Chennai: Learn heritage as you wait for bus
CHENNAI: Thanks to the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), heritage now begins where the bus stops. Last week, members of INTACH put up signs at various Corporation of Chennai bus stops across the city, detailing heritage sites in the vicinity. Around 40 stops are being done in the first phase, and there are 40 more to go, says architect Sujatha Shankar, also the convener of INTACH-Chennai Chapter.
“We are looking at putting up these along key routes,” says Shankar, and adds that each of the signs will have a photograph and a few details of the site and the building there. “The idea is to generate interest in heritage,” she says. “People may not visit the sites the first time they are at the stop, but chances are that if they keep using that route, at some point, they will be curious enough to check out a heritage building nearby. We want heritage to grow on people.”
The bus stop near St Ebbas School Marticulation Higher Secondary in Mylapore, for instance, lists sites such as Kalyani Hospital (built in 1909), Stella Maris College (1947), St George’s Cathedral (1815), while the ‘Ice House’ stop on Beach Road lists San Thome Church (built in the 16th century), Chepauk Palace (completed in 1768) and the Lighthouse (one of the 13 in India that are identified as heritage centres) among others.
Visitors at the Marina Beach on Saturday received free copies of heritage maps of Chennai, watched films about the city’s past and participated in heritage awareness events as part of the Madras Day celebrations.
Last month, during the Madras Day celebrations to commemorate the founding of the city on August 22, 1639, INTACH unveiled a heritage map of the city for free distribution. Among other attempts to make heritage a part of people’s lives, city chronicler V Sriram created the app Past Forward as a virtual space for Chennai’s past. It helps people indentify heritage spots and learn the story behind them as they commute through the city.