Chennapatnam or Madraspatnam
An interesting excerpt from the wikipedia on the history behind the name of Chennai. It seems Chennapatnam and Madraspatnam were two little villages. When the British established their base in Madraspatnam, another small village to the south of Madraspatnam also started developing. This small village known as Chennapatnam later joined Madraspatnam as one blossoming town and is today known as Chennai.
For some reason, I always thought the word – *Chennai* had some deeper meaning than being just the name of a person!!! Weird!
The name Madras is derived from Madraspatnam, the site chosen by the British East India Company for a permanent settlement in 1639. The Madrasa or the Islam’s religious schools patronozied by the Arcot Nawabs gave the city Madras its name. The Nawab of Arcot, a former vassal of the Nizam of Hyderabad, built a huge palace, the Amir Mahal, still inhabited by descendants.
The region was often called by different names as madrapupatnam, madras kuppam, madraspatnam, and madirazpatnam as adopted by locals. Another small town, Chennapatnam, lay to the south of it. This place was named so by Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu, Nayak of Wandiwash in remembrance of his father Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu.He was the local governor for the last Raja of Chandragiri, Sri Ranga Raya VI of Vijayanagar Empire. The first Grant of Damarla Venkatadri Nayakudu makes mention of the village of Madraspatnam. In all records of the times, a difference is made between the original village of Madraspatnam and the new town growing round the Fort. Thus it is probable that the village of Madraspatnam existed under that name, prior to the English settlement of 1639-40 and the site of Chennapatnam was that of modern Fort St. George. The original village of Madraspatnam lay to the north of the site of the Fort and within a few years of the founding of Fort St. George the new town which grew up round the Fort was commonly known to the Indians as Chennapatnam, either in deference to the wishes of Damarla Venkatadri or because the site originally bore that name. The intervening space between the northern Madraspatnam and the Southern Chennapatnam came to be built over rapidly so that the two villages became virtually one town. The English preferred to call the two united towns by the name of Madraspatnam with which they had become familiar with while the Indians chose to give it the name of Chennapatnam. In course of time the exact original locations of Madraspatnam and Chennapatnam came to be confused. Madras was regarded as the site of the Fort and Chennapatnam as the Indian town to the north.
The city was renamed Chennai in August 1996.