KOCHI: Cannon Shed Road or CS Road near Kochi Boat Jetty is known for its hustle and bustle. The place holds a clutch of stories in its heart. Cannon Shed Road contains several landmarks that serve as reminders of Ernakulam’s past.
The road got its name from a building, which was used as a place to store ammunition during British rule. Built using specially-imported bricks with unique patterns from Mangaluru, the building underwent a few revisions and conversions over time. Popularly known as a canon shed, the building was also called Valiyathokku.
Over time, it functioned as a lady’s hostel under the leadership of Tapaswini, sister of social reformer and politician Sahodaran Ayyappan. “The Abalasaranam Girls Industrial School commenced in 1921 (101 years as of now) and follows the path of Tapaswini Amma who started the institution to fight for women of every caste to be independent,” says Treesa Joseph, who has been the head of Abalasaranam for the past 13 years.
The building also came to be known as the ‘SNDP Sadanam Trust’ during the Oommen Chandy government.Cannon Shed Road has many more stories tucked away in each of its corners. Iyp’s Morning Star Tea Shop, started in 1965, is still a popular joint. Iyp was known for his generosity. “Everyone who needed tea would come here.
Even if they had no money, my father wouldn’t ask them to pay,” says Iyp’s son Cyansi Mukkath, 54, who runs the tea shop now. “CS road was a place where everyone, including sex workers, thieves and ruffians, took shelter. The direct link to Boat Jetty added to the place’s popularity,’’ he says.
Cyansi also remembers the erstwhile tea shop, Kuthirakarante Chayakada. The shop, which existed around 60 years ago, got its name because the owner used to come on horseback. Another important building on CS road is the Maruthi Vilas Hotel, where many famous writers and politicians lodged.
A P Varkey, the old district secretary of CPM, used to have a special room here (Room No. 54). Poet Changampuzha Krishna Pillai, author M T Vasudevan Nair, Poet O N V Kurup and senior politicians such as M M Lawrence were regulars here. Even writer Vaikom Muhammad Basheer owned a bookstore on this road and lived here for a couple of years.