22nd Aug 2009
Today Chennai aka Madras turns 370. Can’t believe? Here’s the History. (Courtesy: Wikipedia)
On 22 August 1639, Francis Day of the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast from the Vijayanagara King, Pedda Venkata Raya in Chandragiri. The region was ruled by Damerla Venkatapathy, the Nayak of Vandavasi. He granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises. A year later, the British built Fort St George, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city. Fort St.George houses the Tamil Nadu Assembly.
The name Chennai is a shortened form of Chennapattinam, the name of the town that grew around Fort St. George, which was built by the British in 1640 CE. The town area is said to have been earlier a part of the empire of the Rajas of Chandragiri.There are two versions about the origin of the name Chennai: according to one version, Chennapattinam was named after Damerla Chennappa Nayaka, a Vijayanagar chieftain, Padma Nayak Velama Raja of Kalahasthi and Vandavasi from whom the British acquired the town in 1639 CE. The first official use of the name Chennai is said to be in a sale deed, dated August 1639, to one Francis Day who was an agent for the British . According to the second account, Chennapattinam was named after the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple; the word “chenni” in Tamil means face, and the temple was regarded as the face of the city.
The city’s former name, Madras, is derived from Madraspattinam, a fishing village north of Fort St. George. There is a little agreement among researchers about the exact origin of the name Madraspattinam. Some believe that the Portuguese, who arrived in the area in the 16th century, may have named the village Madre de Deus. Others believe that the village’s name came from the once prominent Madeiros family (variously known as Madera or Madra in succeeding years) of Portugese origin, which had consecrated the Madre de Deus Church in the Chennai locality, Santhome, in 1575. (The church was demolished in 1997.)
Sometime after the British gained possession of the area in the 17th century, the two towns, Madraspattinam and Chennapattinam, were merged. The British referred to the united town as Madraspattinam, while the locals preferred to call it Chennapattinam.The prevalent shortened name Madras is regarded to have a Portuguese origin.
The state government officially changed it to Chennai in 1996, around the time many that Indian cities were being renamed. Chenaiites celebrate 22nd August as Chennai Day!
Personally, my favourite place is Chennai. I love the place a lot. In my childhood, I used to spend my Summer vacation in Chennai (then Madras) at my Aunt’s home alongwith my cousins who were also in Chennai and Arakkonam. We used to roam in my uncle’s car. I used to see the Film Advts in Awe. Luckily, I got my first job in Chennai. Though the salary was less, I loved being in my favourite place and roaming around. Many of my relatives dont like Chennai because of Water Scarcity n Hot Climatic Condition. They prefer Bengaluru to Chennai. But my choice is our Singara Chennai. I feel proud when my North Indian friends say Chennai is the most clean city. For the past 3 1/2 years I was out of Chennai. I heavily missed Chennai and when I got an offer here, I immediately said “YES” without negotiating the salary. But after coming here, I’m still missing Chennai since I’m house-arrested. I feel as if I’m still in North India speaking in Hindi with the colleague, watching Hindi channels, eating roti, dal and sabzi, drinking chai, etc. Hope I would come out these things soon and get into Chennai by watching movies at Satyam, spending Sundays with friends in Besant Nagar Beach, freaking out at the Spencers, shopping in T-Nagar, travelling in the Local trains and new AC Buses, having rice, sambar, rasam in lunch; sipping South-Indian Filter Coffee; attending kutcheris and all.. Happy Chennai Day for all Chennai-lovers!!!