Madras Week 2019: Know your Chennai

Here are 10 unique things in Chennai

CHENNAI: 17/06/2014: A view of  Marina Beach, which is a natural urban beach in Chennai on June 17, 2014. 
Photo: M. SRINATH

CHENNAI: 17/06/2014: A view of Marina Beach, which is a natural urban beach in Chennai on June 17, 2014. Photo: M. SRINATH

Second longest coastline

Chennai has many beautiful beaches — Besant Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Covelong and more. However, the Marina Beach gains prominence as it is the world’s second largest urban beach. It’s 12 km stretch runs from Fort St. George to Besant Nagar. It is a sandy beach and one of the most crowded in the world, seeing 30,000 visitors during the weekends. During the summer, it sees 15,000 to 20,000 people daily.

East meets west

This is the story of a soup. A popular dish that quickly hit the spot in the British palate. Muligatawny soup originates from the Tamil words mullaga/milagu and thanni , which translate to “pepper-water”. The British loved this pepper water so much that they asked their cooks to add chicken or mutton to it to further enhance the taste.

 

Books, books and more books

Did you know that Chennai houses Asia’s largest library? Established on September 15, 2010, the C. N. Annadurai library was built in his memory. This eight acre, nine-floor library can accommodate 1.2 million books. Each department sees an average of 50-60 visitors every day.

Detroit of the East

Ashok Leyland, Caterpillar, Daimler, Ford, Hyundai, BMW, Renault Nissan and Mitsubishi, have transformed this city into an automobile hub. The city’s location, proximity to the port, infrastructure and facilities make it the perfect place to operate from.

Arignar Anna Zoological Park

It was way back in 1854 when Edward Green Balfour persuaded the Nawab of the Carnatic to donate his entire animal collection to the museum. This attracted large crowds and became the nucleus of the zoo which was founded in 1855. A year later it was shifted to Park Town and stayed there till 1975. The Tamil Nadu Forest Department set aside 1,265 acres in the Vandalur Reserve Forest and today, this zoo is the largest zoological garden in India and one of the largest in the world.

The pillar seen at the right of this plate has
been preserved on the campus of the Nungambakkam
weather observatory in Madras by the Archeological Survey of India. Inscribed on the pillar, erected
in 1792, are the coordinates latitude and longitude of the Madras Observatory, a bench-mark presumed to be the oldest one in India, and with reference to which all geoditic survey measurements in the country were
made. The inscription, now weather-beaten and
slightly disfigured, reads: '(1) The Geoditic position
(Lat 13° 4' 3' 0.5 N Long 80° 14' 5420 E)
of Col. William Lambton is primary original of the Survey of India, Fixed by him in 1802 was at a point 6 feet to the south and 1 foot to the west of the centre of this pillar. (2) The centre of the meridian circle of the Madras Observatory was at a point 12 feet to the east of the centre of this pillar.'
There are inscriptions in Tamil, Telugu, Latin
and Urdu as well. The pillar, on top of which was a 12 inch altitude and azimuth instrument, is made of granite and weighs more than 10 tonnes. (pd. on 05/12/1986).
PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

The pillar seen at the right of this plate has
been preserved on the campus of the Nungambakkam
weather observatory in Madras by the Archeological Survey of India. Inscribed on the pillar, erected
in 1792, are the coordinates latitude and longitude of the Madras Observatory, a bench-mark presumed to be the oldest one in India, and with reference to which all geoditic survey measurements in the country were
made. The inscription, now weather-beaten and
slightly disfigured, reads: "(1) The Geoditic position
(Lat 13° 4' 3" 0.5 N Long 80° 14' 5420 E)
of Col. William Lambton is primary original of the Survey of India, Fixed by him in 1802 was at a point 6 feet to the south and 1 foot to the west of the centre of this pillar. (2) The centre of the meridian circle of the Madras Observatory was at a point 12 feet to the east of the centre of this pillar."
There are inscriptions in Tamil, Telugu, Latin
and Urdu as well. The pillar, on top of which was a 12 inch altitude and azimuth instrument, is made of granite and weighs more than 10 tonnes. (pd. on 05/12/1986).
PHOTO: THE HINDU ARCHIVES

A better perspective

All that remains of the Madras Observatory is a 15-foot long granite pillar, weighing 10 tonnes surrounded by smaller structures. Erected in 1792, these are the remains of India’s first modern public observatory. The Madras Observatory was started by the British East India Company in 1786. Sailor-surveyor-astronomer Michael Topping was the first professional surveyor in India. He surveyed the seas between Madras and Calcutta.

For the Archives : 
The Royapuram Station, inaugurated in 1856, is not only one of the oldest stations in the country, but also was the main railway terminus for Madras (now Chennai) till 1907.  The first railway line and service in South India was from Royapuram to Arcot, a distance of 67 miles. 
Photo : Bijoy Ghosh ( Digital Image )

For the Archives : The Royapuram Station, inaugurated in 1856, is not only one of the oldest stations in the country, but also was the main railway terminus for Madras (now Chennai) till 1907. The first railway line and service in South India was from Royapuram to Arcot, a distance of 67 miles. Photo : Bijoy Ghosh ( Digital Image )

Oldest, yet in form

The Royapuram railway station began operations in 1856. It is the oldest, still functional railway station in India. In 1853, the Madras Railway Company began work on the southern line and the railway line was extended from Royapuram (Madras) to Arcot. Royapuram was selected as the location for the new station as it was near Fort St. George.

On June 28, 1856, Governor Lord Harris, inaugurated the railway line and its two services—Royapuram to Ambur and Royapuram to Tiruvallur.

Chicken 65, anyone?

A spicy, deep-fried chicken dish it is an ever popular entrée. The flavour of the dish may be attributed to red chillies used in its preparation. It can be prepared using boneless or bone-in chicken and is usually served with onion and lemon garnish.

It was introduced at Buhari Hotel by its founder, A.M. Buhari.

But this iconic dish has many stories to its origin. While some say the chicken was cut into 65 pieces and 65 ingredients were used to prepare the dish, others are convinced that it catered to the North Indian army soldiers, who frequently visited military canteens in Madras and could not read the menu written in Tamil.

FOR METRO PLUS... COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AT GUINDY IN CHENNAI ON MONADY....PHOTOM.MOORTHY.

FOR METRO PLUS... COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING AT GUINDY IN CHENNAI ON MONADY....PHOTOM.MOORTHY.

Oldest Engineering college

The College of Engineering, Guindy (CEG), was established in 1794. It was started as the School of Survey and was later established as a college in 1859, under the Madras University. It started with just one student in an unknown building in the present campus. But with the addition of Civil Engineering in 1858, the college ventured into engineering studies and was named College of Civil Engineering. It completed 160 years this year.

Through the years

Abel Joshua Higginbotham was a stowaway. He was off loaded in Madras. However, as luck would have it, the qualified librarian soon started work at the Wesleyan Book Depository. An astute businessman, he had his eyes peeled for opportunities. In 1844, a loss-making book store came on to the market. He seized his chance and bought it. He sold stationery, published and printed books too, and today the name Higginbothams is synonymous with books.

In March 1859, in a letter to Lord Macaulay, Lord Trevelyan, the Governor of Madras wrote:

Among the many elusive and indescribable charms of life in Madras City, is the existance of my favourite book shop ‘Higinbotham’s’ on Mount Road...Althogether a delightful place for the casual browser and a serious book lover.


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