Windows to a vanishing heritage

Windows of the crumbling Bharat Insurance Building
Windows of the crumbling Bharat Insurance Building

Another view of the partially demolished Bharat Insurance Building. The High Court ordered a stay on demolition based on a  case was filed by INTACH.

The building has been in the half-demolished condition for the last 10 years or so.




Early morning sun makes its own patterns in the partly demolished Bharat Insurance Building (Kardyl Building). The 120 – year old building was a grand specimen of Indo-Saracenic style.

This shape resembles the old arcade game Pacman, nibbling away what remains of the building.

Nasty and Dynasty

Urinating on a poster
Urinating on a poster, in Anna Salai

Committing nuisance in public and posters extolling a dynasty, a politician or a film star –  common sights in Chennai

Divine Intervention or Detererent?

divine blessings
Divine blessings. A scene in Seven Wells

A scene in Seven Wells, Chennai.

The image of Jesus could several purposes. Protections of the vehicle or prevention of people dumping garbage, committing nuisance or just squatting in front (note the concrete with sharp stones projecting).

Temple Ecosystem

Cat in Varadarajaswamy Temple
Cat in Varadarajaswamy Temple, Kanchipuram

Does the kitten know that it is in the 1000-year old Varadaraja Swamy Temple built by the Cholas? Does she know that the temple is one of the 108 Divya Desams venerated by the Alwars and Acharyas and where millions throng for darshan? Does she know that she is standing on a pillar where master craftsmen of the Vijayanagar era have carved exquisite battle scenes? Does it know that it is eating the famous Puliyodarai prasad offered to Perumal?

It may not. It is concerned about its survival. This is part of the large eco-system of a Hindu Temple.

Please also see: Eyeing the Golden Throne

And this one: Complete with Cute cat 

And this: Cats and Gods

Oh God, forgive me for stealing your milk.

This one is from Sree Mallikeswarar Temple, Thambu Chetty Street, Mannady, Chennai photographed in  2011


Funny Signs

Funny signs Chennai
Funny signs Chennai

Human trafficking?

A sign posted on an electrical junction box (RMU)  in Adyar.

A common sight.

A nice weekend outing near Chennai

Many of us lament that unlike Delhi, Bangalore or even Trivandrum Chennai has fewer options for weekend outings near the city.

On closer examination, I find several options ex-Chennai which are not well known or well presented by the authorities and enthusiasts.

One such is the Nelapattu bird sanctuary in Andhra Pradesh which is a little over hundred kilometres from Chennai.

Along with 3 NRI friends (birders &  photographers), I visited this place recently and was happy with the experience.

From Chennai hit the Madhavaram roundabout and take the Calcutta Highway.  Getting into the Andhra Pradesh border you cross Tada and Sullurpeta.  Just after the toll booth, take a right turn under the flyover. There is a railway line to cross after which you take a left turn into a village road. One kilometre down this road you can see the gate of the Sanctuary on the left.

The Sanctuary is open from 8 a.m. till 5 p.m.

Entry ticket for adults is Rs. 25. Camera Rs.100 Binoculars Rs.50. Car parking Rs.100.

The car can go inside up to the tourist Centre parking lot. On the way, we could see a Deer Park and a few cottages under construction. The Sanctuary has an area of about 400 hectares In the middle is water body which with its trees form the centre for the Birds to flock and roost.

There is a well-designed path about 500 mtrs long encircling the pond with convenient viewing Towers.

Being a weekday there were hardly any other visitors and we had the entire area to ourselves. I can imagine the crowd during weekends with school children, picnickers, tourists and others besides serious enthusiasts.

The Sanctuary is famous as the largest Pelicanary. Besides pelicans, there are several aquatic birds including open-billed storks, ibises, herons, and egrets. {see photographs}

A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A view of the Nelapattu sanctuary
A pelican in flight
A pelican in flight

Even in February, it was quite warm and we carried our own water. The centre had provided mineral water bubble tops at various places. And there were signs of a small canteen and a tuck shop.


The Calcutta Highway (GNT) is fairly good but be prepared for speed breakers, barricades, and traffic indiscipline., There aren’t many options by way of restaurants on the way unlike the Chennai-Trichy and Chennai-Bengaluru highways. If you are fussy about food, better carry with you as we senior citizens did. We supplemented it with some  snacks on the way.

The staff at the centre were very friendly and ready with information. Being first week of February there were lots of birds. A few weeks later, it may not be the case.

We got quite a lot of good frames and were overall happy with the experience.

On the way back we went into the Sriharikota Road through the Sullurpet town hoping to see more birds especially flamingos but we were disappointed. We just had a glimpse of the Sriharikota Gate and some egrets and herons in the receding backwaters and saline marshland. Pulicat Bird Sanctuary Information Centre which was partially closed informed us that we were too late as the birds left in January.


65-year-old Hair Cutting Saloon

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Mathi at work in the 65-year old saloon
Mathi at work in the 65-year old saloon

Jothi Hair Dressers started in 1952 still continues on the busy Roypettah High Road just near the Police Station despite all the developments around it. The coziness and clutter of the 65-year-old saloon still attract some regular customers as seen here. Mathi, the current owner continues the tradition.

Regular customer
Mathi  & a Regular customer

No wonder it attracted the photographers form the Photowalk too.

How to photograph in a confined and cluttered room
How to photograph in a confined and cluttered room

Today’s Chennai photo blog is from the Chennai Photowalk #118  Royapettah

The Young Swami

ayyappa swamis
Ayyappa swamis

Three Ayyappa Swamis including a toddler relaxing near the Kapliswarar Temple, Mylapore.



Bioscope returns

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modern bioscope
modern bioscope


In the days of Multiplexes and Netflix, it was interesting to see a modern version of the old bioscope. Bioscope was a staple in most temple festivals of olden days. Short film strips were exhibited in a small box. Viewers looked through peepholes and lenses.

I saw a modern version of it in a recent Pongal vizha in a suburban school. Interestingly, the box had a feed from a laptop placed on top. Happy to see that it was popular enough among the children to pay Rs 10 for a short peep. The exhibitor looked quite happy too and so were the curious viewers.

I also recall the old Tamil film song, “ Paaru, paaru nalla paaru, bioscope padatha paaru…. click for YouTube