Fun on the beach

Published : Oct 10, 2008 00:00 IST

AS Deccan Boat cleaved through the serene, commingled waters of the Bay of Bengal and the Buckingham Canal, a beautiful stretch of rolling sand dunes loomed into view.

There were a few stone-benches that faced the sea on the sand, and a little distance away were mangroves and a few palmyra trees. As the boat beached gently into the shallow waters, C. Krishnamoorthy jumped ashore, proudly pointed to the beach, and said, We just call this The Island. Just see if there is a single piece of paper lying on the beach. It was spotlessly clean, and total silence prevailed on The Island.

Yet on weekends and other holidays, this stretch of 20 acres (one acre is 0.4 hectare) comes alive with several hundreds of townspeople from Chennai or Puducherry. They loll on the sands under tents, play beach volleyball or some innovative game, listen to music or just enjoy being alone. Children ride on inflated banana boats with legs dangling outside; they love tumbling into the waters and being rescued. Youngsters go wave-running on water-scooters or do kayaking. There are pedal boats and row boats.

This is Mudaliarkuppams Rain Drop Boat House and its island, about 92 km from Chennai or 30 km from Mamallapuram, on the East Coast Road to Puducherry. It was inaugurated in May 2003, and until March 2007 business was dull. It now throbs with tourists and weekenders.

The Rain Drop Boat House at Mudaliarkuppam is a success story, said T.K. Nandagopal, Regional Manager (Chennai), Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation (TTDC). People want a change from their mechanical life. Mudaliarkuppam is an ideal picnic spot. There are no facilities for overnight stay there.

A customer liked the Rain Drop Boat House so much that he held the engagement of his daughter aboard four boats tied together as a platform. There were priests to chant the mantras, and nagaswaram players and thavil drummers too on the boats. Another executive celebrated the birthday of his daughters in boats, with festoons, buntings, balloons et al.

Be it Nandagopal or Krishnamoorthy, manager-in-charge of the Rain Drop Boat House, or Samikannu, the cook, or the boat operators, all attribute its success to M. Rajaram.

After Rajaram took over as the Managing Director of the TTDC in July 2007, he organised a boat race on August 15, which was given wide publicity. Tourists started arriving. The introduction of high-speed, steerable water-scooters, powered by Yamaha motors, attracted even more people.

Another boat race, held in coordination with the Madras Boat Club on May 11, 2008, set the tills really jingling. The turnover in 2003-04 was only Rs.60,000. It shot up to Rs.18.5 lakh, with a profit of Rs.4 lakh, in 2007-08. We expect a turnover of Rs.35 lakh in 2008-09, said Nandagopal.

Most visitors are those who live in apartment complexes in West Mambalam, Anna Nagar, Tiruvanmiyur and Adyar in Chennai. They bring their food and music systems and head for The Island in boats. To those who want to angle, the Boat House provides fishing tackles.

Drinking and smoking are taboo on The Island.T.S. Subramanian
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