Friday, 18 October 2019

Crumbling Victoria Hostel, Chennai - 119 year old heritage structure awaiting major repair and restoration

an old image of Victoria Hostel, Chennai  pinrest com

In Chennai alone there are hundreds of old colonial and other monuments,  legacies of the British Raj and early colonial rule under the EIC. Historians and heritage lovers  deplore that these structures and others remain neglected  by the city authorities for years together with no basic periodic repairs. It shows lack of awareness of old heritage buildings and their importance  among the public as well as officials  who have scant interest in the  historical value of such heritage sites that connect us with the by-gone era.  There is no realization such old structures ought to be repaired periodically and preserved for the posterity. Further, presentation of our wonderful monuments in style with fine ambiance  will attract lots of foreign tourists who evince keen interest in such buildings steeped in history. The Bharat Insurance building on Anna Salai, Chennai,  a colonial building, is slowly crumbling and, I understand, steps are not yet taken to carry out basic repairs to preserve the building. In 2011, a part of the roof  of General Post office building on Rajaji Salai, Chennai caved in during the monsoon season. For all old poorly maintained colonial structures in Chennai or elsewhere, the monsoon season  every year is a difficult one to pass through. The heavy rains some times cause severe damages and make them weak as years go by.  'It should be borne in our mind that in these  impressive monuments of past era, there lurks in every nook and corner  our history'.


Victoria Hostel, Chennaitimescontent.com
Victoria Students’ Hostel, Triplicane, Chennai, a Grade I heritage structure in the Justice E Padmanabhan Committee report, has been in a run-down state for decades resulting in  leaking pipelines, damaged rooms, broken balconies and toilets,  Recently the government announced that this hostel building would be repaired and restored soon. This 119 year old hostel  in a  narrow lane  is attached to the Madras Presidency College on the beach road, Chennai  and is struggling hard to accommodate about 300 students as the hostel lacks basic amenities and the structure is in a dilapidated state.  An insetting fact about this dying monument is it is  made of wire-cut  red bricks, embodies the signature architectural features of structures designed by the legendary architect  Robert Fellowes Chisholm who also  built the Senate House  on the Beach road, Chennai and Amir Mahal, the official residence of the Nawab of Arcot, an alley of the East India company.

Victoria Hostel, Chennai/timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Established on 30th January, 1900 in the government land by  students and admirers in memory of Rao Bahadur P. Ranganatha Mudaliar, M.A., Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, Presidency College, Madras, Sir Arthur Havelock, Governor of Madras, presided over the opening ceremony of the Victoria students’ Hostel in the presence of many distinguished ladies and gentlemen.  It was built by T. Namberumal Chetty, civil contractor (?). This Hostel has been under  the Government of Tamil Nadu  since 14.06.1987. In accordance with G.O. Ms. No. 608. Education Dept. dated 16.04.1987, the Principal of the Presidency College, Chennai-05 was instructed by the Commissioner of Collegiate Education, Chennai - 6, to run this Hostel.
Victoria Hostel, Chennai .business-standard.com/
There  are about 120 rooms out of which 20 are in very bad condition. Students have to bathe in the open and shell out more than  Rs 1500 a month. Due to lack of space two or three  students have to  share  single rooms. The college authorities say they are dependent on funds from the government for regular repairs, etc. and they can not carry out immediate repairs. The Cm of Tamil Nadu government has given a nod and it means something will be in the offing!!


After several appeals, the officials of the Directorate of Technical Education (DOTE) on a visit to the hostel said steps were underway to get the hostel repaired.  Presumably, it will take a year to begin the restoration process, etc  because of red tape. Conservationists say Victoria Hostel is dying every day because of continuous pipeline leaks, etc and the roof appears to be too weak  to get past the next monsoon season. The students in the hostel need to be shifted to elsewhere for safety purpose.
https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/crumbling-hostel-awaits-monsoon-with-dread/article3988795.ece