376 & still counting…
Today, on August 22nd, 2015, Chennai has completed 376 years of its existence. Yes! It’s the “Happy Birthday” of the then called “Madras”, now named as “Chennai”. Though, I am a North Indian by lineage, I am gifted, rather would say privileged, to be born and brought up in this beautiful city. Beyond the attitudinal stigmas of the travelers towards the city, Madras has been painted with a significant history, pulsating beauty and charismatic warmth.
Originating as a small space grant to East India Company by Nayak of Wandiwash, who was a part of the Vijayanagar Empire, Madras was formed on 22nd August 1639. The history of Madras is stamped with incidents such as wars, treaties, victories and defeats. From being the center of the Independence struggle, to formation of trade unions and progressive forces and revival of the Dravidian Culture and Dravidian parties, Madras has carved a history for itself. The rechristening of “Madras” to ‘Chennai’ in 1996, did little to change the flavor and feel of one of South India’s most celebrated cities.
When denoted as ‘Madras’, it gives an ageless feel to the city. Areas like Triplicane or Thiruvallikeni, Mylapore or Thiruvanmiyur and Thiruvotriyur have found mentions in the devotional hymns of the saints, Nayanmars and Alwars, composed around the 7th to the 9th centuries. St Thomas, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ had preached Christianity here. The Portuguese, the Dutch, the French and the British landed on its shores. Santhome was a Portuguese colony even as the British built Fort St George and established it as the center of East India Company while the French ruled both the colonies for a while. Imbibed with an endless history, Madras is a pleasant potpourri of varied and vibrant cultures.
Adding more to the beauty of the city, Madras is blessed with the Asia’s second largest beach, called the “The Marina Beach”, and the sculptural architecture of the history, “The Mammallapuram”. Sunrise or moon-rise – whatever you ask, Madras gives a picture perfect view for frames. The feathers of its grandeur are countless.
For the past 27 years of my life, I had barely left the shores of this beautiful city. The beaches, have always inspired me to get up and move ahead relentlessly. A perfect fun filled school ambiance, motivating and convivial college life and challenging professional life is what I have gained from this place. This city has been an inspiration to dream big in every aspect of life. Vibrant and unconditional love of friendships and the countless memories of these 27 years of stay, is what I take from this city. Beyond these comforts, the city also gives me a sense of security and assurance by its warmth. I am what I am because of this city. I can keep writing without any break and this piece would become a limitless talk show.
Now, life has given me a reason to move out of this space, may be only to come back again and again. Madras, will always be a city, where my heart hails from.
Madras!!! You are missed like never before.