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Mosques in history

Minarets of Athar Jamath Mosque on the Oppanakara Street in Coimbatore






Striking architecture, history and faith greet K. Jeshi as she visits some old monuments

Tipu Sultan offered prayers at Kottaimedu. His soldiers prayed at the Thondamuthur mosque. On their way to battle at Palakkad, they rested at Idayarpalayam with their horses. Then in the 1800s Athar merchants from Tirunelveli made Coimbatore their home and built the Athar Jamath mosque. According to M.I. Mohammed Ali, general secretary of Coimbatore District United Jamath (that heads 193 Jamaths in Coimbatore district), there are 120 mosques within the corporation limits. “In some mosques the older structures have given way to expansion while some Jamaths have taken efforts to preserve them.”

Athar Jamath Mosque

Oppanakkara Street

A pair of silver minarets shimmer in the morning. It’s 9 a.m. and sun rays filter into the Mosque on the bustling Oppanakkara Street, one of the oldest mosques in the city. Traders stroll in one by one, some of them straight from the market with their goods, spend a few minutes in silent prayer and get going. It is not just Muslims, people from other religious communities too stop by.

At the entrance, a giant hand-crafted wrought iron gate gives way to a hauz or a water pool (where Muslims perform a ritual before offering their namaz) and then comes the prayer hall. The building has Italian and Mohammedan architecture influences. The white pillars that dot the prayer hall are Italian while the colour scheme of white and green and the multi-coloured window glasses are quintessentially Mughal. Externally, the domes are decorated with geometric designs. “It was a thatched hut in the 1830s built by our forefathers who were athar sellers from Tirunelveli district,” says Abdul Kaleel, a retired Tahsildar and muttavalli (head imam ) of the mosque. The Jamath has over 1000 members, all descendants of athar merchants. An executive committee with 15 members looks into the maintenance of the mosque. The construction, spread across 10,000 sq.ft., began in 1860 and was completed in 1904, under the supervision of 52 athar families. “Our forefathers had their homes in the area and built the mosque here,” says Kaleel. The mosque is built beside the tomb of Hazrat Jamesha Waliullah, which is now a dargah. “On the same road, we have St. Michael’s Church, Koniamman temple and the mosque. All the structures are over 100 years and they stand testimony to a time when communities beautifully co-existed. Even today, the Koniamman temple car procession halts at the mosque for a few minutes and then proceeds,” he says. Personalities including Russian premier Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and stalwarts such as Kamarajar and Kalaignar Karunanidhi have visited the mosque. The prayer hall easily accommodates 3000 people during prayers on Eid. “Fifty years ago, we could see the minarets of the mosque when we trekked to the Marudhamalai Hills,” says Kaleel.

Kottai Hidayathul Islam Safia Jamath Mosque

Kottaimedu

Kottai Hidayathul Islam Safia Jamath stands tall at Kottaimedu. It dates back to the 17th Century and is one of the biggest mosques to be built in Coimbatore during the reign of Tipu Sultan. He is supposed to have offered prayers here. “The original mosque was built in 1776 by Tipu Sultan, which was destroyed by the British,”says T.I. Abdul Wahab, general secretary of Kottai Hidayathul Islam Safia Jamath Mosque. In 1901, Haji Mohammed Pillai Rawther raised the structure and it was completed in 1910. The inner pavement is of white marble slabs, ornamented with black borders. It is beautiful and lends coolness to the place. The white marble pillars represent Indo-Arabic styles. The floors are lined with exquisite pink carpets that came from Mysore. Traditionally, smaller size bricks were used for the construction of pillars, which were then polished with a mix of limestone and egg. The mosque also imparts education. A madrasa, a higher secondary school and an Arabic college function on its premises.

Ahle Sunnath Dakhni Jamath mosque or Tipu Sultan Mosque

Idayarpalayam

A muscular limestone wall, two gleaming teak pillars with intricate work, an elaborate teak wood roofing with horizontal and vertical wood panels, and a central enclosure (for the Imam) that has a semicircular arch-like entrance with delicate carvings … the Tipu Sultan mosque at Idayarpalayam is a piece of history. Built in the Mohammedan style, it is as old as 250 years. “Tipu Sultan, his horses, and his soldiers rested at Idayarpalayam on their way to Palakkad, and that’s when he built the mosque,” narrates E. Nizamuddin, president of Ahle Sunnath Dakhni Jamath Mosque. He says references to this event can be found in the book Danayakan Kottai, a history on Tipu’s reign at Dandanayakan Kottai in Sathyamangalam. “ Those days, 13 people could stand in a single line inside the prayer hall and offer namaz. A small thinnai in the front accommodated some more and totally 40 people could worship at a time. Now, after making extensions, 400 people can pray together.”

The traditional prayer enclosure is covered on three sides with a single entrance and no windows. “This was a strategy followed by Tipu to protect themselves from backdoor attack by enemies,” he says.

The Jamath has over 600 members from Idayarpalayam and the president says with considerable pride how different communities co-exist peacefully. Now, they are geared up for the grand celebrations of Hazrat Noorsha Aulia’s dargah that completes 255 years on October 19. “The celebrations begin at the house of Oor gounder P. Radhakrishnan. He leads the procession of ‘santhanakudam’ that culminates at the dargah. This is followed by night-long prayers in which everyone participates.”

This article has been corrected for a factual error.
 

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A flashback on the cinema hub of Kovai

COIMBATORE: There was a time when this locality would be buzzing with the resonance of clapboards and the holler of the exhilarating word, 'action'. Lights would flash, actors would play myriad characters and a camera would capture the ongoing action. Puliyakulam Road can be easily billed as Coimbatore's pride as this is where Pakshiraja Studios, one of the foremost motion picture studios in the city, took its baby steps to Tamil film industry and churned out some of the biggest blockbusters of its time.

Taking us on a walk down the memory lane, historian CR Elangovan, informs, "Central Studios in Singanallur was where all the film action began. After a certain point of time, industrialist SM Sriramulu Naidu, set up the motion picture studio Pakshiraja Studios in the Redfields area in 1945. The property was taken under lease and he ran the show for sometime. After the lease periodwas over, the building was returned to the owner."

Azaad that starred Dileep Kumar and Meena Kumari was made here. The film was was remade into six languages and all of them were shot in this very studio. "During the '50s, this locality was nothing short of an entertainment hub. The studio would be buzzing with activity as the film shoots would happen throughout the day. They had a certain type of mikes that would be placed above the actors. Only those who had a high-pitched voice would be able to record easily," says historian Perur K Jayaraman.

While Tamil cinema fans are still proud about the fact that MGR's Malaikallan was shot here, the studio also played host to many big names of that era, like PU Chinnappa and Chittoor V Nagaiah. An umpteen number of films in different languages including Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Kannada and Sinhala were churned out from the same studio. Operations came to a standstill more than four decades ago at this building, which has now been converted into a wedding hall.

Puliyakulam Road is also considered a model stretch for unity in diversity, according to Elangovan. "Around 300 years ago, this area was a settlement that comprised people belonging to a community, of which a sizeable population embraced Christianity. The area has a good mix of people that follow Christianity and Hindusim, which is why one would find an ancient Mariamman temple and a church on the same street."
 

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A road that’s always abuzz with activity

COIMBATORE: If you happen to pass this small stretch that connects Bharathiyar Road and Avinashi Road, don't be surprised by all those ambulances that ply past and kids running helter-skelter, before and after school hours. After all, this minuscule stretch houses one of the most well-known multi-specialty hospitals and schools in the city. The petrol bunk on one end ensures that the road never has a dull moment.

"The hospital was established in 1952 by G Kuppuswamy Naidu, who was the founder of one of the earliest mills in the city, Lakshmi Mills. One of his family members had passed away at a very young and the hospital is said to have been built in his memory. The school was also started by the same group in 1954 to promote education. This area became a part of Papanaickempalayam village that was formed on November 11, 1711," said Rajesh Govindarajalu of INTACH.

This apart, the road also houses Nani Palkhiwala Auditorium, named after one of the most reputed legal experts in the country, Nanabhoy Palkhivala. It's one of the favourite spots of art and culture enthusiasts in the city as there will be some cultural event happening every now and then. The Coimbatore Book Club also meets at this very auditorium at regular intervals, he said.

For city-based businessman Vijay Krishnan, who is always on the move, the major pull factor on the stretch is the series of snack stalls. "I stop by almost every evening and dig into some of these yummy snacks. There are quite a few on the stretch, and if you get the hunger pangs, you can come to this road without batting an eyelid. You will go back content," Vijay said.

The road is also adorned by the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, thus giving it a devotional touch for the spiritually inclined. "The temple is more than a century old and is said to be the Coimbatore's equivalent of the Balaji temple in Tirupati. The temple still uses a pulley to draw water from the temple well. One can see the temple elephant passing by every now and then. This must be the only road that has kids running around, medics and ambulances plying past and an elephant taking its slow strides," winds up Govindarajalu.
 

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The road where residents do not complain of pollution

The road where residents do not complain of pollution^^

COIMBATORE: Bharathi Park Road, named after the famous Bharathi Park built in 1934, and flanked by the forest college on one side, is known for its greenery and calm atmosphere.

"Before Independence, this park was called Goshen Park as the then governor of Madras, H E Viscount Goshen, came to the city to inaugurate the Siruvani tank and the park constructed on this road," said Rajesh Govindarajulu, city-based historian. It was the Siruvani tank that attracted several businessmen to build homes in the area.

The road begins with the famous Avinashilingam deemed university located near the Mettupalayam road. Small stationery shops and other petty shops came up outside the university for a 100m stretch. "Past the shops, there are 7 cross roads that emerge from Bharathi Park road, all ending at NSR Road which is the commercial area," said historian Perur K Jayaraman.

The famous Bharathi Park is home to several bigwigs of the city. "There's a famous glass house located on the third cross street of Bharathi Park road built in early 1960s. Spread across 64 cents, it was built by Neelakantan Iyer who owned several plantations in the Nelliyampathy estate in Kerala. He was a wealthy businessman," said historian Rajesh Govindarajulu.

According to historians, it was one of the biggest bungalows that had a modular kitchen, a grand piano in the drawing room and a spectacular dining table. Later it was sold to C A R Raghunathan who further developed the home and built a beautiful garden to complement the home.

Ragunathan has the finest collection of matchbox cars, watches, pens and ivory. He named the glass house after his wife, Sarawathi Bhavanam. Raghunathan was in the film distribution business and his home appears in the Tamil film ?Malligai Mohini' where actress Latha plays the lead. Many films have been shot here but today, it is in ruins. The land itself was divided in three parts and sold to businessmen after 1970. The last owner of the glass house was A K Venkatapathy Naidu who sold it in 1977.

"Earlier there were just two houses on this road, the glass house and another bungalow named Bharathi owned by a jeweller. It was a deserted area at night and even today we can see many watchmen guarding the bungalows," said Govindarajulu. The Bharathi Park, home to several bird species, squirrels and enormous trees is every resident's favourite place to hang out in the evening.

C Chandra Kumar, a resident of Bharathi Park Road for more than 25 years says, "Even though this road joins the Thadagam road and Mettupalayam road, buses are not allowed to pass through it. It is pollution free with fresh air and a great place to build your dream home." I hope they maintain it this way always, he adds.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/The-road-where-residents-do-not-complain-of-pollution/articleshow/42003275.cms
 

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Century-old colonial building to give way for Coimbatore District Police Office^^^^



The British era District Police Office building which is more than a century old is to be demolished soon and a new building will be constructed in the site. Photo: K. Ananthan
The century-old colonial building that houses the District Police Office (DPO) near the District Collectorate will be demolished to give way for the new spacious DPO. As a first step before demolishing the building constructed in 1902, the office of the Superintendent of Police and other departments that are functioning here will be relocated to a temporary building in Ram Nagar from Friday.

It is learnt that prior to the police, the building housed the forest department office. It is located on Railway Station Road just in front of the main telephone exchange of the BSNL.

The building was handed over to the Police Department in 1908 when H.D. Robertson was the DIG of Police. From 1908-09 it was the DIG office and on September 15, 1972 it was made the SP office.

Superintendent of Police of the Coimbatore District Police M. Sudhakar told The Hindu that the 112-year-old building was the office of many British officers in the pre-Independence era.

“After the Coimbatore District Police was formed, Mr. Vaikunth assumed office as the first SP of the district in September 1972 and had his office in the building. So far, the building housed the office of 35 SPs,” he said.

In addition to the office of the Superintendent of Police, the building also housed the offices of the additional superintendents of police, administration department, district crime records bureau, rural control room, technical wing, anti-land grabbing cell and the passport section.

The SP said that the proposal for demolishing the building arose due to the need for more space as the exiting floor area in the building is only about 20,000 sq ft and because the building structure has become weak and badly required replacement.

About the new building that will be constructed in place of the existing building, the SP said that the three-storied structure sprawling on an area of 33,700 sq.ft. would be constructed at an estimate of Rs. 6.36 crore.

Tender to be floated
Tender for constructing the building will soon be floated by the Tamil Nadu Police Housing Corporation.

Police sources said that they have completed the auction for persons to remove the materials from the existing building – such as the valuable Burma Teak wood with which it was constructed. On completion of the removal of those materials the building will be demolished.

http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/centuryold-colonial-building-to-give-way-for-coimbatore-district-police-office/article6529900.ece
 

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http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/hidden-histories-the-early-banks-of-coimbatore/article6708257.ece

Hidden histories: the early banks of Coimbatore


In 1883, Coimbatore Janopakara Nidhi Limited became the first registered financial institution in the city.

Banking was uncommon in Coimbatore during the 19th Century. Moneylenders and landlords did transactions with farmers and businessmen, but illiterate farmers suffered. There was a need for an institution that would offer financial services in an organised manner.

C. Sadasivam Mudaliar rose to the occasion and established the Coimbatore Janopakara Nidhi Limited on June 22, 1883. This was the first financial institution to be registered under the Companies Act from the Coimbatore region. He steered this Nidhi till 1898; thereafter, advocate B. Venkatachala Mudaliar was its president for a number of years.

This institution came up thanks to the efforts of Ponnuranga Mudaliar, V.R. Krishnaiyer, A.T. Thiruvenkataswamy Mudaliar, C.B. Siddanna Gowder (who was the secretary for 22 years) and C.S. Rathinasabapathy Mudaliar (the son of the founder).

The founders raised a princely sum of Rupees one lakh — 2,000 shares of Rs. 50 each were equally divided into two types of shares. By 1885, another 50,000 rupees were added to the capital. By 1918, the capital is said to have reached Rs. 2,50,000. Subsequently, the management merged the shares into one category. By 1944, the capital was reduced to Rs. 1,25,000 to write off some irrecoverables. On going through the records at its platinum jubilee (1958), we learn that the reserves stood at Rs. 76,152, the deposits at Rs. 5,00,000 and jewel loans at Rs. 4,63,407. The bank functioned out of 15, Vysial Street and had a staff strength of eight, including the secretary, cashier and a head clerk. The head clerk, C.S. Sundararaja Pillai, was duly recognised by the Secretary C.R. Vijayarathnam during the jubilee. Industrialist R. Venkataswamy Naidu, the chairman of The Southern India Mills Association, was the chief guest for the celebrations.

Through its long history, the board of directors of this bank consisted of a number of great personalities — including Vijayaranga Mudaliar, N. Giriya Chettiar, Lalji Sait, M. Sambandha Mudaliar (Sambandam Road in R.S. Puram is named after him), B. Range Gowder, Pillar Chettiar, M.S. Palaniappa Mudaliar and the film millionaire Swamikannu Vincent. People such as C.S. Meenakshisundaram Mudaliar, T. Narayanaswamy Gounder and L. Munianna Gounder guided the institution during tough times.

The management of this bank was clear about its priorities — it included safeguarding investments and earning a decent return while practising socially-conscious lending. They did not want to exploit the rural farmer who pledged his all in order to raise crops on his farm. Several such institutions existed during the early half of the 20th Century and the Dravya Sahaya Bank (belonging to the family of Sir. R.K. Shanmukham Chetty), Coimbatore National Bank, Coimbatore Hindu Kripakara Bank, Kamalalaya Bank, Modern Bank, Thomcos Bank and Coimbatore Bhagyalakshmi Bank were quite popular. Some areas such as Ganapathy and Peelamedu had their own Sri Kumaresar Bank and Karivaradaraja Bank. Over time, social control over banks put an end to them and they were either liquidated or merged with larger ones.

The board of directors of the bank during the platinum jubilee included leading Public Prosecutor T.R. Sundaram Pillai, C.R. Vasantharaghava Mudaliar, Abaichand Vendravan of TV Brothers who had hosted Mahatma Gandhi during one of his visits to Coimbatore, C.R. Vijayarathnam and the socially-conscious Nanjundapuram K. Rangaswamy Nadar, known for his large trademark diamond earrings.

Leading chartered accountants P.N. Raghavendra Rao and C.P. Nataraja Mudaliar audited the bank’s accounts for a number of years. These banks freed the illiterate poor and the downtrodden from the clutches of the cruel and greedy moneylenders.



 

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Wow, great work on this thread. My interest in Coimbatore was recently propped up after I got to know that my great grandfather who was a freedom fighter also played a part in Kovai's history. I've collected as much English sources of info I can find on him and created an article on Wikipedia - Kovai Subri.

He also happened to be the Municipal Chairman and MLA during those times, and the Hindu article on him credits him with creating Gandhi Park. Sadly i'm unable to get any other sources for these claims, and it would be great if those in Coimbatore can see if his photo or records are there in the Town Hall. Any help appreciated.
 
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