From Anchuvilakku to Vandipetta, Changanassery beckons tourists with heritage sites

It has been two centuries since the Changanassery Market, the main trading center of Travancore, was opened to the public. The boat jetty near the market is one of the ways to reach Changanassery from the western region. If you come here, you can see the highway to the High Range - Vazhoor Road. 

Due to the changing times, there is a growing demand from the people to look for and implement new development opportunities, including tourism, by focusing on the old facilities and retaining the existing facilities.

Here are some views and development possibilities of Changanassery Market and Boat Jetty.

The Anchuvilakku, which was established to mark the beginning of the market, later became the symbol of Changanassery. The five lanterns were installed in 1905 to mark the centenary of the official opening of the Veluthampi Dalava Market after the transfer of the elephant.

The old-timers say that the five lanterns were placed in the area between the boat jetty and the market by relocating from the place where they were originally installed. It is said that the first lamp was located at Chowk Junction, later known as Kozhichantha, which faces east. The reason behind calling Changanassery the 'Land of Five Lamps' is that this lamp is now in a state of despair.

This stone lamp post personifies the Kerala school of architecture at its finest and was laid here by the legendary freedom fighter Veluthampi Dalava himself. The surrounding market is an area renowned for being a commercial hub and is also attributed to him. Today, people come from around the world to view this beautiful lamp post, with its five lamps still lit using kerosene.

Pandakashalakkadavu is a place where cave boats and small boats used to come regularly. Until three decades ago, hundreds of boats from nearby districts and the western region came to the Changanassery market for trade. There were more than ten mills operating at the Changanassery Boat Jetty, Arupathil Thodu, and Pandakashala Kadavu areas for threshing paddy from the western fields.

The old-timers still remember the boats that lined the area from the boat jetty to the cut-off point. The Kakka Neat Centers and the Income Tax Office (now known as the Office Parampu) were located on the warehouse side. Soil for pottery was also brought in boats.

People used to come to the market in boats from the west, while bullock carts used to come to the Changanassery market from the east and nearby areas. The bullock carts carrying the goods returned with rice and other things. The ancients say that there were innumerable oxcarts in the market. There was a place in the market for the bulls to rest and so on. The place later came to be known as Vandipetta. There are no bulls but there are still carts in the market.

Another group of people lived around Vandipetta, such as those who sold hay for bullocks, those who boiled and sold tamarind powder, and the traditional apothecaries. Their livelihood depended on the bullock carts that came here. Handcarts were also in abundance in the market at that time. There were more than a thousand handcarts with the names of leaders and individuals on the market. This area houses the Musawari Bungalow, a guest house that was used by visitors for official purposes during British rule.

Experts in various fields are of the view that if these schemes are utilised keeping an eye on retaining the heritage of the market and tourism projects are envisioned around it, it will be more beneficial for the development of the market and the country.

The Changanassery-Alappuzha boat route canal, the national waterway, offers more boat services and market-oriented night shopping facilities. The PMJ Complex and the Perunna Rajeshwari Complex are bustling with people at night. They also say that if people can be brought to the market side in a similar way, more development potential will emerge in the sector. It is suggested that long-term development plans be prepared in collaboration with the Department of Tourism, the Department of Irrigation, the Department of Water Transport, and the District Tourism Promotion Council. The views expressed by various organizations and individuals are as follows: ...

The Changanassery market should also implement the same night shopping opportunities that have been successfully implemented in other countries. The market usually closes at 6 pm with most businesses closing. The rest of the time until late at night should be spent looking for opportunities to display and sell handicrafts, folk food, and tourist accessories on both sides of the road to the boat jetty. It should also be seen as an opportunity to see and understand old buildings. Jobs, including cleaning, should be ensured under the leadership of the municipality. The scheme should be implemented in such a way that it does not affect the traders in the market in any way and helps them.

Boats and smaller boats should be arranged for those who come to the boat jetty to see the sights of the market. Arrangements should be made for travel to Kavalam, Pulinkunnu and Alappuzha. Steps should also be taken to ensure that the decorative lights installed as part of the tourism boat jetty project are continuously lit.

The proposed boat jetty - Vettadi - Manankachira tourism projects should be completed on time and small boats should be allowed to travel on this route. Sidewalks and decorative lighting are envisaged as part of the project.

Once this is done, visit the boat jetty at Changanassery Market and check out the possibility of getting on a small boat and returning to Manakkachira on AC Road. If the tents built as part of the Manankachira tourism project are designed for leisure, the area will be expanded.

The waterway from Changanassery to various parts should be deepened. Unscientifically constructed bridges should be demolished and rebuilt. Strengthening the culverts on the sides of the reef will also provide an opportunity for smooth movement of houseboats. If Nattakam can be connected to the port through the Kottayam stream, it will also lead to an increase in freight traffic.

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