Friday, January 10, 2014
Everyone knows that, over the years, Madras became smaller and smaller. First, it was the Madras Presidency, lording over almost the entire east coast of India, going all the way up to what is today the Ganjam district of Odisha; and then on the west coast, the Malabar and Canara regions, with the kingdoms of Travancore, Cochin and Mysore popping up like chocolate chips in the cookie, leaping across the waters to keep the Laccadive Islands in its folds.... Madras was grand. After independence, it was the Madras State, which lasted for a rather short term before the states reorganization in 1956 left it pretty much with the current outline of Tamil Nadu State. That re-naming of the state happened in 1969, leaving Madras as the name of its capital city.
And then, in 1996, there was no more Madras. Not as a geographical location. Chennai is nearly a generation old. But the name keeps popping up in different places. The two stones in this picture are from what is today the Radisson Blu Resort's Temple Bay at Mamallapuram. When it was first built, it was a government Guest House, later given over to the ITDC to build a five star hotel in the late 1960s. The ITDC's Temple Bay Ashok was much later privatised and passed through different hands before ending up in its current avatar.
Somehow, it is nice that these stones from the original building have been preserved; I am fairly sure this was not their original positioning, but even if it was, it is nice to see how it has been blended in with the new layout. Coming upon these stones, one stops short, surprised at being yanked back in time in what one thought was a contemporary hotel!