Monday, August 3, 2009

Dues paid, partly

What you see in the photograph is not just any old wall, but The Old Wall. The British realized that Madras was very vulnerable to attacks from the west - a realization strengthened on account of repeated attacks by Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan. Work on building protective walls around the city's northern and western boundaries was begun in 1764, but speeded up only after the Mysore mauraders' attacks in 1767 and 1769. The western wall was intended to run (probably) north from the Island Grounds before curving around to become the northern wall, ending where the Royapuram flyover starts today (where Clive Battery was, much earlier).

With their experience against de Lally's French troops in 1758, the British wanted a clear field - an Esplanade - to ensure a field of fire that would make any invading force stop to think. Besides that, they also wanted a 50-foot wide passage just inside the wall, to make sure that in the event of an attack runners could carry messages all around; and armaments could be moved without any hindrance. Of course, no structures could be built on the wall, apart from the bastions themselves. This grand wall was to be part-funded by a tax on the good citizens of Madras; but those good citizens refused to part with their pagodas in a hurry and the wall was never completed. The road just inside this part of the wall was named after the poorly-implemented tax proposal. Even after it has been renamed, people continue to refer to VOC Road as Wall Tax Road!


Karthik Narayan said...


how u doing

two things - participating in the Landmark Quiz?

Also, we are doing the wikipedia takes chennai, a photowalking session. For more info, google "wikipedia takes chennai".

Let me know if you are interested and do help spread the word

sreesnake said...

'வால்டாக்ஸ்' இன்னா இது தானா?

Shantaram said...

@ Karthik: Doing well, thanks! Yes, I'll be at the Landmark Quiz; will spread the word about wikipedia takes Chennai, but not sure about participating.

@ Sree: That's right... but maybe you're thinking 'vaals'?

Karthik Narayan said...

So whats ur team for Landmark?

And any plans for Madras Quiz on Aug 23?