Wednesday 27 August 2014

Heritage Rides for Madras Week Celebration 2014 (Part -1)

 Madras Day Heritage Ride to Perambur (Sunday, 17th August 2014)         

              The Madras Day Celebrations spread from 17th to 24th August witnessed a plethora of events and the euphoria reached its crescendo on 22nd August which is the Madras Day, a very special attribute to this year being the Madras 375 years tag attached to the festivity. As is the norm since 2013, two Sundays sandwiching the Madras Day were allotted for our Heritage Rides and perhaps there could not have been a better way to showcase our gratitude to this gracious city other than organizing an heritage ride on bicycle.

           To many North Chennai is still an enigma probably due to its lack of connect with the modernity of the city but few know here lays a treasure house of history which ultimately propelled the city on its course to development. Perambur is the railway hub of Chennai and contains some of the oldest railway establishments in the country including industries, churches, educational institutions set up during the British days. Almost near to the wee hours of Sunday morning we set out on an Heritage Ride of Perambur starting from the entrance of Madras Veterinary College, Vepery built in 1904.Riding along the Perambur Barracks Road via Pullianthope, Attu Thoddi, Vysarpadi Jeeva we reached KRM Public School situated in Perambur. 

Loco Works, Perambur
Along with the school children the Heritage Ride of Perambur commences the first stop being Our Lady of Lourdes Church built in 1879 by Fr. H. Hennessey a Parish priest in St. Andrews Church Vepery halting for a group picture we continue to pedal to Carriage and Wagon Works considered to be one of the oldest railway establishment set up by the British in India, the recently added memorial arch depicting its 150 glorious years welcoming us, the workshop here was built by Madras Railways in 1856-57 and later became a part of Madras & Southern Maratta Railway Company. Our next destination was the Railway Hospital iwas started in 1928 as a 40-bedded hospital for the Railway staff under the insistence of Chief Medical Officer of the Madras and Southern Mahratta Railway Maj. G.J. Cruikshank. Later it become a pioneering hospital when the Department of Cardiac Surgery at the hospital was recognized as one of the best cardiac surgery units in the country. Moving further we reach the entrance of Loco Works the locomotive maintenance work was transferred here from Carriage and Wagon Works and it was set up in 1932, The amalgamation of three railway companies namely Madras, Southern Maratta and Mysore Railways in 1951 saw it came under Southern Railways. Assembling for a group picture with the majestic steam locomotive here in the background we now take an u-turn and riding via Loco Bridge reach the Lord Baden Powell Scout Training Center incidentally Lord Baden Powel is the founder of scouting movement and the Netaji Scout Group one of the oldest scout groups in India was started here at Perambur in the year 1925. 
KRM School Students
The penultimate stop was the Southern Railway Institute New Hall with its huge hall and excellent dance floor that throbs with life during the Christmas and New Year Balls or the weddings. For nearly a century, the Institute has played a vital role to the Anglo-Indian community in Perambur. After a very brief halt at this place we reached our finish point the Unity House now under Southern Railways Employee Sangh it was here the father of the nation Mahatma Gandhi visited on 3rd September 1927 to inaugurate the Union office, one can still find the Foundation stone at the entrance of this premises. 

           At the end there was a brief ceremony here at the Unity House honoring Mahatma Gandhi, a group dance and popular bhajan songs were performed by the school students. The ride was unique in many ways it was the first time a school partnered with a city based cycling group in the event of this stature, it is also with our continuing focus on Northern Chennai after having been to Royapuram during the previous edition of Madras Week Celebrations and lastly the pride of having cycled to places associated with the history of Perambur.

To view the video click on this link:

St.Lourdes Church, Perambur