Temple land serves as parking lot for devotees, people of film industry

Chennai: Be it Kamal Haasan’s caravan, where he gets into the disguise of Indian thaatha, or the other vehicle that carries food and production equipment for films, every single van, caravan or truck of the cinema industry halts at Vadapalani.

This barren land, located along Nerkundram Paathai, has a story which is as old as the Tamil film industry.

“This parking space is owned by the Vadapalani Andavar Temple, where devotees from various parts of the country park their vehicles. But, the generous nature of the temple management has allowed us to park our cinema vehicles as well,” says the driver of a caravan.

It’s not just in the recent past, but the parking space was used by the people of the film industry even before the temple authorities started to use it as their official parking lot.

The driver further said, “I still do not remember when it all started. It should be from the time when the first film shooting started in this area. Almost 700 unit vans ply in Vadapalani, Saligramam and Kodambakkam. Every van is on duty throughout the year. If they are off-duty, you can spot them here.”

At any time of the day, one can see at least 50 film industry vehicles here, said Raja Narayanan, a caravan driver. “The only time we struggle during the year is when some holy festival happens in the temple. At the time, this space would not be enough even for devotees. So, we will be parking somewhere else, mostly in paid parking areas in the city, on those days,” he said.

When they go for paid parking space, it costs almost 50 per cent of their monthly income, according to him. “We have experienced that. We earn around Rs 20,000 every month as profit. Paid parking costs around Rs 300 to Rs 400 per day. If that is the case, we will have to spend Rs 10,000 for a whole month. If this ground did not exist, it surely would have been a setback for us,” he acknowledged.

Eventually, it became a regular habit for them to park vehicles in the ground. With time, the space started to get the nickname ‘Cinema Parking Ground’.

“‘It has become an identity for this one-and-a-half-acre strip of land. And, a life-saver for us,” the drivers chorused.

Santhosh Mathevan