidated condition and the roof was leaking. Had renovation been done on time, the building could have been kept intact, they said.

A memorial stone in old Tamil alphabet near the building indicates the border with Madras Presidency. The cardamom and pepper collected as tax were kept at the building. It was also used as a check-point to prevent smuggling of cardamom to the Madras Presidency through the main ghat road. Workers from the Madras Presidency were engaged for collecting cardamom from the high range forests and it was exported through the Alappuzha port. The checking was to ensure that the workers did not take the highly priced spice along with them back home.

On July 1, 2017, The Hindu had highlighted the dilapidated condition of this historical building.


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Printable version | Sep 18, 2022 12:11:13 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/raj-era-building-collapses-in-rain/article65758614.ece