‘Mini Pampa’ shops hosting pilgrims for the last time
By A Satish | ENS | Published: 22nd November 2012 09:38 AM |
The Mangalam Bridge junction near Vadakkenchery, also known as a ‘mini Pampa’ is once again brimming with activity with the arrival of the ‘mandalam’ season.
Around 70 shops and commercial establishments selling sweets, fruits, bakery items and mineral water are doing roaring business, thanks to the influx of pilgrims. However, for nearly half of these shops, this will be the last season for their business, as they will be demolished to make way for the work on the Walayar - Vadakkenchery stretch of the National Highway, which has already commenced.
“Mangalam Junction has been the halting point for several decades. This is the meeting point for Sabarimala pilgrims who come from Madurai and Palani and those who come from the Walayar side. For three months, there is a heavy rush of pilgrims here,” said K K Jyothi Kumar, chairman of the Jyothi’s Charitable Trust, which has an office adjacent to the bridge.
He said that the Lions’ Club of Vadakkenchery helped build a police aid post at the junction in 1987, where a Sub Inspector and two civil police officers are posted permanently during the Mandalam season every year.
Pilgrims from Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and other neighbouring states halt here enroute to Sabarimala as well as on the return trip.
“While returning, they purchase chips, ‘nenthrans’ and other Kerala-made produce in large quantities,” said Iqbal, a loading worker, as he unloads a truck-load of pineapples, which in turn are selling like hot cakes among the pilgrims.
“We have three shops here, on either side of Mangalam bridge, which sell Kerala ‘halwa’, chips, among other items. One of the shops will be demolished when the NH is widened by 45 metres,” says Sali Aboobacker, proprietor of A S Sons shops, which were among the first to be established in the area.
“These shops would already have been demolished by this time for the work on the highway, but the traders met the Collector and secured time till January 20, 2013.
“Last year, due to the Mullaperiyar issue, business was dull for most of the traders here, but this time the ‘mandalam’ season has proved to be extremely fruitful. Vehicles from Tamil Nadu come into the state through the Govindapuram-Nemmara state highway too. Apart from the regular shops, a lot of wayside vendors also benefit from this,” said Bobben George, who works for a local TV channel, Starnet, and lives near the bridge.