Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cenotaph of Madras Artillery Officer (1821 CE) at Kathipara Junction, Chennai


Lt Col. Sam Dalrymple of Madras Artillery: Cenotaph near Kathipara Junction
Source: The Hindu November 11, 2009
Ancestor Table
While traveling from Tambaram to Chennai, anyone can notice the whitewashed cenotaph with its prominent cupola bearing urn like finial near Kathipara road junction. There is every chance to miss this monument enclosed within the fence, since any one will be concerned only with the heavy traffic scenario. Kathipara's cloverleaf flyover and road junction  are located south of Guindy at the intersection of the Grand Southern Trunk Road (NH 45), Inner Ring Road, Mount Road and the Mount Poonamallee Road.

If you have not glanced this odd structure, just find out next time when you pass through the Kathipara junction. You may find it in between Kathipara junction and Mohite Stadium on Grand Southern Trunk (GST) Road, the national highway (NH-45). This piece of land including the cenotaph is maintained by the Indian army. Yes this cenotaph was built in 1821 in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Sam Dalrymple of Madras Artillery. Long back the Regimental center of the Madras artillery was located at the St Thomas Mount Cantonment and there was an Artillery Park wherein the present Mohite Stadium stands now.

'William Dalrymple is a British historian, Indologist and writer, art historian and curator, as well as a prominent broadcaster and critic'. Dalrymple first visited to Delhi in 26 January 1984 and started living in India on and off since 1989. Dalrymple visited to Chennai in November 2009 to promote his books. The Hindu newspaper covered his visit and published the front page story featuring William Dalrymple in the Thursday Metro Plus  supplement. The feature also published the interesting picture of W.Dalrymple at the Cenotaph of Lt.Col. Sam Dalrymple (one of his ancestors). He also recalled in an interview (Times of India) that several generations of his family had grown up in Madras. According to him the Madras Artillery officer died in May 1821 at the age of 49 years and this cenotaph was built by the fellow officers.

It is also a surprise to note that how this structure remains intact after the  cloverleaf flyover occupied much of the surrounding land. There was a move by NHAI to shift the cenotaph to the St Thomas Mount Cantonment adjacent to its present location as part of the flyover construction and this was also approved by the Ministry of Defence and even the military officials inspected to evaluate the strength of the structure and its ability to withstand the shift.

As the revised deadline of the flyover completion date forced the NHAI to drop the shifting plan and opted to give a face lift to the cenotaph. 

Reference:
  1. Dalrymple's Madras Connection by Karthik Bhatt. Madras Vignettes 11th November 2009
  2. In pursuit of the past By Parvathi Nayar The Hindu November 11, 2009
  3. The South Indian connection by S.Muthiah  The Hindu Jan 13, 2003
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