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Shreya posted on 19th August

Walks, Talks & Food: 6 Reasons Why You Need To Pencil In Madras Week In Your LBB

Exactly 378 years ago, on what is believed to be August 22, the British bought a piece of land overlooking the sea to establish the East India Company. On this day, Madras was born. The city may have been rechristened in 1996, but Madras it is still called: in nostalgia, by habit, and as a reminder of its colonial heritage. In an attempt to celebrate the city and its journey from Chennapattinam to Madras to Chennai, August 22 is celebrated every year as Madras Day. Since 2004, Madras Week has been celebrated from August 20-27 {although it is actually a month long event}, each year with a huge number of talks, heritage walks, workshops and exhibitions to choose from.

Madras Week will hope to create awareness about the city’s historical trajectory, its cuisine, art and culture, its many diverse communities. And, in the process, dismantle the stereotypical images of idlis, coffee and Carnatic music that abound in a supposedly conservative city now home to an ever-burgeoning IT, automobile, medical and educational sector. Here’s our pick of some of the interesting things to do this month to acquaint yourself with otherwise unexplored dimensions of the city. 

Heritage Walks

Attempt, on August 20, the British Blueprints Trail, in which you undertake the journey of understanding colonial Madras through its buildings. The Arcot Nawabs’ Trail {August 20} begins at the Chepauk Palace, and takes you through the various monuments in and around Triplicane associated with the Walajahi Nawabs, providing insight into Tamil-Islamic culture. Bonus: the walk ends with breakfast. Also, try The Women Who Made Madras – a walking tour by Prajnya on August 26 that will lead you through the journey of the women who had an important role to play in the establishment of Madras. 

For British Blueprints Trails, register at chennai@storytrails.in or call +91 9940040215.

Find details about the walk here

To register for the Arcot Nawab’s Trail, call + 91 9444077171, and for Women Who Made Madras email psw.prajnya@gmail.com. Find more details here

Chepauk Palace

Monument

Exhibitions & Film Screenings

Are you an art lover curious to know of the origins of the Madras Art Movement? Make sure to catch a screening of the documentary film on the theme at Dakshina Chitra, on until August 31. And while you’re there, don’t miss the exhibition of rare vintage photographs of life in the city in the 19th Century titled Old Madras: People, Culture of the 1800s.

Make sure you visit The Art of Traditional Games at Forum Art Gallery — an exhibition of artwork and the traditional games of Chennai, beginning with a short talk and followed by an informal play session {on till August 31}. And at 6pm on August 23, attend a talk by Vinita Siddhartha titled Chennai – A Storehouse of Traditional Games at Hotel Savera.

INTACH has organised a talk by renowned journalist and historian S. Muthiah called The Anglo-Indians: their 500-year story, followed by a documentary titled The Anglo-Indians of Madras. Catch the programme on September 1 at The Folly, Amethyst at 6.30pm.

Talks

What is Chennai without its peculiar brand of politics and its iconic figure Annadurai? R Kannan speaks on Anna a.k.a. C.N. Annadurai on August 18 at 5.30pm at Roja Muthiah Research Library {RMRL}. Addressing the need of the hour for now-congested, polluted and poorly planned Chennai, A. Srivathsan’s 6.30pm talk at Spaces, Besant Nagar, titled 60 years of City Planning in Chennai will address what went wrong and the way forward. D. Hemachandra Rao, in his talk Rediscovering the Buckingham Canal – 1782-1806, traces the history of the planning and implementation of what was to be an important waterway between Chennai and Ennore. The talk will be held at CPT campus, Taramani on August 24 at 5pm.

Roja Muthiah Research Library

Libraries

Chennai's Green Cover Nature Walks

In the aftermath of the devastating cyclone Vardah that hit Chennai last December and uprooted a large percentage of its green cover, it becomes imperative that the city plants stronger trees indigenous to the area and critical to the biodiversity. The organization Nizhal does precisely this, and has organised tree walks in several neighbourhoods. 

For tree walks, register at nizhal.shade@gmail.com or by calling +91 9791029568, +91 98406 27376, +91 9840444010, +91 9941004642.

Nizhal - Friends Of Trees

NGOs

Food Trails

And finally, what culture is not inextricably linked to the understanding of its food? Sample a variety of street food on a walk through Sowcarpet and learn more of the many communities responsible for Chennai’s diverse cuisine.

When: Tuesday, August 22

Where: Joonus Sait and Sons, opposite Flower Bazaar Police Station Round Tana, No 36, Rattan Bazaar Road, George Town

Price: INR 700 per person

Timings: 4-6.30pm

Contact: You can book the walk online here

Find details of the walk here.

Joonus Sait & Sons

Clothing Stores

What Else?

In addition to the programmes listed above, the Madras Week celebrations will include musical performances to talks on the city’s textiles, its military history and its museums. Children needn’t feel left out either; quizzes, drawing and multimedia presentation competitions are part of the schedule. Avid adult quizzers, don’t miss Know Your Madras between 3 and 5 pm. on August 19 at the Madras Literary Society. For enquiries contact +91 9940458435.  And cyclists, make sure to attend the Madras Day Heritage Ride on August 20 and ride 100km along the Adyar River between 5am and 10.30 am. Register at +91 9884023123.

To check the entire Madras Week schedule, go here.