Search This Blog

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Another Chennai landmark is closing down - the TVS petrol bunk

Dear (s)         

Do you remember  No. 7 Whites Road , Chennai 600 014 ? unlikely though, you would have utilized this service many a times.    A few years connoisseurs of food lamented upon closure of a famous landmark – ‘the woodlands drive-in restaurant’. Now another landmark is about to close when one short of Fifty.

                                                         a view of  of Express Avenue mall


Whites Road in Royapettah with postal index code of 600 014 branches off from the arterial Mount Road after Thousand lights mosque and runs up to Royapettah Clock tower. At one end it has the HO of United India Insurance and the clock tower on the other. A sprawling 23 acre area once known as Express Estates from where Indian Express / Dinamani / dinamani kathir / Cinema Express used to be published has given way to a new mall known as  'Express Avenue'

This road is also famous for automobile tyre trade. TV Sundaram Iyengar & Sons has its presence in what was once known as ‘Gopal Bagh’

                                                   the new looking clock tower of Royapettah

With famous places such as United India, Cognizant, Hobart School, Royal Sundaram, Express mall – this ……… place was the landmark and a place frequented by many. United India was incorporated on 18th Feb 1938 and upon nationalization in 1972 – 12 Indian companies including the TVS run ‘Madras Motor General Insurance’ and few other foreign insurers & coop insurance societies were merged. Until a few years back, this road was less frequented and there was not much of motor traffic – but few motorists ventured specifically with single minded objective. If your curiosity of this place is rising, here is something more.

Chennai with its dravidan background still has many streets with British names. Quite a few years back –: 

Pycrofts Road became Bharathiyar Salai,

Beach Road was named Kamarajar Salai,
Mount Road became – Anna Salai,
Walltax Road became VOC Salai. 

Still there are hundreds of Blackers, Wallers, Ormes, Barnaby, Baker, Adam, Coat, Greames, Strahans, Sterling, Taylor, Wheetcraft, Waller and many other roads – many people living in these streets also may not know why these roads were so named. Recently Chennai Corporation took a decision to rename these roads after tamil scholars. Some renaming has also been done. The Whites road (subject matter of our story) is named after J.D. White who in 1809 built a house which formed the nucleus of the original Madras Club’s home. Express Estate was once the home of Madras Club founded in 1832. JD White had been granted ground by the Govt. here. This road is still called Whites road, though the history is most likely to be unknown.

Most of us use vehicles which run on petrol. Petrol also called gasoline is a petroleum-derived liquid mixture primarily used as a fuel in internal combustion engines. Most Commonwealth countries call this fuel, petrol, whilst it is gas in US. Petrol is the fuel in all two wheelers and most of the cars. The service utility distributing this fuel is known as Petrol bunks in India. Petrol bunks commonly distribute oil in retail to individual customers,  obtained from companies like IOC, BPCL etc.,    After industrial renaissance, lot of petroleum refineries came up. An important player in South Asian market was the Burmah Oil company. In late 1800s crude oil was produced from primitive hand dug wells in Burma and Burmah Oil grew out of Rangoon Oil Company. Oil wells were drilled in Assam also. In 1928 Asiatic Petroleum (India) joined with Burmah Oil leading to the fomation of Burmah Shell oil storage and distributing company. In 1976 Burmah Shell was taken over by the Govt and was renamed Bharat Petroleum Corporation. 

Today the price of ordinary petrol is Rs.56.33 per litre. There are hundreds of petrol bunks in the City catering to the ever increasing needs of two wheelers, auto-rickshaws, cars, SUVs and other commercial vehicles. With so many petrol bunks to choose from, one has a bunk almost at every half a kilo metre and need not store much in one’s tank. The proliferation of so many petrol stations also has ensured that there is generally no rush and not much of waiting time in station for filling up.   Chennai has lot of middle class people. Till a few years back, a day before the budget, there used to be serpentine queues in petrol stations as people would fill up their vehicles tank full to ward off the hike in petrol price. I have often wondered whether there was any real saving with tank capacities of less than 10 litres. Now a days, petrol hikes are not with the budget and are announced more frequently. The contraption which runs more in chennai, the auto rickshaws haggle the rates for every small distance and are highly price wary. 

Thus it would defy all logic to know that customers throng in huge numbers and stand in queues for filling up petrol from a particular bunk. Is it the brand loyalty ? Whilst in many petrol bunks, you will be serviced at any time during day and night, this one runs almost like an office – works from 0730 am to 0730pm on days excluding with tea-break and lunch break gaps.

This is the petrol station fondly known as ‘TVS PETROL PUMP’ – a landmark in Whites Road...  . Any point of time, even during lean hours, people stand in queues for filling up their vehicle from this utility. They serve only petrol – only the ordinary variety – no diesel even. One needs to stand in the queue, pay the amount, get the receipt and only then would petrol be distributed.
                                            haphazhardly parked two wheelers and their owners
                                            standing in the Q (a lean time !! - 12 40 noon)
A small impediment would turn away your customer; if you are offering something less than what your competitors offer; customers would go away. In this competitive world it is tough to retain a customer – any Management Guru would say. A board kept here states that ‘only cash – as credit card machine is not functioning’. Not sure whether it is a malfunction or a decision not to accept credit cards. Whilst all modern bunks accept credit cards / petro cards and even have place for ATMs – here is one which denies such facility, but that has not dispelled their loyal customers

                                                               autos wait for their turn 

There are 100s of car owners who drive a few kilo meters extra to have their vehicle filled up only here. Auto drivers who fight and bargain for every rupee and seldom give back any change, drive extra mile to come to this station. What is the driving force that make people come here on their own volition braving the scorching Sun to stand in the queue that extra minutes, when they can have it elsewhere without this trouble.

That is the TRUST that TVS has earned over years. The trust of quality fuel being served here. There are many who readily would vouch on the quality and say that their vehicles go extra distance when they put fuel from here. Some say that filling up petrol here never spoils their vehicle as they are assured of the quality. It is also a quality statement that the quantity would not be compromised when you are serviced here. There is a lurking fear when you go to many petrol bunks  that though you are billed for x quantity, you get much less,  as the servicing individual will manipulate the lever and deliver something less. Certainly nothing of that sort in a TVS bunk. Such has been the NAME AND FAME OF THE PETROL BUNK.

This bunk has been functioning at No. 7 Whites Road , Chennai 600 014 from 1961 [recall the first line of this Post] – first when they entered into agreement with Burmah Shell – Bharat Petroleum now. Only petrol – no premium brand here. The station does not function on Sundays and on National holidays. This TVS bunk is run by Sundaram Motors. T V Sundram Iyengar & Sons Ltd., established a Vehicle Dealership in Chennai for handling Cars and Commercial Vehicles and Sundaram Motors was born on August 13, 1945. In 1946, the Company acquired the present premises and their Workshop was built in 1947 to provide for rapid expansion in the business activities.  Over the years, Sundaram Motors has added dealerships for distribution and service of vehicles and ventured into distribution of petrol also.


All this is becoming a thing of the past ; sadly this utility serving petrol satiating the needs of its trusted customer has chosen to close down. By 30th Sept. 2010, it will be closing down permanently and will not function from this place. Sources state that there will be a petrol bunk of Sundaram Motors at Poonamallee – having seen the crowds and the attitude of people, I will not be surprised if somebody makes it a point to travel the 20 odd kilo meters to be serviced by TVS. 

With regards – S Sampathkumar



  1. motor trade insurance
    Now that you know what you need in an insurance company you need to know where to shop for motor trade insurance. Finding the right motor trader insurance policy is easy and simple.

  2. Finding the right motor trader insurance policy is easy and simple.
    motor trade insurance

  3. Good one. TVS and people about TVS to be proud of - Satwender

  4. TVS name is synonymous with quality and reliability -- Vasu

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  6. All we need is a few minutes of your time and you’ll think of motor insurance as fun! Plus you’ll get great prices as we’ll sell directly to you! No agents, no commissions, all value! It’s that simple. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.