Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXIX No. 18, January 1-15, 2020
Once I opened my eyes to the beauty and heritage of Chennai, things seemed to pop up literally before my eyes in unexpected places. And a site where I regularly stumbled upon surprises was, unsurprisingly, the area surrounding Chennai’s Central station.
One in particular, caught by attention right away: as I rode towards the bend of Poonamallee High Road past Ripon Building, I saw a very graceful building spreading out over a vast space: yellow and white, and in unmistakably Mughal style. It stands now cheek and jowl with several other modern and heritage buildings and when I set out to find details, I discovered that it had been built by Nawab C. Abdul Hakim between 1919 and 1921 at the request of his father Siddique Hussein Sahib, who had been moved by the plight of Muslim travellers without a place to stay. I learnt that it housed mosques as well and crisscrossed it many times, admiring the graceful arches and columns, still mesmerising as it rose against the colourful Chennai skyline.
Instead of opting for a traditional approach of presenting the whole structure, I opted to draw just one aspect: perhaps the most beautiful, and which seemed to capture the essence of the sarai – something that takes you straight back to Arabian Nights. For that reason, this miniature is half the size of the ones I usually do.
Pavithra Srinivasan is a writer, journalist, artist, translator,
columnist, editor and is fascinated with History.