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Tuesday, February 2, 2021

dynamically lit Napier dazzles !!

Can you connect these ancient Shiva temples -  1)  Tiruvirkolam, 2)  Ilambaiyankottur, 3)  Thiruverkadu – if your line is correct, you can add  Koyambedu temple also.   

The Sicilian revolution of independence of 1848 occurred in a year replete with revolutions and popular revolts. It commenced on 12 January 1848, and therefore was the first of the numerous revolutions to occur that year. Three revolutions against Bourbon rule had previously occurred on the island of Sicily starting from 1800: this final one resulted in an independent state surviving for 16 months. .. .. can it be connected with our city of Chennai in any manner ?

In this aerial photo [the original full sized one] – one could zoom and see the bridge over river Coovum ~Singara Chennai.

Rajnikant starrer ‘Billa’ (to name a movie after a hardcore criminal was in poor taste)  released in 1980s ran packed houses – the hero, chased by police (DSP Balaji) – escapes in a police car, winds through narrow lanes, hits obstacles, straddles on a horse ….. and nearer marina beach, shot by Police – jumps into Coovum river from this bridge ……… Arjun in Mudhavan also jumps into the very same coovum …. In the Madhavan movie ‘Run’ – Vivek coming to the city from a village is duped into bathing in the muddy Coovum river – much water has flown under the bridge in the past few decades.  Coovum no longer looks a river – with its pollutants it looks so ugly and more at the estuary after Napier bride.

Napier, the governor of Fort St George (Madras Presidency) built the iron bridge across Cooum river in 1869.  Francis Napier, a  colonial administrator, served as a Governor of Madras from 1866 to 1872; he also acted as the Viceroy of India from February to May 1872, temporarily though arising out of the assassination of the Earl Mayo….

Francis Napier, 10th Lord Napier and 1st Baron Ettrick, KT, PC (1819 – 1898)  was a Scottish polyglot, diplomat and colonial administrator. He served as the British Minister to the United States from 1857 to 1859, Netherlands from 1859 to 1860, Russia from 1861 to 1864, Prussia from 1864 to 1866 and as the Governor of Madras from 1866 to 1872. He also acted as the Viceroy of India from February to May 1872. He did not complete his graduation. Instead, he mastered foreign languages and served as a diplomat in foreign missions. In 1866, he was appointed Governor of Madras and served from 1866 to 1872.   Napier died at Florence, Italy on 18 December 1898 at the age of 79.

Due to his fluency in multiple languages, Napier's lack of educational qualifications was overlooked and he was appointed to the British embassy at Vienna and later, Constantinople, where he served as an attache.  The Governor of Madras earlier, served as the Acting Ambassador for a period of eighteen months in Naples, when Italy was embroiled in the Sicilian insurrection. 

Chennaites cross this  bridge leading to Fort St. George / War Memorial overlooking island grounds which  is named in his honour.  Napier Bridge connects the erstwhile British settlements [Fort St George / Parrys] to other southern parts of city of Chennai.  The landmark bridge was built in 1869, later transformed into a wide-concrete structure in 1943 for vehicular traffic, inaugurated by Arthur Hope and  widened to two pronged lanes in 1999.    An Island bridge was projected by Yale in 1690, wasn’t built until 1715, connecting the Fort to the Island, was damaged over and over again and was later removed because there was a diversion of the stream on which it was built. The Triplicane Bridge and Napier Bridge were built across the river Coovum, which was earlier known as Triplicane river.

The Greater Chennai Corporation has  launched a dynamic lighting system on   37 bridges and subways.   It generates  millions of colours using the combination of red, green and blue.  The dynamic lighting  highlights architectural aspects of bridges and is really a treat to watch. 

Here are some photos of the illuminated Napier bridge across Coovum (earlier known as Thiruvallikkeni river),   one of the shortest classified rivers draining into the Bay of Bengal. This river is about 72 km in length, flowing 32 km in the city of Chennai (urban part) and the rest in rural part. The river is highly polluted in the urban area (Chennai). Along with the Adyar River running parallel to the south and the Kosasthalaiyar River, the river trifurcates the city of Chennai and separates Northern Chennai from Central Chennai.

Three ancient Shiva temples are located at the source of the river. The first is Tiruvirkolam, in Cooum village, and the other is at Ilambaiyankottur. The third is Thiruverkadu Shiva temple. Koyambedu temple is also in its banks. These temples have been featured in the Thevaram sung by the Saivite saint Thirugnana Sambandar.  In ancient Tamil Nadu, under the Chola Empire, the river Cooum was referred to as Kashtabudhyotpathihi. They all form a group of villages called "padhinaru nattham".  The major islet in the course of the river is the Island Grounds in Chennai less than a kilometre from the mouth. The river splits into two near Chinthadripet and encircles a piece of land isolating it from the surrounding land before draining into the eastern sea.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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