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| Last Updated:12/01/2021

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Cycling Group Logs Heritage Sites along OMR-ECR Trail




Mr. Ramanujar, along with his cycling group, Cycling Yogis, has been pedalling across ECR and OMR since 2013, “but we started documenting our findings only from last September,” he tells us.



When Boats Plied from Adyar to Mahabalipuram


Today, with good roads, you can reach Mahabalipuram, where both the parallel roads — OMR and ECR — meet, in just a matter of 90 minutes. Rewind to a time when there wasn’t any road accessibility. “Back then, people would travel through Buckingham Canal on boats to Mahabalipuram and it took up to 14 hours from Adyar to reach there. The canal runs between both the roads. People thoroughly enjoyed those rides.”







Some of the colonial structures along these two stretches are Mamallapuram Lighthouse, Thiruporur Police Station and Covelong Salt Factory 



Canal, temples, culture and more on this trail


Today, the canal is unusable. In several records, there are mentions of Annie Besant’s picnic to Mahabalipuram by boat in 1894. She, along with others, left for Mahabalipuram from Adyar on two canal boats. They slept on the boats and came back from Mahabalipuram two days later. There used to be pilgrimages on boat to the Covelong Shrine, boat tours organised for student scouts to Mahabalipuram, etc. Boat rides during full moon nights were thoroughly enjoyed by people,” says Ramanujar.



History unfolds along these two roads


He says that we fail to notice many of the hidden historical facts along these two roads while speeding through ECR and OMR. “Not many know that there are sites associated with prehistoric times, especially Megalithic Burial Sites, in places like Ottiyambakkam, Thiruporur, and Siruthavoor along OMR. These are sites recorded by the Archaeological Survey of India. There are religious places that provide information on art, architecture and socio-history of those times. For instance, there’s Kailasanathar Temple in Kovalam that dates back to the 8th century. Then, there’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Kovalam, which was built somewhere between 1800 and 1808. The Marundeeswarer Temple in Thiruvanmiyur has architectural influences of both the Pallava and Chola times,” sums up Ramanujar.








There are still a few vernacular structures like these houses in Thiruporur (here and left) along ECR and OMR, which are otherwise lined with cafes, resorts, corporate companies, etc



This plaque at Thiruporur police station, a colonial building, displays the date on which its foundation stone was laid









The Times of India - Chennai, 23/05/2019; Section: Chennai Times, Page: S1