Monday, 27 March 2017


19th March 2017.
The Last walk in the series of THE ADYAR – a cultural mapping,  Greenways Road Heritage walk was kick started by Venkatesh Ramakrishnan and curated by Nivedita Louis, Karine Hrt and Nandan Sankriti Kaushik on 19th March 2017 from Avvai Home in Besant Nagar and ended at Vasanth Vihar, where  J Krishnamurthy Foundation is functioning.

Even though the walk was called as Greenways road heritage walk, most of the places covered are on the Besant Nagar Gandhi Nagar. The one of the historic and heritage places covered is the Avvai Home. Avvai Homes was started by Dr Muthulakshmi Reddy, first lady Doctor in India from Madras Medical College ( 1907 – 1912 )  and the founder of Women’s India Association ( WIA also runs  the cancer Institute Adyar since 1952, ). She held many positions like Member of the Legislature, Vice president of legislature.

She founded the Avvai home for the abandoned women and orphans. The required land of 50 grounds on Besant Avenue was leased for 50 years from Thiruvannamalai Sri Arunachaleswarar temple @ Rs 10per month. The Home was constructed  between 1934 to 1936. The Avvai Home started an Elementary School which was latter upgraded to  Higher secondary school in 1978. They also started a Teachers Training Institute, which was closed due to lack of infrastructure. After Dr Muthulakshmi’s  demise, in 1965  her daughter in-law Mandakini Krishnamurti, took over  the home and orphanage,  brought to the present level  and passed away in 1980.   


 Avvai Home east side entrance  

Dr Muthulakshmi Reddi’s residence gate Pillar name board the founder of Avvai Home 

It was a disappointment that we could not peep in to the Ramalayam palace, previously owned by Rajas of Travancore. From the gate we could not see the palace due to trees which obstructed the view. Understood that the property is under litigation between the  sisters. Then we moved to  Anandha Padmanaba Swamy temple where Balarama Varma's Statue was installed ( This was originally installed in front of Rajah Annamalai Mandram ) Esplanade. The details of Balarama Varma’s statue was written in my previous post along with Sri Ananda Padmanaba Swamy Temple .

Ramalayam Palace

 Balaramavarma’s statue 

Balaramavarma statue's base inscription 
Elphinstone bridge was constructed between 1837-42 CE during the period of Lord Elpinstone, who was the Governor of Madras. This bridge connects Santhome and Mylapore to the South of Madras. After the construction of new bridge in 1973 the old bridge was abandoned for traffic and used for the crossing of sewage pipe lines and covered with concrete slabs.  

Elphinstone bridge from where we could see the Whale island, Broken Bridge, Theosophical society, Chettinad Palace etc. ( It was planned to renovate the bridge to use for the walkers, but the project was shelved and this bridge has become a suicide spot ).

  Elpinstone bridge 

 Sewage line on  Elpinstone bridge 

The view of whale island from Elpinstone bridge

MUNNADAKA KANNI AMMAN TEMPLE ( It was a part of Dr MGR Janaki college) During Navab period the temple was built, with the vimanam looks like a mosque dome. The present caretaker  had won a legal battle with MGR for the Temple land gifted by Navab.  

NEPTUNE STUDIO was started in the present place of Dr MGR Janaki Arts and Science College  on the northern side of Adyar River by C V Raman, a lawyer and A Narayanan from Sivagangai District. They entered making films after taken training under Raghupathy Prakash. Raman started a Limited Company in the name of ‘Lalitha Cinetone’ with Kasi Chettiyar. He got a 25 and odd acres of  land with some super structure on lease from Arcot Navab and the monthly rental was Rs 150.00.

After Lalitha Cine tone drowned in to crises, C V  Raman started another Company called ‘National Theaters Limited’. With great difficulty they produced the first silent film ‘Vishnu Leela’ in the year 1932. NTL too went in to rouble and Raman started another Company called ‘Meenakshi Cinetone’ with Nattukottai Chettiar AL.RM. Alagappa Chettiar.  They included  C V Raman and  produced the hit film Pavalakodi in the year 1934, with M K Thiyagaraja Bhagavathar and  S D Subbulakshmi.

After the talk film Kalidas produced by H M Reddi in the year 1931, Alagappa Chettiyar re entered in the filed with Letchumananan Chettiyar alias Lena, a Drama contractor. During 1940 – 50 successful films were made in Tamil and Telegu, like Krishna Bhakthi, by Lena. The property after changing many hands finally passed on to MGR family and called after MGR’s mother Sathya Studios. After MGR’s demise, the Studio was converted in to Dr MGR Janaki Arts and Science College for women.


The office room still bears the name board of sathya studios

Dr. Durgabai Deshmuk  joined Swadeshi movement with Gandhi in the year 1921, when she was 12 years old. At the age of 12, a dropped out from School, she started to  teach Hindi to Congress Volunteers of KakiNada. When Gandhi ji was on tour in Andhra Pradesh she acted as a translator to his speeches. In Salt Sathyakraga movement, in the year 1930 she also participated, so she  was lodged in jail for an year and continued her teaching Hindi to her co prisoners. She has become a Dr and a Criminal lawyer latter. During her life she held various positions like Member of Parliament, Member of Parliament Steering Committee & Planning Commission ( 1952).

In Madras,  she started many institutions and which includes Andhra Mahila Sabha for which foundation stone was Laid by Gandhi ji. The many blocks of Dr Durgabai Deshmukh Hospital were opened by the eminent personalities like Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan, which runs Hospital, Nursing School ( for accommodation of students the adjacent Garden House called Yerolyte was purchased from the owner for Rs 1 lakhs through then Union health minister Rajkumari Amrit Kaur, which has an interesting story) etc,.
There is a Baboab tree the biggest of it’s kind in the premises is an added attraction.


During British period there were many Garden Houses  built for the Britishers and business people of UK  on the north bank of Adyar River.  The building  was built by a Lawyer John Bruce Norton in the year 1853 and called as Norton’s Garden. Temples of Kadari & Kumaresa and a chavadi were demolished and the Norton’s Garden was built over that. The name Norton’s Garden was renamed as Grange by Percy Macqueen ICS, collector of Nilgiris in the year 1907.

The owner ship was transferred to many hands and presently runs by the Tamil Nadu Government to train officers, under Anna Institute of Management and named as Kanchi. A SHORT FILM is available on the website shot by Lady Stokes and Hoptoum on Grange in 1930. 


The Krishnamurti foundation India ( KFI ) head quarters functions at Vasantha Vihar, which was set up in 1928 as a Charitable Institution by J Krishnamurti, Dr Anne Besant and other 5 founder members under the name of Rishi Valley Trust. Latter the name was changed as Foundation for New Education in 1953. The Vasanth Vihar previously known as Bishop Gardens. This  White building was designed by  renowned architect Surendranath Kar in a 6.5 acre square plot. Latter trees belongs to south American origin, were planted.  

J Krishnamurti stayed here during his annual visits and gave public speeches sitting on a rock under a tree. He delivered his first talk on December 1936 and his last talk on January 4, 1986. The building houses library where J Krishnamurti’s books are kept for public reading, which is inclusive of a book written and prefaced by Anne Besant at the age of 14, by Krishnamurti. In addition to this facility has been provided to see & hear his speeches. The ground floor consists of a 200 seater hall and office rooms. 


 The stone in the Garden where J Krishnamurti used to sit and deliver his speech 

 The first book – at the feet of master written by J Krishnamurti at the age of 14. prefaced by Anne Besant 



 J Krishnamurti 

 In front of Avvai Home 

 Avvai Home 

 In front of the grange – Kanchi

 The first book – at the feet of master written by J Krishnamurti at the age of 14. 

in front of Vasantha Vihar 

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