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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Bharathi Salai in Triplicane .... the Pycrofts Road

The man who was to become an iconoclastic freedom fighter was born in a small village called Ettayapuram.  He, by  his songs and concerted actions  reached to the masses making them aware of the need for freedom struggle and could make a great movement in Southern part of the Nation. His songs were imbued with patriotism, over flowed with desire for freedom, enthused people to revolt against British rule, encouraged youth to remain fit and aspire for greater things; his words woke up the sleeping slavery minded people to think of freedom and the need for the same. The great visionary Subramaniya Barathiyar lived in Triplicane (in Thulasinga Perumal Kovil Street – nearer Sri Azhagiya Singar sannathi)

At Thiruvallikkeni (anglicised Triplicane) – there are famous roads – Beach Road (now Kamarajar Salai), Bells Road, Triplicane High Road (Tram Road), Dr Besant Road and Bharathi Salai ………… even today, for those living in Triplicane, the Barathi Salai, is remembered by its earlier name ‘Pycrofts Road’.  The road winds from Presidency College / Marina Ground, Triplicane Bus stand, Victoria Hostel, Gosha Hospital, many Book publishing shops (and platform shops selling old priceless books in evening), Ratna Café, Zambazaar, Amir Mahal, an ancient house once visited by Nethaji Subash Chandra Bose and more… about some decades ago, it had some famous photo studios – Chandrika, Vanitha, Pandian ….and cloth shops like Popular Swadeshi Stores (sadly it longer exists as is Murali Café)

Triplicane existed hundreds of years ago – in those days when native villages were contiguous – Triplicane was a famous territory  over which the British had no dominion for long.  In 1600s, Triplicane was a separate village. After about a century, British found Triplicane to be a good area for settlement and a large number of people moved there.  Later it was annexed to the Madras City. By the presence  of the Nawab of Arcot Chepauk Palace and Amir Mahal which lies in Pycrofts Road were  built. In 1841 Ice house was built to store ice which later became a prominent landmark associated with Swami Vivekananda. 

Sir Thomas Pycroft KCSI (1807 – 1892) was a British administrator and civil servant who served as a member of the Madras Legislative Council from 1862 to 1867. Thomas Pycroft was born in  Hampstead, Middlesex.  His father was a barrister.  His brother James Pycroft was a writer.  He was schooled privately and at Bath Grammar School and graduated from Trinity College, Oxford.  On completion of his education, he was offered a "writership" by the President of the Board of Control of the British East India Company.

Pycroft arrived in Madras in August 1829 and served, initially, as writer and then, in the revenue and judicial departments in South Arcot from 1829 to 1839 when he returned to the United Kingdom. In 1843, Pycroft came back to India after a three-year hiatus and was transferred to the Madras secretariat. Pycroft was initially appointed Sub-Secretary and then, promoted to Secretary of the Revenue Department in 1845. The very same year, he was appointed acting Tamil translator to the Madras government. Pycroft  became Chief Secretary in 1855 and served from 1855 till 1862, when he nominated to the Madras Legislative Council. Pycroft served as a member of the council for five terms from 1862 to 1867.

Pycroft died at Folkestone in 1892 at the age of 84. In 1866, Pycroft was made a Knight Commander of the Order of the Star of India. In Madras, the street in which he lived was named Pycroft's Road in his honour ~ and that is the history of the road, which is now Barathi Salai.

There was a cricketer  by that name. Andy Pycroft was a high-class batsman, especially strong off the back foot, whose best days were behind him by the time Zimbabwe played their first Test in 1992-93. He played only three Tests before time and the demands of a young family brought his retirement.  In 1991-92 he hammered 104 off 109 against an Australian B side that contained Shane Warne, Paul Reiffel and Steve Waugh.  After retiring he moved into administration,  and was a selector too.  He became Zimbabwe's coach in 2001 but resigned during the 2003 World Cup citing a lack of communication with his fellow selectors.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

10th Oct 2014.

 the Bharthi Salai as one enters from Beach Road

view of  the Pycrofts road

 Sri Parthasarathi Perumal on the road during Masi Magam purappadu 

the house where Nethaji Subash Chandrabose stayed

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