Ayanavaram or Ayanpuram is the area that everyone forgot. As the name suggests, it must been a region of cowherds at some time in history. Prof KV Raman, in his Early History of the Madras Region states that the place is first mentioned in a 12th century inscription in Thiruvallikeni. Today it is a small postal district of Chennai, bounded by Perambur to the north, Konnur and Villivakkam to the west, Purasailwakkam and Kilpauk to the south and Otteri to the east. It has one PO – Ayanavaram.
Small though it may be, it has a lot of history. Firstly, a significant portion of the railway colony Perambur is actually in Ayanavaram and that includes the Perambur Railway Hospital. Many of the roads here commemorate the men who worked for the Madras Railway Company – Constable, Phipps, Bamford, Brock and Pilkington being a few. The whole of the loco works and the wagon and carriage workshops fall within Ayanavaram as does the Integral Club and the ICF Silver Jubilee School. It is no wonder that Ayanavaram is often referred to as a part of Perambur. Till the 1940s it would seem that this was so, for the maps do not speak of this as a separate area at all.
But at least a century before the railway colony came the Kasi Viswanatha Swami Temple and the Tawker’s Choultry and Agraharam. I have written extensively about this shrine earlier in my blog and will not repeat myself here. Suffice it to say that the temple and its surroundings retain the atmosphere of a traditional village even now. The management is entirely with Gujaratis of the city, many of whom have been settled here for centuries. The temple was known for its Carnatic concerts at one time, with Flute Mali being a regular performer. He somehow had a fascination for the place. He is also remembered with fondness at an Ayyappan temple in the same area.
Ayanavaram is known for its Pinjrapole – the shelter for aged and dry cows. Begun by Sir Arthur Lawley and Justice HT Boddam in 1906, it was managed by the SPCA till 1948 when it was separated and became a self-governing body. It still fulfils the function for which it was founded. Also associated with Ayanavaram is Aavin – it had its genesis here in 1927 when the Madras Milk Supply Union was founded as a co-operative. The first in South India, it is today known as the Kancheepuram Tiruvallur Milk Co-Operative and based on its success came several others in the State. The Diary Development Department came about in 1958 to oversee all the milk unions and that in 1981 became the Tamil Nadu Co-Operative Milk Producers Federation, with the brand name Aavin.
Another major institution here is the Employees State Insurance (Hospital), which began in the 1950s and then had major expansions in place from the 1960s.
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