Recognition on its Way for Old Lighthouse in Pondicherry
Plans are on to promote the lighthouse as a cultural hotspot by setting up a permanent museum inside it to house rare artefacts, images and photographs tracing the rich maritime tradition of ports on the Coromandel Coast and their cultural connections with the rest of the world since the first century BC.
Special emphasis will be on Puducherry, elaborating its ancient connections through a series of drawing and photographs of Arikamedu that saw flourishing trade with Rome in the first century BC
The proposal, initiated by the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), had been affected by administrative issues but union minister of planning, parliamentary affairs and culture V Narayanasamy, who visited the lighthouse this week along with Puducherry home minister E Valsaraj, promised that the union ministry of culture would extend all necessary support for the project.
The lighthouse, with oil lamps built by the French in 1836, can be seen from a distance of 24 km. The oil lamps were replaced with electric lights in the first half of the 20th century. Soon, a new lighthouse was constructed on the outskirts of the town and the old one remained as a technical marvel, drawing tourists from far and wide. For a while, visitors were permitted to go up the tower through a wooden staircase. Entry was closed a few decades ago.
“Now we propose to establish a permanent gallery tracing the history of ancient port cities, including Puducherry, with a series of rare artefacts, photos and paintings with the assistance from the union ministry of culture. The ancient monument will be promoted as an important tourist destination in this part of the world,” Narayanasamy said
The proposal includes setting up two see-through capsule elevators enabling the tourist to reach the top of the tower for a view of the entire territory.
“The proposed museum will be the only one of its kind in the country and it will have information about erstwhile ports, harbours, navigation and maritime activities, trade practices, tax systems, political and administrative systems, language and literature, manufacturing techniques, living styles and artistic practices of ancient communities,” said former IGNCA diaspora programme head Suresh Kumar Pillai.