Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Sowcarpet at Mint Street, Chennai: A Reminiscent of North Indian Small Town

Min Street A Congested Place
From Park Town to Mint there exist a narrow and heavily congested street with tightly packed buildings with its culturally rich heritage and history.  It’s called Mint Street - a world wherein wholesale markets,  hardware stores, clothe shops, temples, eateries, pavement vendors, street hawkers and stranded cattle  compete for space. The street always remains busy with people carrying head loads of bundles or tri-cycles transporting huge loads of goods or Scooters overloaded with entire family, noisy auto-rickshaws, man-pulled carts and sidelined pedestrians. The entire stretch is an assortment of shops selling all kinds of things - electronic goods, bangles, materials for jewellery, sarees, salwars, dry-fruits, sweets, fruits Rajasthani pickles, papads spices. Name boards of firms and business houses appear in Gujarati, Rajasthani and Hindi scripts.

What could be the tradition and culture of Jaipur or Jodhpur is becoming common scene in Sowcarpet and men found in shops and streets wear traditional kurta and dhoti and young and old women walk past  in traditional lehenga choli or colorful sarees with faces fully veiled. It is reminiscent of a small North Indian town.

Long back in 1700s this street was called as washers street, since the Telugu speaking washers and bleachers employed by the British East India Company occupied this street. Soon Beri Chettis and Gomutti Chettis followed them to this place. Also there were middlemen and dubashes. Later on during 1740s Gujarati from the land of Saurashtra known for its textile factories occupied the north western part of mint and got extended their area up to Elephant gate. The Marwaris (from parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat states)  known for their money lending business also mingled with these joints. The present name 'Sowcarpet' derived from the Hindi word 'Sahukar' meaning money lender. It is a place where people from different states, different languages, different cultures live together in harmony. 
Mint Street at Sowcarpet - Street Scene
Sowcarpet Narrow Lane Glittering with Rake - A Day before Raksha Bandhan
Textile at Sowcarpet Lane
Women in Sowcarpet Lane
Typical Marwari Elderly Woman

Typical Marwari Elderly Man
Men at Rest in Sowcarpet
Juna Jain Mandir
Mehendhi Session
Street Scene at Sowcarpet
Another Street Scene in Sowcarpet
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