It was a packed hall at the Jaigopal Garodia Vivekananda Vidyalaya Matriculation Higher Secondary School in Anna Nagar. There were students, teachers and visitors waiting for D. Krishnan, picture editor of The Hindu, to make his presentation on ‘Pictures of the Madras Presidency’. Ashok Kedia, trustee, and G. Vijayakumar, principal of the school, are always excellent hosts and this year, too, they had done a fine job ensuring that everything was in place.
Krishnan’s pictures showed the Madras of the old and the new. The comparison was stark – there are fewer trees today, less walking space on roads, there is more congestion everywhere, and laidback life of the 1960s-70s have disappeared.
Some interesting pictures included the Bank of Madras (headquartered then in Calcutta) on First Line Beach (1896), the Arbuthnot Bank building (1904), which Indian Bank later took over, the Madras Harbour of 1895, Esplanade Road (1910) where none of the old buildings, except the Anderson Church, has survived, the Officers’ Mess (now the Fort Museum) in 1912, the Napier Bridge (1895), Senate House (1890) and the Chepauk Palace, the Southern Railway headquarters (1925), the Buckingham Canal on which 1,200 boats ferried people and goods everyday once, from Madras to Kakinada, the Victoria Hall (1887), a bodyguard at the entrance to Rajaji Hall, and the Roundtana on Mount Road.