Saturday, October 4, 2014

Long throw

It is a little after 4 pm, but the sun is still quite warm. It will take a while for the beach to be filled up. So we went up the Madras Lighthouse to see what the view from up above was like. In its original conceptualization, the lighthouse was not meant to be a tourist attraction, so the viewing gallery is not really tourist friendly. It is a narrow strip running along two sides of the tower's triangular (remember, this is the only lighthouse in India with such a shape) cross section, and can hold about 30-40 people at a time. 

Of course we weren't allowed all the way up. The focal plane of the lighthouse is ~58m above mean sea level, and the viewing gallery is about 5-8m below that. Standing there, the view is quite boundless; Chennai is a flat city and there are not too many buildings blocking out the view, so with good eyesight (or a fertile imagination), one can see all the way to the city's outskirts. The light from here flashes twice every 10 seconds, but in an irregular manner; each flash lasts for 0.57s and the space between two flashes are staggered as 1.93 and 6.93 seconds. The light itself can be seen at least 22 (and up to 35) nautical miles away. 

It will be another hour before the light is switched on. In the meantime, the shadow of the building goes out about 300m into the beach - and provides good shade for several of the early beachgoers, and a merrry-go-round carousel as well!

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