Landmarks of Chennai: The Statue of Kannagi

I have been mulling over what to write about, to keep the interest and continuity going and I think I found the topic. It is said that there are about 40 – 50 statues of famous event and people that are all around Chennai. I am not aware of where they are, and most of the time, I keep standing and gazing at the statue hoping that it would just start talking and tell me who they are supposed to be. Yep, I am clueless in most cases as to what these statues represent. There is supposed to be a plank that explains it all, but most of these statues are bang in the centre of busy intersections, that i’d be risking my life trying to get to the status to read it.

I thought I’ll risk it for you all. My journey for the next couple of weeks is to go hunt down all the status and landmarks of chennai and post them here. If anyone wants to join, they are more than welcome to.

Here is all starts, with the statue of Kannagi..

Photo Credit:

Location: Marina Beach Chennai.

The Story of Kannagi is a well known one. A story of going after injustice that was committed to her not-so-faithful husband, and the wrath of a woman on the city of Madurai because of the unjust ruling of a case.

According to Silapathigaram, Kannagi’s husband Kovalan was beheaded on the orders of the King of Madurai after being accused of stealing the queen’s anklet (with pearls inside) and selling it. Kannagi went to the King’s court to demand justice and proved to him that Kovalan was trying to sell her anklet, which had rubies and not pearls inside it. While the King and queens die of remorse, Kannagi burned down Madurai with a curse.

There are quite a few jokes that have even found their way into movies as to why a matter that was to be resolved within a family resulted in the burning of a city. But the values of the past and traditions do say that the right and wrong of a king, usually reflects on the entire kingdom and perhaps “burning” of the city was symbolically to denote that the reputation of the king was lost. Or perhaps not.

Coming back to the statue, it was apparently one of the 40 statues that were erected in 1968. I wonder how many of those are still standing, as this statue itself went disappearing for a short while owing to reasons of renovation and rumours of prophecies of doom – God knows the true reasons!.

This is probably one of the well known statues around the city. Let me see what other statues are around, hidden away in this city.

Trivia: Apparently the model for this statue was a well known actress and socialite of the 1960s named Kalpana. Hmm.. who knew!

8 Comments so far

  1. Navaneethan Santhanam (unregistered) on December 14th, 2007 @ 12:40 pm

    In the movie Edhiree, Vivek says of the look Sadha gives him – ‘Paarthalei Kannagi cousin-sister madhiri irukku.’

    Nice pic., and great info. Looking forward to seeing more of these tidbits about Chennai.

    Also, any plans of an i-fix meet during [18th Dec, 15th Jan)? I’m in Chennai and would really like to do it.

  2. Ram N (unregistered) on December 14th, 2007 @ 4:59 pm

    Also the “Kalpana House” is a landmark in santhome … The actress kalpana owned it for a few years …. this is after santhome high school towards foreshore estate to your left side …..

  3. G V Balasubramanian (unregistered) on December 15th, 2007 @ 10:30 pm

    Kannagi’s statue disappeared during the ADMK regime and reappeared as soon as DMK came into power

  4. Dilip Muralidaran (unregistered) on December 17th, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

    Its rumored Jayalalitha was advised my astrologers that it was an ill omen for her rule and her career to have the statue while she drove that way to work. Apparently this was the reason why it was taken away . Another thing i managed to find was that this statue was hidden in one of the closed galleries of the chennai museum. The gallery was closed under the cover of being renovated which never happened but instead was a coy and was in reality used to house the removed controversial kannagi statue.

    The things stupid ass politicians do…. phew!

    I was told by my dad that every student in the DMK youth wing gave like 1 rupee (which was a huge sum back then) to erect this statue in those days.

    No wonder it ticked off so many people when it was removed without a reason!

  5. Ravi (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 12:11 pm

    I think all the statues on the Marina Beach Line road were erected during the World Tamil Conference in 1968 by the then DMK government. The Kannagi statue and the way it was removed and re-installed shows the kind of hypocrisy and psychophancy adopted by our politicians. Who else to pity but our own selves? ;-)

  6. yuvi (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 10:39 pm

    I had heard a lot about Kannagi Statue, but never knew the true story, thanks for all the info.

  7. yuvi (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 10:43 pm

    I had heard a lot about Kannagi Statue since childhood, but never knew the true story, thanks for all the info.

  8. bala (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 9:36 am

    Friends Kanaki statue is really was a land mark in chennai , but due to commercial reasons ,, it has been moved from marina beach, now its is in tenambet signal in dmk youth head office.Let us hope here after the politics not play with monuments

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