Monday, April 18, 2016

Chennai: A Walk Around Town, Day 2

My second day in Chennai and after seeing some of the Churches and sights yesterday, I've got a serious agenda of seeing the rest of the sights in the city by foot. I've always felt that one gets a true sense of a City when one walks through the streets.
So my first destination was the Chennai Eggmore Station. I had heard that the Station Building was a sight to see and sure enough after a half hour or so walk when I arrived at the point where I got my first glimpse, I understood exactly why.
After seeing the platform and enquiring whether they still had the Narrow Gauge Railway line at this station, I decided it was time to walk onto the next destination.
Like I said, if you walk around you get to see so much more, and while my next destination was the Chennai Municipal Corporation Building, I came across the Entrance of the Government College of Fine Arts. This is just one wall, the other was quite damaged. I wish they maintained these better.
I finally came to centre of heritage Buildings and the first one to come into sight was the Ripon Building which houses the Chennai Municipal Corporation. I actually climbed up a Railway Foot-Overbridge upon the Railway tracks running parallel to this road. In the background you can also see the Victoria Public Hall which is now the Town Hall. and behind that the blue building which is the modern part of the Chennai Central Railway Station. Ofcourse like most of the big cities in India, the Chennai Metro Railway construction work in full swing on this main road.
A marvel of a building the Victoria Public Hall.
Opposite the Victoria Public Hall, on this side of the road is a Building that most people will not notice, but is probably older; Siddique Sarai which used to be a rest house for travellers in olden days. Now visibly obscured by the piles of construction debris and equipment.
I have no idea what this Building is, but it seems to be another Heritage Building opposite the Chennai Central Railway Station. It is actually hidden from view due to all the Metro Railway construction, unless you take the Temporary Foot-Overbridge over the road towards the Station.
Chennai Central Railway Station, very much along the lines of British Architecture while they built the Railways in India.
As I walked away from the majestic Chennai Central Railway Station, I couldn't help but look back for one last look at this spectacular piece of Architecture.
As I came out of the Chennai Central, before me was this gigantic building. Walking a bit further I could read the name and it read Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital. I was quite impressed, not only by it's size, but the fact that a Government Building was so well maintained.
Walking along, on my left i came upon another spectacular heritage building, the Southern Railway Head Quarters.
Steam Engine at the first entrance of Southern Railway HQ
Southern Railway HQ from the front.
Steam Locomotive at the other entrance.
It was a bit of a walk but I finally got to Fort St. George, or so I thought. I had to take the Foot Over-bridge and cross the Chennai Fort Station. As I did a Local Train pulled in.
I had to walk another few kms on the outside of the Fort as the entrance (for tourists) was actually on the opposite side from the Station. The Fort is actually an Army cantonment. at this juncture I came upon the Entrance to the Chennai Port.
Fort St. George. This also houses the Chennai Assembly.
I finally made it to the Fort St. George Museum and for all my trouble, I didn't have to pay an entrance fee. OK, it's not for my troubles, just that today was World Heritage Day and the Museum did away with the entrance fee for the day.
A pair of Canons at the entrance of the Museum. There were lots more of these and others in and around the Museum.
Walking further into Fort St. George; the church I had wanted to see. St. Mary's Church. It is the oldest Church in Chennai dating back to 1680 A.D.
A walk inside the over 300 years old St. Mary's Church was quite a calming experience.
Having walked 15 or more kilometres, I decided to get an UBER to head back home and as we passed the Madras University Building, I got a quick glimpse of another piece of Chennai's Colonial Heritage.

On my last day as I was heading back to Kolkata and was on the way to the Airport, I still had a yearning for more of the sights of Chennai and here's a quick click of a temple I saw on the way.
Being a Railway buff (train-spotter) I couldn't help but notice this Locomotive which is used for Overhead traction checking as I alighted from the car at the Airport Departure Terminal. The Engine is being used to test the Electrification of the Chennai Metro.
As I board my Indigo Flight back to Kolkata, the adventures of walking the streets of Chennai are sinking in and I'm planning my next trip to cover all the other amazing Pieces of Architectural Heritage this city has which I couldn't cover in this two day jaunt.

For more pics on my adventures, you can check out www.instagram.com/rohitnyss

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Chennai: A Walk Around Town, Day 1

Arriving at Chennai Airport, the first order of business is switching on my phone and logging into UBER. Cab booked, I exit the gate and lo behold across the road in the Arrival parking area is a Stall "MADRAS COFFEE HOUSE". Yeah I guess a Coffee is welcome after a Two and a half hour flight. I've got about 10 minutes before my UBER Cab arrives anyway. What was fascinating for me was the "Madras" as opposed to "Chennai". I'm sure alot of us still prefer the "Old Names" Bombay/Mumbai, Calcutta/Kolkata, Bangalore/Bengaluru, Delhi/Dilli and the latest victim Gurgaon/Gurugram.

Anyway as I took the last sip of that splendid Coffee, the cab arrived and I was on my way.

The next morning I had an agenda to begin! Sightseeing in Chennai.

St. Andrew's Church

The massive dome inside.
Original Stained Glass Windows.
The awesome gigantic Pipe Organ, which is still in use.
St. George's Cathedral
I always found this a sight to behold in any Church. Rows of seats and the Isle leading up to the alter.
Plaque commemorating the visit of the Archbishop of Canterbury
I'm not sure what the Eagle Statue signifies, but it was quite majestic.
St. George's Cathedral from the side.

When in Chennai, if you don't stop at one of these joints and pick up stuff, you might as well not head back home because that door is not going to open for you. 

That ended the morning session, thanks to my wife's aunt who offered to show me these wonderful sights, that too in the luxury of an AC car.
My post lunch session started with me hopping onto a Local Bus (Route 29C) and heading to my first destination. I have to say that Chennai's Buses and transportation system are very good. I was surprised to see the bus in such good condition and people getting on and off the bus in an orderly manner.
The Bus Stands were also very well maintained and designed with proper Bus Route signs.
The Kapaleeshwarar Temple. As I alighted from the bus at the stand, I caught a glimpse of this temple across the pond.
I had to wait a while before I actually managed to get into the Temple. I had come a bit early. But the half hour wait was worthwhile.
As I walked around to the other side of the Temple, outside the gate was this gigantic "Rath"
The Temple done, I was walking to the next destination and came across this beautifully restored Vintage Morris Minor and for those of you who know me, you know I can't pass up the opportunity to stop and check out a fascinating car.
Walking away, I just had to click a picture of the beautiful curves on the Vintage Classic.
After a brief 20 minute walk I came up the majestic Santhome Church.
The Santhome Church is probably the most famous of Chennai's Churches.
This was my next stop. The Marina Beach Lighthouse. I had to get up there and check out the view. It was a 10 minute walk from Santhome Church.
 And the view from the top of the Lighthouse was breathtaking. This is the north view.
Once I got down from the Lighthouse, I decided to take a stroll on Marina Beach and check out all the activities on the beach. Here a photographer setting up his instant printer while a Horse guy trots along.
Love Birds!
Air-gun Balloon Shooting Stall being set up for the evening.
Merry-go-Round always a favourite.
Horse Ride!
Safety First. The Lady Police Force setting out for Duty on the Beach.
A Beach without Food? Fast Food stall ready for the evening crowds.