August 21st, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All, World Opinion
Situated between commercial establishments on Armenian Street, opposite the Madras high court, is the Armenian Church. One of the oldest churches in India, tombs of about 350 Armenians can be found there. But, according to Satenig Batwagan, researcher and historian at the Society for Armenian Studies, Paris, that number actually pales in comparison when one considers the ‘countless Armenians’, who led a happy and prosperous life in old Madras.
Currently in Chennai to organise ‘Armenians in Madras’, an exhibition at Armenian Church as part of the Madras Week celebrations, Ms Batwagan says, “a lot of Armenian school children, today, are aware of the role played by Armenians in Madras. They are curious to know about their past and Madras, especially, played a significant role.” Tracing the movement of Armenians to modern day Chennai, Ms. Batwagan says, “Unlike other Europeans, like the Portuguese, Dutch and French, who also came during the 17th and 18th centuries, the Armenians were primarily merchants and had no colonial intentions. Thus, they were well regarded by locals.”
Giving a measure of the prominent connection between Madras and Armenia, she says it was here in the year 1780, that Shahamir Shahamirian wrote the first constitution for the Armenian state. Another person, Haruthyun Shmavonian, priest at the local St. Mary’s Church brought out Azdarar (The Monitor), the first ever Armenian periodical, in 1794. Quite appropriately, he is referred to as the founder of the Armenian Press. Besides, an altar curtain made in Madras in 1789 can be found at the treasury in Edjmiadzin, holy city of Armenia.Sadly though, not many among the residents of the city are aware that the Armenians were also benefactors of the city. Khodja Petrus Uscan, a prosperous merchant, originally constructed the Maraimalai Adigal Bridge or Marmalong Bridge, across the Adayar River, in 1728. In addition, he was also instrumental in facilitating access to St. Thomas Mount by building the steps leading up to the church.“When I mention the contributions to our people, they express surprise. It has taken a lady from Paris to highlight the rich Armenian heritage of Chennai, when ideally, citizens here should have been made aware of much earlier,” Trevor Alexander, caretaker of the Armenian Church says.source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC / by Venkatesan Parthasarthy / August 19th, 2014
Imagine travelling in a long-distance train with no idea about the current location, no internet connectivity to identify the spot through GPRS and not knowing when to alight.
What if there’s a gadget inside the compartment that has its own communication network and provides value-added services such as details of the location, the approaching station, food items available in the pantry, social networking with co-passengers and alerts about one’s destination without disturbing others? This is exactly what two students of MS Software Engineering attached to the VIT University have developed in the form of an in-vehicle network based mobile solution, that has received US patent now, for the very first time in the university.
“I am so delighted that we have been able to get the US patent for the very good work done by two of our students – Srisudha Garimalla and Srilavanya Paleti and their guide Dr K Ganesan of TIFAC-CORE at the University,” said VIT Chancellor G Viswanthan, briefing about the patent on Wednesday. He said an application had also been filed for an Indian patent.
He said the application for the US patent was filed in 2011, the details of which were published on the Internet for objection, if any, to the concept and ownership . “We got the approval for the patent on August 5, 2014,” he said, adding: “The patent has been obtained in the shortest period.”
Srilavanya, who is employed at Schneider Electrics at Bengaluru, recalled that it took two years for them to work on the application, which provided a cost-effective, value-added service to passengers, who are travelling in trains, ship or buses where access to internet was problem. “I have experienced the problem while travelling from Vellore to my home town in Vijayawada by train, which made us work on a solution,” she said. Her classmate Srisudha, while explaining about the application said, the hardware built by them comprised GPS, Wi-Fi and bluetooth modules with necessary software. This unit, which provides its own communication network without internet support, can be fixed on the roof of the train compartment.
When a passenger enters the train, he/she has to switch on the bluetooth module on the mobile phone, upon which the software developed by the girls would be downloaded to the mobile phone. The user has to enter certain details such as his destination.
The hardware unit will save this information and remind the passenger with an SMS when the destination arrives. A passenger who is asleep will get the alert with a vibration on his mobile. If the train is running late, the passenger need not wake up early.
Another in-built feature of the system is information about food items available on the train. The passengers can place orders through mobile phone, said Srisudha, presently a senior developer with Sapient Private Limited, a leading multinational company in Bengaluru.
Passengers can get to know about the medical help available onboard during an emergency and can publish request for sharing hotel accommodation and transportation like taxi/auto.
Ganesan said 16 patents had been filed by VIT so far. The US patent received now could be used anywhere in the world, he added.
source: http://www.newindianexpress.com / The New Indian Express / Home> States> Tamil Nadu / by V. NarayanaMurthi / August 21st, 2014
The edifice that houses K. Natesa Iyer & Co., an 82-year-old jaggery godown in George Town, is living its last days
The building swallows us in one soundless gulp. The cluck-cluck of tricycles, the yackety-yak of customers and vegetable-sellers at the market, the “vazhi, vazhi” — “Give way, give way” — of sweat-drenched load men heaving jute sacks on their backs outside disappear the instant we travel down its throat. Inside, a man squats on a thinnai by a short wooden table, leaning on a pillar and writing down the order from a customer.
Temperature drops. Crumbling limestone pillars rise like pale white hillocks from the corners; wooden beams of the Madras terrace run horizontally on the ceiling. Surely, we haven’t travelled back in time? That’s the thing with K. Natesa Iyer & Co. on Anna Pillai Street — it has an otherworldly aura that borders on the mysterious.
The jaggery mundi (godown) is over 80 years old. “This property belongs to the Kannika Parameswari Temple,” says P. Suresh, looking up from his account books. “My grandfather took it for rent in 1933.” Natesa ran a wholesale jaggery and tamarind business that Suresh took over. “I get my stock from Tumkur in Karnataka,” he explains, adding that he has customers from all over Chennai, extending to Kanchipuram.
The godown opens out into a pillared courtyard — one with windows at strategic locations to let the maximum amount of sunlight in. Small chambers branch out from the main courtyard; the ceiling is high, rendering the whole place cool. Says Suresh, “Everything here is made of limestone. Construction methods back then were completely different from those of today. They resulted in sturdy buildings that withstood time.”
What did the building function as? Was it a dance-floor? A rehearsal room for temple dancers, perhaps? “I think it was a wedding hall,” says Suresh. “But I’m not sure. The size, the side rooms and such indicate that it could have hosted weddings,” he adds. “You can ask the temple authorities. But the old-timers are long gone; there is no one to tell you what exactly it was. We can only assume what the godown was, almost a hundred years ago.”
But two months from now, it will be razed to the ground.
Suresh says he has been allocated a shop at the Koyambedu wholesale food and grains market and that he is preparing to leave. “I hope to do good business there. Once I shift, the temple authorities are planning to demolish the building,” he says.
From the outside, K. Natesa Iyer & Co. looks desolate — new buildings have come up around it, elbowing it from every direction. It looks out of place in the bustling market place, peepal leaves sprout from its cracks and crevices. The men and women the building housed, their stories that the pillars heard…we will never get to know them.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> Features> MetroPlus / by Akila Kannadasa / Chennai – August 19th, 2014
August 19th, 2014Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Business & Economy, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All
Branching off from both sides of D B Road is a little known street called Sambandhan Road. You have West Sambandhan Road which leads to Thadagam Road and East Sambandhan Road which leads to Mettupalayam Road. The road is believed to have been named as a tribute to former municipal chairman M Sambandhan in the 1930s when the legendary Rathna Sabapathy Mudaliar drew the layout of R S Puram.
However, like almost all roads in R S Puram the road has seen a lot of changes in the demography of its residents over the past few decades and only a handful of original inhabitants can still be found. So, it is not surprising that not many people know who Sambandan was or why the road was named after him. M Sambandhan was born in 1869 and passed his Class 10 in 1885. Then he moved to erstwhile Madras for further studies. The MCC graduate got his degree in 1891 and got a degree in law from Presidency College in 1894.
Being the son of former tahsildar and Tamil literature expert Muthukrishna Mudaliyar, he moved back to the city in 1894 and took up a job as a secretary of a sugar manufacturing company. In 1901, he began his legal career. However, in 1906 he decided to enter public life. “He became a municipal councillor in 1906 and went on to become a municipal chairman in 1916,” say INTACH members and historians Perur K Jayaraman and Rajesh Govindarajulu.
The man is believed to have greatly contributed to the city infrastructure creation in the early 20th century. “He was awarded a certificate of merit and a silver medal as a councillor,” says Govindarajulu. He then grew in society by becoming the director of Janopakara Needhi, becoming committee members of the Cosmopolitan Clubs of Coimbatore and Chennai, becoming a part of the Madras legislative council, Theasophical Society, becoming a Free Mason and being a part of the Madras Mahajana Sabha, known to be instrumental in forming a congress chapter in the state, says Govindarajulu.
The street, which now has cars parked on both sides and is dotted with apartment complexes and a range of commercial establishments like a bakery, coffee shop, an art gallery, clinics, Aavin outlet and eateries, has managed to retain a bit of its past. There still exist a few two-storey independent houses, painted in peach, blue and pink with terraces and flat window sills. The street’s oldest resident 78-year-old S S Seshadri gave a glimpse of the street’s past.
“I was born in this house on this street in 1936. My parents had moved here in 1933,” he recalls. “Then it was just a gravel and mud road. We just had horse carriages. It became a tar road in 1952. “The Chandrika soap manufacturing unit was based in East Sambandhan Road,” says Jayaraman.
“The whole road used to be filled with fragrance when they processed their solution,” he adds. The road also used to have a few well-known residents like surgeon T S Sivanandham and former movie actor T S Baliah. Seshadri says the road for decades used to have only independent limestone houses with tiled roofs. “It changed about 40 years back when people began to use cement to renovate them. Many sold off their property and left the area. Now it has become more of a commercial street with more shops and apartments than houses,” he says. He gets nostalgic as he talks about those “good old days” when he used to spin tops on this very street. He knows those days will not come back again.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / by Pratiksha Ramkumar, TNN / August 17th, 2014
Tiruvottiyur, a busy northern suburb has its due share of pristine beaches, but it is steeped in the city’s religion, accommodating a 1,500-year-old temple although it became part of Madras city (now Chennai) much later.
The Sri Thyagaraja Swamy Vadivudai Amman temple at Tiruvottiyur with its impressive seven-storeyed raja gopuram – a masterpiece in south Indian temple architecture- is about 1,500 years old.
The presiding deity is Thyagaraja Swamy and the sthalapuranam claims that this is the first temple in the world to this deity. It is also known as Tiruvotreeswaran, after whom the town came to be known. Goddess Vadivudai Amman, who is among the three Shakthis in and around the city , represents Jnana Sakthi (power of knowledge) and special prayers are offered to the Devi, offering a red saree and jackfruit for neivaedhiyam.There are 27 lingams in a row, one for each of the 27 stars, and in the inner prakaaram are situated the sannadhis of the 63 Saivaite saints. This temple has attracted numerous saints and poets like Appar, Sundarar, Gnana Sambandhar, Vallalar, Valmiki, Kambar, Adi Shankara. The Kamba Ramayanam was composed here before it was recited at Srirangam, Tiruchy.There is also the samdhi of saint Pattinathar in Tiruvottiyur.Tiruvottiyur is a developing northern residential suburb with a population of 2,49,446 and has a heavy concentration of industries. It has good road and rail connectivity, fishing hamlets besides a good number of educational institutions, restaurants and malls.Other attractions here include the Srinivasa Perumal temple, Ramakrishna Nagar beach, Shanmuganar park, Sri Muthu Krishna Swami Madam, Varadharaja Perumal temple, Kattu Ponaimman temple. This state Assembly constituency is one of the biggest areas in the Chennai-North Lok Sabha constituency.source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC / J.V. Siva Prasanna Kumar / August 17th, 2014
August 17th, 2014About Chennai(Madras) / TamilNadu, Business & Economy, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Records, All
In the age of runaway electronics, the smartphone is just 20 years old. Compare that to a city that is turning 375 this week and you have some idea of the enormity of the differences we are talking about. And yet, much like the world of gizmos, the city has grown phenomenally in those 20 years, making a great deal of progress in a short span when compared to the eon that went before it.
The tale of two cities, Madras and Chennai could not have been more disparate than it is now with the modern city an amorphous mass of buildings, people and incessant traffic highlighted by the unique Indian habit of vehicles honking their way throughout their journey. While old timers would yearn with nostalgia for old Madras with its leafy avenues and distinct lack of traffic lights, the modern Chennaiiite knows he is on to a good thing in an expanding city.
At no time could the city have boasted of such a wide spread of leisure activities as now. Adventure sport not as much on the water as it should be in a harbour city has opened up avenues that never existed in times when the good old transistor radio was the sole link to the world even as youngsters sat on the Marina ground’s sea side wall to look on at the cricket, without quite knowing who was actually playing.
The fabulous spread of eating joints – from the most economical at the old messes of some of the city’s most ancient localities like Mylapore and Triplicane to the most expensive at the luxury caravanserais as the city hosts more and more hotels with multiple stars claimed by some grand but opaque system is a veritable gourmet’s haven as well as a gourmand’s delight. Of course, the tippler also has a wider choice now thanks to an incipient liberal policy.
In a city that toyed with Prohibition for a long time in the name of great socialistic values that were always well beaten by bootleggers and illicit liquor brewers, the scene has transformed beyond belief with a snooty new pub on Chamiers Road even declining to let in customers just for one drink on a Saturday evening unless they had a booking. In the old days, the speakeasys had a welcoming policy that did the customer and the seller proud.
It is a fervent hope that in the next 25 years to the city’s 400th anniversary Chennai would do two things that would make it more liveable clean up the stinking waterways along the lines of the Singapore model and plant millions of trees to give shade as well as invite more rain and absorb the carbon footprint. As the saying goes, change is the only constant and Madras-Chennai has been a living emobodiment of that principle; only it needs to be even more so as one the more sensible metros of India that has always melded the best of old values with the comforts of modernity.
source: http://www.deccanchronicle.com / Deccan Chronicle / Home> Nation> Current Affairs / DC / R. Mohan / August 17th, 2014
At one point, 67-year-old C.V Hanif was mostly confined to his home, entirely dependent on an oxygen cylinder and unable to completely take care of himself without help.
Today, however, nearly five months after a heart and double lung transplant, the patient from Kerala is on the road to recovery and back on his feet with no special oxygen support.
Mr. Hanif is the oldest recipient of such a procedure in the country, claimed doctors at Apollo Hospitals, where the surgery was performed in March this year.
“The patient came to us with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a condition in which an inflammation leads to the formation of scar tissue in the alveoli capillary membrane, in the gas-exchanging region of the lungs. This leads to very little exchange of gases and, therefore, lowered levels of oxygen the blood. At the end point, when there is end-stage lung and heart failure, there is no option but a transplant,” said Paul Ramesh, senior consultant cardiothoracic surgeon at the hospital.
Though Mr. Hanif was on the transplant list, he was admitted late one March evening with extreme breathlessness and low blood pressure.
“The procedure for someone as old as him is risky. But Mr. Hanif made it clear that he didn’t mind going ahead if there was a chance his quality of life would improve,” Dr. Ramesh said.
Thanks to a matching donor being available in 12 hours and the organs being transported quickly, the heart and double lung transplant was performed successfully by a team that included Dr. Ramesh, T. Sunder and Madhan Kumar, the last two being senior consultant cardiothoracic surgeons at the hospital.
Despite an infection contracted a few weeks later, Mr. Hanif made a complete recovery, Dr. Ramesh said. “This is a technically demanding and very complex. In Chennai, there have only been four performed so far,” he added.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai / Staff Reporter / Chennai – August 10th, 2014
On the first floor of a narrow corner plot building, 91-year-old R Ponnamal sifts through the several Independence Day invites she has received. Believed to be the only surviving woman freedom fighter in the city, she’s just a shadow of her former self, suffering from age-related infirmities. Despite her small frame, limited hearing and vision, her mind is still sharp. She carefully notices the timings mentioned on each invite as she plans her day.
“My first stop is usually the corporation school at the end of the street where I hoist the flag. Then I make my way to the collector’s office for flag hoisting, even if I’m not invited,” says Ponnammal. She spends the rest of the day making all her Lion’s Club and Rotary Club visits.
Her feeble voice steps up a notch when you start talking about the freedom struggle and the events that unfolded in 1942. “That was the year I participated in the Quit India Movement marches. We began our protest in front of Pankaja Mills in Ramanathapuram, when they arrested and lodged us at the Coimbatore Central Prison. We were remanded to custody for three months,” she said. Those prison days were pure torture, she said. They were housed with convicted murderers and treated just like them.
Ponnammal refused to take things lying down and led a protest within the prison. The women refused to touch food or water for a whole day, till the jail superintendent heard their grievances. “After we argued that we were fighting for our rights and were not murderers, they started treating us better,” she says. They were kept very busy in prison, having to cook for 50 prisoners and do other physical work.
One of the most memorable moments was when Independence was announced. “We first heard it on the radio. We ran outside to find out if this was really true. When at midnight, other freedom fighters began distributing sweets, we were reassured,” she said.
Residing just one kilometer away is 94-year-old A Natarajan, another freedom fighter. He sits on the porch with a radio to his ear as TOI met him. His daughter confesses that he cannot hear a thing but just enjoys holding on to the radio.
It takes a little bit of prodding to get him to talk. “I decided to join the struggle as freedom is our right. The most difficult part of our fight for freedom was surviving the jail stays. We were made to eat and urinate in the same vessel,” said Natarajan. Though he still gets excited and emotional every time he sees a flag being hoisted, he is too weak to step out, says his daughter.
Around 93 freedom fighters or their spouses receive old age pension of Rs1,000 from the Coimbatore collectorate every month. Most of them also receive pensions from the central government ranging from Rs 9,500 to Rs 19,500.
source: http://www.timesofindia.indiatimes.com / The Times of India / Home> City> Coimbatore / TNN / August 15th, 2014
The national flag gallery at the Fort Museum, among other exhibits, traces the evolution of the Indian flag
As the nation marks its 67th Independence Day, tucked away in the second floor of the quaint Fort Museum is the first Indian national flag hoisted from Fort St. George.
“The Indian national flag that was hoisted on the morning of 15 August, 1947, at Fort St. George is made of silk and measures eight feet by twelve feet,” said an official.
The flag, which was part of the museum’s reserve collection, has been on display since Republic Day last year, the official said. The response has been very encouraging, he added.
“The flag is an important part of our history and we wanted the public to see it. Several school students and families have visited the museum and this particular gallery,” the official said.
The Fort Museum, which comes under the Archaeological Survey of India, has galleries that display arms, medals, portraits and coins, among several other exhibits, primarily from the colonial period.
The national flag gallery and the adjacent freedom fighters gallery, among other exhibits, trace the evolution of the Indian flag and the earliest postal stamps of independent India.
The freedom fighters gallery has a list of over 1,000 freedom fighters, apart from photos and copies of some documents given to the museum by freedom fighters’ families.
“We request families of freedom fighters to come forward and share photos, documents or any information about them so that we can display it at the museum,” the official said.
The period museum has been functioning from what is called the Exchange Building at Fort St. George, since 1948.
source: http://www.thehindu.com / The Hindu / Home> News> Cities> Chennai> Madras 375 / by Asha Sridhar / Chennai – August 15th, 2014
August 11th, 2014Amazing Feats, Arts, Culture & Entertainment, Historical Links, Pre-Independence, Inspiration/ Positive News and Features, Leaders, Records, All
The boy took a lock out of his pocket, fixed it to the grill and turned the key. He closed his eyes, prayed and left. “He has relinquished all his troubles here,” said Nawaz, the khadim-e-dargah (caretaker). “The Pir will now take care of them.” He added that people also consigned ill health and those possessed by spirits to the locks. Everything was possible in the saint’s durbar. All you need is faith.
Faith is what drove Bahadur Khan, the Killedar of the Bangalore Fort, to defend it with his life on March 21, 1791, during the Third Anglo-Mysore War. Like his fellow soldiers, the fort Commandant fought for Mysore and its freedom.
The former Faujdar of the Krishnagiri Fort had been recently shifted to Bangalore under Tipu Sultan’s orders. Tipu himself was busy fighting a determined and desperate General Lord Cornwallis. He trusted that Bahadur Khan, assisted by Muhammad Khan Bakshi and Sayyid Hamid, would be an able protector of the oval Bangalore Fort. The ancient mud structure had been reinforced in stone around 1761 by its erstwhile Killedar, Hazrat Ibrahim Khan, Hyder Ali’s maternal uncle and a Sufi pir of the Shuttari order.
Close to midnight, the English army stealthily attacked the fort. They crept along its walls (now busy KR Road), scaled its ramparts and cut soldiers down quietly by moonlight. A popular conspiracy theory whispers that the Mysorean army was betrayed from within and that the breach blown through earlier by English cannons was deliberately left unguarded. Bahadur Khan and a handful of soldiers fought fiercely till he died of a gunshot through the head. His body was stabbed repeatedly by bayonets.
Approximately 2,000 men lost their lives that night. The prosperous town of Bangalore had been laid siege to earlier, and now the fort had fallen. A victorious Lord Cornwallis commended his bravery and wrote to Tipu asking him where his noble Killedar should be buried. Tipu is said to have wept publicly, and replied that a soldier must be buried where he fell. He requested that the Killedar be handed over to the Muslim population of Bangalore who would ensure that his last rites were attended to appropriately
Bahadur Khan was buried near what is now the KR Market flyover. Flags flutter high over his green domed mausoleum at the corner of Avenue Road and SJP Road. It is revered by local populations and also called ‘The Lock and Key Dargah’ of Hazrath Mir Bahadur Shah Al-Maroof Syed Pacha Shaheed. Other warrior-saints sleep inside the Pete’s labrynthine streets. They create a sacred landscape that is interwoven with this densely commercial area.
The seventy-year-old Killedar was described by historians as a majestic figure, “a tall robust man… with a white beard descending to his middle.” The prophet-like reference only adds to the shrine’s reputation. People of all faiths walk in and out all day. They petition the saint and pray quietly amidst jasmine flowers and incense sticks, while buses ply and frantic commuters run to and fro outside. At dawn, the shrine is surrounded by roses in buckets, as wholesalers from KR Market squat outside its door. Sometimes, I find musicians with harmoniums and percussion instruments singing devotional songs as offerings. There is no courtyard or wall. Its doors remain open for the busy world to take refuge within. The custodian of Bangalore’s historic fortress continues to watch over the city’s population, centuries later.The writer is a cultural documentarian and blogs at aturquoisecloud.wordpress.comsource: http://www.bangaloremirror.com / Bangalore Mirror / Home> Columns> Other / by Aliyeh Rizvi, Bangalore Mirror Bureau / August 03rd, 2014