Ooty’s iconic Higginbothams bookstore might be under threat, but several Raj-era buildings are putting up a brave fight. ... While century-old Higginbothams may have closed shop after the building it was housed in changed hands, a majority of the Nilgiris’ heritage buildings still stand today. Many of them are in private hands, a few are woefully dilapidated, and some have been lost forever—but several buildings are in mint condition and an integral part of Nilgiris’ contemporary architectural landscape. Dharmalingam Venugopal, honorary director of the Nilgiri Documentation Centre, talks of the famed Assembly Rooms theatre hall, which was recently renovated, as a success story, but points to Glass House, which used to be a famous music hall once and was built before the theatre, which is in a state of considerable disrepair.
Another major landmark fondly remembered by old-timers is Spencer’s Supermarket, which used to be chock-full of imported meats, cheeses and other goods from around the world.Built in the late 1800s, it has been closed for more than a decade now.
Perilously close to complete collapse, the building has become something of a dumping ground for political banners and other paraphernalia. However, the metal roof supports with arabesque designs, and the structure in general, are still in relatively good shape, stoking hope that the building can be restored to its former glory.