Madras 375 Chennai

Tambaram: A suburb older than Madras itself

Tambaram Sanatorium hospital was opened in 1928. This photograph was taken in 1936. Photo: The Hindu Archives  

It is a little-known fact that the southern suburb of Tambaram is older than Madras itself.

A few centuries before East India Company acquired a small patch of land, now known as Chennai, there were several pockets in its vicinity which flourished, Tambaram being among them.

Chennai’s expansion, fuelled by the establishment of premier institutions and the creation of a railway hub, has bolstered Tambaram’s status as an important nerve centre in the immediate vicinity of the city’s limits.


Dates in History



first electrified metre gauge train service in the country ran in the country ran between Tambaram and Chennai beach


Madras Christian College, in its 100th year, moved to East Tambaram from George Town


Indian Air Force Station, a premier training institution, was set up


Tambaram finds mention as 'Taamapuram' in temple inscriptions, notably the one Dating back to the 13th century, on the walls around the sanctum sanctorum at Marundeeswarar temple in Tirukachur village near Chengalpattu

A number of pockets around Tambaram have managed to retain their old charm, with life moving at an idyllic pace in sheer contrast to the outside world.

“There were only lush green fields all over Tambaram. Living close to the Indian Air Force station, we used to get unlimited pleasure at the sight of aircrafts taking off. We were even allowed to go close to the runway when we were children,” recalls K. Loganathan (55), whose family has lived in Selaiyur for three generations.

For A. Suresh, the best part of his childhood was spending time with friends in the massive vacant spaces of Railway Colony.

“Our generation was very fortunate to be able to get a close look at steam engines. The railway staff was friendly and showed us how the engine worked. We used to play hide and seek in the long rows of goods wagons in the yard,” he says.

Tambaram has had its share of scare factor too. “The area known as ‘maan thoppu’ (mango grove) was much feared, and all the children in its vicinity were told to be home before sunset,” says E. Chandrashekar, another resident.

“Tambaram has its own rightful place in history,” says Johnson Wesley, a teacher, who predicts the suburb will continue to play a pivotal role in the city’s future too.

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Printable version | Apr 14, 2021 2:23:18 AM |

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