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(ARCHIVE) Vol. XIX No. 24, april 1-15, 2010
Our Readers Write

There are stories the walks will tell

Was Madras born out of one man’s fancy for a woman in the Portuguese countryside?

I am asked this question sometimes by people who join me on a heritage walk in the Fort.

Obviously, they have read a little more than the core history of this fantastic place that led to the creation of Madras.

The story goes that one of the prospecting Englishmen of the Company who sailed down the Coromandel chose this piece of sandy strip of desolate land so that he could be closer to his lady love.

There isn’t much to this story, but there is more to the story of a dead body in the Elambore River which the Englishmen first let the locals handle by themselves but later intervened and introduced some laws for the land.

There are dozens of stories you can share on a Walk around the Fort. But they could distract from the variety that visitors can enjoy in this city within a city.

The moat, the underground chambers, the ramparts, the flagmast, the buildings and barracks, the church and memorial stones, Admiralty House and bungalows on ‘Snobbery’ Street and the Museum ...

These heritage walks are conducted by people who are passionate about some aspect of the city. Its community, its history, its temples, Nature, the arts ...

But because the people who conduct them do so when their bread-and-butter assignments provide a break or when passion overtakes them, Heritage Walks are few and far between.

However, of late, we have found that the interest in such walks is growing and so we floated Madras Heritage Walks with a web site (URL: which would be an umbrella for information on such walks.

We hope to present at least three walks every month. Most will be the tried and tested packages, but there will also be some nice surprises.

Some will be free, some charged for, but all of them, we hope, will be enjoyable experiences.

Pradeep Chakravarthy plans repeats of his hugely successful tour of an ancient Velachery temple and its environs, while
D. Hemachandra Rao is waiting for the tides to raise the level of the water in the Buckingham Canal to organise a slow boat Heritage Tour from a point off the East Coast Road to recapture the experience that your grandparents would have had when they went on a picnic to Mahabalipuram.

We also invite people who are experts in an area’s history to design a Walk and offer it to the city and tourists. The markets of Royapettah, the churches of Broadway, the landmarks of Royapuram. You are not called to become a tourist guide. Rather, be a story-teller on a hour-long walk and do this when you are free. The e-mail to use - (Courtesy: Mylapore times)

Vincent D’Souza

Why this complex?

Your comment ‘A landmark arising’ (MM, March 16th) reflects the sorrow and agony of many persons about the hasty construction of the Assembly and Secretariat at Government Estate in Chennai.

There was neither eviction notice nor compulsion from the Army authorities to vacate the Assembly and Secretariat complex where the Tamil Nadu Government had been comfortably getting along. So what was the need for the new complex?

Government Estate, full of trees and with a peaceful environment, was providing cool comfort and relaxation for people. The construction of the Assembly-Secretariat complex now, shadowing well-known Rajaji Hall, will definitely cause a lot of difficulties for people living and carrying on business nearby for several decades. The usual security convoys plying in large numbers to ensure the safety of ministers and other VIPs will cause lot of disruptions in road traffic and difficulties to the public.

As you have correctly stated, all this construction of Assembly and Secretariat of the Tamil Nadu Government could have happened near Trichy instead of the heart of Chennai causing lot of inconvenience to the public.

C. Lakshmi Narain
4, Kondi Chetty Street
III Floor, Chennai 600 001

New Secretariat

When city traffic is bursting at the seams and all efforts should be made to reduce congestion, the powers-that-be are only adding to the congestion by building a monolothic structure right in the heart of the city!

During Rajaji’s time, there was a proposal to build structures on the Island Grounds by the Defence Ministry. Rajaji fought tooth and nail stating that this was the only lung space in that part of the city and advised them not to proceed with the work. Fortunately, his wise counsel was heeded to and the proposal was dropped.

In the present instance, counsel went unheeded. And we await the consequences.

* * *

Chennai’s airport proclaims with a neon sign on top of the airport that it is an ISO-approved one! But, on the ground, the chaotic parking conditions should be seen to be believed. If simple arrangements like easier parking cannot be provided – even if construction is going on (seemingly perennially) – surely the facility should not be proclaiming a quality rating.

N.P. Andavan

A pedestrian’s cry

The city fathers are completely oblivious of pedestrians’ needs and safety. With the widening of roads, flyovers and mad accumulation of vehicles, the pedestrian is literally squeezed into a corner.

I am a walker, almost always depending on public transports like bus, taxi, auto or share-auto. I am acutely aware of the perils of the walker on the roads.

The turnings near Anna arch in Anna Nagar, near St.Ebba’s school opposite Music Academy, opposite Parsn Complex on N.H. Road are a few places that have no footpaths at all! What we need is footpaths, 4 to 5 feet wide and 8 to 10 inches high, filled with gravel only and appropriate trees which need not be cut afterwards for whatever reason. This will immediately deter the sprouting of vendors. The trees too will be easy to maintain with percolation of water into the soil. We do not need embellishments like granite slabs or hexagonal stones which always get spoilt soon and pose even more hazards.

The Corporation should dispense with topping road surfaces and making them higher and higher every time, leading to construction of footpaths very high in anticipation of the road level being raised.

Footpaths are sometimes called platforms and at some places they are so high you can start an oration.

Pedestrians are also threatened many times when two-wheelers too get on to the footpath during rush hour. Is this development? Why buy a car for a pleasant ride when you can only crawl almost all the time?

When are we going to wake up to this problem instead of concentrating on flyovers, etc.


Two samadhi-s

I am the granddaughter of late Dr. M.C. Nanjunda Rao and Managing Trustee of the private religious trust created by him. He was a highly religious person and had a Guru called Sri Sakkarai Amma. He constructed a samadhi temple for her in 1901 on what is now Kalakshetra Road, Tiruvanmiyur. His smadhi is also nearby.

Sumana Suresh

Needing attention

Two pieces in MM, February 16th, struck me as very relevant to Chennai at the moment and requiring immediate attention. One is the total ignoring of the pedestrian as a road-user, and the other is the nauseating experience anyone arriving at Central Station after a tedious journey undergoes in engaging a taxi or an autorickshaw to go home quickly. MMM is witty in his graphic description of his effort to get a prepaid taxi. Somehow Government has been unable to do anything worth-mentioning in both these matters. I wish it does something in these matters to add to the attraction of ‘Singara Chennai’.

N. Harinayana
120, Big Street
Triplicane, Chennai 600 005


In this issue

This budget causes concern to some
Is this the only way to remember Tamil scholars?
All atwitter at Chennai Corporation
The majesty of Chepauk
Historic Residences of Chennai - 39
Other stories

Our Regulars

Short 'N' Snappy
Our Readers Write
Quizzin' with Ram'nan
Dates for your Diary


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