Remnant Of A Kingly Past In Ruins
On Jul 26, 2012
The beautification projects at Shaghumugham beach is dragging at a snail's pace. The road bypassing the beach and heading towards Valiyathura has been completed. The final plan is to have a triangular shaped recreation hub within the area enclosed between the new road and the old one, complete with restaurants, museums, children's park with walkways adorned with ornamental lights. With the current rate at which work is going on, it is pretty much obvious that the change mooted to arrive at this beach is to be a process of slow metamorphosis.
Shanghumugham beach received prominence because it used to be a favourite holiday retreat for the royal family of Travancore. The building that stands facing the beach used to be the palace. At present, it is being renovated for the National Games, a prospect that still lies as a mirage. But in the end, the building is going to remain there, altered but still bearing a signature to the king's times. Others are not so lucky.
To the side of this building is a stone structure, with a circular pit, filled with waste, rubble and weeds just beyond it. These two combined used to be the bathing space for the royal family. The circular shaped pit is a well, which used to contain clear, fresh water in it. Back then, the arrival of the royal family to this holiday palace was a huge event. Preparations would begin weeks prior, to make everything ready for the royal guests.
Much has been done around the beach to make Shanghumugham appealing to its ever-increasing number of visitors. The most famous of them would be the sculpture of the sunbathing woman in the park. But an original bathing spot, whose importance was born out of history and not imagination, has its side walls crumbling, with the inside revealing occasional spots of dark water, contaminated with rubble, organic and plastic waste and weeds.
“Before, there used to be a row of thattukadas functioning on the road running adjacently to the well. Those people used to dispose their everyday waste into this well for a number of years till they were moved,” recalls Pavithran, an old timer, working as a security guard in the park.
The 'bath' that has been constructed entirely with stone, would probably cost a fortune to be built today. The spot where the royal attenders stood obediently, waiting to serve the royal family, now is mainly used as a parking spot for two wheelers. The roof of the structure is starting to get a layer of shrubs, and the structure is seemingly at its last state of dilapidation.
The local people say that already the well is almost wholly filled up with loose sand, rubble and waste. It isn't presently a practical option to re-dig the entire well, and so in course of time, the sidewalls will completely collapse down and the well itself would get buried in sand. But the stone structure is bound to survive for many more years as a parking space for two wheelers, until it too gets relegated as a hurdle in proposed developmental projects.
And thus the last traces left of the king's times would be gone for good from Shanghumugham beach.