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Saturday, 17 August 2013

Madras Week 2013 (August 18-25) - A Recap of Madras and My Posts About Madras

Madras Week (August 18-25) 
A Recap of Madras and My Posts About Madras 

History of Madras Week :

August 22, 1639 - Supposed to be the birth date of Madras (Aka Chennai).  It commemorates the founding of the modern city by establishing Fort St George on a small piece of land acquired from the last King of Chandragiri in 1639 by the British East India Company. 

From the Sunday before 22nd August, till the Sunday after 22nd August is observed as MADRAS WEEK. As such, this year's (2013) madras week falls on 18th August - 25th August'13. Many events and competitions been organised for this madras week, to participate in those, check here "" . 

A Recap of Madras & My Posts about Madras :

For me, Madras is all about heritages. Be it a small lane or be it a huge business house, everything has its tradition dates back to the British Era. If I make a list of those heritages, it will go upto infinity. Just posting few of my observations and analysis about few of the street names and statues in Chennai which serves as a landmark of Madras (Chennai) and makes us learn about some unknown personalities. Here am sharing few of such posts which I have posted about Madras in my blog.

1. Bashyam Bashir Ahmad Street - Alwarpet (Name Reason) : 

I Must say, its inspiring to see this street name in Alwarpet. Never saw this kind of name .
Those who don't know where this street is, its next to Naradha Gana Sabha , Alwarpet. These kind of names should be encouraged.

It is Vaishnavite-Muslim name combination, the explanation is simple — it commemorates two men — K. Bhashyam Iyengar and Basheer Ahmed Sayeed. Both were giants of the legal field.

Bhashyam enrolled as an advocate in 1906. He apprenticed under his father-in-law, the legendary Sir VC Desikachariar, and later worked with leaders such as VV Srinivasa Iyengar and S. Srinivasa Iyengar. He was greatly successful in independent practice as well. He wrote a classic commentary on the Negotiable Instruments Act, while still inthe early days of his career and is even nowreferred to at times as NI Act Bhashyam to distinguish him from the other, Sir V Bhashyam Iyengar.

But it is his services to social causes that earned him immortality. Active in the freedom struggle he was beaten by the police and also sentenced. He took to representing in court, people charged for participating in the independence movement. He was to be a member of the Syndicates of the Madras and Annamalai Universities, a councillor, a member of the Legislature and a minister in the Prakasam Ministry of 1946-47. He died in 1959.

Basheer Ahmed enrolled in the High Court in 1925. An expert in languages and also Islamic law, he rose quickly in practice and was later made a judge of the Madras High Court. He was confirmed as a judge in 1950.Like Bhashyam, he too was actively involvedin social causes, one of the prime beneficiaries being the Music Academy, of which he was a member of the executive committee.

It was at his prompting that the Academy purchased its present property. Justice Basheer Ahmed, in 1951, set up the Southern India Education Trust along with afew other prominent Muslims of Madras.

Sixteen acres of land were purchased in theTeynampet area and in 1955, Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru, who greatly admired Basheer Ahmed’s legal acumen and learning, laid thefoundation stone of the SIET College, the first of the many SIET institutions. Justice Basheer Ahmed Sayeed died in 1984.

K. Bhashyam lived in Champaka Vilas, at the intersection of Luz Church Road and Mowbrays (now TTK) Road. That property isa rabbit’s warren of flats now. The other side of Mowbray’s Road, was mainly paddy fields, with the vast Sudder Court (native courts of the 18 century) in the distance. The main court building, Sadr Gardens, was Basheer Ahmed Sayeed’s residence. It still exists, a magnificent pile.

When the surrounding area was developed in the 1940s, roads were laid and one connected Sadr Gardens to Mowbrays Road.In an inspired moment, it was decided to name it after both men and so we have it, Bashyam Basheer Ahmed Street.

2. Greams Road - Name Reason :

Graeme, a civil servant, was a memberof the Madras council (a highly powerful position at the time) for five years from 1823. During his stay in Madras, he owned a bungalow in Nungambakkam, and the road connecting his bungalow to Mount Road was subsequently named as Graeme’s Road. Now Graeme's Road has bee renamed as "Greams Road".

3. Eldams (Yeldham's) Road - Name Reason :

Yeldham,  was a merchant of the Company who went on to become the mayor of Madras in 1801 (he happened to be the last mayor appointed during the Company rule). By the time he died, in 1820, at the age of 68, Yeldham had built a palatial house in Teynampet, and the road leading from his house to Mount Road was subsequently named as Yeldham’s Road. Now Yeldham's road has been renamed as "Eldams Road".

4. Whites Road - Name Reason :

Many of us aware about this much entertaining road.. The road which connects to the Best Entertainment zones - Sathyam Theatre and Express Avenue !! Here is the reason why it has been named as ''Whites Road'' :

The road is named after one Mr. J. D. White, who obtained a grant of land in 1809 and built a house there in 1832. The house went on to become the Madras Club — the first club in the city and for long considered the best in India, hailed as the “Ace of Clubs”. The club moved out of the premises post-Independence and the building was demolished as recently as in 2003 and given way for The Express Avenue.

5. Ethiraj Salai - Name Reason :

Many a times we have passed through the Ethiraj Salai and had a lots of guesses rolling in my
mind as to who is that Ethiraj behind this name. The students of Ethiraj College might be well aware of this personality. It is named after "Mr. Vellore Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar Ethiraj".

Vellore Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar Ethiraj :

Vellore Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar Ethiraj was an Indian lawyer and philanthropist who founded Ethiraj College for Women , a college in Chennai. His father was Thiru. Vellore Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar from Thottapalayam village in Vellore. V. L. Ethiraj received his undergraduate degree from what is today Presidency College,Chennai and received his law degree from the University of Dublin. When he returned to India, he joined The Madras Bar. He was the first Indian to be appointed as Crown Prosecutor by the British Raj .He donated one million rupees (Rs.10 lakhs) as an endowment for Ethiraj College for Women. He believed that educating a man is educating an individual, but educating a woman is educating the entire family. One of Ethiraj's successes was the Lakshmikanthan murder case , which he successfully fought in defense of Tamil actors M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and N. S. Krishnan and got them released from prison.

6. Ranganathan Street - Name Reason :

One of the most crowded and busiest street in the universe, sellers paradise, buyers prefers this place over many other shopping destinations. Whatever be the competition, the shops in this street will never be lack of customers. Yeah , I am talking aboutRanganathan Street in T.Nagar. Almost every one in this universe know or atleast heard about this street name. But only few of us knows the reason behind naming street as "Ranganathan Street". It is named after "Shri Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar".

Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar

What is presently known as Ranganathan Street ought to have been Rangaswamy Iyengar Street after the first resident of that street. It was the usual practice then to name streets after the first resident irrespective of their class, caste or contribution. Mr.Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar, a retired Civil Servant of the erstwhile Madras Presidency built his house in early '20s. When civil authorities approached him for his formal approval the humble, religious and self effasive gentleman requested it be named after Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam .

Where was Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar reside in Ranganathan street ? 

It has been told that the Kerala Jewellers in Ranganathan street is where Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar was resided.. It was named as TUPIL house in those days and now its been completely changed. And also heard that, almost the whole of Ranganathan street is occupied by Tupil Rangaswamy Iyengar and his relatives. Firstly, the house has been let out to one Prof Krishnamurthy Iyer - The ex prinicipal of Pachiayappa's college. It has been occupied by him over a very long period. Later he has built a shop in his house front, on the request made by Mr.Perumal Nadar who is none other than the father of VG Paneerdas and VG Santhosam. Later it has seen a complete make over and now it is entirely occupied by the commercial spaces.

7. GN Chetty Road - Name Reason : 

This road is named after Diwan Bahadhur Sir Gopathi Narayanaswami Chetty.

Diwan Bahadur Sir Gopathi Narayanaswami Chetty was an Indian merchant, landlord, politician, legislator and economist. Narayanaswami Chetty was the son of Gopathy Mahadeva Chetty. He was educated in Madras. He was elected President of Madras Corporation .Narayanaswamy Chetty served as the member of the Council of State, Imperial Legislative Council of India, from 1930 to 1936. He also served as a President of the Madras Corporation. He was a member of the Joint Select Committee of the Reserve Bank of India Bill and played a pivotal role in the formation of the Reserve Bank of India . Narayanaswamy Chetty was made a Companion of the Order of the Indian Empire in 1929 and a Knights Bachelor in 1945.

8. Burkitt Road - Name Reason :

Am sure all the Chennai'tes know about this road. And no wonder, as a chennai'te, we would have known all the roads in T.Nagar because of the traffic diversions. Here i go with the name reason behind this Burkit Road. It is named after Mr.Harold Hamilton Burkitt.

:: Harold Hamilton Burkitt ::

Harold Hamilton Burkitt was a British civil servant of the Indian civil service .Burkitt Road in the neighbourhooad of T. Nagar in Chennai is named after him. Burkitt was born in the United Kingdom and educated at Galway Grammar School and Dublin University . He passed the Indian civil service examinations held in 1899 and arrived in India on 3 December 1900. In India, Burkitt served as Assistant Collector and magistrate in the Madras Presidency for sometime before being appointed British Resident to the Cochin kingdom . Burkitt served as British Resident to Cochin from 2 December 1920 to 25 June 1923 and was succeeded by C. W. E. Cotton . He was Commissioner of Madras City in 1919-20 and President and Mayor of the corporation in 1917-18.

9. Pycrofts Road - Name Reason :

This supposed to be road where i am spending most of the time. Its the place where I was born. Lucky enough to be in the same place since my birth. It is one of the famous landmarks of Chennai, Especially Triplicane and Royapettah. This road is becoming the next ranganathan street at times of festivals. Yes it is, going to share about our very own Pycrofts Road which has been named after Sir Thomas Pycroft. Pycrofts Road has been renamed as  Bharathi Salai now.


Sir Thomas Pycroft was a British administrator and civil servant who served as a member of the Madras Legislative Council from 1862 to 1867. Thomas Pycroft was born in the parish of St John , Hampstead , Middlesex to barrister Thomas Pycroft and his wife Mary Pycroft on 4 December 1807. He was the elder brother of British writer James Pycroft 

He was schooled privately and at Bath Grammar School and graduated from Trinity College, Oxford in 1829. On completion of his education, he was offered a "writership" by the President of the Board of Control of the British East India Company .Pycroft arrived in Madras in August 1829 and served, initially, as writer and then, in the revenue and judicial departments in South Arcot from 1829 to 1839 when he returned to the United Kingdom. 

In 1843, Pycroft came back to India after a three-year hiatus and was transferred to the Madras secretariat. Pycroft was initially appointed Sub-Secretary and then, promoted to Secretary of the Revenue Department in 1845. The very same year, he was appointed acting Tamil translator to the Madras government. Pycroft became Chief Secretary in 1855 and served from 1855 till 1862, when he nominated to the Madras Legislative Council. Pycroft served as a member of the council for five terms from 1862 to 1867. Pycroft died at Folkestone on 29 January 1892 at the age of 84. In 1866, Pycroft was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India . The street in which he lived was named Pycroft's Road in his honour.

10. Statues and Beyond - Equesterian Statue - Gemini Flyover : 

This statue has got its attention whenever we pass the gemini flyover. I have a  doubt for a longer period as to why this statue has been here and who is that person. This is where my quest ends.

This statue was installed some time in 1970′s in remembrance of abolition of Horse Racing in Chennai. 

There were also reports that statue of the man is made with the features of Vandhiya Thevan of Kalki’s Ponniyin Selvan. Two identical statues are installed on both sides of Anna Flyover.

:: Vallavaraiyan Vandiyadevan ::

Vallavarayar Vandhiyathevar was a feudatory of the Chola kings Raja Raja Chola I and Rajendra Chola I and chief of the Samanthas of North Arcot. He was married to Kundavai, the elder sister of Raja Raja I.The territory under his authority was known as Vallavaraiyarnadu. Vandiyadevan is idealized in Kalki's romantic novel Ponniyin Selvan. His name is referred in Thanjavur Big Temple inscription in which he is referred to as the husband of Kundavai Pirattiyar. A life sized statue depicting Vandhiyathevar controlling a horse is erected in Chennai near Anna Flyover in Mount Road as an honour to this great personality during the first tenure of Mr. Karunanidhi as Chief Minister.
This statue was laid to capture the banning of horse race by the government of Tamil Nadu by that time.

11. Statues & Beyond - Labour Statue : 

History behind this statue :

Undoubtedly, the Labour statue is the one of the famous landmarks in Chennai. Here is the reason behind installing this statue.

On a summer evening in May 1923, M. Singaravelar, a labour union leader, conducted a meeting at the Marina Beach near Triplicane, calling for recognition of workers' rights, and pledged to create a political party to represent the rights of labourers, which was India's first ever May Day rally. 

To commemorate this, the Labour statue, depicting an inspiring posture of a team of labourers has been installed in Marina Beach opposite to Madras University.

Man Behind This Statue : 

This statue was Sculpted by Mr.Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhry, who was the first Indian principal of the then Government of Madras School of Arts and Crafts (Now it has been called as Tamil Nadu Government College of Fine Arts).

When : 

The statue was installed on the eve of the Republic Day in 1959, as part of the Kamaraj government's drive to beautify the beach

12. Statues & Beyond - Veeran Azhagu Muthu Kone Statue - Egmore (Near Egmore Railway Station) :

History behind this statue :

 I am sure almost many of us noticed this statue whenever we go to Egmore railway station. But only few of us knows the person behind this statue.

‘Veeran Azhagu Muthu Kone' , also known as Alagumuthu konar’and Servaikarar (meaning as Head or Sevice provider to public) was a Indian revolutionary and Indian independence activist. He is regarded for having raised one of the first revolts against the British in India. 

Kone belonged to a Konar family and was born and brought up in Kattalankulam, a village in erstwhile Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

Many historians and school books tells us that the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857 was the first freedom struggle against the British. But the fact is that, Azhagu Muthu Kone led a fight against the British 100 years before the Sepoy Mutiny and it has not got recognized. It needs to be incorporated in the History books since the school levels. Sad to see many people in our country doesn't even know the name of the man who initiated the revolts against British.

It was in 1750s, Azhagu Muthu Kone, the commander in chief of Ettayapuram belonging to Yadhava Community led and initiated the fight against the British. 

In 1756, in a bid to oppress the revolution, the British took over the kingdom and the king and Azhagu Muthu Kone went hiding in the forest.

Due to the betrayal of locals in Pethanayakanur, Azhagu Muthu Kone and his seven close aides were killed in a place called ‘Beerangimedu’ when they tried to fight against the British. The right hands of 248 persons who were with the leader were cut off.

When : 

In the State Legislature on 29 April 1994, the Government announced to celebrate annually , in Tirunelveli the memory of Veeeran Alagumuthu Kone . It was done for the year 1995. Then the government named a Transport Corporation with headquarters at Pudukottai and Government buses were operated with the name “Veeeran Alagumuthu Transport Corporation” on 3 May 1996. On the same day a large bronze statue of Veeran Alagumuthu erected by the government near Madras Egmore Railway station. 

13. Karl Schmidt Memorial @ Elliots Beach (Besant Nagar) - Name Reason : 

Many of us have passed by this wonderful structure in the Elliots Beach , Chennai. There is a wonderful story behind this and to those who don't know the name of this structure, It is called as "Karl Schmidt Memorial".

The Karl Schmidt Memorial is an architectural landmark commemorating a Dutch sailor who drowned in 1930 while he trying to save the life of a girl.  According to historians, the Dutch sailor, who had gone to the beach, saw an English girl getting into the water who soon started struggling. In a successful attempt to save her life, he lost his own. The English girl, who Schmidt saved from the sea, attended a ball the following evening as though nothing had happened. The then governor, who was apparently angry with her, built the memorial to mark Schmidt's gallant act.

According to the experts, it was built using Bricks without a stone foundation. The improper and uneven base and the sea water and also poor maintenance have caused major damages to this memorial.

The memorial is the only heritage structure on Elliot's Beach. The memorial stone in the memorial reads,  "To commemorate the gallantry of K A J Schmidt who was drowned near this spot on December 30, 1930 while helping to save the lives of others."
Couldn't get any further details about this place and Mr.Karl Schmidt . We just crossed his 82nd Death anniversary on 30th December 2012 and still this place is not properly maintained. Whom needs to be blamed for making such a monumental place as a dirty litter place ? We should not blame the authorities for this, instead we should blame ourself for making it dirtier day by day. This structure is not just the memorial, it stands an alarm of the deadly nature of the sea.

References : The Hindu,, Wikipedia, Headway on foot paths by Mr.T.L.Raghavan. Images were downloaded from Google.


  1. I remember the years (late 1970s) when I used to walk daily on Ranganathan Street on my way to Shrine Vailankanni (from W. Mambalam). Quite a few of my schoolmates lived in residences on that Street. VGP used to be the major shop then. There was no Saravana store then (the first one opened in the 80s).

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  2. I was in Chennai for quite some time,and glad that you are traveling and writing about various places in Madras.

  3. Sridhar sir : Those were the golden days where we could really WALK in Ranganathan Street :)

  4. Thanks Ankita Sinha.. Keep visiting Chennai & My blog :)

  5. Nice collection :) Happy Madras Week :)

  6. Thanks and Wish you the same Sushmitha...

  7. Great post :) I have always been intrigued by the British names in Madras and wondered the backstory behind that. Thanks for sharing :)

  8. My pleasure sharing it Vandhana. Thanks for stopping by. Keep visiting my blog for more updates :)

  9. yr blogs are very very interesting.. am a pucca madras ponnu forthe past 44 years... it will be nice if u could cover areaslike paternal grandfather was a vakil in the high court, we were the only iyers in the neighbourhood ofa predominantly fisherfolk community..our famil'y was alloted a piece of land by rani mangamma.... it's all vague.. perhaps u can contact my father shri m. venkatasubramanian.. who now lives in kattupakkam with my mom.. appa is now 79... but he could tell u so much.. i don't want the slice of history to be lost...... he travelled to his office by cycle from kasimedu to guindy.... his contact no 26791717 or my mom's mob 9941041212... do call or pl email me to Dr V.Janaki

  10. Wow thanks so much mam. Yeah that's the one area I never wrote about. Will get in touch with you and I can write a post about this. Will mail you.. thanks a lot mam...

  11. thanks a lot sir...for this very informative blog...and this is the first time in am through your blog and right time...because quiz regarding namma chennai going to be held for which this blog served a lot ....

  12. Thanks Bhavya.... Glad that it helped you for the quiz. Do like my FB page for instant updates:

    Deepak Raghuraman


  13. Thanks for sharing the valuable information,This is useful information for online learners

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  14. According to the experts, it was built using Bricks without a stone foundation. The improper and uneven base and the sea water and also poor maintenance have caused major damages to this memorial. ladies lawn suits prices , lawn suits with prices 2015