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In search of Mylapore origins


In search of Mylapore origins

By D. Madhavan


The Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department is carrying out a study of the locality

Sixteen inscriptions found at the Kapaleeswarar temple, built in seventh century A.D., will be part of resources that will help understand the origins of Mylapore.

The Tamil Nadu State Archaeology Department has taken up a study of Mylapore. Triplicane and Santhome, two adjoining neighbourhoods, will also come under the focus of this study, as they are likely to hold vital clues to the origins of Mylapore. The study, which began early this month, focuses on all aspects of Mylapore: history, archaeology, literature, politics, trade and commerce and culture.

Gayathri Vasudevan, a research scholar on epigraphy and archaeology at the Department, is spearheading the initiative.

The Kapaleeswarar temple will be at the centre of the exercise, thanks to inscriptions that are many centuries old and records at the temple that are maintained by the HR&CE Department of the State Government.

According to archaeologists, until now, no many neighbourhood-centric studies have been carried out in Chennai district. Vadapalani is one of the few areas that have received such attention. In contrast, many such studies have been carried out in neighbouring Kancheepuram and Tiruvallur districts

Please read more at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/In-search-of-Mylapore-origins/article17067732.ece



Venky adi

Doorway to Mohammedan Mylapore

By Sriram V.


Mylapore’s history is inexhaustible and every day, something new comes up. My latest discovery has to do with Devadi Street, a small thoroughfare that links Appu Mudali Street and Kutchery Road. For long, I had assumed that this was once the courtesan quarter of the old town of Mylapore-San Thome, arguably one of the oldest parts of what is Chennai. That was because the name sounded exactly like the Tamil term for the handmaidens of god.

Read more at: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/doorway-to-mohammedan-mylapore/article4548319.ece


Four temples and varied history of Mylapore

By Anushree Madhavan


Chithra Madhavan with participants at the Veerabhadra temple

Most of our knowledge about temples in Mylapore is limited to Kapaleeshwarar temple and its tank.

CHENNAI: Most of our knowledge about temples in Mylapore is limited to Kapaleeshwarar temple and its tank. But there is much more to the culturally rich area, claims eminent temple historian Chithra Madhavan, who conducted a walk as part of the Mylapore festival. She took us to four temples, which were built perhaps during the times of the Vijayanagara Empire and Chola reign.

At the Madhava Perumal temple, she spoke briefly about the history about Mylapore. The first mention is found in a work by Ptolemy and then by Azhwars and Nayanmars. “The word ‘Madhava’ means protector of Lakshmi. It is one among the 12 important names of Vishnu,” she said.

The place where the temple stands now was a hermitage of Brighu rishi as mentioned in Mayurapuri Mahtmyam. “The saint had a daughter named Amritavalli, who was married to Vishnu here. Hence the deity is also called Kalyana Madhava and the goddess is Amritavalli thayar.”

There are seven famous Shiva temples in Mylapore — Kapaleeswarar, Vellishwarar, Karneeshwarar, Virupakshishwarar, Valishwarar, Malleeshwarar and Theerthapaleeswarar. The Veerabhadraswamy temple is often missed by people because it does not have a big gopuram. “There are no inscriptions or literary evidence at all in the temple,” said Chithra. The idol of Shiva and goddess Abhayambal wield bow, arrow, knife and sword, which is unique for the goddess.

Read more at: https://www.newindianexpress.com/cities/chennai/2018/jan/07/four-temples-and-varied-history-of-mylapore-1747234.html


Mylapore’s Memorial for Queen Victoria

By sriramv



There is no way of knowing what this edifice was put up for or by whom, until you look above the arches. Carved on one side of the flat roof in Tamil letters is the legend Pe Subramania Iyer Dharmam. The other side carries in English the inscription — The Diamond Jubilee Gift of P. Subramania Iyer, 22 June 1897. It is clear from this that the pavilion was meant to commemorate 60 years of Queen Victoria’s reign. The donor was Pennathur Subramania Iyer (1860-1901), who after graduating from Presidency College, worked initially in the Subordinate Civil Service before qualifying in law and rising quickly in his new profession. He was a Commissioner of the Corporation of Madras (equivalent to a Councillor today) and represented Mylapore Division from 1890 till his death. That accounts for his choice of place for the memorial to Queen Victoria’s jubilee. It is, in fact, an Indian version of the Jubilee Memorial water troughs that were put up in hundreds of English villages in 1897. Subramania Iyer did not live long after his donation, for he passed away in 1901.

This contribution of his may be forgotten, but not so the charities set up in his name that runs the P.S. schools in Mylapore.

Please read more at: https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2017/01/27/mylapores-memorial-for-queen-victoria/

Courtesy: Madras Heritage and Carnatic Music



Mylapore still brimming with culture, music and history



While Muslim invaders and Portuguese destroyed temples, the British chronicled temples and landscapes in these richly-detailed water-colours later made into lithographs.

Tamil saint-composer Tirugnanasambandhar sang thevarams and poems on Mylapore, as well as did Appar in seventh century.

Kapaleeswarar, who wears a skull necklace, also called Shiva, Lord of Mylapore, is the consort of Karpagambal who took the form of a peahen, did penance, and married the Lord. Kapaleeswarar’s ancient temple was originally near the sea in what is now known as Santhome. Portuguese invaders razed the Hindu shrine and built a church. Kapali moved further away into the heart of what is now Mylapore - or in Tamil Mylai. Generous Muslim rulers donated land to build a temple tank which still exists. Tamil saint-composer Tirugnanasambandhar sang thevarams and poems on Mylapore, as well as did Appar in seventh century. In the 20th century we have Papanasam Sivan’s songs.

When we were young and growing up in adjacent Santhome, we would walk to the temple often. Temple festivals or utsavams were captivating. I was scared of getting lost and would cling to my mother’s saree. I remember for the rishaba vahana at 2 am, we would go to a friend’s sprawling house on west mada street. This is now the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. We would go there at 9 pm, sit or stand on the balcony to view the idol from a vantage point. So also the ther or rath. It was exciting and some of us would doze but would be awakened by our elders. Mylapore life was always temple life for us.

During Margazhi season we would be up at 5.30 am and follow Papanasam Sivan’s bhajanai (choral) group. There were some other groups too and the early morning chill was offset by the warmth of the music. On the last day of the bhajanai we would all get pongal prasadam - many a time donated by my parents. The ghee- laden hot salty pongal refreshed us no end.

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Madras day special: I am a proud Mylaporean, says K.N.Ramaswamy



Mylapore was the hub for Carnatic musicians. Most of the top musicians of the city were born and brought up there.

Lot of people from Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Arcot migrated to Mylapore and all famous doctors, advocates and charted accountants lived there.

People think Mylapore is only Kapaleeshwarar temple and its tank. It was well beyond that in the then Madras. The topography extended from TTK Road up to the beach and RK Salai one side and Mandaveli up to Raja Annamalaipuram on the other side. Though Brahmins majorly occupied it, we had a Jain temple in Kutchery Road and a mosque in South Mada Street and the famous church in Santhome. That way there were also Muslims, Christians and Jains living in Mylapore.

A lot of people from Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Arcot migrated to Mylapore and all famous doctors, advocates and charted accountants lived there. Yet another specialty is 90% of them are vegetarians. The streets were narrow and not motorable. However traffic was minimal and cycles and hand rickshaws were the modes of transport. The advocates used to cycle all the way to courts in Parry's corner. It was sort of an exercise for them. Today, with the chocking traffic, and too many vehicles plying in the area, one cannot even see the Kapaleeshwarar temple gopuram while walking.

Read more at: https://www.deccanchronicle.com/lifestyle/viral-and-trending/200819/madras-day-special-i-am-a-proud-mylaporean-says-knramaswamy.html


The men who built the Mylapore temple – part 1

Author: sriramv


While the antiquity of the Kapali Temple in Mylapore is undoubted, there are many questions about its relocation and subsequent growth. This article attempts to throw some light.

The annual festival at the Mylapore Kapaleeswarar Temple will start a week from now. The deities will be brought out on various processional mounts twice a day for ten days. Some events are, of course, more important than others – these being the Adhikara Nandi sevai (Day Three), the Vrshabha Vahanam (Day Five), the car festival (Day Seven), the Arupathumoovar (Day Eight) and the Kalyanam (Day Ten). The devout will throng the four mada streets on all days; their numbers rising to unmanageable levels on the eighth day in particular.

Even as Kapali goes around the four mada streets accompanied by the other deities, those that watch the procession are probably doing what has been a practice for several centuries. There is no denying that the Kapali temple is an ancient one, having featured in the works of the Nayanmars of the 7th Century and after them in other literary creations. Sambandar, in his Poompavai Pathikam, lists a festival for each month of the year and most of these are observed even now. And yet, there are unsolved mysteries about the shrine. Did it really stand on the seashore at one time? Why are there no inscriptions from the times of the Cholas in the present temple? Did the Portuguese destroy the temple or was it because of war or did the sea rise up and swallow it? There are no certain answers, but almost everyone is agreed on the fact that the temple was relocated to where it stands now and was rebuilt there ‘around three hundred years ago’. As to who built the shrine has also been a matter of debate.

Read more at: https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2015/03/23/the-men-who-built-the-mylapore-temple-part-1/



Well-known member

i was teacher in P S SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL MYLAPORE during 80s...just i had 40 yrs of life in mylapore area...


The men who built the Mylapore Temple – part 2

Author: sriramv


The second and concluding part of the article on the men who gave the Kapali temple its present form.

It is Mukund who describes in detail as to the exact contributions of later dharmakarta-s. She writes that the descendants of Muthiappa Mudali handed over the management of the temple to Ponnambala Vadyar and Kanakasabai Pandaram. Considering that a street that is just next to the temple commemorates the former, we can surmise that the temple had acquired its present boundaries within a generation after Muthiappa Mudali. The next major change happens in 1749 when, with the restitution of Madras to the British, San Thomé-Mylapore also becomes part of East India Company territory. Whereupon the head conicopoly of the Export Warehouse and later dubash of Governor Saunders, Kumarappa Mudali, became the dharmakarta

The temple was by then in a ‘ruinous condition’. Kumarappa, who has a street named after him in Mylapore and another in the Seven Wells area of George Town, found the temple lands encroached upon by people of ‘foreign religions’. The four Mada streets had become mere lanes. The temple was barely functioning, with daily worship being suspended owing to want of funds. Using his high office to good effect, Kumarappa bought off the encroachers and reclaimed the lands. He rebuilt the temple walls and tank, had the four main streets broadened and planted coconut trees on their periphery. He had the processional icons made, fashioned carriages and mounts, commissioned temple jewellery and recruited temple servants and dancing girls, for whom he had houses built.

Please read more at: https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2015/03/24/the-men-who-built-the-mylapore-temple-part-2/




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Exploring Chennai’s mercantile history through a walk in Mylapore

By VishnuPriya Viswanathan

How do we conserve something that’s intangible? Madras Inherited initiates a conversation on the city’s mercantile history


The herbal route

Starting at the intersection of Kutchery road and Bazaar road, our first stop was the Dubba Chetty shop. “Started in 1885 by Krishnaswami Chetty, today the enterprise is run by Koonala Badrinath. Along with exquisite herbal powders like kilkai nelli and chithrathai, Dubba Chetty is famous for its Deepavali and post-natal legiams,” narrates Ashmitha Athreya, leading the walk. Down the same road is the Venkataramana Ayurveda Dispensary. “It was established in 1905 by the lawyer V Krishnaswamy Iyer. They offer free consultations and subsidised medicine for the poor even today. The opening of the dispensary gave Dubba Chetty’s business a boost.” To this day, Venkataramana sources its ingredients from Dubba Chetty.


Rasam at the Buckingham Palace

As the walkers stood outside what is now a multistorey apartment complex, Ashmitha explains how this used to be the PV Condiments factory. . “It is PV Condiments that took the Mulligatawny soup (milagu rasam) to the Western world and continues to do so with its export business,” he says. P Vencatachellum Condiments set up base at 26 Kutchery Road in the 1860s. Though the relics of the enterprise have disappeared from this location, their recipes have remained unchanged. Today, the business operates as Vencat Spices — though not available locally. “They have supplied Madras curry powder to the Buckingham Palace,” says Ashmitha. They also supplied to Veeraswamy, the oldest Indian restaurant in London.

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Pop goes the goli soda: Visiting a Chennai company which still makes the nostalgic drink


From over 500 manufacturers, the city today has less than 30 goli-soda factories

Apart from the number of green cycle-carts parked outside the house on Srinivasa Road, off PV Koil street in Chennai's Mylapore, there are no other clues to what’s inside the building. You might easily drive past its ordinary-looking facade, unmindful of the sound of clanking bottles.

But if you were to open its powder-blue steel gates and walk inside, you’d be engulfed by a symphony of sounds.

The aura inside is that of an orchestra practising for a big concert. But every day, the notes are the same - the clinking and clanging of glasses accompanied by the sploshing of water, punctuated with the timed ‘fittzz’ of compressed air entering the bottles.



This articles narrates about Alwar and his old book at Luz platform which used to attract more VIPs

Mylapore’s beloved bookseller no more
Alwar has been a regular on the Luz platform for decades

R.K. Alwar, the man who has been selling old books on Luz platform in Mylapore for several decades, is no more. He died on Friday after being bed-ridden for years. Hailing from Villupuram district, he came to the city when he was 15 and set up the shop, that also served as his home for a long time.



The bookshop on the footpath


Alwar at his book shop


The Alwar book shop at present.

For several decades Alwar Book Shop located on the pavement next to Mylapore Club on Luz Church road has been synonymous with old and rare, and the more common place school and college, books. Readers from not only across Chennai but also from other parts of the country came visiting it. One of them was M.S. Gill, the former CEC who purchased books worth over Rs 1,000 during one of his official visits to Chennai. Avid readers, well known writers, popular stars of the tinsel world, politicians and professionals were regular customers of Alwar Book shop. The famous names who were patrons included Arignar Anna, Alladi Krishnaswamy Iyer, C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer and Ramnath Goenka among others. Thousands of students who could not afford to buy new text books made a beeline to Alwar’s book shop to buy what they wanted. I think, there would not be any serious reader in Chennai who has not visited Alwar Book shop some time or the other in his/her lifetime.

Please read more at: http://www.madrasmusings.com/vol-28-no-10/the-bookshop-on-the-footpath/

Courtesy: madrasmusings.


Well-known member
I am a Mylaporean and have not found an equivalent place with respect to the ambience that is exuded. I feel it as the most spiritual place among the places I have lived in


When a Mylapore street became a giant canvas
Kolam contest sees keen participation


North Mada Street, normally packed with hawkers, pedestrians and traffic, came alive with intricate patterns on Saturday evening for the kolam competition organised as part of the Mylapore Festival.



Mylapore retains its arts, culture and traditions.

The celebration of Mylapore festival features 30 events with over 100 artistes performing.

During this festival, Mylapore Sabhas, temples reverberate with music, dance and drama.

Famous mylapore Fine Arts Club, Indian Fine Arts Society, Music Academy are otherSabhas will be with packed schedule. Even temples used to organise programmes.

There used to be Mikeless Katcheries at Nageswara Rao Park on Sundays. It is lively.

Mylapore festival to kick off tomorrow

Puppet shows, Kolam and rangoli competitions, Tamil plays and heritage walks are among the many events which will be held as part of the 17th edition of the Mylapore festival from January 10 to 13.

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Recalling some old Mylaporeans

Having been a resident for 60 years of Mandaveli, the fringe or border area, I have had a vantage position to observe and participate fully in all the activities in Mylapore, the religious, social and cultural hub of the metropolis.

I have dabbled in varied activities – scouting, cricket, politics and music, apart from the media. Let me begin with my school years. P.S. High School is my alma mater. Narasimhachari taught Geography, a dull subject, most attractively. His gift was when a student would ask his neighbour with a watch about the time, Narasimhachari would unerringly tell him 13 minutes to go for the class, though he wore no watch. His mind had an electronic precision. G. Srinivasachari taught history as if it was fiction and his questions for exams were innovative and teasing.

T.A.Balasubramaniam (TAB) had a fascination for cricket and built the school team. After every victory, he would address the students in the assembly hall and his inspiring speeches would goad them to further victories. He was very humane too. When I was afflicted by toothache during the SSLC exam, he took me from my home in a rickshaw to the exam hall and was by my side with medical aid and moral support till I completed the paper. How touching of a guru! A. Narayanaswamy Iyer was a towering personality; we all thought he was a superman because he could quote Shakespeare and Milton at the drop of his turban (or, more probably, his cane, which he could wield with as much flourish as his English). Arcot Samanna was many-sided: he spoke English in the manner born, played badminton with students and was a connoisseur of music.

Read more at: http://madrasmusings.com/Vol 18 No 8/otherstories.html

Courtesy: Madrasmusings.com


Rediscovering the houses of Mylapore
By Tahaer Zoyab


A walk by Madras Inherited throws light on the diverse architectural influences that have shaped the heritage town

Did you know that Mylapore has houses that are among the finest brick-and-mortar expositions of neo-classical architecture, and houses built with wrought-iron balustrades and those constructed in the art-deco style with a distinct geometry?



The Splendid History of Mylapore!

Courtesy: Thenewsdeck.com

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