Oh.. it’s almost New Year. Let’s get our calendars from there. Ganesha Chaturthi round the corner? Let’s shop there for the idols. Mud elephants for Aane pandigai, celebrated by that niche Mandayam Iyengar community – of course you can get them there.
Infrequent visitors to Malleswaram would direct one ‘there’ wrt its more famous neighbours the shopping street 8th cross or the bus route Sampige road (aka Venkataranga Iyengar road), while the residents and regulars know it by its own name.
With temples at one end, eateries at the other bisected by the (in) famous BJP office, Temple Street is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing shopping options. Month to month, season to season, occasion to occasion – not only the vendors on the footpath but even the well established shops have a whole new inventory of suitable items.
There are of course the standard, regular clothes, groceries, etc.. And they of course have double the competition to contend with. Along with other shops in the area, they also have to be ahead of the ones on the road that have a rebirth every season. The shops and vendors reinvent themselves for every occasion and they give a character to this road.
‘Jathre’s and festival celebrations add to the avatars of the Temple Street. Early in the calendar year are the various utsavas by the LakshmiNarasimha temple, followed by its famous Rathotsava, which is celebrated in and travels across not only Temple Road but also the neighbouring streets. This is followed by the Shivaratri celebrations, also causing traffic restrictions– such is the crowd at the Kaadu Malleshwara temple, day and night. A few months later, the 2-day Gangammana Jathre features processions and roadside stalls which attract crowds from across the city. Later concerts for Ganesha festival and the Kadalekaayi Parishe at the end of the year also block the roads with their festivities. Also blocking the road at the narrow end are the occasional crowds who come to watch the tortoises and the water spout at the Nandi temple.
Of course, all this reinvention and festivity comes at a price – paid mainly by the residents of the road, who tolerate all the parking, walking and traffic hindrances and nuisance caused by the roadside stalls, the visitors and the vendors. Of course, the authorities become lethargic once it is packup time after an event. The garbage lies stinking on and along the road and footpath till they are prodded to clear it.
Of course, the presence of the BJP office on the road has its own advantages and many disadvantages. The police react swiftly, especially when there is an important meeting or visitor expected as also in cases like the bomb blast which happened in an otherwise peaceful area. But these visits and meetings add vastly to the traffic woes too, as do the protests in front of the office.
This is Temple Road – a boon for all to enjoy the old and the new on every occasion and in every season, a bane to the residents and commuters who bear with the after effects.