The Chennai Photowalk – III
With Chandrachoodan Gopalakrishnan announcing The Second Chennai Photowalk on December 9, 2007, I thought its time to post the concluding part of the First Chennai Photowalk. (Earlier posts on The Chennai Photowalk figure in the Best of Metroblogging )
Built initially in 1712 near Fort St George, this church was destroyed in the French siege in 1746. It was completely rebuilt in 1772 at Armenian Street. That’s why you see the two years mentioned in the entrance of the Church.
Chennai Metroblogging has a post on Armenian Church by Nancy Gandhi. And there is this story Last Armenians of Madras in the BBC website. These links will provide the readers the historical information on Armenian Church.
The Church is presently renovated and restored with an estimated Rs.1.5 crore grant from the Armenian Church Trust in Kolkata, and guidance from the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage. The renovated Church is expected to resume service by March 2008.
The grave of Rev Harutiun Shmavonian
Rev Harutiun Shmavonian. (Shiraz 1750 – Madras 1824) a diocese of Madras established a printing press in 1789. Influenced by the publication of an English newspaper, published the first Armenian journal, Azdarar (‘Monitor’) in October 1794. The first constitution for an independent Armenia was drafted by the community in Madras in 1781. Not until the fall of the USSR in 1991 was the dream realized.
Anand recalled his earlier visit to the Church some time during 2002 when he was the sound recordist for the team which made a documentary on the Armenian Church for UGC.
The Belfry Tower in the Armenian Church is the only Church in Madras (Chennai) which has 6 bells. Two, dating from 1837, have an international pedigree.
They come from the same source – London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry – that created the bells for the UK parliament’s Big Ben, and the much older Liberty Bell in Philadelphia.
The group, after a brief halt in a lassi shop, decided to skip the visit to High Court Complex and the location where the German Cruiser Emden bombarded Madras during World War I.
Boarded a bus to head for the Fort St George and bought the tickets for Fort. Little later we realized that the bus is heading in the opposite direction. The conductor heard the request for tickets for Fort as for Port and issued the tickets. We got down at Beach Station, where we started and looking for a bus to go to Fort St George.
While we could not get a bus immediately, we engaged a Share Auto. It accommodated the seven of us (three of the group engaged a regular auto and proceeded to Fort St George already).
While we entered our names in the Register at the entrance of Fort Museum, the policewoman was surprised that being residents of Chennai and were yet to visit Fort Museum. Many in the group have visited the Fort Museum some time or other.
This Cupola once housed the statue of Cornwallis at the Cenotaph Road junction and is presently inside the Fort Museum Entrance. Read the story of Empty Cupolas by Mr S Muthiah.
The Fort Museum building was raised with the profits on the lottery in about 1795 A D. The building, prior to being the Museum premises, had halls for entertainment, broker’s exchange, officers mess for the British Regiment, Coffee House, lottery drawings. Madras Bank functioned in this building since 1861 AD. What the plaque does not say is “The first light house of Madras functioned from the roof of this building” (Four Light Houses of Madras)
Videography and flash photography inside the Museum was not permitted. Apparently there is no bar on taking photographs in the ambient light. When the Museum authorities saw a bunch of people taking photographs, restrained us to restrict the photographs to a few.
Madras was bombarded twice. Once on 22/09/1914 (World War I) and again on 12/10/1943 (World War II). The bombings led to exodus of people of Madras to places distant and near. My mother and uncles recall about their moving to Kanchipuram in 1943 calling it as evacuation.
To appreciate the display in Museum, one needs to spend at least a day, while we could spend about an hour or so. There is a section entirely devoted to the paintings of the British Governors, Kings, Queens and Durbar of Udayar kings of Mysore etc.,
Time was around 1.30 pm. Due to a personal commitment, I had to cut short the Chennai Photowalk and the group minus me, (photo)walked to the St Mary’s Church in the Fort St George Complex.