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Residents get a slice of history in Saidapet

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Archaeology department presents facts about a pillar as part of World Heritage Week

A group of residents from Saidapet were staring at the four-foot-tall concrete pillar at the venue of the State Highways workshop in Saidapet. Senior archaeologist and curator of the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department, which maintains the heritage pillar, S. Sreekumar, stepped up to explain the story behind the pillar to the curious residents.

The pillar was a memorial built in 1786 A.D. to honour then Chief (Government) Engineer of Madras, Lt. Col. Patrik Ross, for building a bridge in Saidapet across the water channel (which no longer exists) that carried surplus water from a large tank to the Bay of Bengal. More importantly, the small bridge helped to prevent inundation of the locality.

The residents were part of a programme on November 25 that that was organised by the Archaeology Department in commemoration of World Heritage Week.

Students from Loyola College, University of Madras and World Siddha and Art Centre from Thiruvamiyur were among the participants. This year, the Department chose to have a programme hat would throw light on the history of the pillar in Saidapet.

The historical records have it that three years after the death of Adrin Four Beck, an Armenian merchant from Madras in 1783 A.D, Thomas Pelling, John De Fries and Peter Bodin, who were his secretaries, decided to act on their master wish specified in his will.

Beck wanted a memorial raised in recognition of the efforts taken to build the bridge across the water channel. Beck died before the memorial was raised, but he had left instructions in his will on how the memorial should be built.

The message in the pillar reads: “This bridge, erected as a public benefit from a legacy bestowed by Adrian Four Beck, a merchant of Madras, is a monument.”

At present, the bridge is one of the 90 protected monuments maintained by the Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department in the state. In Chennai, this is the only monument that is being maintained by the State Archaeology Department.

“It is important that one should know the history of his neighbourhood. It helps in protecting local heritage,” says K. Vasudevan, a resident of Saidapet.

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Printable version | Dec 10, 2019 6:31:51 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/residents-get-a-slice-of-history-in-saidapet/article30123960.ece

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