TAMIL NADU

Magnificence restored

Colonial grandeur and Masonic regalia. Photo: S. Thanthoni

Colonial grandeur and Masonic regalia. Photo: S. Thanthoni  

IT'S A sprawling 25,000 sq.ft edifice with none other than masons to caress it. Not the real masons, but those of the order of the Grand Lodge. The Grand Masters and others down the line, adept in the use of masonry tools for promoting fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man.

Their tools - serve as instruments to guide them in the path to righteousness, no matter whether they are engineers, doctors or lawyers or from other walks of life.

Their goal since 2000 September: to renovate the Regional Grand Lodge of Southern India on Commander-in-Chief Road. No mean ambition, as the temple of learning on 3.5 acres in an embodiment of colonial architecture and heritage.

Consultants were roped in. The IIT Madras rising to the occasion. The result? It's history for posterity in the masons' diary in December 2001. The plastering has been stripped off, steel rods inserted for reinforcement and replastered again.

The magnificence and grandeur of the 75-year-old monument have come back, the colonial touch gleams and glitters - from the wrought iron railings to the spiralling staircases.

Jaipur rang a bell somewhere during the renovation period. The flooring is of marble now. A touch of modern gadgetry- air-conditioners have also made their entry. A crore of Rupees has been spent to bring alive the aging monument of the free masons. Importantly, the funding was `by the masons for the masons'.

Masons cite the Freemasons Lodge of Calcutta- the Anchor of Hope- as the first on Indian soil in 1728. Rajaji, Motilal Nehru, and Fakruddin Ali Ahmed belong to the Masonic block, which has consolidated its foundation in 127 countries, according to Br. G.K.Selvarajan, Deputy Regional GM.

The apron worn by masons calls for attention as they graduate from first to third degree and then go on to become Grand Masters like Br.D.D.Udeshi, GM of the Grand Lodge of India.

Membership is by invitation, followed by balloting. There are 329 lodges with over 17,000 members in the country, says Br. Arun Chintopanth, Regional GM. Southern India.

- By S.Shanker

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