Victoria Hostel Road, named after the Queen Empress of India during whose reign the British Empire reached its zenith, is a thoroughfare you would normally never take, for it leads nowhere in particular. It is one of the numerous roads that branch off to the right of Bharati Salai as you drive down following Kannagi’s pointed finger, from the beach into Triplicane.
There are just two buildings on either side of this road. On your left is the Government Kasturba Gandhi Hospital. It was founded in 1885 as the Royal Victoria Gosha Hospital for Women, thanks to Mary Scharlieb, who in 1876 was the first woman to be admitted to the Madras Medical College. It was meant for the ladies who observed purdah and was initially located in Nungambakkam before land was granted for it in Chepauk. In 1890, following munificent donations by the Rajah of Venkatagiri, the main block, in true Indo Saracenic style was built and the hospital moved in. In 1921 the government took over its management and in 1948 it was given its present name. Today it is a recognised centre of excellence for reproductive and child health issues and is a premier institution in the field of uro-gynaecology. The buildings in the campus are worth a detailed look for their architectural beauty.
The building that gives the road its name is the Victoria Hostel, which stands opposite the hospital. The College of Engineering operated from the Presidency College before its shift to Guindy and the Hostel was meant for its students. Built in 1900, it is now the common hostel for all of Madras University’s colleges. Construction was by T Namberumal Chetty, the leading contractor of the times. Its reading room is a work of great beauty. The entire building is fronted by a row of arches on all three floors. The building was originally designed to face the Buckingham Canal, but thanks to that water-body becoming a gutter, the entry is now from Victoria Hostel Road. The compound alos houses the Presidency College’s Poondi Ranganatha Mudaliar Block, named after one of its first Professors. The Warden’s Lodge, attached to the Hostel is an Indo Saracenic beauty and fronts the road. It was once the residence of Col. Henry Davidson Love, who wrote Vestiges of Old Madras, among the earliest compilations of the city’s history.
The entire road is a nature lover’s delight for the trees of the hospital and the hostel provide a green canopy. At the end, you are rewarded by a fantastic view of Chepauk Tower, across the Buckingham Canal, which thankfully remains hidden under the bushes. But there is no protection from an attack on the nostrils.
7 responses to “Victoria Hostel Road”
Thanks Sriram for the interesting post. I believe it would be more fun if you could arrange to have snaps of these places along with the accompanying text.
In couple of weeks, am planning to take a short trip around the old and famous pen shops in Parry’s Corner and I can certainly share my experiences in this forum if you will agree.
V Interesting . I would go and vist the place once.
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