Exploring the ancient places of the cotton city
By Ananya Anandh
Nested at the banks of Noyyal river and surrounded by the Western ghats, Coimbatore is an eminent city in South India. It is well known for its hospitality, rich culture and heritage. In the early days, prior to the 2nd century AD, Coimbatore district was a part of the Kongu country. It’s history traces back to the Sangam age, during which the place was occupied by tribes. The most prevalent among them were the kosars who had their headquarters at “Kosampathur”, which later became “Coimbatore”.
The tribal settlements however did not last long. They were exceeded by the Rashtrakutas. They were in turn succeeded by the Cholas and then by the Chalukyas, Pandyas and the Cysalas. These dynasties had a lot of influence over time in the art and culture of the city. Many of the historical temples were built during this period. The Anglo-Indian settlements during the British era paved the way to many schools. Here is a roundup of historical places that should be on every millennial’s must-see list during his/her visit to Coimbatore.
1. Gass Forest Museum
Located inside the Tamil Nadu forest academy, it is a one-of-a-kind museum that has an exquisite collection. It was built by Henry Anderson Gass, who was the Conservator of Forests for the Coimbatore circle in the pre-independence era. The museum houses a life-sized model of an intimidating Indian Gaur, which was presented by Sir Jayachamarajendra Wadiyar Bahadur, the last Maharaja of the princely State of Mysore. It also contains a rich collection of birds, a timber library, a collection of useful and harmful insects associated with forests alongside certain species of butterflies and moths.
2. PSG Sarvajana school
The school started out in the year 1924, with 170 students and 7 teachers. Today, it has grown big, imparting education to 3300 students through a faculty strength of 110. One of the most famous incidents in the history of the school is that in September 1926, Rabindranath Tagore himself visited the school and sang ‘Jana Gana Mana’, which was composed by him. Since then it became the school song, even before it was declared as the national anthem. Apart from Tagore, many other dignitaries like Periyar and Mahadev Desai have visited the school before independence.
3. Marudhamalai Murugan temple
Located on the lush green Western ghats, the Marudhamalai temple is a very famous temple dedicated to Lord Muruga. The temple is said to have been constructed in the 12th century. The hill also contains abundant amounts of medicinal herbs. The prevalent calmness and serenity is sure to give us a true spiritual experience. Apart from religious activities, the temple is also involved in many social activities. It provides a home for destitutes, where education is also imparted to them. The temple also has a Siddha hospital where the poor are treated for free.
4. Stanes A.I Higher secondary school
The school was established by Sir Robert Stanes in 1862, starting with four children and two teachers. It started as a European and Eurasian school. It is also noteworthy to say that Sir Robert Stanes was the first chairman of the Coimbatore corporation. The school had its sesquicentennial celebrations in the year 2012 with our former President Dr. Kalam as its chief guest. Today it stands tall with over 4000 pupils and 150 staff and still remains one of the best schools in the city.
5. Victoria Hall
The Victoria Town hall was built in the year 1892 by Narasimalu Naidu, in honour of Queen Victoria. It holds an important place in the history of Coimbatore before independence, as it hosted a number of public meetings, council meetings, civic receptions and banquets in honour of the freedom fighters visiting the city, including Mahatma Gandhi and Rajaji. Municipal council meetings were held in the hall till 1953. It also had a library and living room back then. It now stands as a heritage structure that is more than 100 years old and is a part of the Coimbatore corporation’s administrative buildings.
Water from the Siruvani river is known for its renowned taste and mineral properties. In fact, it is considered to be the second tastiest water in the world. The gateways of the reservoir on either side of the road across the dam typically showcase the Kerala and Tamil architectural styles. Siruvani is also home to certain tribes like the Mudugars and Irulars. The waterfalls are a definite treat to dive in during the summer season.
7. GD Naidu museum
G.D. Naidu was an industrialist and an inventor from Coimbatore who had a great passion for automobiles. Some of his famous inventions were the Rasant razor, a mechanical calculator, super-thin shaving blades, a distance adjuster for film cameras, a tamper-proof vote-recording machine and a Kerosene-run fan. He also contributed to agriculture through his inventions of new varieties in cotton, maize and papaya. He was also the first person to design a coal-fueled bus for public transport. A museum has been dedicated to showcase all his inventions. It is a must visit for all the science and automobile enthusiasts.
8. Kallar farm
The Kallar horticultural farm at the foothills of Nilgiris, is clad by misty hills and gushing waterfalls. Like Nilgiris, Kallar is also a place of great natural beauty and is hence quite a tourist attraction. The farm lies in between Mettupalayam and Ooty (Udhagamandalam). This farm is mainly dedicated to the conservation of vegetation and extends over an area of 8.95 hectares. Kallar Horticulture Farm is also called ‘Museum of Crops’!
Today, Coimbatore is a major hub for textiles, industries, commerce and education. It is very famously called the Manchester of South India, as it is the largest producer of cotton and it houses a vast number of textile mills as well. The city also flaunts a very pleasant climate. Apart from these places, the city has a lot of other places which are also of much historical importance. The list includes the Konniamman temple, Ramakrishna Mission Vidhayalaya, Kasthuri Srinivasan Art Gallery, St.Francis A.I school, etc. A visit to these historical places is a visit through time as each place showcases its age old heritage.
(All the photos in the article have been sourced from the internet)
ANANYA ANANDH (PG, 2017-2020)is an introvert trying to make a difference in the otherwise small world. She loves to read, surf and meet new people.
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