Friday, January 23, 2009

Bazaar man

Any visitor to Chennai desirous of shopping is well advised to visit Pondy Bazaar, a never-failing stretch that will meet all desires - within reason and budget, of course. And so the visitor ventures into that stretch, to be immersed in the sights, sounds - and smells - of the variety of products available. It is highly unlikely that the hawkers in Pondy Bazaar would be caught short of a customer's requirement. The origins of the name, however, are subject to constant debate. One version avers that Pondy Bazaar is so called because the first shops on Sir Theyagaraja Road were built by Devaraja Mudaliar from Pondicherry.

In 1992, the then Chief Minister of Tamilnadu unveiled a statue at the western end of Sir Theyagaraja Road, to kick off the centenary celebrations of the first Nadar to enter the Madras Legislature. The scion of a planter family from Kodaikkanal, WPA Soundarapandian was only 27 when he was nominated to the Madaras Legislative Council in 1920 by the Justice Party. He was by all accounts a success as a leader of the Nadars, but some schisms within the community saw him losing ground later, as the Nadars switched their alliance to the Congress, rather than stay with the Justice Party, after India's independence.

Along with the unveiling of the statue came the official re-naming of of the shopping area as Soundarapandianar Angadi; a name that has probably caused some curiosity, but hasn't lent itself to widespread usage. If you want stuff in Chennai, you will still have to visit Pondy Bazaar!


Raj said...

I never knew this, though I have been a regular visitor to Pondy bazaar for decades!

I enjoy reading your posts. You provide some fascinating vignettes.

Shantaram said...

@ Raj: Thanks! I enjoy your blog too, though I don't get around to it as often as I should!