Enga Ooru Madrasu

Madras or Chennai or However you name it, It’s more than just a city for me. Not just me, I believe it’s the same with most of the Chennaites here. Beyond its history and rich culture, it’s its people that make this city a loving one. The People of Chennai stood strong and united against the worst floods and that portrayed the humble yet mighty spirit of the city. There are million more reasons to take pride in this city. I am a proud Chennaite. This is a prompted post written with Chennai Bloggers Club for the campaign #WhatIsYourPincode. This post is all about PinCodes that were/are not only part of my address, but also part of my life.

600081 – Tondiarpet

This place owns lots of my early childhood memories as we stayed there till my 5th grade. It’s where my dad grew up and it’s where my grandma home is.  This place earlier called as “Lebbai Kaadu” got its name cos of a Muslim saint named Kunangudi Masthan Sahib. He was called Thondiar as he hailed from Thondi in Ramanathapuram District. As he meditated in this place it came to be known as Tondiarpet.

Like many other areas in the north Chennai, this one is an unsung hero too. It houses many manufacturing units, oil refineries, warehouses and export houses. The most famous Metal Box Factory which manufactured iconic ponds powder tins and Indian Oil cans used to operate there. The factory got closed as plastic became more popular and affordable, now only the ruins of the factory remain and sparingly used for film shootings.

How many of you know that one hospital here played a major role in eradicating SmallPox. Yes, it’s Chennai Corporation’s Communicable Diseases Hospital, which is dearly called as Cholera Hospital by the locals. All credits go to Dr. Ayyagari Ramachandra Rao a.k.a Slayer of SmallPox, who was its first Superintendent between 1959 and 1964. He set up a smallpox virus laboratory there and assisted Dr. Henry Kempe of the University of California in developing a more effective vaccine against smallpox. The improved vaccine saved millions of lives and Dr. Kempe was nominated for the Nobel Prize for the same. Now it’s a Three hundred and fifty bedded hospital with a full-fledged laboratory facility for diagnosis and treatment of all communicable diseases also and serving as a teaching institution.

600019 – Thiruvottiyur

This is one place which my heart misses so much now, I miss its people, beach, crowd and the chaos. It was my home for 13 years since we moved out of Tondairpet and majority of my life was built around it. The name of this place originated from the Tamil infinitive ‘orutral’ which means ‘to exempt’. As two stories centered around the origin of this place and both the stories were exempted in naming this place which is special. Anything that’s special gets a prefix “Thiru” in Tamil, so the name “Thiru Orutriya Oor” which means the specially exempted town. Later got its colloquial name “Thiruvottiyur“, the name which is used at present. Very interesting entomology isn’t it.

It’s mostly a residential place. It is surrounded by industrial areas such as Ennore and Manali, so most of its residents were the ones who work in factories and the fishermen who fish by the coast. Talking about factories, it used to be the only place where the Royal Enfield bullets were manufactured until an additional unit was opened near Oragadam.

Thirovittuyur Periya Kovil (Big Temple) a.k.a Thyagaraja Swamy & Vadivudai Amman Temple here is one of the oldest temple complexes in Chennai, which is said to exist since 7th Century. This temple was said to be expanded by Rajendra Chola I son of  Raja Raja Chola. Unlike my dad and my friends who are regulars to this temple, I rarely visit during festivals and uzhavarapani (temple cleaning). Very near to the coast, lies the resting place of the famous Tamil saint Pattinathar.

600013 – Royapuram

Royapuram, that’s where my aunt’s (my mom’s sister) house is. I used to spend weekends and school vacations there along with my cousins as it wasn’t that far from Thiruvottiyur. I would sit up on its terrace for hours and curiously look into the huge heap of iron ore being transferred into bulk carriers and containers being loaded onto the ships by cranes. This place got its name from the famous St Peter’s Church located there. As St Peter is called Rayappar in Tamil, the Rayappar Puram got colloquially transformed into its current name “Royapuram“.

This place is yet another unsung hero of North Chennai. Royapuram railway station which was built on 1856 is the oldest railway station in south India and oldest surviving railway station in the Indian subcontinent. This area is also famous for the Parsi Fire Temple which was built during 1910 and its the only one of its kind in Chennai. It is a major seafood export hub too, The famous Kasimedu fishing harbor which is  one of the 6 major fishing harbors in India in terms of volume belongs here. N4 bridge, my favorite peace spot is an integral part of this harbor. This might surprise you, this area also houses a museum specially dedicated to India’s greatest mathematical genius Srinivasa Ramanujam. One thing that’s must try in this area is C.Kunhiraman & Sons mango ice cream. This small provision store has been selling their signature mango ice cream for more than 70 years for a reasonable prize.

600126 – Madambakkam

This is where I am now, writing this blog post. We moved here from Thiruvottiyur as we got our first and only own home here. It’s  calm and purely residential neighborhood. “Madam” means multi-storied residents. As this place used to abound of such buildings, it got its name “Madambakkam”.

This place is well known for its Dhenupureeswarar Temple. This 1000+ years old temple is said to be built by Chola king, Parantaka Chola II, father of Raja Raja Chola. This old temple was restored and currently been conserved by  Archaeological Survey of India and has been declared a monument of national importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains 2010 Act.

My sincere thanks to CBC for the prompt and giving me an opportunity to write about areas that are close to my heart. I felt really good and nostalgic while writing this post. Chennai I love.

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9 thoughts on “Enga Ooru Madrasu

  1. Vishwas

    Very nicely written. You have neatly woven your own personal history with the history of each place where you lived. Enjoyed reading this.

    Reply

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