Pachaiyappa’s College in the Flower bazaar area of Black Town (George Town), Chennai 1910

Pachaiyappa’s College & Flower Bazaar Chennai 1910

Pachaiyappa’s College & Flower Bazaar Chennai 1910

Above are the rare pictures of  Pachaiyappa’s College & Flower Bazaar, Madras (Chennai) in 1910, then it was part of George Town (earlier it was called Black Town). The  college functioned in the building in the early period and after its shifting the building  became a prominent town hall built on the model of a Greek temple, Athens with tall circular Doric columns. 

The building is on the right side and you can  see an electric  tram on the street  and the overhead wire. In the early 1950s I myself travelled on the tram along with my dad to several places including Mylapore and Egmore and I never came to  Gorge town, Towards the middle and later part (if I remember correctly)of the 1950s  the tram service was given up for good and the reason given was it caused traffic congestion and accidents  on main arterial roads. 

The college was started by  a trust in  the name of Pachaiyappa Mudaliar who was a Dubash - interpreter and commission agent with the British East India Company.  He made a vast fortune far beyond our imagination at a very young age of 25. 

When  he died in 1794 at a young age of 40 he had left behind a huge wealth worth over Rs.6 lakhs in cash, bonds, jewels, etc. As he remained unmarried through out and in the absence of a legal heir, some of his relatives started legal battle that lasted for a long time over the wealth of Pachaiyappa  who mentioned in his will:   

dedicating, with full knowledge and hearty resignation, all his wealth, in the absence of any male issue, to the sacred service of Siva and Vishnu and to certain charities at various temples and places of pilgrimage, to the erection of religious edifies, to bounties to the poor, to seminaries of Sanskrit learning and to other objects of general benevolence”.

It was  famous attorney  George Norton finally came up with an amicable solution forty years after Pachaiyappa’s death.  What he did was,  out of Rs.8 lakhs, he had set aside Rs.4.5 lakhs for establishing various educational institutions around the Presidency. The Board of Trustees first started a primary school; and as the response was good they built a hall to house the "Pachaiyappa's Central Institution. "The foundation stone of the hall was laid by George Norton on October 2, 1846 and the building was inaugurated on March 20, 1850. In the later years it became an intermediate college. 

It was in 1906, the Maths genius Srinivasa Ramanujan, a native of Kumbakonam upon his teacher's advice, came to Madras to pursue higher studies. He joined  Pachaiyappa's College in Madras, in the F.A. class again. Unfortunately, owing to poor health he could continue his studies only for three months  and later dropped out. This genius of international name was once a student of this hoary institution. 

Pachaiyappa college was shifted to the present location due to space crunch.