Madras Presidency

Madras Harbour

This photograph, by Francis Frith (1822-1898) & Co, is of the Madras Harbour. This vista of commercial facilities and warehouses on the Mardas beachfront illustrates Britain’s extensive commerce with the world. In 1639, a British trading corporation was granted permission to establish a factory on a three-mile-long stretch of the shore on the Coromandel. The Nayakas,… Read more »

Mowbray Road, Madras

This photograph, from the late 19th century, is of the Mowbray Road in Madras (Chennai), Tamil Nadu. The long avenue lined with trees on either side got its name after a house built by George Moubray, the Moubray’s Cupola (presently, the Madras Club). George Moubray served the EIC (East India Company) and was the first… Read more »

Madras

This coloured lithograph showing a boat nearing the rough shores of Madras was drawn by Leighton and later engraved by William Frederick Measom (active. 1840-1876) in the 19th century. In 1639, a British trading corporation was granted permission to establish a factory on a three-mile-long stretch of the shore on the Coromandel. The Nayakas, feudatory… Read more »

Entrance to the temple of Kumbakonam

Kumbakonam, a temple town in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu, was an important centre in the Chola kingdom from the 9th through 13th centuries. It is home to twelve major temples dedicated to various Hindu deities, each functioning as a primary centre of ritual throughout the year. Many of the early Chola temples here are… Read more »

Gopuram at Trinpatty (Tirupati), Madras

Located in the Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh, the Govindaraja temple in Tirupati is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the earliest temples, dating back to the 12th century AD. Photographed here is the eastern gopura, also known as the Rajagopuram. Straight ahead through the seven-storey structure the photograph also captures much smaller gopura… Read more »

Madras Talkies – Reading List

Titles from the Sarmaya library that will draw you further into the heart of Tamil Nadu’s culture through music, architecture, photography and art

Thanjavur – Country of Gods & Kings

Between the 16th and 18th centuries, Thanjavur welcomed large communities of Telugu and Marathi speakers as a consequence of Nayaka and Maratha conquests in Cholamandalam. The result was a slow mingling and simmering of cultural influences, resulting in the unique artistic heritage of this temple town

Postcards from Madras

Postcards began at the end of the 19th century as a new kind of crossover between photography and the popular print market. In a collaboration with Picture Postcard Empire, we bring you a virtual exhibition of intriguing postcards from the city of Madras

Madras Talkies

In 1639, a British trading company got permission from the local rulers to set up a factory on a thin strip of the Coromandel coast. Measuring about three square miles and lashed by the fury of the Bay of Bengal, Madraspatnam gave no early signs of the historic metropolis it would soon morph into

The Making of Madras

The history of the Madras Presidency is also the history of an embryonic nation finding its identity under colonial rule. We take you through some key moments, movements and personalities that shaped Madras and what would in time become India

Family Portraiture: An attempt at reading a personal album

We dive into a study of family portraiture with a set of three albums belonging to John Sinclair, the First Lord Pentland, and the Governor of Madras between 1912 and 1919—and draw out the themes that emerge from this treasure trove of 20th-century photography

East India Company, Silver Rupee (Rupiya) of Chinapattam Mint

The East India Company (EIC) had established themselves in the village town called ‘Madrasapattam’ (now Chennai) in 1639-1640. This became the first major English settlement in India. In 1687, Aurangzeb’s conquest of Golconda and Bijapur led to the introduction of silver coins in southern India. The EIC sought permission from the Mughal Empire to mint… Read more »