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Thursday, May 9, 2024

An ode to a famous Hotel of Chennai !! - in Dr Radhakrishnan Salai !!

Among the most prominent landmarks of Chennai would be – Central Railway station, LIC Building, Kapaleeswarar temple, Marina beach and lighthouse – Dr Radhakrishnan Salai (named after our second  President of India) connects Gandhi beach to Gemini flyover (road earlier known as Edward Elliots Road) – No. 25 Dr Radhakrishnan Salai was a landmark building, which soon would be under the hammer !! – yes about to be demolished!

Chennai’s famous hotels a few days back were – Taj Coromandal, Hotel Chola, Connemara, Adyar Park .. .. the Connemara hotel nearer Spencer junction was the one where Cricket teams would stay in 1970s, 1980s.   read that the property of Taj Connemara was originally a house bought by John Binny from The Nawab of Arcot in 1799. The property was later bought by T. Somasundara Mudalyar and built as the Imperial Hotel in 1854 under the proprietorship of TriplicaneRathinaveluMudaliar, renamed Albany in 1886 when it was leased to two other Mudaliar brothers, and re-established as The Connemara in 1890, named after the then Madras Governor during 1881–1886, Robert Bourke, baron of Connemara, a rural area in County Galway in the west of Ireland, later became  a Spencer's hotel. In  1937the hotel was renovated to have air conditioned rooms with a princely  cost of a room on single occupancy at17.80.

Remember that in early 1980s, people used to talk that Coffee at this hotel was Rs.25/- !!!  - the President Hotel in Radhakrishnan Salai, Chennai 600004

It is a hotel that boasted of view of Marina beach and a rich history – which later had its name changed as ‘Clarion Hotel President’ – a luxury hotel enabling views of Marina, Kapaleeswarar temple and   scenic view of Chennai City.

Its website reads :  featuring the region’s most desirable fine cuisines served at our exquisite restaurants, full-service event space for personal and professional events and appealing wedding spaces, Clarion Hotel President offers an extraordinary experience that goes far beyond a good night’s sleep.Welcome to Clarion Hotel President—where nothing is overlooked but the Marina Beach.

Its history as read in its website makes a very interesting read:  President Hotel  was inaugurated by Matinee Idol and 3 times Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Dr. Padmashri. PuratchiThalaivar, MG  Ramachandran (MGR) in 1978. The Hotel had 45 air-conditioned (AC) Rooms with a tariff of Rs.25/- Tariff & 22 Non-A/C Rooms with a tariff of Rs. 20/-Helmed by the renowned Chef Mr.Mani Iyer from Kumbakonam, it served authentic vegetarian cuisine.An year later, it added marriage hall accommodating 1000 people and serving feast typically on banana leaves.  

In 1980, they opened   a Roof Top Restaurant on the sixth floor that served delectable North Indian cuisine. The Restaurant also treated the guests to a panoramic view of the Marina Beach.  By 1981, it was the  second tallest building in Chennai- just 2.2 meters shorter than the tallest Building in the City- The Regional Office of Life Insurance Corporation of India (Mountroad LIC Building). Well, now there are so many skyscrapers in the city especially in OMR dwarfing the LIC building.  The hotel building  got 4 star status in 1982.

Well all these are to be glories of the past ! – as it appears that the building would soon be demolished and a new residential complex coming up going by the name board put up in front of the hotel.  Sometime back there was news in ET that prominent Chennai hotelier Vikram Aggarwal is in advanced stages of acquiring  Clarion Hotel in Chennai in a deal estimated to be valued at approximately Rs 180 crore,  not sure who the owner is (does not matter to us in any way!)

So another landmark of the city falls down ! – may rise bigger but the connect could be missing !!

With regards – S Sampathkumar
9th May 2024
PS: the first 2 photos taken by me this morning – rest 3 taken from the Hotel’s  website. 

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