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Happy birthday, Chennai!

August 22, 2014 14:45 IST

Happy birthday, Chennai!

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A name that kindles the old world charm, 'Madras,' in its latest avatar Chennai, turned 375 on Friday as festivities marked the birthday of this historic coastal city in South India.

In the run up to Madras Day, a long list of programmes devised by a set of volunteers, including historians, were undertaken since August 17.

The city was believed to have been founded on August 22, 1639. A British-era name that brought with it a lot of old world charm and memories associated with it, Madras was rechristened Chennai by the DMK Government in 1996. 

What was once believed to be a sleepy hamlet, Chennai has now transformed into a bustling metropolis dotted with skyscrapers, malls and IT offices stretching beyond the city limits, even as the young and old hobnob with their choice of filter coffee and cappuccinos.

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Image: (Clockwise from top): Madras Central, Marina Beach and Bharata Natyam recital
Photographs: Indianhilbilly / Wikimedia Commons

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While a group of heritage lovers came together to celebrate August 22 as Madras Day lining up a series of events including heritage walks, exhibition of old photographs, film screenings and culinary sessions, TV and radio channels aired programmes related to the city's birthday.

The topics on which the walks, talks and shows are based include the city's origin, Armenians in Madras, forest conservation, temples and churches besides cartoons to attract children and many more.

Madras, or Chennai, is not only known for its sumptuous spicy menu, but also boasts of the sandy Marina, billed as the world's second longest beach, the multi-million rupee Tamil cinema industry whose icons include M G Ramachandran, Sivaji Ganesan, Kamal Haasan and Rajnikanth. 

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Image: Madras High Court
Photographs: Yoga Balaji / Wikimedia commons

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The city has the rather unenviable record of being bombed by a German ship, Emden, in 1917 during the first World War, that tested the then British rulers' resolve though it did not cause much damage to the city.

Since then, Emden has found a place in the Tamil lexicon, meaning someone who is determined and bound to create trouble.

It is a different story that the German ship was later neutralised by the then fledgling Australian Navy, celebrating which its Consulate General here held a photography exhibition as part of the Madras Day menu. 


Image: Southern Railway headquarters at Chennai
Photographs: Sankarapandian / Wikimedia commons

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