Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bypass road in Tripunithura and the urban ecosystem of heritage town

By D.Dhanuraj

it was a long cherished dream for the commuters from the eastern side of Cochin driving via Tripunithura to have a bypass road alleviating the traffic congestion in the temple city. If the congestion had been felt during the peak hours in the mid 90's, it turned out to be a nightmare for most part of the day in the recent years. so the opening up of Tripunithura mini bypass was a blessing for the commuters. Though the widening of the road is still under way, Tripunithura town has been devoid of any more traffic congestion since then.

Tripunithura town is one of the best study material for the royal township and architecture design. I am told that the reminiscent walls and the ancient buildings including the palace and the positioning of temple are great examples of how the King ensured protection for his citizenry from the intruders and how he kept himself within the fore walls and at the same time in touch with the Praja. Like in Travancore, the temple had significant role in Cochin royal family also and Sree Purnathressan was within the township established by the king of his settings. Some studies also show that the market activity and the leisure zones are designed in a traditional vaastu way that reflects and establishes the royal settings for the town.

I am born and brought up near to Tripunithura. in the last twenty years, I have seen the emergence of new shopping complexes and market activities. But unlike in other cities, they were not very forthcoming to the centre stage nor shaking the grounds while keeping the tradition and culture of the town in tandem. The town has four streets that completes the ecosystem of this ancient town even in 21st century. Nothing has been changed in terms of urban infrastructure except for a few flats and new municipality building. lack of pace with the the concept and idea of Tripunithura being the satellite town of Cochin has been the thorn in the bush for the city goers in this temple town for many decades.

Tripunithura bypass road has eased the traffic congestion within the township since its inauguration. It has diverted the traffic via the outskirts of the town. Though it has resulted in a huge relief for everyone, business community in the town is feeling pitch since then. it is reported that there is a decline in the business and many have already started contemplating shifting the location of business premises. Though it can be termed as a spontaneous order in the market activity, it has also an impact on the heritage and culture of this township.

I don't think any one is against the new bypass. But what has been the failure of the local administration and the planners is that they failed to changed street scape of the town with the advent of the bypass. Streets leading in three directions from Statue Junction (in front of Layam Ground) should have been converted as out door shopping malls and walking malls with improved pedestrian facilities and evening cafes. A temple town tour program could have been another attraction. while the traffic could have been on the outskirts, more business traffic could have been to the heritage locations of Tripunithura. One should not kill any heritage township by neglecting or ignoring the past. More than the monetary value, the culture and heritage helps to social upkeep and self sustenance. it is not too late for the revival of the township in a better way. The local administration should realise that if they business community relocate their activities, they are going to be sufferers at the economics of scale argument.

this a great opportunity and classic example for modernity meets with the culture and heritage of the past. while the modern infrastructure is required, we can incorporate the symbiotic relationship that includes everyone in the society equally honored and owned.

Lets revive the township....