Kotturpuram: Those were the days when……..

Kotturpuram was a fairly inaccessible place in the good old days when I was in school and college. For the Kotturpuram bridge didn’t exist then, and anyone wanting to visit this sleepy, remote corner of Chennai tucked away in a bend in the Adyar river had to drive around by the Saidapet bridge or Adyar bridge to get to it. This actually gave it a sleepy, semi-urban feel, with little kuppams (small villages with huts with thatched roofs) amidst shaded tress and small bungalows nestled between little shopping areas (with stores like the Murugan stores that CC so vividly described!). I remember visiting a friend who had rented a place there, and liking its quiet, shady roads and residential areas.

The busy road that now leads from the Kotturpuram bridge to the IIT used to be a narrow, single carriage road whose surface was rough, stone strewn and intermittent. The more intrepid college goers, especially my brother who used to study at the school of architecture, used to cycle to Nandanam, then carry their cycles across along the Veeranam pipeline over the river. This was nowhere as easy as it sounds, as the gangway along the pipe is extremely narrow, and there was no guard-rail at each support pillar. Which means that, if you lost your balance, you could drop your cycle into the river, or worse go down along with it! To add further interest to the proceedings, the gangway was so narrow, you couldn’t wheel the cycle along it- you had to carry it close to your body! I have done it on occasion, but believe me, it’s not something you would want to do every day.

Kotturpuram really came into the lime light the year the Chembarambakkam Tank breached during a cyclone. I think it was in ’75 or ’76, during a particularly heavy monsoon season. I remember a number of us cycled down from college ( I was at the Institute of Hotel Management in Taramani-better known as ‘catering college’) to Sardar Patel Road, then down to Kotturpuram to see the river which was in spate like never before. The breaching of the tank had brought the level of the waters up to the first floor of the MIG houses along its banks near the current bridge (they were there even then!), and the residents were on the terrace waiting to be rescued. As the water level shot up during the night, most of them didn’t have a chance to evacuate, so air force helicopter were hovering overhead, boarding the stranded to be flown to safety. The media was in evidence, with extensive coverage and photographs in the paper the next day, so that everyone in the city suddenly heard of this sleepy little area and its existence!

Koturpuram has come a long way since then, with many developments and changes, the greatest being the bridge which suddenly made this a sought after residential area. Long time residents may have photographs of the Kotturpuram of old, as well as wistful memories of a quiet, secluded suburb.

3 Comments so far

  1. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on September 9th, 2006 @ 8:39 pm

    David, your post on Kotturpuram has brought out vividly the Kotturpuram as it was during 1971-76 during which period I studied in ACTech. I used to travel from Parrys to ACTech in 18B (Parrys-Kotturpuram). Had the bridge been there at that time, the journey time would have shortened by about 15 to 20 minutes. I have seen people with and without cycle crossing the bridge, along the pipeline. Now Kotturpuram is nicely developed with good roads. I remember Kotturpuram as it was during College days when I go to AMM Matriculation School to drop my son at times.

  2. vinod (unregistered) on September 10th, 2006 @ 12:56 pm

    agree david, infact even abt 15 yrs ago, it used to be such a quiet locale… no longer though… it used to be a place for the richie rich.. with adyar villa and ac muthiah, c subramanian and a couple of others…

    nd last yr during the rains the MIG houses faced a similar problem…

  3. kps (unregistered) on September 13th, 2006 @ 3:02 pm

    It used to be a nice place until this so called real-estate boom and now it has become chaotic and crowded!

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