Even before Chennai became known for super-specialty care, the stretch was the go-to place for doctors

One of Chennai’s arterial roads is also its lifeline, literally. Poonamallee High (P.H.) Road is Chennai’s version of London's Harley Street — hospitals, clinics, consulting rooms, and pharmacies dot its entire length.

PH Road, also known as EVR Periyar Salai, has been home to many renowned doctors, and continues to be every clinician’s dream location. The close to 14-km long stretch – starting from Muthuswamy Bridge (near Madras Medical College) to Maduravoyal junction – is lined with private clinics, hospitals, pharmacies and diagnostic laboratories.

A significant part of its popularity among medical professionals could be because of the establishment of two government institutions — Madras Medical College/Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital and Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital. Pandalai Nursing Home, established in 1932 on the road, was one of the earliest private hospitals in the city.

“Prior to this, all hospitals were run by either the British or missionaries. One of the earliest doctors to practice on the stretch was A. Lakshmanaswamy Mudaliar, qualified in obstetrics and gynaecology. He went on to serve as the vice-chancellor of Madras University for 27 years. Another doctor associated with the stretch was S. Rangachari,” 60-year-old B.S. Tiruvadanan, senior surgeon said.

In 1934, his father B.M. Sundaravadanan set up a hospital — Sundaravadanan Nursing Home. Now, Dr. Tiruvadanan is constructing a hospital on the same premises. He said that Ramarau Polyclinic, set up by B. Ramarau here in 1938, had one of the earliest X-ray units.

Some of the renowned names associated with the stretch are Mohan Rau and A. Venugopal, who was the first trained urologist in the city, P.T. Madhaviamma and Sheela Rajarathinam, both obstetricians and gynaecologists. Many associate the stretch with A.S. Thambiah’s skin clinic, which used to witness long queues of patients, and popular dermatologist Patrick Yesudian.

S. Murugusundram, founder of Chennai Skin Foundation and Yesudian Research Institute located on P.H. Road, has been associated with the stretch from his student days at KMC. “In those days, the topmost doctors in the city would be on P.H. Road. It used to be a dream for doctors to have a clinic on the stretch, and I too harboured such a desire,” he pointed out.

He said the road has undergone a sea change. “It used to be calm and filled with trees. There were huge bungalows and vacant spaces. But now, buildings have come up. Yet, many doctors still want to practice here,” he said.