Jun 9, 2023

Madurai water works buildings

The Arapalayam Water Works - 1892

As a kid who grew up in West ponnagaram (very close to Arapalayam and the Vaigai river) I had often passed by this colonial structure and wondered what it must be!  The beautiful stone architecture with those huge arched openings and cute metal elements at the roof edges and corners always raised a curiosity in me as a kid. It was later that I came to know the function of this building. I have over the years seen the structure sadly deteriorating in front of my eyes and becoming a drinking den for local anti social elements. 

I did some research on the internet to understand the history of the structure. Madurai became a municipality in 1866 under the British rule. In 1892, British sanitary engineer JA Jones executed the project to supply purified drinking water to the people of Madurai. A check dam was constructed across the river at Arapalayam and aquifer wells were sunk on the river bed. 30 lakh liters of water an hour were pumped and supplied to the one lakh population of Madurai at that time. The project functioned till 1980 and had to be abandoned due to the indiscriminate and uncontrolled pollution of the river bed. Madurai under independent India become a corporation in 1971 and keeps sadly failing in public infrastructure till today.

I keep hearing that the city corporation is planning to renovate the structure and put it to public use or convert it into a small library or museum. But nothing has happened till date. 

Photos courtesy Joe Rathinam

An article from TOI

Madura water works at Kochadai -1924

Another interesting water works building from the British era is almost a century old and sadly rotting under neglect at Kochadai along the riverbed. This structure unlike the one at Arapalayam is little known to most people of Madurai due to its location outside the old city limits.  The architecture of this brick structure has Islamic influence in it's arches and looks like a mini fortress. I read that the British armed soldiers camped in it's premises and guarded the water supply during the peak of a cholera ( a water borne disease) epidemic.

It is high time the local administration takes control of such beautiful buildings that have been part of the city's history and preserves them in some form. What is a city without its history?!

Photo courtesy DTNext

The Madura water works at Kochadai

Jun 4, 2023

'Saradha Nivas' at Madurai

'Saradha nivas' -  A posh residence that I had designed in the year 2004 for Mr.Jawahar at Pandikoil, Madurai. The client was very particular on following  vastu principles for planning and wanted a modern yet classical design...and also a sloped roof!  The client also had lavish tastes for high-end finishes, teak wood work, Italian marble and furniture, imported fittings, Spanish tiles and many other exquisite materials. The builder was our mutual friend Mr.Balan and it was a memorable construction journey along with Mr.Jawahar and Mr.Balan as we traveled and spent a lot of time together in sourcing materials. It was an interesting experience in my early career.

The main gate 

Car porch

side gardens

Curved glass for the first time in Madurai 

Spiral staircase 

Inlay work on Italian marble at main door entry

Fish tank partition in dining hall

False cailing

circular daughter's bed

With the happy Clients..

Main door