Kozhikode: DTPC, ‘Kabani - the other direction,’ and ‘SPACE ART’ jointly organised a city trail named “Church to Temple” for visitors and the general public on the occasion of ‘World Heritage Week’ endorsed by UNESCO.

love our legacyThe tale-telling stroll through the heritage of cosmopolitan city narrated the history, legacy and values of this ancient yet vibrant port. The walk covered sites of historic import like CSI cathedral, SBI Mananchira, Govt Model School, Town hall, Crown theatre, Comtrust, S M Street, Parsi temple, Chembotti lane, Mariamman Kovil and Thali. Police Commissioner Kaliraj Mahesh Kumar S IPS was the chief guest of the walk.

Rev. Dr. T I James of CSI Cathedral spoke on the advent of the Basel Mission, which heralded the industrialisation of Malabar. He pointed out the pipe organ, the only one of its kind in the state. The Mission’s focus on education saw the establishment of five schools in the vicinity of the church. They also ventured into the new fields of tiles, textiles and printing. Capt. K K Haridas mentioned that the church spire, the tallest structure gracing the city skyline was used as a navigational tool by seafarers.

SM Steet
Walking along Mananchira from CSI Cathedral

 

The Mananchira pond built by Manavikrama of the Samoothiri line of kings was inhabited by circus artistes during British rule. They were later turned away from the place on lack of hygiene. The adjacent Ansari Park, where people would congregate had benches for weary strollers and a public radio system, which was later supplemented with a community TV in the late 1970s.

Crown cinema talkies, which evolved from a theatre in the 1930s, screened English movies exclusively to a highly discerning audience drawn from a cross-section of the arts-loving society. The road-side tea stall was the roosting place of hot-headed radicals debating a future pregnant with the hope of imminent revolution.

Kozhikode
As a vendor plies his trade, history buffs are all ears to the narrator under the benign gaze of the master tale-teller of S M Street

 

Comtrust Weaving Factory dating back to 1859 is a decrepit witness to the industrialisation of Malabar. The Basel Mission introduced modern European-type frame looms that could weave broader cloth. They introduced dyeing based on chemical process and the new mercerized yarn. All activities other than actual weaving; spool winding and dyeing were mechanised. Steam engines were used for this purpose. The weaving factory ceased working in 2009. Conservationists want the state to intervene for conversion of the heritage structure into a living museum with a portion highlighting its industrial legacy.

Their products were marketed throughout the British Empire from Basra in the Middle East to Burma {modern Myanmar}, Malaya, Borneo and Australia. The company used British trade channels in marketing these products, which were used by Europeans living in British colonies or the local population in these countries who imitated a European style. In the 1930s sturdy ‘airplane cloth’ manufactured here was used by the aviation industry. 

Kozhikode
The only pipe organ in Kerala, gifted to CSI Cathedral by St. Ayden’s Church in Cheltenham, England 

 

A Abdul Rahim, a third generation merchant of S M Street waxed eloquent on how it was the merit of the merchants and not the siren song of the street that lured shoppers. This according to him is the reason why the statue of S K Pottekkatt, the most renowned tale-teller of this iconic street is facing it and not gazing towards Mananchira. He proudly recounted how old-timers would portray S M Street as Kozhikode’s Chandni Chowk in which scenario Kottapparambu would transform into Red Fort!

History and tales of the city were narrated by Vinodkrishnan T Y, including that of Tali, where the walk wound up.

The walk was the third in the ongoing ‘Walking Kozhikode’ series. ‘Kabani,’ which has been involved in tourism-related issues and research for the past decade, is planning to conduct similar city trails for students, travelers and history enthusiasts, for sensitising people on the history and values of cosmopolitan Kozhikode – ‘the city of values.’