Thursday, January 28, 2010

Another rest-house

Its appearance is not as imposing as that of the choultry or the sarai which lie to the south of the Chennai Central railway station. Given its location on the eastern side of the station, on Wall Tax Road, it probably served a customer segment less fussy than the ones frequenting its southern neighbours.

It is not much younger than them, though. The choultry was in all likelihood a late 19th century construction, while the sarai came up in the 1920s. This dharmasala is probably a contemporary of the sarai. The similarity to the sarai continues in that the sponsors of this dharmasala were traders - Paramananda Doss and Chotta Doss, who set up their eponymous firm in 1888, trading in cloth from Benares.

Beyond that, there's little that I've been able to find out about the twin Doss-es. Surely their firm continues to survive somewhere in the warren of George Town!



Hi Shantaram,

Awesome pic...the blue skies and the yellow shade on the buildings make for a wonderful contrast.

This building, at the junction of Rasappa Chetty Street and Wall Tax Road was opened in 1917-18. Paramananda Doss Chota Doss were one of the many merchants constituting the then hub of silk trade in Madras, the Mint Street dealing in "pithumburams,angavasthrams" as Somerset Playne reports in his 1914 book. According to an account I heard,they went out of business some time in the middle of the 20th century.
There is a lovely one shrine temple dedicated to Lord Satyanarayana in the ground floor of this building which I remember going to a few times as a small kid.

Shantaram said...

@ Karthik: The family (families?) had a lot of property, which seem to have been usurped by managers and other outsiders. I remember something about several court cases, involving them, from the 1940s.