Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The next time you go shopping around Panagal Park (preferably in the daytime), take out a few minutes to go into the Park itself. It may be a leap of faith for many of you, but you can take my word that Chennai's parks are much better maintained these days than they were a few years ago, so going into one is not really the test of courage (or foolishness) that it used to be.

If you walk inside a bit, you will see a clearing where stands a statue, rather reddish in colour, looking unkempt. The birds have had a free run on his turban and the detailing on his sherwani has been rubbed down, but his eyes look out with regal mien, disdainful of you standing under him, peering at the slab on the pedestal and trying to make out the letters on them. Not understanding the Telugu script - or not being able to read it because of the dirt of the ages, you surmise, quite reasonably, that it is the statue of the Raja of Panagal, after who the park is named.

But look closer. Then take a look at this other statue. With the Star of India at his side clearing all doubts, you will recognize this is Sir Pitty Theagaraya Chetty. In the locality that he has lent his name to, of which Panagal Park is but a part, the man's statue could have done with some more care!


Lowell said...

I am glad to hear the parks are spiffing up and being used...the gentlemen to which you refer I do not know (please excuse my inexcusable ignorance), but I was glad for the brief introduction!

LVISS said...

I had worked in front of this park for two years and have not bothered to go and see inside the park. See if I remember to make it next time I visit.

Shantaram said...

@ Jacob: You're excused... more about Pitty in the link to the 'other statue'... both gentlemen are part of early 20th century Madras' history!

@ lviss: Well, I went into the park for the first time only a couple of months ago!