Amidst the burgeoning constructions along the Old Mamallapuram Road stands an ancient structure on one side of the Kandasamy temple tank in Tiruporur. A 105-year-old building, which once housed a police station on the banks of the temple tank, remains a testimony to our colonial past.

A plaque on the front wall of the small red building, constructed with baked bricks and limestone, declares that the foundation stone was laid by A.P. Agar, who was a first-grade superintendent of police then. The tiled-roof building is supported by teak rafters and the pillars in the front are made of teak wood.

“When a new building for the police station was planned, there was a proposal to demolish the building. But S.R. Jangid, the then north zone Inspector General, made it clear that it was a heritage building and should be allowed to survive,” says K. Balasubramanian, the inspector of the police station.

A new building was inaugurated in 2004, but the old structure remains there. As many as 47 villages and 14 hamlets come under its jurisdiction. Curiously, the entire Tiruporur town panchayat presents a picture of contrast to the fast growing neighbourhood, with skyscrapers and villas dotting either side of the OMR. The town, with its beautiful temple and tank offer an appealing throwback to the past.

According to the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the nearly 2,000-year-old town houses important stone circles and burial cists.

“Construction is prohibited within a 100-metre radius of Tiruporur and the next 300-metre radius is a regulated area. Permission from the National Monuments Authority is mandatory for any construction,” says T. Sathyamurthy, former superintending archaeologist of ASI.

Inspector Balasubramanian said the spurt in the real estate sector and expansion of the city towards Mamallapuram had not had any bearing on the police station as yet.

“There are more colleges and schools now, and higher level of vehicular movement. This has resulted in an increase in road accidents. Otherwise, there is no marked increase in the crime rate,” he said. Though the sanctioned strength of the police station is 29, there are only 19 officers working at the station now.

He said the temple town would burst at the seams on occasions like Maasi Magam and Soorasamharam when thousands of devotees flock to the temple. “Otherwise we don't see much action here, barring petty quarrels,” he said.