Registered with the Registrar of Newspapers for India under R.N.I 53640/91
Vol. XXXIII No. 14, November 1-15, 2023
The signs are all there. Just consider the property-related news items of the last six months or so. “Mamallapuram – Tourist Spot transformed into a live work-play destination”, “G Square successfully expands into Mahabalipuram, launches G Square Dynasty”, “Chennai Peripheral Ring Road to make Mamallapuram the next Sholinganallur”, “Holistic Plan by CMDA necessary for Chennai’s expansion,” “Mahabalipuram emerging as an exciting destination for a Mega Sports City,” and so on. Recently there was even a seminar on real estate development in Mamallapuram. It would seem that what was till recently a historic treasure will soon be ravaged by development.
Before the pro-development lobby descends on us and begins chanting its usual mantra on how such progress is essential and we cannot be forever living in the past, it is necessary to reflect on what makes Mamallapuram special. What gives it its character? Why do people from all over the world come there in such vast numbers? Why has UNESCO recognised the place as a world heritage monument? It is because of the magnificent Pallava-era rock carvings the place possesses. Is not such a heritage sufficient reason to argue for special status for Mamallapuram to protect it from modern development?
We are sure that on paper all the usual clauses of protection of Mamallapuram’s heritage status will be there. There will be assurances that the monuments will not be affected in any way. But we all know what happens in India when it comes to such so called clauses. There will be creeping
Recently, The Hindu carried an article stating that the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) intends to develop lakes in Korattur, Retteri, Perungudi and Porur into recreational spaces for the local communities. A similar plan was already announced earlier this year, in fact, reports had emerged in January of the CMDA proposing a Rs. 100 crore lake-front project that intended to transform waterbodies into public spaces, including lakes in Perumbakkam, Mudichur, Madambakkam, Sembakkam, Ayanambakkam, Puzhal and Kolathur.
Watching a cricket match last week at Chepauk, the recent improvements to the stadium were made manifest with the sea breeze wafting in thanks to the slicing of the earlier structure to facilitate this. At the same time, it cannot be forgotten that the older structure, which made all of this possible, was a repository of much history too. And it owed its existence to the vision of one man – M.A. Chidambaram.
And before that we had old Chepauk, with its makeshift stadium of poles and ropes.
Over the years one of the abiding wonders of Chennai that was Madras concerns the story of what was once known as Narimedu aka Hogghill. This is a fact that is repeatedly trotted out – the space being a high mound near or exactly where the Central Station stood, it being cited as a security threat to Fort St George, Stephen Popham asking for it to be flattened and then when it happened cleverly making sure the debris was used to raise the level of the ditch he owned in New Black Town which became Broadway, with the mud foundations of the area giving rise to the name Mannady. All of that is well recorded and is an indisputable fact. But what exactly do we known of Narimedu
The national poet Subramania Bharathi’s avatar as an editor and journalist is well-documented. It is interesting to note that apart from his tryst with Tamil magazines such as the Swadesamitran, India, Chakravardhini, Karmayogi, Suryodayam and Vijaya, he also served as editor of a short-lived English monthly, the Bala Bharata. This is a brief profile of the magazine.
The periodical was funded by the well-known doctor and leading citizen of early 20th century Madras, Dr. M.C. Nanjunda Rao. Born in Nanjangud near Mysore in 1862, the doctor had moved to the city in the 1880s and after a stint in government service, setup flourishing private practice,