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Monday, February 4, 2013

Gandhi statue at Marina ~ reopened to public


In the vast expanse of Marina Beach dotting the Bay of Bengal, there are heritage buildings, Educational Institutions like the Presidency College, Queen Mary’s College and many statues of Tamil poets, freedom fighters  and politicians ~ though this is not exactly the binder, one can say it is from ‘Labour Statue’ opposite Ezhilagam to ‘Gandhi Statue’ opposite to IG Office.  Incidentally,  both were sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury. 

Chennai, the old Madras had its date with Indian freedom.  The spot opposite Presidency College bears significance as this was the "Thilak Ghat”, from where the Tamil National poet Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi sang three National patriotic song to enthrall the audience of about more than 5000 people. The silver bed of Marina Beach at Madras was the venue where the great national leaders like Balagangadhara Thilakar, Lala Lajpath Rai, Bipin Chandran Paul, Mahathma Gandhi, Subash Chandrabose, C.R. Doss, Mahakavi Bharathi, V.O. Chidambaram Pillai and others made their clarion call to the people of the land to raise against the British rules. In 1908, Subramania Siva, a core patriotic and friend of Subramania Bharathi have named this part of the Beach in Triplicane opposite to Presidency College as Tilak Ghat.

History has it that whenever, Mahathma Gandhi visited Madras, he used to address big patriotic meeting at Tilakar Ghat. Over the years, it was Seerani Arangam. A great patriot and freedom fighter, PN Srinivasan fought battles in Court to have this renamed as ‘Thilagar Khattam’ again and have a plaque installed here.  

Inside Madras (Chennai) there are many places like Fort St George known for their historic significance.  There is the house where Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathiyar lived.    There are many more monuments which are not exactly in the limelight.   There are places in Madras visited by Mahtma Gandhi.

A plague in front of ‘Hotel Chola’ mentions of Gandhiji having visited a building there.  The famous red building of The Hindu High School, Triplicane claims fame with the visit of Mahatma Gandhi and his delivering a speech on 4th Sept 1927.  There is another building in Triplicane High Road which was Gandhiji visited and dined not once but twice.  Very few know the significance of this building,  where once  was a Marriage hall named Nelson Kalyana Chathiram; years later it turned out in to a shop selling fruits and fresh vegetables (Triplicane Pazhamuthirsolai);  later there was another Departmental stores; presently the Sweet Shop ‘Grand Sweets and Snacks’ have their Triplicane branch there.  People now dine there without realizing the historic significance of that place... there is no plague or anyother mention of Gandhiji having visited there.  

In fact, Chennai  has one hospital named after the wife of Gandhiji -  Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi situate in Triplicane.  It is known as Gosha hospital, a synonym for the hospital which once catered to  women wearing  purdah.  This hospital was founded in 1885 has rendered 125 years of service for the Women by the Women.

This particular landmark ~ standing on the 12-ft high pedestal,   Gandhi statue sure was not made when Gandhi was alive, it was later unveiled by Jawaharlal Nehru on 14.4.1959, in a function presided over by CM Mr.  K Kamaraj.  This statue was sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury.  Recently, it was closed and kept off public eye as restoration work was undertaken by PWD reportedly costing around 12 lakhs.  The exposure to saline air over the years has taken a toll, sources said. Granite stones have been done in original colour; new anti-rust, steel grill with pipe barricading encircles the statue and work done by  Krishna Nagappa, a renowned sculptor.  

Gandhi sure attracts visitors and lot pay respect to him…. Couple of photos taken this morning at Marina  @ Gandhi beach.



With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
21st Jan 2013. 

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