Official Colony, even today, portrays the ambience of the late 1980s and 1990s

When the pages of history get frozen in the lanes of a city, every structure has a story to tell.

Official Colony is one such locality. Ensconced between the towering walls of King George Hospital (KGH) and the Naval Coastal Battery, the colony, even today, to a large extent, exudes the ambience of the late 1980s and 1990s.

Individual houses, some of which more than 80 years old, dot the three lanes that make up this old colony. In recent years, a few apartment complexes had come up.

The name Official Colony, as old-timers recollect, was given because the original inhabitants of the area were mostly government officials, some advocates and lawyers, and a few doctors.

“The cream of the elite used to live here in those days,” says D.L. Narasimha Rao, a resident of the locality, who has been living here since the early 1980s.

Over the years, the town grew towards the North, and most of the residents shifted to other localities. “The look of the society hasn’t changed much, but some of the approach roads have opened up,” says Mr. Rao.

Before the inception of Naval Coastal Battery (NCB) that borders one side of the locality, there used to be open access to the beach from the colony. Once NCB was established, the approach road from the Collectorate to the beach was blocked for many years.

“It was in the 1950s that the access road was opened for public,” says Mr. Rao. Amidst the dusty lanes of the colony, glorious chapters of history lie hidden. A look at the old building of the Theosophical Society would perhaps give a hint of its illustrious past.

It used to be one of the main branches of the Chennai Theosophical Society and, once upon a time, a buzzing hub of the society’s activities. While the years wore out the pace of the activities, the society even today holds discourses.

The colony was also home to two renowned Vice-Chancellors of Andhra University — Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and Dr. A.L. Narayana.

“Their houses are no longer there. In its place, new structures have come up,” Mr. Rao says. The colony’s proximity to the KGH also ensured a strong presence of doctors in the colony. Today, many have their chambers in the neighbourhood and an eco-system of healthcare facilities has come up.

As is the case with other localities of the city, Official Colony too has seen phenomenal rise of real-estate rates.

“My father bought a plot here in the year 1937 at the rate of Rs. 3 per sq yard. Today, the rate is Rs.50,000 per sq yard,” says M.S. Raju, president of Vision-Aid Charitable Services and a resident of the colony. While much of the development happened in other parts of the city, the residents say the locality holds a sentimental value for them. They had experienced it when it was at its peak and also saw the glory of Official Colony fade away with the rapid growth of the city.

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