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Museums, monuments and memorials: a historical past tour of Chennai in 48 hours

Pandemic journey might be difficult; so take a staycation as an alternative, and discover the town of Chennai which wears many badges on its sleeve: seat of tradition, hub of drugs — the primary metropolis of recent India

Chennai has sufficient nooks and crannies that spin their very own tales even for the native. Listed below are monuments, museums and memorials to discover.

Pack a picnic hamper, and uncover Madras nalla Madras.

Day 1

9am: Depart on the break of day for the Dutch Fort, Sadras, close to Kalpakkam. Within the surreal monsoon mild, the fort appears to be like like a fading snapshot of colonial India. A gate with spikes, guarded by cannon stands on the entrance of this ASI monument with carved tombstones of Dutch sailors buried between 1620 and 1769. Skulls and crossbones, ships with billowing sails, and a person of warfare are etched into the stone.

A warren of tunnels with clear sand, and eating and dancing halls results in the moss-lined steps — you glimpse the Bay of Bengal from the place the British bombed this fort and captured it in 1854.

11.30 am: Again in Chennai, make a detour to Taramani, a hub of schooling with institutes such because the Roja Muthiah Analysis Library. It is a treasure home of fabric on the humanities and social sciences, compiled over 200 years. The personal assortment of Roja Muthiah, as soon as a signboard artist who fell in love with previous books, the library has among the most interesting Tamil books, the oldest revealed in 1804.

Midday: Cease at Santhome Basilica, a Gothic church with beautiful stained-glass panels, one in all three church buildings on this planet constructed over the tomb of an apostle of Christ, and gawk at Santhome’s previous backyard homes from the Portuguese period, genteel however fraying on the edges. Down the street is the Kapaleeswarar temple, lording over streets stuffed with the aura of jasmine and filter espresso.

Kapaleeshwarar temple

12.30 pm: Drive previous the Classical-style DGP’s workplace, College Senate and Conflict Memorial to reach at Fort St George. That is the place trendy India was based when the Fort was accomplished in 1644 and from the place the Union Jack unfurled throughout Asia. Metropolis historian Sriram V suggests you spend two hours to discover 24 important factors within the fort. St Mary’s, the oldest Anglican church East of the Suez with its grand pipe organ performs host to the Armistice service each second Sunday of November to honour World Conflict veterans.

I journey quicker than HG Wells’ time machine at Fort Museum, treading its wooden-floored galleries that inventory memorabilia from the Raj and newly-independent India. In-built 1795 the Fort Museum as soon as housed the Madras Financial institution and is disabled-friendly, its louvered home windows open to cash, portraits and offbeat tales resembling Captain Philip Anstruther’s cage through which he was held captive along with his knees hammered. Additionally, wander by way of King’s Barracks, Clive’s home and the Duke of Wellington’s home.

Additionally Learn | Historical past classes about Madras Excessive Courtroom, Chennai

2.30 pm: The Madras Excessive Courtroom complicated was accomplished by Henry Irwin in 1892. The Indo-Saracenic construction is dwelling to 2 of the town’s early lighthouses, one a Doric column of Pallavaram granite, the opposite atop the primary constructing seen 32 miles out at sea. The turrets, grasp excessive above the town’s smog and had been what many first noticed of Madras once they got here in by masula boats. It additionally survived two World Wars.

A gallery lined with Minton tiles and portraits results in a court-room the place the accused made their look by way of a lure door set within the ground. Different intriguing instances and prized legislation paperwork are on the Excessive Courtroom Museum.

3.30 pm: Wander previous Armenian Church, into Mannadi, chock-a-block with migrants for almost 200 years. The air is thick with Telugu, Marwari and Gujarati. Drive to Royapuram, as soon as the hang-out of Anglo-Indians, remembered now solely within the names scratched out on the worn-out flagstones of Bishop Corrie’s faculty.

Additional, The Communicable Illnesses Hospital stands on the location of emigration depots that had been holding areas for indentured labour who set sail to locations as far afield as Fiji to fund the Raj. The steps to Maadi Poonga are shaded by bougainvillea. Right here lies the northern boundary wall in-built 1772 of the as soon as walled metropolis of Madras.

Armenian Church in Georgetown

Day 2

9 am: Swing the automobile down Poonamallee Excessive Highway taking within the sights of Madras Medical School, Central Station, Siddique Sarai, Victoria Corridor and Ripon Constructing, Authorities School of High quality Arts, St Andrews Kirk and Egmore Railway Station to the Tamil Nadu Police Museum on Pantheon Highway.

Additionally Learn | Tamil Nadu Police Museum, Chennai, showcases the historical past of our women and men in khaki

A penny farthing utilized by a beat constable stands alongside a bullet-proof SUV. Inside, nation bombs, pistols and trendy weaponry function alongside tales of sensational crimes.

Additional down the street, the red-brick colonnaded Authorities Museum, Chennai has the biggest assortment of Roman antiquities exterior of Europe. Sujatha Shankar, convenor, INTACH, Chennai chapter, recommends seeing the Bronze Gallery and the Amaravathi sculptures. It was additionally right here that the concept for the town’s first zoo was considered by Orientalist Edward Balfour.

2 pm: It’s full steam forward to the Rail Museum, its parks stuffed with engines and carriages of iconic trains such because the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway. One of many museum’s charming employees swings the buggy nearer for me to try its Caledonian blue construction.

The engine of the Himalayan Darjeeling Railway, painted a Caledonian blue, at the Chennai Rail Museum

The engine of the Himalayan Darjeeling Railway, painted a Caledonian blue, on the Chennai Rail Museum
| Photograph Credit score: Deepa Alexander

The galleries are stuffed with miniatures that take you again to the hiss of scorching steam and the sharp toot of the brass whistle when the practice snakes round a bend. Pictures seize the Railways lengthy journey because the first practice ran from Bombay to Thane in 1853. There are additionally footage of the Swiss engineers who lent the Integral Coach Manufacturing unit the primary know-how, and luminaries resembling Leonid Brezhnev and Queen Elizabeth II who’ve visited the ICF. Don’t miss the previous world allure of cutlery from that Indian traditional — the Railway Ready Room.

4 pm: On the Madras Conflict Cemetery the place headstones commemorate women and men who died in each World Wars pause on the austere Stone of Remembrance with the phrases ‘Their Name Liveth For Evermore’, chosen by Rudyard Kipling to venerate the lifeless of the Empire.

Then, because the lengthy drawn-out twilight of the East falls on the town, drive up St Thomas Mount. On one aspect is the church, on the opposite, a birds-eye view of Chennai caught in a sweep of nightfall.

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