Chennai, then Madras was founded on 22 August, 1639. It commemorates the founding of the city by establishing Fort St George on a small piece of land acquired from the last King of Chandragiri in 1639 by the British East India Company.
Rechristened Chennai in 1996, the capital of Tamil Nadu is now home to more than 4 million people.
The idea of Madras Day was born when a group of Madras lovers got together a few years ago to celebrate the city, its history, traditions and culture.
Though called the Madras Week, the event, which started off as a half-a-day Madras Day celebration 11 years ago, has grown into a ‘Madras month’ with festivities and events planned through August and a bit of September.
Madras Week festivities will include heritage walks, photo exhibitions, lectures and quizes to commemorate 375 years of Madras.
One of the many unique activities being organised are heritage cycle rides by Chennai-based group Cycling Yogis. A DNA report notes that this group has in the past, charted out heritage rides to places that have Chola, Pallava or colonial histories in and around Chennai in areas such as Royapuram, Anna Salai (Mount Road), Chepauk, Triplicane, Mylapore, Pulicat, Mahabalipuram etc during special occasions like Republic Day, World Heritage Day and the Madras Day.
The Madras Day celebrations and all the bash culminates each year with the Madras Quiz, separately in Tamil and English. This is facilitated by the Mylapore Times.
There’s in fact a Facebook page dedicated for the event too. Take a look here.
What do people living in Madras love about the city? For some, it’s the beach and the sunset. As Baradwaj Rangan writes in this The Hindu piece, “Madras, to me, is the beaches of my childhood, the mornings filled with huffing walkers and the distant tang of fish being hauled in and, above it all, a sun that rises as it does nowhere else.”
For some, it’s the kanjivaram sarees, the idlis and the filter coffee.
Madras is one one of the oldest cities. Kolkata is 50 years younger than Madras and Bombay is about 35 years younger.
Chennai Corporation, the oldest municipal body in India, was established in 1688.
A historian, S Muthiah, told CNN-IBN, “…for the first 150 years, Madras was the chief settlement and it was here that almost virtually everything in modern India – the first municipality, the first technical school, the first western style of Education – began. After that they grew elsewhere but the beginnings were in this city.”