When the postman knocked…

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Painting of the Assembly Rooms in Guindy by the Daniells
Painting of the Assembly Rooms in Guindy by the Daniells

*Khalsa does not mean ‘appointment' in Urdu, asserts S.M. Pasha after referring C.S. Kuppuraj's use of the word to “several Urdu experts and dictionaries”. Kuppuraj was talking about Khalsa Mahal that many are now calling Kalas Mahal (Miscellany, February 13). Now I'm no expert on Urdu, but as I stated last week, not only did Kuppuraj's father call the building he studied in Khalsa Mahal but the records of the College of Engineering (now in Guindy), which functioned there from 1859 to 1920, describe it in some places as Khalsa and in others as Kalasa Mahal, depending on their antiquity.

*M. Saravanamuthu wants to know whether the Assembly Rooms and the Public Assembly Rooms in Old Madras were the same. In fact, there were two Assembly Rooms — and both being called by the same name could well be confusing to us today, but no doubt speakers in that long ago time would have known which Assembly Rooms was being referred to in the context in which it was mentioned. What was officially the Public Assembly Rooms was The Pantheon that is now part of the Government Museum, Egmore. It was raised by public subscription from the European residents of Madras on land granted to them in 1778 and was meant as space to hold “public amusements, entertainments and celebrations”. The other Assembly Rooms was in Guindy — and according to the titling of a 1792 painting done by the Daniells, Thomas and nephew William, it was “on the Race Grounds” ( see picture ). This handsome classical building survived till 1985.




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