Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Nearer river

A city needs rivers to survive and to thrive, and today's Chennai has the Adyar, the Cooum, the Otteri nullah and the Buckingham Canal. The last named is a man-made creation, but more of that elsewhere. In 1639, when Francis Day and his boss Andrew Cogan were negotiating with the Nayak of Poonamallee for a lease-hold on the beach, they used the Cooum as the southern boundary of the area they wanted. On the east, the Bay of Bengal limited their territory. The northern end was not so well defined - there probably was an existing settlement which couldn't be encroached upon. To the west, there was a river, one that is not often remembered today.

The River Elambore was closer to the 'factory' established by the British East India Company. But over the years, it has lost its identity and, in the early 19th century, it became a part of the Buckingham Canal - and in today's maps, it is described as a loop of the Cooum rather than a river by itself.

This picture was taken along the Flagstaff Road, and it shows the river flowing in from the west, forming the northern border of the Island Grounds.

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