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Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mahatma Gandhi's Chola connection..... at Chennai

Today is 2nd October…………..  and Nation celebrates the birth of the Man from Porbandar, a coastal city in Gujarat……………  this is also known to be the birth place of Sudama [Kuchelar for South Indians] ~ the famous friend of Lord Krushna.

The Chola dynasty ruled Tamil land with glory.  Their heartland was the fertile Cauvery and stretched to farther points of India. Under Rajaraja Chola I and his sonRajendra Chola I, the dynasty became a military, economic and cultural power in South Asia and South-East Asia. Rajaraja Chola conquered peninsular South India, annexed parts of which is now Sri Lanka and occupied the islands of the Maldives. The Cholas left a lasting legacy. Their patronage of Tamil literature and their zeal in the building of temples has resulted in some great works of Tamil literature and architecture.

My Fortune, Chennai is a five-star luxury hotel located at Cathedral Road in Chennai; if you do not know it, sure you would know it by its earlier name – Hotel Chola…………. [WelcomHotel Sheraton Chola] ~ now under ITC – has 10 stories and 90 rooms.  Hotel Chola Sheraton as it was known then, was opened on 18 October 1975, and not many know that it stands on a landmark………….

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born at Porbandar, on the 2nd October 1869. He was the youngest child of his parents, Karamchand and Putlibai. Today most papers carry articles on him as people recall their reading his autobiography,  ‘My experiments with Truth’ - one of the most popular and the most influential books in the recent history. It appeared in the Weekly ‘Navjivan’ during 1925-28. It covers Gandhi’s life up to 1920. He did not cover the period after that as it was well known to the people and most of the concerned persons were alive. Besides he felt that his experiments in that period were yet to yield definite conclusions. The autobiographies normally contain self-praise by the authors. They want to criticize their opponents and boost their own image in the people’s eyes. Gandhi’s autobiography is completely free from all this.

We all know that Gandhi’s life turned totally after his visit to South Africa – some may not know that he went there at the insistence Abdulla Seth – Dada Abdulla, a business man there who had migrated from Porbandar. It was a case where one of his business partners had done some fraud. By some accounts,  the dealings had been in Gujarati and Gandhi’s assistance was sought.  That was in 1893………….

Miles away, the vast expanse of Marina Beach in Chennai has some Gandhi connection. Today, people pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi’s statue opp to IG Office / Queen Mary’s college.   This is a statue  sculpted by Devi Prasad Roy Chowdhury.

I had posted earlier on the plaque installed opposite to Marina after great battle by a freedom fighter Sri PN Srinivasan who breathed last, last month.  This  is the place visited by many great leaders including Mahakavi Subrahmanya Barathiyar, Balagangadhara Thilakar, Lala Lajpath Rai, Bipin Chandran Paul,Subash Chandrabose, C.R. Doss,  V.O. Chidambaram Pillai, Subramania Siva  and Gandhiji. 

I had seen another plaque in Triplicane High Road – which was earlier Nelson Kalyana Mantap, then changed into some other… briefly Pazhamuthir Solai [during which time] I saw this plaque proclaiming Gandhiji’s visit…. Now there is another famous sweet shop…. The board is gone !  Chennai has a hospital named after the wife of Gandhiji - Kasturba Mohandas Gandhi situate in Triplicane, known as Gosha hospital,a synonym for the hospital which once catered to women wearing purdah.

My Fortune Hotel [Chozha Hotel] stands at Radhakrishnan Salai [earlier it was 2 Cathedral Road] – was the famous place of Chakravarthi Rajaji. Gandhiji reportedly stayed here in Mar 1919 and famously met the Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar here……….

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

2nd Oct 2013.

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