Chennai

Madras Week: On Cooum

All great ancient civilisations, we know, rose on the banks of a river. The river was the lifeline, it would provide precious water for agriculture and for the people, and would act as a natural conduit for goods. If Mohenjodaro and Harappa had the Indus, by it’s own measure Chennai has the Cooum. Whatever they say of the river, it’s Chennai that’s standing still and the Cooum, flowing.



Over years, Chennai’s own river, the banks on which Madras arose, 376 years ago next week, has meandered on, stoic in the face of the assaults on it, the growing pollution and sullage that clogs its pathways, a silent, muddy spectator of the city's growth. Over these years, the phrase ‘Clean Cooum’ has become the definition of an oxymoron, referred to by the citizens of Madras with love and derision, all in the same sultry breath.



This Madras Week, we will let Cooum be the 'sutradhar'; she will tell the grand story of this city in her own words; of battles fought and love affairs, or politics and mythology, of governance and transporting goods, of Shakespearean plays performed in Tamil on its banks, of the colonial and the modern. Alongside, we will also chronicle the sad turn of events that led the Cooum, the river that gave this city life, to her sorry state; and push for efforts to restore the river; a measure of respect and flow, even if we are never going to be able to go back to its pristine, natural form.



People of Chennai, as you celebrate this annual throwback event again, this Madras Week, we give you: the Cooum.



Madras Week: Thus Spake Cooum

>Celebrating Madras Week

Over years, Chennai’s own river, the banks on which Madras arose, 376 years ago next week, has meandered on, stoic in the face of the assaults on it.

>Madras thrived on her banks

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>The scene of great battles

A city grew on the banks of the Cooum, but did you know that they have been sites of the clash of civilisations?

>For them, Cooum is not synonymous with sewer

The Cooum, as strange as it might sound to some, still remains a lifeline to many villages in Tiruvallur district.

>Cooum snippets

In the first-person account that follows, one R. Premsingh writes, “I wish to draw the attention of the Corporation authorities to the stinking smell emitted by the Cooum river.”

>Cooum: Madras' engine of growth

Nearly everything that was and is notable in the city took root along my banks, from the houses of the powerful to the centres of commerce

>Staving off the sewage threat in Cooum

Chennai Metrowater seems to be trying to actualise the big dream of cleaning Cooum river through small steps.

>What's in a name?

A group of history enthusiasts has brought a fresh perspective to the image of the river.

>When crocodiles swam free in Cooum

If you walked by the Cooum about a 100 years ago, you may just have spotted the Cooum crocodile

>Cooum: High tide of artistic expression

From cinemas and bookstores to theatre performances and architectural marvels, I have witnessed this great city reaching new creative heights over many decades.

>Chennai Corporation to play a key role in Cooum makeover

Following a resolution by the Chennai Corporation Council this summer, the civic body is set to do a study on the restoration of heritage landscape along the Cooum river.

>On Islands Grounds and the Cooum

Do you know that Island Grounds owes its name to the Cooum?

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Printable version | Nov 25, 2021 7:16:52 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/madra-week-on-cooum/article7550379.ece

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