This year, as part of the Madras Week celebrations, a series of Heritage Walks were organised all over the city. Organised by different individuals and organisations like INTACH, the walks covered some interesting routes like 'Heritage Walk of Madras Christian College', 'Railway Buildings of Perambur', 'Fort St. George', 'Temples of Madras'. The spouse and I went for the Heritage Walk at St. Thomas Mount on 22nd Aug - considered as the day when Madras was founded.
For those of you who do not know, St. Thomas Mount in Chennai, is a small hill near the Chennai airport. It derives its name from St. Thomas, the apostle of Christ, who is believed to have been martyred here. Organised by Vincent D'Souza and Richard O'Connor, the heritage walk started at the St. Thomas Garrison Church and ended at the historic St. Thomas Mount Church on top of the hill.
To be honest, my going for this heritage walk was a matter of chance. When the spouse first mentioned it, I did not pay attention. When he mentioned it again on Friday night, it finally registered. Seeing a golden blog opportunity, I jumped at it. When I sat down to write it though, I realised that just one post would not suffice. There was so much to write that I decided to write it as a series of posts. The first one is about the Garrison Church.
6AM on Sunday saw a bleary eyed me and spouse at the gates of the Garrison Church. We were the first to arrive and were apprehensive that the walk had been canceled due to rains the night before. A while later people started arriving and we were set to go.
Our first stop was the Garrison Church itself. Situated just off the GST road on the way to the airport, this church is 175 years old. It being a Sunday, some of the regular church goers had arrived to offer prayers and were kind enough to share the history of the church. In fact, one of the ladies present had done her M.Phil thesis on the Garrison Church. What a stroke of luck!
Till the 70s, the church had a three storey spire. It had to be lowered to make way for the air corridor due to the construction of the Meenambakkam airport. Here is a picture of the church:
Inside the church, there were many interesting artifacts. Three of these caught my attention. The first was this memorial tablet:
This was put up in memory of one Lt. Charles Wade Crump who died in September 1857, aged 32, fighting under General Havelock at the 'Relief of Lucknow'. It was put up by his 'Brother Officers' to salute his bravery. Very nice and noble indeed. But I'm sure you will understand that my sympathies are for the Indian side in the war.
The second was a painting over the alter. Of Doubting Thomas. You might have used the term many times to express disbelief. It has its origins in a Biblical anecdote, that Thomas, one of the disciples of Christ, refused to believe in Christ's resurrection and asked to feel his wounds before being convinced. St. Thomas being the patron saint of the Garrison Church, it was but natural to have this painting hanging over the alter. Here is the only photograph I took of it:
The last was the Baptismal Font. A baptismal font is an object that is used in the baptism ritual. Unfortunately I did not pay attention when its unique features were explained (probably busy capturing other Kodak moments!). I tried to supplement the gap with some net research. Unfortunately I could only find information about the Baptismal Font at St. Mary's Church in Fort. St. George. Here is a picture of the Baptismal Font at Garrison Church
A bit of trivia before I sign off on this one. The rolling greens beside the Garrison Church serves as a golf course today. We were told that it used to be a polo ground during British times and the place that is now the Chennai airport was the erstwhile golf course.
Seeing planes taking off and landing from the airport runway, it was difficult to imagine it as an idyllic setting where the sahibs and memsahibs whiled away their leisure time.....
- Welcome!Blogging is a form of self expression for me. I find it a wonderful, democratic space. So often in life, our articulation and expression are controlled by environment-like relationships or work place. Here, it is only about me and what I want to say. I write about anything: books, movies, issues, rants...anything which strikes a chord in me or makes me think. Life's lighter moments, highs and lows, causes, opinions. Anything. I follow no structure. It is all about self expression - a form of empowerment if you like.
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