This is an area that is dominated by one facility – the Chennai international and domestic airport. The other significant presences here are the St Thomas Mount (though not the St Thomas Garrison Church, which falls just outside Chennai 16) and Cowl Bazaar. There are three POs here and they are all listed under Kanchipuram and not Chennai. These are Alandur, Chennai Airport and St Thomas Mount. 

The Mount is of course the most significant spot – legend has it that St Thomas was martyred here. There is a church on the hill and the steps leading to it were contributed by Coja Petrus Uscan. The steps have on their side depictions of the incidents when Jesus halted carrying his cross. St Thomas’s Mount is a place of great pilgrimage. But for the British it was where their garrison was housed. It was also, prior to the discovery of Ooty, where they went to recuperate from illnesses. The water at the Mount was in particular considered very sweet and good for health. The other historic marker at the Mount has to do with the 1802 Trigonometric Survey of India. The one-time army presence (it still exists not far away) is remembered in names such as Hussain Subedar, Vembuli Subedar, Sanyasi Subedar and Nathed Subedar Streets, as also Lashkar (Camp) Street. There is a Kotwal Street and also an Asharkhana (AfsarKhana) Street. There is even a battlefield dating to 1759. Wonder what happened there. Cowl Bazaar (and there are many in India), is at the other end of the airport and it too has to do with the army presence. The qaul in Urdu is a word of bond or a promise that allowed allied civilian services – merchants, chandlers, prostitutes and other suppliers to the army to settle near a camp. It is now also referred to as Goul Bazaar. At one time, a number of heritage bungalows stood on the southern side of the Grand Southern Trunk Road, facing the airport. Most had a military history and have steadily made way for newer constructions. One such is the Oberoi’s Trident. Begun by the Rane Group, it changed hands when they lost interest in hoteliering as a diversification. Trident takes its name from the Trident Submarines, introduced in 1980!

The less said about our airport the better now but it has had a great history. Despite all its drawbacks, it remains one of the most accessible metropolitan airports, served by several means of public transport including the Metro. I have a full article on the airport elsewhere on this blog and that can be read here