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Vol. XXXIII No. 5, June 16-30, 2023

Archives: Vol. XXXIII No. 5, June 16-30, 2023


Govt. Sanctions Rs 17 Crores for Rajaji Hall – But what after that?

-- by The Dy. Editor

We need to be thankful for small mercies. The Tamil Nadu Government has sanctioned Rs. 17 crores for the restoration of Rajaji Hall. It is reported that the Public Works Department has been entrusted with the task and has since begun the work. The announcement also has it that with this, Rajaji Hall will be restored to “its former glory.” That by itself is a rather ambiguous statement, but what is more important is to realise that restoration is not an end by itself. Subsequent maintenance and usage hold the key.

Built between 1800 and 1802 as per the designs of John Goldingham, Astronomer Royal and architect to the Government of Madras, the building’s main purpose was to serve as a Banqueting Hall for the Governor’s official residence that stood by its side. Both buildings, along with a whole host of other structures including bandmaster’s quarters, were part of what was once Government Estate. In the years post Independence, MLA quarters and even an Assembly building came up within the same precinct, the last-named being later converted into the Children’s Theatre and later renamed Kalaivanar Arangam. The focus of the Estate was the Governor’s House and when that residence lost its status to Guindy post-Independence, Government Estate lost much of its purpose. However, Banqueting Hall, which had been put to use for gubernatorial levies, tea parties, dinners and balls, continued to remain a venue for official and even quasi-governmental events.


Chennai scorches as wet bulb temperatures breach safe thresholds

-- by A Special Correspondent

Balu has not slept for days. “The house feels like a furnace even at night,” he says, eyes ringed by dark circles and lips cracking dry. His job requires him to work outdoors, beneath an increasingly cruel sun. The workplace provides him with as much water as he wants, but he says that the limits of his endurance have been tested this summer.

In June, city environmental organisation Poovulagin Nanbargal


Heritage Watch: Let’s put heritage to use

Two views of Rajaji Hall are what we have for you in this issue. And both views are OLD. The first dating to the 1850s shows what was then Banqueting Hall, sans the enclosing verandah. The second, dating to after 1890, shows the building as it is now. It is remarkable how little the edifice has changed over the years. The modifications if any are all cosmetic. Gone are the celebratory coat of arms over the two pediments, the front commemorating victory at Seringapatam in 1799 and the rear at Plassey in 1757. And that is about all.


Lost Landmarks of Chennai

-- by Sriram V

The Nawab’s Octagon

All accounts of the University of Madras and its iconic building on the Marina have it that it was constructed on a site once occupied by what was known as the Nawab’s Octagon or Marine Villa. Beyond that they do not speak of the structure itself. What was it like and more importantly, what do we know of a structure that was clearly a Madras landmark that is now no more? This article attempts to answer these queries.

It was in the 1760s that the Nawab of Arcot


A ‘counterfeit’ conspiracy

-- by V.L. Parthasarathy, D.S.P. C.B. C.I.D., Madras

The following article was published in the Tamil Nadu Police Journal, a publication that was brought out in fits and starts by the Madras and later Tamil Nadu Police from the 1950s to the 1980s. This article appeared in a 1974 issue.

For a self-styled cine-artist blackberrying in the scrub at the outskirts of movie-land to turn a film-producer, it is reaching for a fruit in a dense dump of bushes. Yet, it was what Natesan hoded for though with a calamitous result.

A man of moderate talents and limited resources

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