Saturday, January 11, 2014
Edward, the second Lord Clive, during his time as the Governor of Madras, wanted to commemorate the Company's victory over Tipu Sultan. His wish culminated in this building, in 1802. John Goldingham, more famous as the astronomer of Madras, was the one who designed this magnificent structure.
Does it remind you of the Parthenon at Athens? That was apparently the effect that Goldingham was aiming for. The original flight of steps leading up were much narrower, but flanked by sphinxes. These broader steps have added to the grandeur of this building, which was originally called the Banqueting Hall. Apart from the grand banquets hosted by the governor, this hall was also used by the University of Madras in its early years for its convocations. Much later, in the late 1930s, this was the seat of the Madras Presidency's legislature.
After India's independence, this was renamed to honour the first Indian Governor-General, C. Rajagopalachari. Rajaji Hall became a warren of government offices and a spot for filming movie sequences. At least it was in the public eye then, but now, with most of the surrounding buildings of similar vintage having been demolished, Rajaji Hall sits rather uncared for!