Monday 20 August 2012

Madras Day Heritage Ride - 19th August 2012

Our first heritage ride on bicycle got off to a wonderful start on a pleasant Sunday morning of 19th August 2012. The reason was to celebrate the 373rd Foundation Day of this great city named Madras, being a self proclaimed historian cum cyclist I turned up to our starting point the Gandhi Statue by around 4.30 am only to be surprised in seeing an American cycling friend of mine with his foldee bicycle awaiting for the start of the show, as time tickled fellow cycling friends and other Old Madras aficionados started to creep in. After a small briefing about the ride and an introduction to Madras Day, the significance of Marina Beach came into focus, this place having reference in the songs of Vaishnava Saint Pey Alvar (6th Century AD) and proclaimed to be second longest beach in the world owes its name as well to its first beautification project with promenade in 1884 by the then Governor of Madras Elephinstine Grant Duff, the imposing DGP Office with its masonic architecture which is just few meters away mentioning that this building started its service as the Police Headquarters in 1865 and its construction cost during 1830's was only Rs. 25000 and a group photo with Mahatma Gandhi statue as the backdrop our ride into history began. The next stop was the Indo-Saracenic styled Senate House of Madras University which was constructed between 1874-79 designed by the British architect Robert Chisholm and the nearby Chepauk Palace the official residency of Nawab of Arcot between 1768-1855 which consisted  of Kalsa Mahal and Humayun Mahal. Getting back to the saddle we pedaled towards the interior located Tiruvallikenni Sri Parthasarathy Temple and the nearby Patriotic Poet Bharathiyar House. This ancient Vaishnava Temple has its earliest inscription reference to Pallava King Dantivarman (795-846 AD) apart from the songs of Vaisnava Saints the Alvars Next to this temple is the Nationalist Poet Bharathiyar House who spent his last few years of his life during early 1920's. After seeing these places our next destination was back again on Kamarajar Salai the Vivekanander Illam also known as Ice House which was built by Frederic Tudor in 1842 and used as an ice storage facility it was purchased by one of the Mandyam Iyengars living in Triplicane, Swami Vivekananda who stayed in Triplicane for some time owes much to these Iyengars for his presence at the Chicago Parliament of the World Religions (1893). From this place it was a straight pedal pushing to Mylapore region first in the line was Santhome Church built over the Tomb of St.Thomas in 16th Century by the Portuguese and later rebuilt by the British in 1896. Taking on the Kutcheri Road we zipped past Dabba Chetty Shop famous for its country drugs and herbal medicine since 1885 to the 6th Century Vaishnava Saint Pey Alvars Birth place and after a brief stop over here we reached our final destination the Mylapore Kapaleeswarer Temple which was built in 7th century by the Pallavas but to the famous Saivaite Saints of Tamilnadu called Nayanmars the temple was located on the sea shore, setting aside the debate of its precise location for another occasion the first heritage tour came to an end at the precincts of this renowned Temple with a group photo and vote of thanks to all the participants, special mention being made to our immaculate photographer cum cyclist Bharani Shivakumar and Mr.Vasanth Ramaswamy of TCC who put me on to the Madras Day. All is well that ends well ... the first heritage ride came to a wonderful finish at the Rayars Mess with a hot filter coffee courtesy Mr. Suresh. Till next time.
Participants of the Madras Day Heritage Ride 2012

Tamil Newspapers dated 19-08-2012