Monuments in Chennai, India
Chennai has some fascinating monuments and churches dating back to the Portuguese and British Period.
Fort St. George:
The British East India Company under the direct supervision of Francis Day and Andrew Cogon built it in 1640 AD. This place achieved its name from Saint George, the patron saint of England. The fort houses Saint Mary's Church and fort museum. Saint Mary's Church the oldest Anglican Church built in 1680 and the tombstones in its courtyard are the oldest British tombstones in India. It presently house the Secretariat and Legislative Assembly. The 46 m high flagstaff at the front is a mast salvaged from the 17th century shipwreck. The Fort Museum has a fascinating collection of memorabilia from the British and French East India companies as well as the Raj and Muslim period.
San Thome Basilica:
San Thome Basilica at the south end of Marina Beach was named after Saint Thomas (Doubting Thomas). It is believed that he had come to Chennai in 52 AD and was killed at St. Thomas Mount just outside the city in 78 AD. Built in 16th Century by the Portuguese, in 1896 it was made a basilica. The beautiful stained glass window at the basilica portrays the story of St Thomas and the central hall has 14 wooden plaques depicting scenes from the last days of Christ. In the cathedral is a 3ft. high statue of Virgin Mary believed to have been brought from Portugal in 1543.
It was formed to facilitate and encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy and science situated in beautiful sylvan settings in Adyar. Founded by Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olott in USA, the society was later moved to Adyar in 1882. Apart from shrines of all faiths and the peaceful Garden of Remembrance, there is a 95-year old library which has a very good collection of rare Oriental manuscripts written on palm leaves and parchment.
High Court Building:
Built in 1892, this red Indo-Saracenic structure at Parry's corner is Chennai's main landmark. It is believed to be one the largest judicial buildings in the world.
One of Chennai's most impressive architectural marvels. Senate House, at the Chennai University campus on the Marina, was constructed in 1873 under the supervision of Robert Fellowes Chisholm, one of the greatest architects of the 19th century. The entire structure is a harmonious blend of Indo-Saracenic style, with Byzantine architectural features. The Senate House has a central hall on the ground floor, 130 feet long, 58 feet broad and 54 feet high, with the corridors supported by six massive stone pillars on either side. The stone arches between the pillars, with the four towers rising high at the corners of the building, surmounted by exquisitely shaped domes (painted in different colours) gives the building a grandeur that is difficult to match. The main entrance at the north, leads to the convocation hall, while a corresponding entrance, in the South, leads to the rooms on the southern wing. Besides these, there are two entrances on the eastern wing of the convocation hall and two corresponding entrances on the west. Elegantly constructed porticos adorn the frontage of all these entrances. A parapet surrounds each of these porticos, at the corner of which appears a decorated dome of a miniature size.
St. Mary's Church:
The oldest surviving English church in Chennai was completed in 1680.You will find the remainders of Robert Clive and Elihu Yale the early governor of Chennai in this church.
Dedicated to Our lady of Light and built by Portuguese sailors, this 16th century church is one of the oldest churches of Chennai.
Little Mount Church:
This is a tiny cave where St Thomas is believed to have lived when he came to India around AD 58.It is known locally as Chinnamalai.The cave is entered via the Portuguese church built in 1551.
St. Andrew's Church:
Completed in 1821 in a classical style this church has an impressive blue dome decorated with gold stars. You can get excellent views from the top.
Christ the King Church:
Commissioned by French clergymen this church was designed and built by an Indian mason in 1933. It is a fine example of gothic architecture standing majestically in the middle of Loyola College campus. It has pointed arches, ribbed vaults, rose windows, three-aisled nave and flying buttresses. Covering an area of 150 feet by 60 feet, with stained glass windows, this church is a captivating sight, inside as well as outside. The spire is 157 feet high and has a stairway leading to the top, where a cross stands.
West of Central Station is Ripon Building, the dazzling white headquarters of the Corporation of Chennai. The Municipal Corporation of Chennai, after functioning from several other places, settled at Ripon building in 1913, with P.L.Moore as the President of the Municipal Corporation at the time of the inauguration. With a floor area of 9,628 square metres, this classic structure, built at a cost of only Rs.7.30 lakhs, is a combination of three types of architectural styles - Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian. To support the gargantuan structure, the walls have been constructed with stock bricks, set in lime mortar and plastered with lime mortar. The roofs are supported with Teak wood Joists. On the ground floor, the Cuddapah stone flooring has now been re-laid with marble flooring. The flooring on the first and second floors is of the pressed terracotta variety. The overall depth of foundation including footing is 5.34 metres. The ceiling height on the ground floor is 5.64 metres. The highlight of its construction is that all joinery works for the building were made with the best teak wood. The West Minister Quarter Chiming Clock, installed by Oakes and Co. in 1913, about 20.58 metres from terrace level, is one of the main attractions in the building. The clock is provided with a mechanical key system, which is wound every day. There are four bells, casted by Gillet and Johnston in 1913.
Thousand Lights Mosque:
Built in mid-1800 in the land donated by Nawab Wallajah, this mosque last rebuilt in 1981, has two 64' tall minarets. The mosque also houses a library, a burial ground and guesthouses. It is called the Thousand Lights Mosque because of the legend that over one thousand lamps had to be used to light up the Assembly Hall that stood at this same spot. This multi-domed mosque, with sayings from the Holy Koran painted on its walls, comes alive during the annual Moharram
An hour and a half taxi ride south of Chennai, Mamallapuram is a world apart from that city's hustle and bustle. This unspoiled seaside village on the Bay of Bengal has miles of beaches, fine Indian seafood, exceptional art, and intricately carved stone temples. In Mamallapuram the Five Rathas, the Shore Temple, and Arjuna's Penance are impressive examples of Pallavan work. The Five Rathas are full-size models of different styles of temples known to Dravidian builders of the 7th century A.D. They are unfinished and not used for worship. Each wall is cut from a single rock and contains images from Hindu mythology, along with clowns and dancers. The magnificent though ravaged Shore Temple has two spires. Its beach site has proved to be a lucky one, for the stone temple has survived the sea's wrath for 12 centuries, outlasting other contemporaneous temples along the shore. Arjuna's Penance is the world's largest bas-relief. The carved scene depicts Arjuna, a mythical Indian hero, doing penance to the Lord Shiva. Surrounding Arjuna is a multitude of images, including snakes coiled in battle, jesters with drums, and elephants in procession. The artistic heritage of the Pallava kings remains a vital one.