Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bunker below ground

Once upon a time, there was a Round Tana at the junction of Wallajah Road and Mount Road. Or at least, the old timers say there was one; this photograph shows a domed structure which could well have been the round tana, because it is right at the same junction. You have to really be an old timer to remember seeing that structure, because it was pulled down sometime in the early 1940s. Though I am hard pressed to imagine what the connection was, the cause of its demolition was Japan entering World War II - maybe it was so distinctive that its absence would make target marking very difficult for the Japanese aircraft?

In a gesture that really seemed to cock a snook at the threat, the city built an air-raid shelter right under the spot where the round tana had been. In all likelihood it was never used, for the Japanese did not make any serious effort to attack Madras. After the war, the cavernous shelters were put to use as public conveniences for a while. It must have been really convenient for the public, too, for the Round Tana of those days was a favoured hangout - most cinemas were nearby and so was Jafar's, that famed ice-cream & soda shop of those days. Sometime in the 1960s, though, the crowds began to thin out, more cinemas opened further south on Mount Road and Jafar's faded away.

With so much of underground space available, the city put it to good use by clearing out the public conveniences and allowing their approaches to connect up with one another - and lo, the first pedestrian subway in the city was in place!


6 comments:

Julie ScottsdaleDailyPhoto.com said...

very interesting capture and so artistic looking for a bunker

Shantaram said...

@ Julie: The bunker wasn't as aesthetic, probably; but that's an idea! some colours on the walls will make it really nice - maybe an urban art project!

lviss said...

IS IT REALLY THIS CLEAN.

Shantaram said...

@ lviss: Yes - I haven't done any manipulation of these pictures!

ramanan said...

And for trivia freaks..the song 'Vikram..Vikram..' from Kamal's Vikram was shot there...

Shantaram said...

@ Ramana: Ok, I take back what I said about Madras Quiz desires :)