KOCHI: Soon, the Muziris heritage sites in Kerala will join the ranks of star heritage attractions like Venice. The special projects focused on conserving and preserving the rich history of Kerala are nearing completion and will be inaugurated in July and August. What sets these projects apart is their vision of transforming these heritage sites and monuments into “living museums.” These initiatives have been implemented in Ernakulam, Thrissur, and Alappuzha.
In Ernakulam, the project has been implemented in Muziris sites such as Kottayil Kovilakam, Holy Cross Church, Paliyam Oottupura, and the Pattanam tourist interpretation centre in North Paravur. Speaking about the difficulty in carrying out conservation activities at the heritage sites in Kerala, Manoj Kumar K, MD, Muziris Heritage Project said, “The state is densely populated and every monument or heritage site is surrounded by human habitation unlike those in other states.
To address this, the Muziris project was designed to be inclusive of the local community. Manoj explained, “The state is going big on experiential tourism under responsible tourism. It was decided to bring that into the Muziris project too. For example, for the Kottapuram market in Kodungallur, it has been decided to recreate the market of ancient times once a week. The entire place will exude old-world charm. With even the dress being worn by the vendors and people to be that of the yesteryear style,” said the MD.
In ancient times, a lot of vendors from different places used to come to the market and sell their goods to the local people and others. Bullock carts and snake charmers bustled amidst the haggling people. “A project to operate specialised autorickshaws to take the tourists around too is underway,” he said. We have got specialised vehicles like the ones in London for the purpose and also drivers have been recruited, added Manoj Kumar.
The Ottupura located near Paliam Palace at Chendamangalam which had been in a dilapidated state has been renovated under the Muziris Heritage Project for Rs 2.03 crore. The damages to the roof and other parts of the structure have been repaired. The project not only envisages repairing and renovating the structure to make it viable to be used for various purposes by the palace and temple but also breathes life into the ancient art forms that existed at Chendamanagalam. “The Kokkarni, a water source, located near the Ottupura too was renovated for Rs 17 lakh,” said the MD.
Another important site in Ernakulam included in the project is the Holy Cross Church at Kottayil Kovilakam at Chendamangalam. The renovations were carried out for Rs 1.76 crore. The Jesuit Priests from Portugal built this church in 1577. Saint Francis Xavier, the great Christian Missionary, is believed to have lived in the old building of this Church. The project not only aims to conserve the monuments but also to improve the lives of the community here, said Manoj adding that more projects will be arrived at in the next phase.