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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 12, october 1-15, 2009
The road ahead
for Chennai Heritage
(By The Editor)

As Chennai Heritage completes its first decade, it looks back on what it has achieved and looks forward to much that still needs to be done in making Madras that is Chennai, a city with a proud heritage, a better city. Many have helped Chennai Heritage in its awareness-building exercises in the past. The assistance of many more is needed in the future for Chennai Heritage to achieve the goals it has set for itself.

Chennai Heritage was started in 1999 as a non-profit company due to the initiative of N. Sankar of the Sanmar Group, who got a dozen corporate houses of the city to come forward to sustain Madras Musings, the journal that cares for Madras. The objectives of the company have been to take up studies, activities and projects for preserving art and culture, for conservation and restoration of heritage buildings and precincts, for the protection of the natural environment, and enhancing civic responsibilities in Metropolitan Chennai. Today, at the end of ten years, it is a good time to introspect on what has been done and what can be done in future.

One of the major activities of Chennai Heritage has been bringing out Madras Musings which will soon be entering its 20th year of publication. Today, the journal is recognised by all as the voice of Chennai’s heritage and traditions. The fortnightly has a circulation of 11,000, reaching out only to those who request copies. Now on the Net, it has an even larger reach. No journal has done more to create an awareness about the city’s heritage and the need to make Madras that is Chennai a better city.

Chennai Heritage has been involved in other activities as well. It sponsored a study of the Tiruvanmiyur Temple Tank and its precincts by INTACH –Tamil Nadu Chapter to evaluate whether the surrounding degraded open space could be restored as community open space. Chennai Heritage also supported INTACH – Tamil Nadu Chapter in bringing out a film, made by IRIS Productions, on the tank and its precincts. That was the trigger for attention being bestowed on the tank and, now, at last, through the efforts of several agencies, the tank has water in it and the surroundings are much cleaner.

In 2003, the Madras University decided to restore historic Senate House for its 150th year celebrations to be held in December 2005. Chennai Heritage wrote to and organised meetings of corporates to help with this restoration and was instrumental in getting over Rs. 2.5 crore for the project.

In 2007, Chennai Heritage hosted a presentation on the Sabarmati River Front Development Project made to senior Government officials and leaders of industry, to foster deliberations on the possibilities of similar action on the riverfronts of the Adyar, the Cooum and the Buckingham Canal. Government has now drawn up plans for both the Adyar and Cooum riverfronts.

Along with Global Adjustments, Chennai Heritage in 2008 hosted CEO 369 during Madras Week, bringing together CEOs of multinationals in the city to sensitise them to issues facing the city. Several of them have launched improvement projects in the neighbourhood of their factories.

From 2004, Chennai Heritage has been one of the initiaters of Madras Day celebrations to commemorate the founding of the city on August 22, 1639. Celebrated each year since then, the one-day commemoration has expanded into a full week called Madras Week and this year offered almost a fortnight of events connected with the city’s history and heritage. Chennai Heritage, during the Week, organises talks every day by prominent speakers on various subjects related to the city and also conducts heritage walks (see pages 4 & 5). Many thousands have, as a consequence, been sensitised to the heritage of the city.

Chennai Heritage has several plans for the future. Persuading Government to get a Heritage Act in place is an ongoing exercise that needs greater public support at all levels. It also plans to document the historic areas in the city, get schoolchildren aware of the city’s heritage, and work with other like-minded organisations to support the cause of the city’s heritage – natural and built. All these require resources. Chennai Heritage has been well supported by its corporate sponsors, who have grown to 20 in number, as well as by subscribers to Madras Musings and individual donors who have supported the aims of Chennai Heritage. But greater contributions from more corporate houses and individuals supporting us would help Chennai Heritage’s efforts considerably. Ours is a community effort and we look forward to more participation from those who value all that Madras that is Chennai stands for.


In this issue

The road ahead...
Twists and turns...
During Madras Week...
A blogger's view...
Historic Residences...
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan


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