January 12, 2018

Magistrate Court - A Heritage Building of Madras

May be because of two splendid British-era structures that are located on either sides of this structure, the Chennai Metropolitan Magistrate Court in Rajaji Salai has become less attractive. And, hardly anyone believes that it is also a British-era heritage building.

The court is one of those Colonial heritage buildings that still survive in George Town locality of Madras. The three storied building appears like a rectangular box and its architecture is slightly unique. The facade of the building has series of symmetrical arches framed within rectangular panels. This attractive design is the major highlight of the building. This structure was built in 1880s and was inaugurated in 1890 CE.

Happy travelling.

January 8, 2018

The Historic GPO Building and the Postal History of Madras

Sending communication through people to other cities or countries was a practice followed for hundreds of years. The Britishers also followed similar kind of service when they started postal service. In Madras, Governor Harrison started using the service of a dak runner to send mails to Bengal in 1736 CE. In 1774 CE, the practice of charging for postal service for private letters started. On 1st June 1786 CE, the first General Post Office was started outside the Sea Gate. The post office was shifted to two different locations. Ultimately, it moved into the current building located on Rajaji Salai in George Town on 26th April 1884 CE.

The splendid GPO building was designed by Chisholm. The two 125 feet tall towers are very attractive. This Indo Saracenic style building was constructed for about ten years between 1874 and 1884 CE. This building is gigantic and occupies around 55,000 sq feet. The red colored exterior looks majestic even today but not the interior of the building anymore. In 2000 CE, there was a major fire accident which gutted down the interior completely.

Happy travelling.

P.S. Thanks to the book "Madras Rediscovered" by S.Muthiah for the dates and few other historical information.

January 7, 2018

The Banking Heritage Building of Madras

The Colonial Madras, especially the George Town locality, had a lot of splendid Indo Saracenic structures. Thanks to our heritage enthusiasm, not many of them survive today. I wonder how many of us are really interested to appreciate the heritage value of those few surviving structures. The building near GPO, where State Bank of India is functioning in Rajaji Salai, is one of those few structures that is lucky enough to survive.

This iconic building is a good example of Indo Saracenic architecture style. The famous Henry Irwin was the architect of this structure. Namperumal Chetti was the building contractor. The construction of this building was started in 1896 CE. The structure has some historic values related to the banking heritage of the city. It was the head office of the Bank of Madras. Now, it houses the State Bank of India. The brief history of the Bank of Madras becoming SBI is given in the next paragraph.

Although the Nagarathars used to provide banking services to the public and even to the royals, the first formal bank could be dated only in 1680's when the Madras Bank was formed. Almost after a century (in 1788 CE), the Carnatic bank was established. In 1795 CE, the Bank of Madras and in 1804 CE, the Asiatic Bank, were formed. All these banks were combined as a single unit as Bank of Madras in 1843 CE. In 1921 CE, it merged with the Bank of Bombay and Bank of Bengal to become the Imperial Bank of India. On 1st July 1955 CE, the bank was renamed as State Bank of India.

Thus, this historic building which had the Bank of Madras continues to house SBI. It has witnessed the transmission in the banking industry for the past 150 years.

Happy travelling.