The new CMS Kerala Bhavan at Akurdi,built entirely by member contribution,aims to become a cultural hot-spot
The pristine white facade is punctuated by muted browns of the wood work and the blunt golden sheen of the metal detailing. Located near Akurdi railway station,the newly-built CMS (Chinchwad Malayalee Samajam) Kerala Bhavan wears its ambition on its sleeve. The multi- utility hall sports awnings and carpentry designs reminiscent of Kerala.
The cosy foyer is wood-panelled and dotted with more nostalgia-inducing totems – a sprawling Raja Ravi Varma painting,a traditional elephant head dress and the inescapable painting of the backwaters. The hall will be formally inaugurated today at the hands of K Sankaranarayanan,Maharashtra governor. “This is the only Kerala Bhavan in Maharashtra that has been built on this scale entirely by member contribution. There has been no government help,” CMS member P V Bhaskaran is proud to say.
The new building is a remarkable entrant in an area with a sizable Malayali presence. The structure,with an approximate area of 14,000 sq ft,aims to become a cultural hot-spot as well as a secure staying place for whoever is willing to participate. The basic design was conjured up by a Kochi- based firm,in order to realise that quintessential Kerala architectural feel. The interior flooring,staircases and abundant wood work make the building look like a palatial Malayali home indeed.
The CMS Kerala Bhavan has built-in rooms and suites. “Students coming to the city will especially feel safe staying here,” says Bhaskaran. The three floors also house a 600-seater hall,with a balcony space,and a wooden stage to host cultural performances and functions. The walls are adorned with paintings of famous Malayali personalities from history. “Painting is a hobby. I made these for this hall by taking out time at nights,” smiles Bhaskaran,who has been an active part of CMS since 1974,and has been the man about town getting this bhavan ready.
From acquiring the land to the inauguration,the process has taken five years. It has been supported by the contributions of 300 life-members of the CMS and its other activities. The samajam runs a high school,a nursery,an anganwadi and dance classes. Trophies won by the CMS football team stand proudly in the ground floor office.
Though built by CMS,all community activities will be embraced by the bhavan. The hall balcony is expected to morph into a space for yoga classes,while the terrace can host small functions. “We have tried to make sure that every little space here is used wisely,” says Bhaskaran.