THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: What looked like a troop of kangaroos leaping out of Government Central High School, Attakkulangara, were actually participants of ‘Heritage Hunt’ bolting with their second clue in hand. What did they had not known, however, was that the organisers would ask the name of the tree from where they had received the clue.
The only ones to answer the tricky question the students of Attakkulangara. They received a special reward for answering it was a Clammy Cherry or a ‘Pasakka maram’.
The second clue was more bizarre. “In the Chalai fire of November 2014, people came screaming, ‘Save Kettle Sahib’, ‘Save Kettle Sahib’. Is Sahib Rahman safe?”
One would think that this should be easy for city residents, since everyone knows the street that caught fire. However later one of the participants would share, “ I am a resident of Thiruvananthapuram. I would cross this area every day on my way to school, but the only thing I knew about it was that there was a theatre which played adult movies.”
When the participants land at their destination, two volunteers would be handing them the third clue. But not before telling them that ‘Ketal’s Chicken’ there, despite looking like a hole in the wall, was very famous. “ It is amazing to learn that chicken gets parcelled to Delhi from here,” said Shreya Shetty from Mumbai. Then and there, she made a lunch plan with her friends.
These ‘hunters’, interning at an architecture firm, had boarded a bus from Kollam and were the last ones to arrive. “ We are not going to win. So we might as well enjoy the hunt,” said Bhavageetha M P, one of the interns said. She and her team mate Arzath Parvash asked an old shop keeper where Chithra theatre was. Maybe he, A Musthafa, mistook them for two youngsters out to catch a movie. He said, “ The theatre was shut many years ago.” The two non-Malayalis persisted in English, “ What about the silver horse of Kumaraswamy? Navaratri?” He answered, “ Oh Navaratri procession? It comes from Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple and ends at Aryashala temple.” He was ready to deliver a spiel, but the impatient youngsters would not let him. Finally he gave in and told which way the theatre was.
The tenth and final clue was; “ On this stage, monthly Kathakali performances were held from 1980 onwards.” This clue brought the participants back to the stage inside Attakkulangara school. It is one of the buildings which will be brought down when TRIDA starts its construction of bus bay.
INTACH, an NGO with heritage conservation as its mandate, had given the school a Grade I rating. Architect Eugene Pandala, INTACH’s Thiruvananthapuram Convenor, said, “ This school is more important than the East Fort wall. The 126-year-old Native School Building has tangible aspects, like its old architectural typologies, which make it valuable as built heritage. In addition, it has innumerable intangible heritage aspects like being the school where poet Ulloor S Parameshwara Iyer and former Chief Minister Pattom Thanu Pillai taught.”
There were around thirty participants.The hunt was one of the many events coordinated by the NGO GoUNESCO on Sunday.
Chalai has several layers of heritage. The diversity of the communities, which include Kachi Memans and Gujarati Patels, is astounding Asha Gopinath, on the treasure hunt