New Braunfels, Texas (TX) is a city between Austin and San Antonio. You would pass through it on Interstate 35 (I-35). It also has an old German Town called Gruene (Pronounced Green). New Braunfels, TX is also one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. When I visited Gruene in New Braunfels, I couldn’t help but remember Kanadukathan, a town near Karaikudi in Tamil Nadu- India.
Kanadukathan is a town in Southern India. It is a historic town with large mansion-like houses. Infrastructure wise, it is a well laid out town and it is a treat to walk around the streets, watch the houses and revel in the beauty of little ponds (called Oorani) in the area. No wonder, this town attracts a lot of tourists from around the world.
New Braunfels was founded and settled in in the year 1845, by Prince Carl of Solms from Germany. During the city’s founding, John O. Meusebach was appointed as the city’s first Beschutzen—which is a word for protector in German.
The city limits of New Braunfels is home to Gruene Historic District. Gruene historically had a lot of rich infrastructure like the bank, a post office, a general store, a school, a gristmill, a lumberyard, a dance hall, and a cotton gin distillery, even when it was unheard of for a large part of the world otherwise.
Kanadukathan on the other hand has a very rich history. One of its highlights is the stunning Kanadukathan Palace. The history of this palace goes back to the 1900s and it took about ten years to build. From then to today,, this town is known for its unique architecture. Thirumayam fort is a 15 minutes drive from Kanadukathan. Some of the temples surrounding Thirumayam are carved out of mountain’s and is over 1000 years old.
Rich in culture
When it comes to culture, there is nothing like the authentic vibrance of Kanadukathan. The famous Chettinad cuisine satiates many local palettes here, but has also gained a lot of global recognition. The homes here are known for having entrances which resemble those of temples. Kanadukathan also offers the Sunday market where the local vendors bring in vegetables and more for the locals to buy.
The city of New Braunfels also organizes a lot of festivals to celebrate the quintessential Texan spirit. But, Wurstfest is a globally renowned festival- which celebrates the German spirit of this city. It is held in November each year and the exuberance of the festival is such that you will have to make your plans well in advance to find a place to stay during this time. This festival is hosted on the Comal River and offers amazing music, food, rides, games and dancing to the attendees. People enjoy German, Texan and domestic beer here coupled with special events and they have gone a step ahead by creating a mélange of Alpine and Bavarian Style Entertainment here too. The summer also offers tubing on the Comal River which is very relaxing.
At the same time, there are so many restaurants offering a host of cuisines to the visitors. One such place that I visited was the Gristmill River Restaurant and Bar. Due to a long wait, we had to go to another restaurant nearby, though- most of them were quite busy!
Difference of opportunity and exposure
As I mapped out similarities on my trip, I thought about what makes Gruenne in New Braunfels different from Kanadukathan. Maybe it’s the continually increasing population, the mingling of different cultures and the ever growing infrastructure. Tourism here is more about a balance of nature and history. Kanadukathan is definitely similar in terms of tourism- the cuisine and the architecture attracts many visitors each year. Even so, Kanadukathan is not as busy as Gruenne and has not grown as it can considering the potential it holds.
The New York Times wrote an article on New Braunfels, TX talking about how it’s one of the most up and coming cities of Texas. Kanadukathan also offers great opportunity for growth. The town can organize food festivals or create other festivals unique to the culture. The local delicacies of this area are popular across the globe. We could organize many other such festivals, and pull people from across the world. More restaurants can open up and, perhaps with the use of a little more digitization for exposure, this town could really end up becoming as busy as it’s contemporary. The ambience when all this is done, could be even better than the one in the German Town.
A lot of hidden gems in India remain unexplored. While locals are acquainted with these towns, they remain lesser known to the rest of the world. While Kanadukathan may be a little well known, we could do more. We have exciting times ahead of us and opportunity for growth across a lot of little towns in India.