Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Remember the fallen

Chennai, or even Madras, is not a city with a martial heritage. Defining battles have been fought close to Madras, but the city itself has never been overrun by invaders. Even during the tussle between the French and the British - the siege of Madras - the key objective seems to have been to take the Fort; not much of action beyond. Surprisingly though, Madras is the only Indian city to have been shelled in the First World War (will come back later with that story). The average Madrasi has been far removed from military invasions, Mughal to Japanese; even the present day 'incursions' affect him only peripherally.

But Madras has its share of heroes through the ages. This circular marble structure, with a 'victory' pillar in the centre was built sometime after the First World War, to celebrate the defeat of the Central Powers. After World War II, the purpose was modified to honour those from the Madras Presidency who had fallen in action. The inscriptions in Tamil - வெற்றி - reads 'Victory', with the dates of the First and Second World Wars, also in the same script.

The practice continued after Independence; the 1962 Chinese Aggression and the 1965 Indo-Pak War also find mention on the monument. I couldn't spot any of the subsequent wars - but that could also have been because I was in a hurry to get back to my car, which was haphazardly parked near a gate of the Port of Chennai!


LVISS said...

I remember my mother telling how they hid in a bunker when the sirens blew.

Shantaram said...

>> Ravindran>> And the black-outs... never did understand how planes from Pakistan could travel all the way to Madras...