Saturday, January 28, 2017

Palace of sorts

Quick, tell me the name of any royal dynasty that had its seat in Madras? You may find it difficult, and that is all right, because Madras was never a royal capital. But with its importance as the seat of administration during the British era, there were several royals who picked up property in the city and maintained a kind of 'camp-palace' here. There was also the Nawab of Arcot, who had moved entirely to Madras, but by that time, he was tightly controlled by the British, so he could never be counted as having ruled Madras. 

The Nawab's residence was however the one that was called a 'Palace' - the Chepauk Palace, with its Khalsa Mahal and Humayun Mahal. The other royal residences went by more prosaic names, like Cochin House. The Travancore royals stayed at Ramalayam in Adyar - though it was called the Travancore Palace, I don't think that name was ever used formally.

But the only Palace Road that existed in Madras was in Santhome. That was thanks to the camp residence of the Wodeyars of Mysore. In keeping with their allegiance to Chamundi Devi, this residence was known as Chamundeswari Bagh. It wasn't very grand, from what I understand, and yet, the road leading to it came to be called the Palace Road. Today, Chamundeswari Bagh houses the Russian Consulate, having passed through the hands of AMM Murugappa Chettiar, who acquired it from the Wodeyars along the way. Palace Road has subsequently become Papanasam Sivan Salai - and there's a story in its own right there!

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