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25 Sep 2020, Edition - 1900, Friday

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Coimbatore

It’s Silver Jubilee for JJ Pillar in Ooty

D.Radhakrishnan

Udhagamandalam : Brought into being to commemorate a major milestone in the history of the Annual Floral Carnival (AFC) in this popular vacation destination a pillar better known as the “JJ Pillar” is all set to cross a milestone itself albeit quietly  thanks to the Pandemic. On the 20th of May 2020 the pillar celebrates 25 years of its existence.

Located at the head of the sprawling main lawn of the famed Government Botanical Garden (GBG),the venue of the AFC, the piece de resistance of the summer tourist season in this hill station, the pillar was erected by the AIADMK which was in power then  to commemorate the centenary of the flower festival. It was preceded by several days of scouting for a suitable spot by ministers, state officials and the district administration. After considerable communication between Ooty and Chennai the present spot was chosen.

Designed imaginatively the pillar was unveiled by the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Ms. J. Jayalalithaa on 20th May 1995 while inaugurating the flower show. Ever since it has been a prominent feature of the garden extending over about 55 acres.

The pillar before and after has weathered many a storm and its presence over the years has not been without a fair share of political controversies. Some time after it became a permanent feature of the garden, the DMK which came to power demanded its removal. However the move was given up and the pillar was retained, but in a new shape. Later when the AIADMK regained power the original shape was restored. Early this decade the pillar was in focus again when it figured in an election-related protest. A group of DMK members demanded its removal since the letters depicted Ms.Jayalalithaa. The protest was called off after officials in charge of the Garden covered the pillar temporarily.

All said and done the concrete structure has now blended with the natural beauty of the Botanists’ paradise.

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