Bharat Insurance Co. building, Chennai (owned by LIC) is slowly dying - will it be saved?

Bharat Ins. Co building Chennai.

Above image: An abandoned Indo-Saracenic styled building on  Anna salai Chennai which was once the office for Bharat Insurance Company which later merged with the LIC (1956).   LIC owns the building and the land.................

Abandoned Bharat Ins. Co,

/Bharat Ins. Co  bldg.

On Anna Salai, the Bharat Insurance building stands as an epitome of utter negligence  and it has exposed the apathy  of central and  state officials who are insensitive to this British era structure. It is a fine example of Indo Saracenic  architecture. It an improvised revivalist architectural style mostly used by British architects, particularly Robert Chisholm  in India in the later 19th century. During the Raj many public and government buildings, and the palaces of Princely state rulers were constructed in this style. 

Bharat Insurance co bldg.

.Bharat, bidg. Chennai.

 A decade ago it was facing near death, fortunately the axe was withdrawn and the demolition crew went away. LIC, its owner wanted to build a new structure in its place by demolishing it. The Madras High Court interfered and issued restraining orders to present LIC to demolish the old structure. Way back in 2006 itself LIC was bent on demolishing  the building This landmark judgment in 2010 helped save several such old structures.    In a dilapidated condition, in 2020 the heavy monsoon rains coupled with waterlogging flooding had  impacted it very much. If  nor repaired and restored within a few years it may fall apart and turn into a mound of rubbish and broken fragments.

Originally called  Kardyl building, this huge structure was  built in 1897. Constructed for W E Smith and Company, it was bought by Bharat Insurance in 1934. This insurance company became part of the  Central government government controlled   Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). It is a beautiful building  with  an impressive fa├žade  attractive stained glass panels, domes and minarets and way past it was a famous commercial complex. Dilapidation is writ all over it because of prolonged negligence, and utter lack of interest in its architectural elegance and ethos.  

According to  the LIC  South Zone office, Chennai  it had a proposal ti chip in to renovate the Bharat Insurance co  building with approval from the working committee. The work got delayed on account of COVID -19 pandemic that put the project in cold storage temporarily.

Though continuously  weathered due to time factor and facing near demolition in 2006, this structure barely stands now because of High Court's stay order. In this case, the historians and others hold the LIC for their irresponsible attitude. Had they renovated the building at the right time, much of the damages could have been avoided and it may stand on the Anna Salai with all its majesty and architectural splendor.