|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Chennai South|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Velachery (from 2011 election)|
Besant Nagar (Tamil: பெசன்ட் நகர்) is one of Chennai's well known neighbourhoods, named after the famous lady theosophist Annie Besant, and adjoins the Theosophical Society. The Theosophical Society Headquarters is located here. It was founded in 1875, and is a worldwide body whose primary objective is Universal Brotherhood and is famed for its Banyan trees and serene settings.
Kalakshetra Academy, the world famous dance school started in 1936 by Rukmini Devi Arundale and her husband George Arundale and their associates at the Theosophical Society which was deeply committed to Theosophy and an arts academy was an extension to this commitment.This academy is also present in this locality.
It is a part of Chennai which is inhabited by many famous personalities and affluent citizens. Alongside are many restaurants, cafes, shops and boutiques. The main attraction is the Elliot's Beach, named after Edward Elliot, Governor of Madras. It forms the end-point of the Marina Beach shore. It has the Velankanni Church and the Ashtalakshmi Temple along the shore and is sometimes nicknamed 'Bessie'. In the colonial era it was a fairly exclusive place limited to expatriates.
The Arulmigu Mahalakshmi Temple is located on the shores of the Bay of Bengal, Besant Nagar Beach, Besant Nagar, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India. this is the only temple dedicated to Sri Mahalaksahmi, the Consort of Sriman Narayanan (Sri Mahavishnu), on the east coast in Tamil Nadu.
Origin:The Vedas and Puranas say that Goddess Lakshmi has emerged from the oceans when the Devas and Asuras churned the Milky Ocean. Mahavishnu married Her and They both fulfill the desires of the devotees. Goddess Lakshmi is the deity who grants the Eightfold Achievements (Ashtama Siddhis) and Eightfold Wealth( Ashta Iswaryam). As both Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi(with Her eight forms) reside in this temple it is known as the Ashtalakshmi Temple. It is befitting to have a temple constructed and consecrated on the shores facing the sea for Goddess Lakshmi whose birthplace is the sea.Consecration (First Kumbhabhishekam Kudamuzhukku):The temple was constructed at the efforts taken by the devotees under the leadership of the erudite Scholar Mukkur Srinivasa Vardachariyar and others. The foundation was laid in the year 1974.The first Consecration Ceremony.(Kumbhabhishekam -Kudamuzhukku) was done on 5 th April,1976.The Department of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments,Tamil Nadu,are administering it.An Executive Officer is functioning as the care-taker to look after the day-to-day affairs.Special Features:Omkhara(AUM)
Shape:The temple was designed and constructed in the shape of ‘AUM’,the First Vedic Mantra, Pranava. The everlasting roaring waves of the Bay of Bengal reverberate the pranava Sound and remind one that the God and Goddess reside in the pranava Sound. As the temple is in the AUM shape it is well known as theOMKHARAKSHETRA.Ashtanga Vimana:As the temple is dedicated to Mahavishnu and Ashta Lakshmis, the construction is on the models of Ashtanga vimana (Eight Parts) style. This is one of the very ancient styles of temple construction. This Ashtanga vimana style is found in Tirukkotiyur Where Sri Ramanuja learnt the meaning of the Ashtakshara mantra at the feet of Tirukkotiyur Nambi, Madurai (Koodalazhagar), Tiruttangal, Kanchi(Vaikuntanathar Temple) and Uttiramerur.This temple has three floors,the Ground floor,the First floor and the Second floor and steps to each floor.This three tier system is the speciality of the ashtanga vimana style.The three forms of Lord Vishnu – Standing,Sitting and Reclining –are depicted in each floor. in the ground floor Mahavishnu and Mahalakshmi are in the standing posture.In the four corners of each of the other two tires are the shrines for the Eight Lakshmis.Generally, temples are built on the basic six principles viz.,Adishtanam (Stationary Place -abode),Paadam ( Feet –pedastal),Prastaram(Walls), Khandam(Neck),Sikaram(Head) and Stupi(Copula -tower).This is known as Sashtangam (Six Parts or Divisions).In Ashtangavimanam,on Khandam,another floor is constructed with Prastaram (Walls),Khandam (neck),Sikaram(head) and Stupi(tower).In this temple.below the Stupi,in the Sikaram area, is consecrated the Dhanalakshmi. on the Precincts,are the other shrines for Gajalashmi,Santhanalashmi,Vijayalakshmi and Vidyalakshmi in the Khandam areas.on the Groundfloor,in the Prastara area,are consecrated the three Lakshmis – Adi Lakshmi,Dhanya Lakshmi and Dhairya Lakshmi.In the main Sanctum Sanctorum is consecrated the deity of Mahalakshmi with Mahavishnu, as the presiding deity of the Temple.As this temple is considered the abode of the Eight Lakshmis (Ashta Lakshmis),it is well known as AshtaLakshmi Temple at Chennai.Under one Vimanam (Turret), eight shrines are constructed sideways and above on the two tiers.
In 1971, the present Velankanni Church was a substation of St Louis Church, Adyar.Fr PT Arulappa, the then Parish Priest, St Louis Church, Adyar and a great Missionary started Our Lady of Vailankanni Church under trying conditions.The Archbishop of Madras Mylapore, Most Rev Dr R Arulappa, erected it as a separate Parish in 1973. The imposing 97 feet belfry was declared open by the then Chief Minister Dr M Karunanidhi 27 August 1972. On 15 August 1985 a bigger Church was blessed and consecrated by Archbishop Most Rev Dr R Arulappa. By the efforts of Rev Fr PJ Lawrence Raj, several extensions and renovations were made to this Shrine. A beautiful community hall, stalls, Museum and class room blocks were constructed. In May 2000, nearly 8 grounds were purchased and a beautiful stage was erected and dedicated to Jubilee 2000. In 2001 a small Chapel for the blessed Sacrament was built. In 2002 a grotto depicting the miracles of Our Lady of Good Health was created. In 2003, Mother Mary’s Square and Reconciliation Chapel was constructed. From 2000 to 2003, 3 grounds were purchased in which the new Convent building stands. On 8 September 2005 this Church was decreed as a Shrine of the Archdiocese of Madras ‘ Mylapore by the Most Rev Dr AM Chinnappa SDB, Archbishop of Madras ‘ Mylapore.
Besant Nagar was developed by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB) in the early 1970s and up to the early 1980s. It was developed in an area of about 4 sq km encompassing the surroundings of Indra Nagar and Shastri Nagar. TNHB developed residential plots, apartments, commercial complexes, wide roads, school zones, bus terminus and large parks. The Central Government Staff Quarters, popularly known as C.P.W.D. quarters, is located here and contributed to the development of the locality. The St. John's English School and Junior College established in 1981, by the late Dr. G. Rajkumar. Just opposite to the school was the residence of (former) World Chess Champion Vishwanath Anand.
The Besant Theosophical High School, The School ( erstwhile KFI School - Krishnamoorthy Foundation of India ), Olcott Memorial School, Arignar Anna Government High School are some of the other schools in Besant Nagar.
Spread over 10 acres of land, The Besant Theosophical High School founded in 1934, is the oldest unit of the Kalakshetra Foundation. Affiliated with the State Board syllabus, the school offers education primarily in Tamil, with option of English medium education from the 6th to 10th standard.It is a Government aided school and offers free education to more than 800 students. A noon meal scheme provides free lunches daily to 300 students. While the school adheres to the requirements of the Tamil Nadu State Board, it has a distinctive atmosphere due to its historical association with Kalakshetra.The school encourages its students to take part in after-school sports, as well as dance and music classes taught by senior students in Kalakshetra's College of Fine Arts.
Olcott Memorial High School (OMHS) is named after its founder Colonel Henry Steel Olcott who founded the school in 1894. The Panchama Free School as it was then called, it was founded to provide schooling access to the children of the fifth caste who were denied access to the regular schools. Olcott Education Society (renamed from Panchama Free Schools Society) the education arm of the Theosophical Society continues to run the school with the vision “Social change through the education of the underprivileged”.The completely free (no fees) nature of the school with Tamil as medium of instruction ensures that the school caters to the children who come from the really socially and economically disadvantaged sections of society in the school’s neighbourhood and to those children whose families have been displaced from Besant Nagar (named after Annie Besant of the Theosophical Society).
The School, KFI has been functioning on leased premises of The Theosophical Society since 1979.The school will shift to a new location and continue its valuable educational work with the help and support of parents, alumni and well-wishers of the school.The location will be announced once the land is finalised. The work of relocation requires financial support. We appeal to all well wishers to participate generously in our effort towards the continuation of this significant educational work. The new residential Krishnamurti school, Pathashaala, near Chennai commenced in August, 2010.
Arignar Anna Govt Higher Secondary School is an English medium school. The school was founded in the year 1964 and it is affiliated to the State board. The school is a Co-educational school and it has classes from 6 to 12. The School does not have a pre primary section.
The Rajaji Bhavan building housing many Central Government offices greets you as you enter Besant Nagar. It also houses a Railway Booking counter for the convenience of the residents of the locality as well as for the other areas around Besant nagar.
Besant Nagar is an excellent example of organized government town planning by Tamil Nadu Housing Board (TNHB). Originally a quiet residential area, the popularity of the nearby Elliot's beach has led to a steady increase in traffic and commercial activities.
The Reserve Bank of India staff quarters, The CPWD Quarters housing the officials of various Central Government departments, The Customs Colony, The Government Officials Cooperative Housing Society residences, and the TNHB housing buildings all laid out in neat fashion, along with modern individual residential buildings all add charm and order to the locality.
Besant Nagar has got the Electrical Crematorium facility, which is modern and recently well landscaped too.
The Electricity Board office is adjacent to this crematorium.The Public Distribution System outlet, popularly called the
Ration shop is on the main road.
Behind the Rathinagireeswarar temple a park belonging to the GOCH society, which was once upon a time well maintained is now waiting for emancipation by the society.
A small traffic island at the northern end of the 6th avenue is recently being given a facelift, which will hopefully be maintained well in the days to come also.
A well maintained, but relatively small park is available at Kalakeshetra colony, and is well put to use by the residents of the area for their walks and jogging activities.
Of late there is an attempt to form a Cycling track in the 2nd avenue, and depending on its success, it is sought to be extended.
There is a police station in Besant Nagar, and it is called the Shastri nagar police station, and is near the Bus terminus. Near the Bus terminus also is the Government run liquor shop popularly and officially also called the TASMAC shop.
On the Elliots Beach, near the shore, is an old memorial in memory of Kaj Schmidt who drowned near the spot in trying to save the life's of others.
More recently old buildings have been pulled down by the owners individually and collectively and have built new posh residential complexes adding beauty to the place.
Besant Avenue - the road leading from Aavin Park to Besant Nagar - is quite busy and is shady due to trees planted on either side. Apart from the usually crowded and extremely vibrant Elliot's beach, it is also home to many popular places of worship - The Varasiddhi Vinayaka temple (inaugurated in 1977), Ashtalakshmi Kovil (1976), Arupadai Murugan Kovil (1986), Ratnagirishwarar Kovil (1968) and the Velankanni Church.
The area also boasts of a wide variety of eat-outs from different parts of the country and globe like Besant Fast Foods, Heritage, Anjappar, Eden, Cascade, Lotus Pond, Vishranthi, Planet Yumm, Fruit Shop on Greams Road, Mash, Beach Palms (Neiydhal Panaidhal), French Loaf, Murugan Idli Shop, Tasty Jones, Nandanam, Dhabba Express, Barista, Cozee, Cake Walk, KFC, Dindugal Thallappa Katti Biriyani, Costa Coffee, Cafe Day,Dhabba Express, Karakudi Chettinad, Hotel Ponnusamy, PUPIL, Sub Way, Krishna Sweets, Thamizhini Inippaham and Haven Sampoorna that reflect the growing multiculturalism of the neighbourhood. Some residents have counted up to 50 restaurants/eateries in the neighbourhood between Mahatma Gandhi Road and Fifth Avenue.Some smaller take away joints like the Frankie, the Peta Wrap, the SwadSalai add variety and flavor for the people on the move.
Organic product outlets like the Eco-Nut and Annai Organics serve the discerning public of this area providing them with a huge range of organic products and health foods.A lot of organic and health food products from the hill station of Kodaikanal are available at the Eco-nut.
On Sundays especially, one can find Organic farm produces like farm fresh greens and vegetables being sold on the 6th avenue by professionals and amateurs alike. Early morning joggers and walkers refresh themselves with tender coconuts, fresh mushroom and other soups.Children and youngsters play Frizbie, football and Cricket and some even volleyball, especially on the week-ends and holidays, in the beach.A Roller Skating rink near the Church caters to the training and skating needs of all, especially for the children and tiny tots are often found honing their skills with their parents and coaches watching over them.
Watching the early morning sun rise is a treat available for all, at almost all times of the year.
The beach and the 6th avenue are the venue for many events like the Vintage Car Rally, Half Marathons, the Army Band, Musical and Promotional events, Food Carnivals and many more.
A host of banks and ATMs are available at short intervals like no other place: The State Bank of India, The State Bank of Travancore, Canara Bank, Indian Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, ICICI Bank and HDFC Bank to name some of them. ATMs ranging from the Dhanalaxmi Bank, to the Standard Chatered Bank to the Citi Bank apart from the ATMs of the banks mentioned above cater to a wide range and types of account holders.
The exclusive Gym for Women is Pink near the Church, and for others you have the O'2 the Post Office and the RAY at the end of the Bus terminus.
There is a good Community hall being run efficiently by the TNHB ( Tamil Nadu Housing Board ).This is used by private individuals as well as by various organizations for functions like marriages, exhibitions, cultural festivals etc.( e.g. the Bengali Association of Chennai, every year, hosts a function on the festive occasion of the 'Dassera' in this hall ).
Local big brands like the Wood Peckers Furniture shop, Fab India fabrics and accessories shop, Fashion Folks, Naturally Auroville and other branded shops are there in Besant Nagar.
Mid-level hospitals found here are Shanthosh Hospitals and The Elite Asian Hospital.
It has also a book store in ' Words and Worths' in the basement floor of Ramaniyam arcade, where the Cascade hotel is present. The Spencers Daily and the Nilgiri's supermarket also provide a variety of provisional items. Limelite is one of the most elite unisex salons here.
All the above have made this place a preferred destination and a dream place for the choosy to own a home or may be even an office!
What was once a truly middle and upper middle class conservative place (though cosmopolitan, even then in many ways), in the early 70s' has now metamorphosis ed into a predominantly upper class area with strong roots to tradition and culture.
To the North East is the Fishermen village of Urur Kuppam and to the South East is a Fishermen hamlet near the Velankanni Church.
For fish and sea food lovers one can get fresh fish and other sea food for cooking at their homes.
There is a fish market authorised by the Government near the Church and another near the Bus Terminus for the Fisher folk to vend their catch.
There is also an outlet for fish marketed by the TATA Group in association with the Government department at Kalakshetra Colony in Besant Nagar.
There is a well equipped modern Post Office in Besant nagar, serving the general public with a smile.
The uniqueness of this place is that it is bound fully on the east by the Bay of Bengal ( Elliots Beach ), on the South by the Kalakshetra Campus, on the North by the Theosophical Society and its sprawling forested green campus ( with the Adyar Estuaries still further to its North) that except through the Besant Avenue in the North-West, the approach from Shastri nagar in the west as two points, there is no chance of any traffic congestion for many many decades to come.The only traffic that will come and go out of Besant Nagar will the ones used by the residents of the area themselves and the evening and week end traffic to the Sea-side.
The only threat to this situation could be a possible elevated corridor planned by the State Government, which is presently shelved for Ecological reasons and due to opposition by well meaning Environmentalists and Social Activists.
Consequent to all this the Real-Estate value and price of this place is only soaring with each passing year !!
The Besant Nagar bus terminal is used by 85 different buses making 500 trips every day. Around 4,000 people use the terminal every day.
In October 2012, the Metropolitan Transport Corporation (MTC) decided to convert the Besant Nagar bus terminal into a depot. The depot will be 70 percent larger than the terminal. The depot is being built at a cost of 5 million and is expected to be completed in less than a year. connects area like Perambur, Vadapalani, ICF, T.Nagar, K.K.Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur, Mylapore, Tondiarpet, etc
Location in Context
||Mandaveli||Adyar Estuary / Raja Annamalaipuram||Bay of Bengal|
|Adyar||Elliot's Beach / Bay of Bengal|
|Adyar||Thiruvanmiyur||Bay of Bengal|
- "Structure of Chennai". Chapter 1. CMDA. Retrieved 24-Feb-2013.
- Hemalatha, Karthikeyan (18 October 2012). "MTC to turn Besant Nagar bus terminal into depot". The Times of India (Chennai: The Times Group). Retrieved 23-Oct-2012.