Why Chess Olympiad 2022 gives hope to small businesses in Mamallapuram

It is his individuals who make mamallapuram what it’s all about: the sculptors, migrant craftsmen and fisherman-restaurateurs who soak up Othavadai Boulevard today look hopeful. It’s going to be a hectic few weeks.

Separated from forty-fourth FIDE Chess Olympiad 2022the Covelong Point Surf, Music and Yoga Festival and the Tamil Nadu International Kite Festival are occasions the beach will host in the first part of August.

Leading down to the seaside which displays the picturesque backdrop of the distant shore temple, Wasim Altaf’s small handicraft shop is quiet these days, but the week ahead is very strong, he says.

The store which otherwise shows cotton clothing, marble souvenirs or even singing bowl making, now has covered chess forums in front of its facade. Some have marble pawns, others have perforated carvings and felt-lined packing containers. Wasim, from Kashmir, had bought them last week anticipating consumers throughout the Olympiad process. “That’s what we expect. We received tourists before the pandemic, but not anymoreexplains Wasim, who opened the shop 8 years ago. He hopes avid gamers from all over the world will come out to test the markets, seafood and streets of Mamallapuram – “they don’t just come and play chess and go,” he laughs.

Meanwhile, Devaraj also has big plans for his sculpture shop, Ponni Arts. As well as including additional stone carvings to his already varied assortment – ​​from those of Indian gods and goddesses to souvenirs like medallions and necklaces – he has to organize and empty his store to accommodate new consumers. Before the pandemic, it was thought that July and August were busy months after the French holidays, but since the lifting of the blockages, the problems are no longer the same. And so, the Olympiad which is ending right now, according to him, is a great signal.

“The popularity of my place lies in its stone carvings. They would also like to see that… the natural art forms of Mamallapuram,” says Devaraj.

“From August we will see the effect of the Olympiad,” says car engine R Sakthivel. At the Dr Ambedkar ECR Auto Stand under the ECR bypass, a colorful flex greets avid gamers with a demonstration of a car with a black and white chess board for a roof. Sakthivel is over the moon: “It’s a moment of extreme pride for us. This is the first time that the Olympiad has taken place in India, also in our Mamallapuram.

Chess boards on display in a souvenir shop
| Photo credit: Johan Sathyadas

Sakthivel has no doubt that a match of this magnitude will involve additional visitors to his homeland. It explains how, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Mamallapuram in 2019, there was a welcome barrage of North Indian travelers in the months that followed. “Most of them asked us to take us to where Modi ji took pictures,” he laughs.

Sakthivel expects a similar influx around August after the end of the Olympics. TTDC (Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation) also experienced 12 pit cars as touring cars. Five Rathas, obsolete and new lighthouses, Mahishasuramardini Cave, Krishna Mandapam, Arjuna’s Penance, Krishna’s Butterball, Shore Temple… Sakthivel has set a tourist record for its first visitors.

“We don’t even mind bringing the players for free. We want to show them all around our city. We want them to go back to their countries and speak highly of Mamallapuram,” he concludes.

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