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Road in Besant Nagar
|Named for||Annie Besant|
|Time zone||UTC+5:30 (IST)|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Chennai South|
|Vidhan Sabha constituency||Velachery (from 2010 Delimitaion)|
Besant Nagar is one of Chennai's neighborhoods, named after the noted lady theosophist Annie Besant. It is located on the coast of Bay of Bengal to the east, and bounded by Thiruvanmiyur to the South, Adyar to the West and Adyar Estuary to the North. The Theosophical Society, a worldwide body whose primary objective is Universal Brotherhood, founded in 1875, has its headquarters in this area famed for its Banyan trees and serene settings.
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 Annai 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.
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 is also present in this locality.
The Arulmigu Mahalakshmi Temple is located on the shores of Besant Nagar Beach. This is the only temple dedicated to Sri Mahalaksahmi, the Consort of Sriman Narayanan (Sri Mahavishnu), on the east coast in Tamil Nadu.
In 1971, the present Velankanni Church was a substation of St Louis Church, Adyar. Fr P.T. 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 Viswanathan 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.
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.
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 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.
In October 2015, a popular publication The Hindu introduced the concept of a Car Free Sunday along the beach promenade in order to connect with the local community. In the past year, the Car Free Sunday has become a meeting place for families to walk along the beach, do joint sessions of Zumba, yoga, engage in sport, sing, have a fitness tryout while the kids can cycle, play local, traditional games right on the street, without the hassle and noise of traffic and vehicles.
To the North East is the Fishermen village of Urur Kuppam and to the South East is a Fishermen hamlet near the Velankanni Church.
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 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
- Meduri, Dr Avanthi (2005). Rukmini Devi Arundale. India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited. p. 19. ISBN 81-208-2740-6.
- S, Muthaiah (2008). Madras. India: Association of British Scholars, Chennai. p. 215. ISBN 978-81-8379-468-8.
- "Structure of Chennai" (PDF). Chapter 1. CMDA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-08-26. 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.
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