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Sunday, September 1, 2019

Sri Kalikambal Temple at Thambu Chetty Street


Shivaji Bhonsle, famously  Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,  Veer Shivaji - carved out an enclave from the declining Adilshahi sultanateof Bijapur that formed the genesis of the Maratha Empire. In 1674, he was formally crowned as the Chhatrapati (Monarch) of his realm at Raigad. Shivaji established a competent and progressive civil rule with the help of a disciplined military and well-structured administrative organisations. He innovated military tactics, pioneering the guerrilla warfare methods. 

Chennai aka Madras has a rich, glorious, very ancient history.  Much before the arrival of British and buying of land by East India Company, the  Madras coast was  under the effective control of the Rayas of Chandragiri 1646. Venkatapathi Maharaya (1586-1614 A.D.) was perhaps  the last effective ruler of the Hindu Empire. By the time the British arrived and  1639, the year in which  the  story of  British Madras begins, the  Portuguese had already been in India for nearly a century and a half or so.   

Madras is the oldest among the Presidencies  and was not the earliest British settlement in the country, but only  constitutes their first territorial acquisition, with the exception of the insignificant fort at Armagon, a little to the north of Pulicat Lake, which had been acquired a few years previously.  Oldtimers would still say the beach road, First line beach – there was second line beach also.  From the Madras High Court towards Clive battery – Royapuram bridge – there are many small lanes and bylanes – of which, Lingi Chetty Street, Tambu Chetty Street, Armenian Street all run parallel to Broadway (Prakasam salai now) – in between there are also streets like Sembudoss street, Coral merchant street in the area which was one known as Muthialpet. Muthialpet High School is a renowned educational institution of the past.

Broadway is still the dividing line between the two parts of George Town, even as the canal which ran along its course was the separating factor between Muthialpet and Peddanaickenpetta in former days. There was China Bazar road running at a right angle to Broadway.  There was Rattanbazar (pirambukkadai), Godown Street, Mint Street, Govindappa Naicken street and more (not in the same order)

This area has so many old, big, beautiful temples including Bairagi Mutt, Chenna Kesava Perumal, Chenna Malleeswarar, Ekambareswarar, Kandaswami temple (kanda kottam), Renuka Parameswari, Pavalakkara theru Krishnan Kovil, Sri Kachaleeswarar, Sri Kasi Viswanathar, Sri Santhana Venugopalar, many many Vinayaka temples   and many  more. 

On Thambu Chetty Street  is the famous Sri  Kalikambal Temple dedicated to Kamakshi (in the form of Durga) – history  has it that this temple was originally located closer to sea but got translocated  to its current place in 1640. Kalikambal is bestower of many boons and devotees come in large numbers to this temple.

Mahakavi Subramania Barathiyar when working Sudesamithran stayed in Broadway and used to worship Kali regularly.  ‘‘யாதுமாகி நின்றாய் காளி’’ என்ற அவரது பாடலில் வருவது காளிகாம்பாள்தான்.  The  great emperor  Veer   Shivaji had visited this temple [perhaps incognito] and worshipped at the Kalikambal Temple at Thambu Chetty Street on 3rd Oct 1667 and a plague commemorating this is placed prominently in the temple.

Rajnikant starrer ‘Baba’  film's cast included Manisha Koirala, , M. N. Nambiar, with guest appearances by Ramya Krishnan, Sarath Babu, Raghava Lawrence, Prabhu Deva.  His rise in the film would occur with the temple elephant placing the garland on the neck of unassuming Baba and the song ‘sakthi kodu’ was shot in and around the famous Kalikambal temple.

Writer Sujatha’s heroes – lawyers Ganesh & Vasanth had their small office [law firm] in Thambu Chetty street reminiscing the offices of many lawyers – famous and otherwise in the bylanes leading to the Madras High Court

Here are some photos of the temple and of Lord Kalikambal.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
18th Aug 2019.




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