Town is a place I always like going to. I probably get that trait from my mother, whose idea of relaxing is to get on to a bus, go to Town and then just walk down the narrow streets there. Of late, she has got into this habit of borrowing any stranger’s cellphone, calling me irrespective of where I am or what I am doing and asking about the history of any random building that takes her fancy. Her father was another strong believer in the maxim that shopping had to be done only in Town.
I go to Town for its history. I like soaking in its sheer wealth of heritage, though most of it has gone to seed. When Karthik Bhatt does the honour of accompanying me on these jaunts, it is an added pleasure. For he has double my enthusiasm.
A couple of Saturdays ago we set out to visit the Kalikambal Temple and then to photograph for my weekly column in The Hindu, the Surajmal building which is now Saravana Bhavan. En route, I managed to capture these heritage structures on Lingi Chetty, Errabalu Chetty, Thambu Chetty, Broadway, Post Office Street and NSC Bose Road. I dont know how long these will last. So enjoy them at least in pics.
This is all that remains of a long stretch of Indo Saracenic buildings that housed the MCC till the 1930s. The campus stretched from Parry’s Corner to Anderson Street. The Anderson Church, also part of the campus, still survives.
Look at those pilasters topped by Corinthian capitals. What about that jewel of a verandah?
I love the way the windows double up as verandahs with ornate wooden railings.
The first floor has semi-circular arches with windows, alternating with Corinthian capitals over pilasters. The second floor was obviously one room and a long verandah on the side. The latter was converted into a room by putting up windows. Note the floral garland done in plaster above the verandah. The terrace largely repeats the same pattern that once formed the railing for the second floor balcony.
The profusion of wooden windows and the patterns on them is amazing.
This is my favourite and a whole thesis can be written on its architecture and history. This was Dr U Rama Rau‘s clinic and collateral members of the same lineage still practise as doctors from here.
In Venkatachala Vilas,the plaster work of rays is pure art deco while the rest is classical.
I am sure those of us who get to see all this are the last few lucky ones. Soon these will all be replaced by a warren of glass-fronted ugly shops or flats. Sure, we have to change. But can we at least retain some elements of the past?