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Vol. XXXII No. 20, February 1-15, 2023

Heritage Watch: Better days for Brodie’s Castle?

A recent report has it that the State Government has sanctioned Rs. 2 crores for the restoration of historic Brodie Castle, located on the banks of the Adyar. Now known as Thenral and the home of the Arasu Isai Kalloori, once the Central College of Karnatic Music, it has been crying out for such an exercise and the Government is to be commended for taking this up.

Sketch by artiste Vijaykumar for the book Fifty Historic Residences of Chennai by Sriram V.

Constructed in 1796 and the second residential building on the banks of the Adyar, the first being Mowbray’s Cupola now home to the Madras Club, it is one of the last surviving of what was once a series of over 30 colonial mansions on the river. Much has been written in the columns of Madras Musings on this building to merit repetition but suffice it to say that it deserves careful restoration and maintenance. If the news reports are to be believed, the edifice is now a listed heritage structure under the CMDA though it is doubtful if such a list indeed exists. If true, the rest of the structures so listed ought to be made public.

Coming back to Brodie Castle, its present state is pitiable – wooden windows falling off, mindless add-ons all around, exposed roofing with hardly any protection from the elements, and a garden choked with weeds. Previous so-called restoration exercises have been ill-advised at best with plenty of use of materials completely not in keeping with a heritage building. We hope the new effort by the PWD will prove better.

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