Today morning (23 March 2014), Chennai’s favourite historian Mr Sriram V had conducted a heritage walk to one of the oldest parts of the city – Chintadripet. Originally in Tamil, it was Chinna Thari Pettai (சின்ன தறிப் பேட்டை) meaning a small town of (cotton textile) weavers.
Chintadripet happens to be the first planned colony of our city, built in the 18th century. It was created as a weavers town and has gone on to become one of the most congested areas of the city. It however retains several vestiges of its planned structure and much is the history in its streets. – Mr Sriram V
We had assembled near The Hindu office and Chintadripet MRTS Station and walked from there. The first stop was May Day Park (earlier called as the Napier Park)
In 1849 or thereabouts, all of this area, Simpson, The Hindu, The Mail and P Orr & Sons included, was one large property, occupied by Burghall’s Stables, a firm that was into the hiring out of horse carriages and the manufacture of saddles and livery. In 1869, a part of its land was handed over to the Government for the creation of a park. It was named after the then Governor, Francis, 10 Lord Napier and 1 Baron Ettrick. Entrusted to the Municipality in 1879, it became in time a much-required green lung for the Chintadripet area.
At the extreme left, HT Boddam, a highly unpopular judge from the early 1900s glowers down at you from below an ornate canopy.
On January 25, 1965, thousands of students marched from Napier Park to Fort St George as part of the anti-Hindi agitation. The then Chief Minister M. Bhaktavatsalam refused to meet them and tear gas shells were exploded injuring many. – Mr Sriram V
After seeing the schools and hearing the fascinating stories behind them, we went to CSI Zion Church.
Zion Church in Chintadripet is probably the only shrine in our city that owes its existence to the Americans. It was established by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (ABCFM), the first Christian missionary organisation from the USA, set up in 1810. – Mr Sriram V