by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

376th year–Happy Madras Day

The first city of modern India, Chennai, which was originally called Madras, is celebrating its 376th birthday today, as Madras Day.  Perhaps it is inappropriate to note that the first zoological garden or zoo of India, was also established in the City of Madras.

The Madras Zoo was situated within the People’s Park, a 116 acre recreational park, constructed between 1859 and 1861, and was arguably one of the oldest parks too.  Present day Park Town is the reminiscent of the People’s Park which has all but disappeared.  As for the Madras Zoo, it was shifted to Vandalur in 1985 and was renamed as Aringar Anna Zoological Park.  And later, the city itself was renamed as Chennai, but Madras Day is what it is called, and will be.

I remember visiting the old zoo in the People’s Park for the last time before the animals were shifted sometime in 1982-83.  The Sambar deer enclosure was the last one abutting the approach to the Central Station, and it was a pleasure to watch the deer racing (within the enclosure) the approaching trains.

Gone are those days of a laid back, conservative, less polluted, and cleaner, less congested Madras. 
Almost gone is also the ‘Madras Bashai’, that quaint slang of Tamil spoken only in Madras, which had adopted words from 10 different languages. 

Very few are these catamarans – at the very Marina Beach which gave the word ‘catamaran’ to English - from the Tamil word ‘kattumaram’ (கட்டுமரம்), literally meaning ‘wood-tied-together’.  Here is an old one which I could spot (artist/photographer unknown).


For today, enjoy the Madras Day on the city celebrating 376th year of establishment.

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