December 23, 2016
Udhagamandalam: What India Gate is to Delhi and what the Gateway of India is to Mumbai, Adam’s Fountain is to Ooty.
Lamentably a monument of this stature has for a long time now not been getting its due as a result of which it now faces the threat of becoming just another neglected legacy of the Raj.
Located in the heart of Charring Cross on the threshold of this hill station, the fountain is steeped in history. Regrettably not many even among the local population are aware of its glorious past.
The fountain was erected in memory of Governor Adam who had made himself popular in many ways during a brief tenure of office which was terminated by his death here. It was erected, by public subscription, sometime in 1886, at a total cost of about to Rs14, 000.
It was first intended to be placed in front of the market, but subsequently it was found that the site in front of the Collector’s Office was better. Since it was discovered that there was not enough pressure for water to spout freely, it was decided towards the end of 1898 to shift it to its present place.
Expressing concern over the growing threat to the monument from different directions including unplanned development of its surroundings and abuse by local people particularly those owing allegiance to various political parties and irresponsible tourists, the Managing Trustee, Nilgiris Environment and Cultural Service Trust (NEST), V Sivadass, told The Covai Post that the need of the hour was a master plan for the development of Charring Cross with focus on the protection of the fountain.
He pointed out that Charring Cross, which was for long a pride of this hill station, has of late been making visitors and concerned locals wince in disgust thanks to its shabby appearance, increasing congestion and stench from clogged drains.
Stating that before Independence and for many years after the area had been considered to be the showpiece of the town, he said that it was now an eyesore owing to encroachments, hoardings and unkempt traffic gardens. Efforts to spruce up the area even during the main tourist season were lacking.
Referring to its “enormous historic and heritage value”, Convenor of the Indian National Trust for Art, Culture and Heritage Geetha Srinivasan urged the authorities concerned to accord high priority to its maintenance. A plaque containing its history should be displayed at a prominent place and activities like tying of flags and banners which were inimical to its importance should be banned.
The President, Public Awareness Association of Udhagamandalam, G Janardhanan, regretted that on the one hand its popularity as a backdrop for photographs and videos was growing and on the other the rate at which it is being abused was also going up.
Officials and the police said that they were helpless as, “cooperation from the local people especially politicians was not forthcoming”.