Chennai is celebrating its 377th birthday throughout this week, starting Mondayy. It’s called Madras Day as a tribute to its rich past.
On August 22, Madras Day is observed to commemorate the founding of Chennai (then Madras) for it was on 22 August 1639, that a sliver of land, where now stands Fort St George, was handed over by the Sowbaraniya rulers to the East India Company’s Francis Day, from where grew the historic city of Madras.
In a crucial event in the history of Madras, the French and the Nawab of Arcot fought the day-long Battle of Adyar on October 24, 1746. The battle followed the French seizing control of Fort St. George from the British East India Company, and the Arcot Nawab trying to regain control for the British.
In 1996 the Tamil Nadu government renamed the city Chennai, to end the colonial tag. But Chennaites cherish their colonial heritage as Madras Day.
Former Tennis player Vijay Amritraj a Madras boy said, “The city has continued to grow, perhaps become a bit conservative. But I grew up during the best days. The Marina beach is the best. I’ve been to many beaches in Hawaii or Rio but Marina is the best. We had great training on the sands.”
This year’s festivities are taking place during August 21-28 and will feature unique events to resurrect the city’s past, one of them being the heritage ride by the group, “Cycling Yogis”.