On the coromandel coast of Tamilnadu, nestled on the banks of the second largest lagoon in India, lies a town brimming with tantalizing tales and forgotten fables. Pazhaverkadu, the town is called, the name derived from ‘Pazhamaiyana verugal konda kadu’ which signifies the old Mangrove forests that prevailed here until the advent of civilization. Pazhaverkadu has been home base to some of the most influential and important ruling powers, both Indian and European. This ultimately led to the settlement of several indigenous groups in the locality, with a myriad of cultures living together as harmoniously as the sea and sand of the ocean. Once a bustling port town and rich, serene ecosystem supporting stable ecological balance, today it is a less-known and insignificant fishing village. Government reforms notwithstanding, the place is gradually but surely losing its rich cultural and historical heritage as well as ecological importance. A brief photo journey through the small town explores the life and colours of Pulicat.
A community of fishermen, life revolves around the day’s catch. Ranging from marine species, brackish-water species and few freshwater ones, the community depends on fishing for their livelihood.
The Dutch connection
One of the surviving Dutch buildings was the governor’s office. Currently housed within a hospital complex at the foot of a recently constructed bridge, this typical Dutch building is complete with a wooden lintel with a sloped trim. The front porch is adorned with Tuscan column supports and the four-sided sloping roof is laid with traditional Dutch diagonal tiles. The need for heritage conservation all forgotten, it is being used as storage and waste disposal structure by the hospital authorities.
A semi-circular arched gateway opens to the Old Dutch cemetery now under the protection of the ASI. The keystone is inscribed with a time fly and on the either side a verse from the apocalypse in Dutch. The inscriptions date back to 1656, two skeletons are inscribed on the supports on either side. Above the graves of the famous Dutch, the carvings and engravings symbolize the court of armour belonging to different families. To emphasize superiority, five graves have structures accentuating them, three of these graves have arched pavilions with a detailed cornice and band-work supporting the vaulted dome on the top and another two are covered with an Obelisk on the top with detailed rectangular offsets at the bottom.
Alleys of colour
The village exhibits a vibrant mix of residential blocks, the bright colours, and hues that adorn the streets of Pulicat seems to have greater influence from the Portuguese. If not created from a romantic style of that time, what would the shades of yellow, blue signify? Imitating or representing elements of Lisbon’s eclectic architecture scene within its interiors. Residences covered in tiles and ceramics – Half baroque, half art nouveau – it’s symbolic of the late Romantic period.