A City of Valued Heritage

This heritage series is for us to remember and commemorate the architectural and cultural spaces in Chennai. The city of Chennai is actually a cluster of several old settlements, with each one having distinct histories and important landmarks. Watch this section for articles on these historical buildings.

This heritage series is for us to remember and commemorate the architectural and cultural spaces in Chennai. The city of Chennai is actually a cluster of several old settlements, with each one having distinct histories and important landmarks. Watch this section for articles on these historical buildings.

In places like Fort St. George and in Egmore, the British built several administrative and institutional buildings in the Indo-Saracenic style using a variety of materials like exposed red bricks, pillars made of rough granite, and inlays of marble and ivory. The city also has beautiful traditional south Indian temple architecture with large gopurams, intricately carved shikhars, and temple tanks which serve as a recharged pool of surface water for the entire community. These temples can be seen in the older settlements like Mylapore, surrounded by the homes of Brahmins during earlier eras. Unlike North India the mosques in Chennai are smaller and are very different. For example, the Thousand Lights mosque is a cream coloured, multi-domed mosque unlike the traditional single domes in the north. The Dutch settlement in Pulicat, and Portuguese constructions like the Santhome Basilica display completely different elements of Western architecture. From traditional to Indo-saracenic, Colonial, Classical, Gothic, Romanesque and other architechtural styles, Chennai has a diverse range to offer.

A walk down the memory lane: revisiting the past

Cities like Ahmedabad, Surat, and Lucknow have begun heritage walks for residents and tourists.  Can Chennai also similarly replicate and restore its own pieces of history and showcase them to the world?  After the restoration of Senate House by INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage), Rippon building and the Victoria Public Hall are now being restored. But is this enough? One problem is that Chennai’s heritage is spread all over the city, making it less amenable to a walking tour than the clusters of buildings in the other cities.

But the main problem is that the CMDA (Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority) is still in the long process of identifying heritage buildings to compile a list of the city’s protected structures while the conservationists are fighting legal battles to protect them from being demolished, sometimes by the government itself. A mass protest by the students and activists saved the Queen Mary’s college, where the then chief minister J.Jayalalitha wanted to build the new Secretariat. Today, the Bharat Insurance building on Mount Road owned by LIC (Life Insurance Corporation) and Gokhale Hall on Armenian Street are saved only because of heritage enthusiasts who have been waging a battle in court.

Though the government made an announcement in October 2010 about finalising a heritage bill, it is feared that it may not see the light. Meanwhile, the CMDA can take a decision to demolish old buildings which are not covered by the Archaeological Monument Act.

Following are some of the heritage buildings in the city:

Areas Buildings
Old Madras Chennai Central building, Moore Market, Victoria Public Hall, Rippon building, Vetinary Hospital.
Egmore Egmore Railway Station, Museum theater complex
Mount Road Thousand Lights mosque, Cuddons complex, Victoria Technical Institute, Higgin Bothams,  Botanical Garden,  Thousand Light Mosque, Anna Salai Mosque, Bharat Insurance Building
Mylapore Kapaleeshwar Temple,
Beach Front and surrounding Santhome Basilica, Police Headquarters, Presidency and Queen Marys college, Madras University complex, Napier’s bridge, War Memorial, Fort St. George, PWD Complex, Parthasarthy Temple,
Parrys GPO building, SBI building, High Court,  Parrys building, Gokhale Hall
Adayar and Surrounding Theosophical society,   Anna University,

We need to protect, promote and create awareness amongst us about our glorious heritage which showcases the city’s inherent charms. Please help us create a list of heritage buildings which can be seen as the public face of this city.

Please email us at   tc@ifmr.ac.in   for more information

Courtesy: TransparentChennai

Advertisements

Posted on November 10, 2011, in Heritage of Chennai and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: