Velachery started off as quiet locality with swathes of farm land; today, it is an in-demand city centre

If one was looking for an apt metaphor for the growth of Velachery over the last couple of decades, then it would probably be ‘a rags to riches story’.

An erstwhile cheri (‘slum’ in Tamil) with huge swathes of farm land, Velachery was considered by people in the city as an area with patchy civic facilities and a poor choice to buy property in.

Today, the locality is vastly changed with multi-storey flats and commercial establishments dotting the landscape, and roads choc-a-block with vehicles round-the-clock.

The locality has good schools (both CBSE and Matriculation), temples and the famous IIT-Madras. Also, the proximity of the IT corridor is a great draw for those who buy property here.

Velachery started off alright as a quiet locality, with activities revolving around a few forgotten streets and factories. V. Srinivasan, a resident of Telugu Brahmin Street, and a witness to the development of the locality, said the majority of its residents lived in Brahmin Street, Telugu Brahmin Street and Jaganathapuram.

He vividly remembers people bringing fresh drinking water from the kallukuttai (which was located opposite the Tangedco office) and the only entertainment facility in Rajalakshmi Theatre. The American Advent Mission School functioning since the 1950s, celebration of Rama Navami festival every year by the households of Brahmin Street, the baths taken in the numerous open wells on the farm lands and drives through the ‘deserted’ Velachery Main Road, form some of his other memories from the bygone years.

The transformation of Velachery happened with the widening of Bypass Road in 2005, civic body officials point out. The six-laned road gave ample opportunities for builders to commercially exploit the place, they add.

Maithreyi Mohan, a resident of SIS Meridian group of flats, who was living in the heart of the city at T. Nagar, brought a flat on Bypass Road in Velachery in 2006, and anticipated she would miss the buzz of T. Nagar.

Today, she has no regrets about leaving T. Nagar and finds this place lively, and liveable. She said: “All the famous showrooms and shops in T. Nagar have their outlets here also, and added to that the two big malls — Phoenix Market City and the Grand Mall — have put the locality on the map.”

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