Thursday, December 18, 2014

Headquarters of the force

The straight columns running along the northern and eastern sides of this building symbolize the discipline of its occupants - the Tamil Nadu Police. Like many other buildings along this stretch, this one does not have a specific name; it is referred to as the "DGP's Office" (and very often, also wrongly as the "Commissioner's Office"). 

The foundation stone of this building was laid by Lord Elphinstone, then Governor of Madras, in 1839. It was not intended for the police, or any government organization at the time of its construction. The Freemasons of Madras had had this built as their Masonic Lodge, and it was named the Lodge of Perfect Unanimity. Lord Elphinstone was himself a Freemason, becoming the District Grand Master in 1840 and the Provincial Grand Master in 1841. The Freemasons seem to have used this building until 1856, after which it was closed up for a while. The first Inspector General of the Madras Police, Sir William Rose Robinson used this building as his office in 1865.

Over the past 150 years, this has been the nerve centre of the police operations of the region: the Madras Presidency, the Madras state and now of Tamil Nadu. It was acquired by the government in 1874 - reportedly at a price of Rs.20,000/-, which was far lower than the Rs.25,000/- that it cost the Freemasons to build it!

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