TRIPUNITHURA: Giant trees arch down offering the much-needed shade on the path ahead as one moves past the Thykoodam bridge at Vyttila, and gets closer to the royal town. Moving further, houses that showcase traditional Kerala architecture and temples with frescoes on Hindu mythology and more dot Tripunithura.
It is a reservoir of rich cultural heritage of Kerala. Be it the students and teachers of RLV College who are devoted to artistic pursuits, the performances by the only ‘women’s kathakali club’ in the state, the literary activities at Mahatma Gandhi Library that still draw inspiration from the Independence movement, the state’s first International Centre for Koodiyattom, the Sangeetha Sabhas or the precious collection of ancient manuscripts at the Sanskrit College all bear the stamp of the state’s rich culture.
Nowhere else in the state can one see so many art institutions and cultural performances converging in a small area. However, the fact remains that the authorities have focussed little on turning the cultural heritage into a tool of economic development.
“The setting up of Sanskrit College, Ayurveda College and RLV College here by the erstwhile Cochin royal family led to institutionalisation of art in the area. Over the years, the place became a hub of arts and culture,” said K J Paulose, former Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam and a longtime resident of Tripunithura.
“However, the historical environment should have been exploited for development, also ensuring the sustainability and continuity of cultural heritage,” he said.
Though a proposal for a municipality cultural complex — integrating existing cultural institutions and setting up of new permanent cultural complexes to feature regular events, exhibitions and organisational activities of art clubs — was proposed, the civic administrators did not take it seriously. As a result, the cultural heritage has not yet transformed into cultural ‘asset’ using an able management with broader strategies under a perspective of sustainability.
Scholars recall that the more than 900-year old Poornathrayeesha Temple was once the nerve centre of cultural, art and social movements in Tripunithura, blending tradition and modernity. In old times, the temple was the hub of both Sastra sadas, vocal concerts and other art forms, which thrived to excellence under the patronage of royals such as Rama Varma and Parikshith Thampuran, and the freedom movements spearheaded by C A Balan, N V Krishna Warrier and T K Ramakrishnan.
State Minister and Tripunithura MLA K Babu said that the place has a wide potential for regenerating such a vibrant atmosphere.
“Many places, especially the palaces, in Tripunithura need to be preserved both as a cultural heritage and tourism hub, but it requires government intervention,” said K Babu.
He added that non-availability of space would be a roadblock for building an integrated cultural complex. “Instead, we are trying to develop hotspots in the area with the RLV College as its hub. The construction of an open-air theatre at the Layam Ground is a step towards that mission,” he said.