“Kal madams” (wayside inns), which were constructed for public use by philanthropists and temple trusts during the rule of Venad kings, are now vanishing. Neglected by people and officials, these ancient structures are being encroached upon and misused by anti-social elements.
R.S. Lal Mohan, convener, Nagercoil chapter of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, says he has identified 54 such madams but says the actual number could be over 70.
The inns, built using huge stones, served as resting places for travellers and farmers. Many such “madams” cannot be accessed directly from main roads. A “kal madam” situated on the Shenbagaramanpudur-Boothapandi State Highway is encroached upon by an individual. He has put up a fence around the structure along with a portion of the adjoining land, alleges S. Ayyappan of Shenbagaramanpudur.
The encroacher has installed a gate and locked it. A few empty liquor bottles are also seen near it.
According to Dr. Lal Mohan, this “madam” was built in 1867 on a paddy field. A stone inscription on the front side says, “If any one damages the “madam,” he/she will undergo a punishment given to those who kill a cow on the banks of the Ganges.”