Impressive colonial structure - State Bank of India building, Chennai

Bank of Madras building, Chennai 1900s

The capital of Tamil Nadu, Chennai (Madras) has countless European-style buildings  which still remind us of colonial  legacy and glory. Many of them are fairly preserved and some need proper care and attention. Despite the march of time and vagaries of weather that will normally impact the old structures, here in Chennai, the old British buildings have not yet lost their charm and beauty. They stand apart among the cluster of new concrete structures surrounding them. One of the Victorian-style buildings is what was then called Bank of Madras building. 

Chennai map. Maps of India
If you happen to visit the  Beach Road closer to the famous landmark Parry's  corner, Chennai,   you will be amazed by the beautiful colonial structure that brings out the combined effects of  fusion of Hindu and Saracenic architectural styles that are marked by impressive towers, domes and pillars.  Established in 1843, The Bank of Madras, one of three Presidency banks of British India  moved here in 1898 to cater to the baking needs of the traders and companies mostly owned by Europeans.There existed many small regional banks  and the Bank of Madras was formed on 1 July 1943 by merging  the regional banks with Head office at Madras. In 1921, for administrative purposes, it was merged with other  presidency banks to form Imperial Bank of India. Later, it became what is now called the State Bank of India, the largest and oldest banking  company in India.
The Bank of Madras, c. 1905,

The credit goes to Governor William Gyfford (1681-1687), who in 1683, established a bank upon consultation with his council.  A Finance Committee was formed in 1805 on the recommendation of Gov. Sir William Bentinck  and it recommended the establishment of first  government bank in colonial India under the East India company rule. Thus Bank of Madras came into being which  took over Lord Krishna Bank; it began functioning from 1 February 1806. In the early stages, the bank was operating from the Exchange Building (that houses the present Fort Museum within Fort St. George). Being a joint stock company founded in 1843, the initial capital was Rs 3 million with the merging of Madras Bank, Carnatic Bank (1788), the British Bank of Madras (1795), and the Asiatic Bank (1804). The Bank of Madras had a net work of many branches covering major cities and towns across the Presidency (all southern states).
Bank of Madras building, Chennai.
In May 1876, the three banks - Bank of Calcutta, Bank of Bombay and Bank of Madras were brought under the Presidency Banks Act to be governed by similar rules. The three banks  were bankers to the government and were mandated to manage and circulate the new currency. The unique aspect of Bank of Madras is, in the absence of a Central bank with special banking powers, it acted as a Central authority and carried on certain functions that are the preserve of a Central bank. One of the main functions is it issued bank notes in the Madras Presidency, besides taking care of the banking needs of the Presidency of Madras and Government offices. It also managed the Public Debt Office of the Government of Madras.
In 1897 as the necessity arose the Head office was shifted to a new building on South Beach Road, Madras. A sum of Rs.100000.00 was spent on the plot and the building was designed by Col. Samuel Jacob, a famous architect well-known in Colonial India. Later, it was re-modified by Henry Irwin (1841-1922). The construction work was given to a reputed Indian builder Namperumal Chetty and the total cost was Rs.300000.00. This impressive old structure is a good example of Victorian style building in the heart of Chennai city.