Archive for: December 2013

A FORTIFIED PAST

Fort St George is where the story of Chennai began in the modern context. DR S SURESH writes about many such forts that have endured over the years in the city.

During the ancient and medieval times, many cities were protected by massive walls of fortifications. Remnants of such structures can be seen in cities such as London and Delhi. In Chennai, the European powers erected several forts.

The biggest and most important fort of Chennai is undoubtedly Fort St George. The establishment of this fort is closely linked to the very birth of our city. In August, 1639, Francis Day and Andrew Cogan, two officials of the English East India Company secured, on lease, the site of the fort from the local ruler Venkatadri Nayak of Poonamalle. On this land, the Company established a trading outpost within a fortified enclosure. The construction of some of the fort walls and the first buildings within this fort was completed by April, 1640 and the Company officials formally inaugurated these buildings on April 23 – St George’s Day – being the death anniversary of St George (275/281- 303 AD), the patron-saint of England. Hence, the fort was named after him.

Fort St George has been the seat of administration right from the time of its inception to this day. It was the scene of historic battles between the English and the French. Gradually, the British acquired many of the neighbouring villages and thus, the trading settlement evolved into a major city.

Barely 20 years after the erection of Fort St George, the Portuguese built a fort around Santhome, mainly to protect themselves against the British. In 1749, the British acquired Santhome and in 1751, they built another fort called the Santhome Redoubt in the area, the old Portuguese fort having collapsed by now. Built for the Mylapore Garrison, the walls of this new fort were over 1m thick and 4m high. The fort was surrounded by a moat around 12m wide. This fort was used at least till the end of the 18th century. Ruins of this fort can still be noticed on the northern side of some of the houses in Leith Castle Street.

In order to protect Chennai from the attacks of the French and the South Indian kingdoms including Mysore, the British built many more forts at places such as Egmore, Purasawalkam and Nungambakkam. Details about the date and precise location of some of these forts are not known. According to archival records, the forts at Santhome and Egmore were larger than those at Nungambakkam and Pursawalkam.

The fort at Egmore, called the Egmore Redoubt, was built in 1715. It was located on a mound behind the present Egmore Railway Station. The British frequently used this fort while fighting against Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan, the rulers of Mysore in the late eighteenth century.

Around the year 1770, the British attempted to build a wall around the present George Town area. They levied a tax to finance this construction. The local people opposed this tax. At present, the only reminder of this half-built fort wall is the name Walltax Road given to the road near the Chennai Central Railway Station.

By the early nineteenth century, the British had conquered the French and most of the native South Indian kingdoms. Thus, the use of the forts slowly began to decline. At present, except Fort St George, all the other forts in Chennai are partially or entirely destroyed.

A FORTIFIED PAST 1 A FORTIFIED PAST 3 A FORTIFIED PAST 2

The writer is Tamil Nadu
Convener, INTACH

QUICK BYTES:

  • IN AUGUST, 1639, FRANCIS DAY AND ANDREW COGAN, TWO OFFICIALS OF THE ENGLISH EAST INDIA COMPANY SECURED, ON LEASE, THE SITE OF THE FORT FROM THE LOCAL RULER VENKATADRI NAYAK OF POONAMALLE
  • 1640 AND THE COMPANY OFFICIALS FORMALLY INAUGURATED THESE BUILDINGS ON 23 APRIL-ST GEORGE’S DAYBEING THE DEATH ANNIVERSARY OF ST GEORGE (275/281- 303 AD), THE PATRON-SAINT OF ENGLAND. HENCE, THE FORT WAS NAMED AFTER HIM
  • THE PORTUGUESE BUILT A FORT AROUND SANTHOME, MAINLY TO PROTECT THEMSELVES AGAINST THE BRITISH. IN 1749, THE BRITISH ACQUIRED SANTHOME AND IN 1751, THEY BUILT ANOTHER FORT CALLED THE SANTHOME REDOUBT IN THE AREA

Courtesy / Source:  Times of India | December 14, 2013

NO MORE TICKETS TO RIDE :: MTC to introduce smartcards

Keep the change: MTC to introduce smartcards

Trial On OMR From March, Regular Users To Benefit

As a first step towards a future without bus conductors, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) will introduce smartcards by March next year. Adyar and OMR will be its trial routes.

smart-card-in-omr

The corporation has placed an order for 6,000 electronic ticketing machines (ETMs) that can be used to swipe smartcards as well as dispense tickets. The smartcards can be topped up by a conductor or at a bus depot. “We will also authorise third-party agencies to recharge the cards, like prepaid phone cards,” said a senior official at the secretariat.

Once the entire system is in place, commuters will be able to use their smartcards across all modes of transport — buses, trains and metro rail — without worrying about getting change or buying separate tickets. Authorities will know, in real time, the demands of passengers in different sectors in the city.

The plan is to have passengers tap their cards as they enter the bus, which would not have a conductor. “We will run this as an experiment on OMR as it has the highest number of Volvo buses and passengers on this route are more open to change,” said the official. About 100 ETMs are on trial now.

Those buying monthly passes will be the first to get smartcards. MTC’s system will be compatible with that of the upcoming metro rail. “We are finalising the specifications, and will float the tenders for smartcards soon,” said the MTC official. MTC has about 10,000 conductors on its rolls, and once the system in place they will be used to conduct surprise checks and inspections.

Initially, MTC’s smartcards will be offline and ticketing information will be stored locally on the ETM. “Till CMRL sets up its system, our smartcards will just be validated by ETMs,” said a source.

Chennai Metro Rail Limited (CMRL) has been pushing for an elaborate common ticketing system. It will offer smartcards for regular users and tokens for one-time users. “We are working on a system that will accommodate all the players,” said an official. CMRL will be able to monitor their patronage in real time with this system.

Last month, CMRL held a workshop on fare collection. Officials from the state transport authority, MTC, Southern Railway, Centre for Railway Information Systems, Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, IRCTC, call taxi operators and representatives of bus ticket booking websites attended it.

Metro rail had proposed a common smart card for electronic fare collection as per international standards. “The challenge is to split the revenue with the department concerned. We are waiting for a response from others,” said the CMRL official.

In Kochi, Private Bus Operators’ Association last month introduced a smartcard system on a pilot basis in 40 buses on the Ernakulam-Kakkanad route. In Bhubaneswar, city bus operator Dream Team Sahara introduced smartcards for commuters on October 10 to deal with the problem of coin scarcity. Several western countries use smartcards that work across different forms of city transport.

FOR SMOOTH OPERATION: NO MORE TICKETS TO RIDE

  • Electronic ticketing machines | 6,000
  • Smartcards to be issued soon
  • To be used first on OMR
  • Those buying daily, monthly passes to benefit
  • Smartcards will be recharged at depots, by agents
  •  Ticketing information such as time, distance, number of tickets sold will be stored
  • Once metro rail is operational, same card can be used across bus, auto, call taxi, train and even for parking
  • System will go online and authorities can get real-time information on usage
  • Independent body will be set up to collect revenue and split it with different departments

Source: Times of india | Karthikeyan Hemalatha | TNN

Stuck on OMR? Pour out woes on FB

Chennai:When youspend25% of your day stuck in traffic, what do you do? Find an online forum to rant.Closeto 6,000 people are members of the ‘I hate commuting on OMR’ page on Facebook.

Stuck on OMR

“There are so many of us who work at one of the offices on OMR and live far away. Four hours of our life every day is spent on commuting from home to office and back. This is a forum for us to vent our frustration,” readsthedescription.

The biggest complainers are the ones who use private vehicles. “I live in Thoraipakkam and I hate getting out of my house between 6pm and 8pm or 9am and11am!Ittakes me more than one hour to reach Thiruvanmiyur signal!” posted AnirudhJRon the page.

“Vehicles come in the wrong direction, there is no respect for signals, people cross roads at their whim and fancy,” postedDeepakParab.

While users of the page blame pedestrians for the traffic mess, the government is pushing for better public transport as the solution. MTC is improving services in the locality so that more people take the bus, and fewer private vehicles clog the road.

“It is impossible to reduce traffic congestion as long as people use private vehicles,” said ShreyaGadepalli, regional director at Institute of Transportation andDevelopmentPolicy.

Around 1.6 lakh people in the IT and BPO sectors work on OMR. “Another 30,000 support staff make their daily commute. This stretch accounts for 70% of the IT sector in Tamil Nadu,” saidKPurushottam,senior director atNASSCOM.

Officialsfrom theTamilNadu Road Development Corporation, which maintains the road, said they built the road thinking it would be able to support thetrafficfor 20 years.The road wasopenedin October 2008. “In 5years,the roadhas reachedits saturation point. We have no clueon how many moreITcompanies are going to come up,” said an official.

Earlier this year, chief minister J Jayalalithaa announced a 45km elevated corridor between Madhya Kailash and Mammallapuram. “Consultants to study the feasibility of this projectwillbechosen in the next two months,” said a TNRDCofficial.

Source: Times of india | Karthikeyan Hemalatha | TNN

Peshawri, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

Peshawri – ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
(Times Food and NightLife Awards 2014 winner for Best North Indian)

Robust flavour of the North-West Fronties.

Peshawri, one of ITC’s signature restaurants, serves authentic North West Frontier cuisine. It is renowned for its rustic flavours brought alive in simple elegance. Stand by for hearty flat breads combined with slow-cooked lentils, vegetables and meats exalted by freshly ground condiments. Watch these signature dishes prepared in our display kitchen.

At Peshawri, the tandoori cuisine of the North-West frontier of India, finds a new meaning. The haunt of every celebrity passing through, the restaurants have played host to Crowned heads, Heads of State and famous personalities from all over the world. Reveling in the most delicious kebabs found anywhere in the world.

Peshawri, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

Peshawri, ITC Grand Chola, Chennai

Origin:

The British demarcated the North-West Frontier Province in the year 1900, which comprised parts of Afghanistan, and the Northwest part of pre independence India. The cuisine has been inspired by the essence of North West frontier tradition, of camaraderie around the warm glow of a campfire – succulent tandoori fare, low on oil and high on authenticity.

The food is cooked in clay ovens or tandoor in the traditional style of the Indian North-West Frontier region. This style of cooking requires great expertise on the part of the chefs, since the meat is not accompanied by any sauce or gravy, but only pre-marinated and cooked before serving. It takes a chef years of meticulous training and dedication to master the technique of the art of making the breads that are so much vital part of the cuisine, or to acquire the ability to gauge spices, mix marinades, and the most vital of all, to judge the heat of the tandoor and the time necessary for each dish to be perfectly cooked.

Décor / Ambience

A unique concept, the restaurant offers a sophisticated yet totally ethnic experience where the kitchen is part of the restaurant. The decor comprises rough-hewn trestle tables and wooden stools complete the rugged look. Copper pots and urns are suspended from the ceiling and pillars; the crockery is earthenware in an earthy ochre colour, while the menu is painted on a block of wood. The chequered apron is also a totally novel concept that has become very popular. The view of the kitchen with the busy chefs adds to the warmth of the restaurant, inviting one to take time off to photograph the activity inside the kitchen. The speed by which the food is cooked and delivered to the tables justifies its claim of having one of the most efficient service.

Hours: 12:30 PM – 2:45 PM; 7:00 PM – 11:30 PM
Cuisine: North West Frontier

Contact:
Peshawri,
ITC Grand Chola, Chennai
No. 63, Mount Road, Guindy,Chennai- 600032
Tel : (91) (44) 22200000
Fax : (91) (44) 22200200

For more information please visit:
http://www.itchotels.in/Hotels/itcgrandchola/peshawri-restaurant.aspx
http://www.itchotels.in/Hotels/itcgrandchola/chennai-restaurant.aspx
http://www.itchotels.in/welcomcuisine/peshawri/cuisine_origin_brief.html

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ITCHotels

Food and NightLife Awards 2014

The Winners of the Times Food and NightLife Awards 2014 Are…

RESTAURANT WINNERS:

Best North Indian
Peshawri (Fine Dining), Delhi Highway (Casual Dining)

Best South Indian
Dakshin (Fine Dining), Saravana Bhavan (Casual Dining)

Best South Indian Tiffin
Adyar Ananda Bhavan (Casual Dining)

Best Chettinadu
Madras (Fine Dining), Parambriym(Casual Dining)

Best Kerala
Ente Kerelam (Fine Dining), Hotel Crescent (Casual Dining)

Best Andhra
Sankranti (Casual Dining)

Best Coastal
Samudm (Fine Dining), The Marina (Casual Dining)

Best Pure Vegetarian
Royal Indianaa (Fine Dining), Kapila Dasa (Casual Dining)

Best Sunday Brunch
Spectra (Fine Dining)

Best Chinese
Stix (Fine Dining), Chao (Casual Dining)

Best European
The Flying Elephant (Fine Dining), Crimson Chakra (Casual Dining)

Best Italian
Ottimo Cucina Italiana (Fine Dining), Dario’s (Casual Dining)

Best Japanese
Teppan (Fine Dining)

Best Mediterranean
Azulia (Fine Dining)

Best Oriental
Pan Asian (Fine Dining), Wok A Toque (Casual Dining)

Best Pizza
Italia (Fine Dining)

Best Thai
Benjarong (Fine Dining)

Best Korean
Inseoul (Casual Dining)

Best Grills
The Wharf (Fine Dining)

Best Sialers
Yoko Sialers (Casual Dining)

Best 24-Hour Dining
The Dining Room (Fine Dining)

Best Coffee Bars/Tea Lounge
Lobby Lounge (Fine Dining), Eco Cafe (Casual Dining)

Best Confectionery Shop
Biscotti (Fine Dining), Ecstasy (Casual Dining)

Best Mithais
Shree Mithai (Casual Dining)


NIGHTLIFE WINNERS:

Best Bar
Library Blu

Best Nightclub
The Flying Elephant

Best Restobar
Geoffery’s

Courtesy: Timescity.com

MTC Strikes gold on OMR

EASY RIDE
Techies Take The Bus As Firms Cut Costs; Shorter Routes On IT Corridor Ups Patronage

IT professionals in the city, quite literally, don’t miss the bus. Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) has found that routes it runs on Old Mahabalipuram Road, which is home to a host of IT companies, are among its most profitable.

MTC STRIKES GOLD ON OMR 02

With several companies looking to cut costs, their dependence on government buses has increased by about 10%, said representatives from National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASSCOM). “Due to cost cutting, the number of private buses hired by companies has come down from 9,000 to 6,000. This has pushed a lot of people towards MTC,” said K Purushottam, senior director at NASSCOM.

MTC has tweaked services to cater to the growing population on the IT corridor. In May 2012, it introduced three routes tailor-made for IT companies. “We have increased it to seven. We have added 50 buses on the stretch in the past year,” said an MTC official involved in planning.

MTC officials said OMR is one of the top performing sectors in the city with more than 300 buses and 50 routes. MTC is in the process of rationalizing its routes for better services. “Of the 50 routes on the corridor, seven accounted for 70% or 210 buses,” said a source. Some of these routes include T51, C51, A21, 570, and 19B.

There are only three major entry points to OMR — Velachery, Thiruvanmiyur and Madhya Kailash. MTC has realised that shortened routes with more frequent stops are in demand. For example, route 570S makes more money than 570 even though it plies 5.3km less. While route 570 covers CMBT to Kelambakkam via Guindy, Velachery and SRP Tools, 570S stops at Siruseri. “The ridership after Siruseri towards Kelambakkam is low and is not justified. On the way back from Kelambakkam towards the city, people at Siruseri prefer using 570S as there are more seats,” said a source.

MTC STRIKES GOLD ON OMR 01

Of MTC’s 100 air-conditioned buses, 60 run on OMR. “IT company employees form such a large chunk of the passengers on OMR that when there is a public holiday, MTC calls us to find out how many companies are working and what the expected demand would be,” said Purushottam. “Several companies have also put up bus timings at the entrance to encourage more people to use buses.”

Experts say OMR is ideal to implement the bus rapid transit system. “It shows people are willing to shift to public transport if services are provided,” said Shreya Gadepalli, regional director for Institute for Transportation and Development Policy. However, the quality of these services has to improve. “The buses travel at an average speed of 15kmph now. In BRT they can move up to 25kmph. A 50% increase in speed saves time, and helps the corporation reduce its fleet size by a third,” she said. Recent studies by ITDP show that 7,600 people travel per hour per direction on OMR.

Courtesy / Source: Times of India | Times City | Karthikeyan Hemalatha | TNN