Chennai is one of the biggest metropolitan cities in India with a lot of opportunities in the field of trade, education, digital media and social sectors. Though the city has witnessed an enormous growth over a few decades, a deep look into the city’s past may be an interesting ride for history lovers. From being a cluster of small villages to a buzzing port city to the current capital-ship, the city has a lot more to give. Come, let’s time-travel and watch the transformation of Madras to Chennai.
Formation of madras from surrounding villages
The city at present is around 370 years old but it is actually formed from a cluster of villages with history dating to several centuries. Places of Chennai such as Pallavaram and Mamallapuram explains the rule of Pallavas, Chozhas and Vijayanagar empires. These mighty kingdoms had ruled the areas around Chennai for centuries. Many places of modern Chennai might have been once agricultural fields, grazing fields or just barren land.
Mandaveli area in Chennai, an elite residential area at present, was once known to be a grazing field for the cattle. The name “Mandhai veli” in Tamil literally means “grazing field”. Similarly, present Teynampet is believed to be full of coconut trees. The Tamil word “Thennai” means coconut tree. “Thennampet” became “Teynampet” over time. The area of Pallavas is still named after them as “Pallava puram” or “Pallavaram”.
Development of Madras during the British era
In the year 1639, the local Telugu Nayak ruler Damerla Venkatapathi Naidu gave the land of Madras to the British East India company to expand their trade. Being a highly opportunistic place with sea-shore, the British saw it as a golden chance to grow their business. The port of Madras provided the required platform for them. They built a fort and named it as fort St. George. The city saw a vast development from thereafter.
There is a myth about the name Chennai, that it was derived from the name “Chennappa Naidu”, the father of Venkatapathi Nadu, who presented the land to British.
After Independence, the region was known as Madras province, and later got renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1969, and Madras became its capital. The city witnessed a spurge of development with respect to transportation, trade and economics. Till present, the city plays an important role in the economic and cultural development of India.
Transformation into Chennai
The city of Madras was renamed as Chennai following the trend of other major Indian cities getting renamed, such as Mumbai. This renaming process was carried out to preserve the heritage of the city with its original roots, striking out names that sounded foreign. Few other cities of Tamil Nadu got back their original Tamil names too, getting rid of their English phonetic. For example, Tuticorin became Thoothukudi and Tinneveli became Tirunelveli.
Though the city got its new name, certain notable structures such as Madras university, continue to be called by their original names. Nevertheless, Chennai is an upgraded version of a more culturally vibrant Madras.
The modern Chennai is well equipped with transportation, communication, and public amenities. No city can be tagged as fully-developed, as time keeps demanding further development. In the same way, Chennai needs more attention in the certain areas such as – protecting water bodies and eliminating water pollution, relocation of slums and better plans for accommodation, controlling vehicular emissions and a greener alternative etc.
On a positive note, the city promises a bright future for anyone looking out for opportunities. The field of Information Technology has seen a sudden surge over the years with equally developing real estate and construction fields.