Not only industries, tourist spots will also generate job opportunities
is hailed as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and the cultural capital of Tamil Nadu. The excavations at Keeladi and its surrounding villages prove that an urban civilisation existed in the Sangam era on the banks of river Vaigai.
Despite Madurai having many archaeological and historical spots, there is not much focus given towards their preservation and promotion by the candidates of political parties who are contesting in the Assembly elections.
K. P. Bharathi, Programme Leader, Dhan Foundation, says spots with historical importance in Madurai can be categorised as those within Madurai city, on the banks of the Vaigai, traditional trade routes, Jain monuments, and sites with ecological importance. “The Brahmi inscriptions found at the Jain monuments are unique and are more than 2,000 years old,” he says.
V. Vedachalam, former Senior Epigraphist of State Archaeology Department, says Madurai was one of the important ancient trade routes. “Madurai is a city that has all the features to be declared ‘Heritage and Cultural capital of Tamil Nadu,” he says. Even irrigation tanks such as Madakulam, that are part of the old irrigation structure, can be transformed into places of tourist significance because of their rich history, he adds.
However, promotion and preservation of these spots with historical significance is not the priority of the political leaders, says Mr. Bharathi. Promotion of such spots is also important to preserve these monuments. “One of the major issues is that most of the historical sites do not have basic infrastructure like toilets, approach roads, drinking water and information centres,” he says.
Stops with Keeladi
The experts say every time a significant artefact is discovered at Keeladi and the cluster villages, political leaders of all parties speak highly about the ancient civilisation along the Vaigai. “However, it is disappointing that the majority of the political parties are not focusing on the preservation of other heritage spots,” says K.T. Gandhirajan, an art historian.
The candidates contesting in Madurai are canvassing votes with a promise that job opportunities would be created by setting up new industries. However, promoting tourism at spots with historical importance would also help in creating job opportunities, says B. George, Principal (in charge) and Head, Department of Tourism Management of Madurai Kamaraj University College. “There are many potential tourist spots in rural areas that would attract foreign tourists. They will be interested in visiting rural places, interacting with villagers, and tasting the local cuisine. This will definitely generate livelihood opportunities for local residents,” he says.
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