Site Meter

Photography: Glimpses Of Old Madras

Photography: Glimpses Of Old Madras

I reproduce here some vintage photography of Chennai or Madras as older generations still like to call the city.

These photos have appeared elsewhere before and in my understanding the copyrights on them have expired. Quite nostalgic they give glimpse into the city that still lies beneath the modern high-rises, concrete flyovers and shopping malls.

The old Madras is still present to a certain extent but for how long? Recently there have been plans announced to bring the demolition workers to some buildings of distinct heritage value. Voices of concern and a call for more aware development policies have been raised also.

Development is essential, as is constant change, yet one still hopes for some restraint and patience so that Chennai will continue to be the jewel among cities that it is if you have the eyes to see.

Higginbotham's Bookstore

Aerial View of Marina Beach

N.S.C Bose Road opp. High Court (old Esplanade)

Esplanade during busy hour

Madras Central Station

Egmore Station Exterior

Egmore Station Interior

Egmore Station Waiting Room

Old Mosque of Madras

Old High Court of Madras

Spencer's Departmental Store

The Old Esplanade

The Madras Ford Showroom

Bank of Madras

The Map of Madras 1909 (click to enlarge)

Subsribe to the RSS feed or get Finndian delivered by email      


Books, music & films I review on can be purchased at the store:

49 Responses to “Photography: Glimpses Of Old Madras”

  1. Thomas says:

    Very nice photos! Thanks for posting them.

    Egmore station looks slightly different these days 🙂

  2. rajesh says:

    nice to see all these pics.. good job. happy to see these pics… 🙂 need much more pics about madras.. old madras seems to be better than the present chennai.

  3. Chandramohan says:

    Thank you so much for this photographs.

  4. Aparna says:

    Thank you very much Aleksi for the post. I have goosebumps looking though the pictures

  5. junaid says:

    nice picture can you addmore

  6. jakkiriya says:

    nice photos and well enjoyed.,

  7. jakkiriya says:

    well old photos.,

  8. Dr Ajit Bhalla, Geneva says:

    Interesting photos of old Madras. I would like to use the image of Madras High Court in my forthcoming book on the Glimpses of Imperial India. Would you be able to provide a high-resolution image?

  9. Aleksi Lausti says:

    In my understanding they should be in public domain by now…lovely photos indeed!

  10. S.prakash says:

    Always old is Gold and also best for ever.

    Thanks for sharing a Awesome photos.

  11. rex says:

    Very nice pictures. Thanks

  12. suresh says:

    olden days are golden days. Like to see more pictures of Old Madras

  13. M from Chennai says:

    It’s lovely to see these pictures. Could you please add more detailed captions to each picture so we know where they exist today? It’s very sad that the government does not try to protect these old heritage buildings.

  14. sundaram says:

    thanks,unknown pictures of this generation.thanks for posting the photos

  15. anbuinba says:

    This is an enchanting photograph. always people like this

  16. hus says:

    thanks for posting them nice photos

  17. Babu says:

    Excellent photo’s. Non-Pollution Chennai. Enjoyed the old Madras photo’s!

  18. priya says:

    I Am very happy to see my old Chennai City photo’s

  19. MAHESH says:


  20. Ramanathan says:


    I saw the old map of Madras, seeing a large water body named “Long Tank” & “Nungambakkam Tank”, does any one know what happened to those water bodies now??

    Aleksi, Thanks for the photos.

  21. Aleksi Lausti says:

    Yes, would be interesting to know if anyone has any info on this!

  22. raman says:

    these photos are very memorable our life history for new generations,

  23. Aleksi Lausti says:

    That is very true Raman, thanks for your comment!

  24. hamsalakshmi says:

    It is a very great job, These photographs tells us the changes undergone in the last century. I wish to thank you for the excellent photographs. Can you add any more?

  25. yaathinraj says:

    old is gold nice image beautiful stills

  26. Aleksi Lausti says:

    Sorry for the late reply Hamsalakshmi-ji, I am looking for more photographs to post for everyone to enjoy…

  27. Paul -Toronto says:

    Hi Ramanthan

    To answer your query on ‘long tank’ and ‘nungambakkam tank’ read mr.muthiah’s madras miscellany column in the Hindu on the same subject ,today’s T.nagar and Valluvarkottam sit on these erstwhile water bodies so does Loyola college ,the water was drained into the Adyar river starting in 1920 up until 1930.Prior to this The Long Tank was the regatta arena for the European elite of our colonial masters and the original home of the Madras Boat Club,the total area of drainage was about 1900 acres by the City Improvement trust ,hope this answers your query and Aleksi thanks for the vintage arm chair travel thro time of my beloved birth place – singara chennai or nalla Madras !!!

  28. old is gold nice image beautiful stills

  29. vere nice pic & vere happy

  30. prabhakaran says:

    happy to see old madras

  31. Chandru says:

    happy to see them!!! Missed those days!!!

  32. Siva says:

    Ignorance is a bliss, truly! Being a die hard Madras fan and a native of Madras (my forefathers held high positions in the British offices), the technology, demand, corruption and population factors had totally deprived Madras of its beauty. I wish I was born then. Thanks for all the pics, they were closer to heart!

  33. joe prasath says:

    Superb photos… i cant believe in those days itself Esplanade & Mount Road was too busy…..!!!! anyway… i need more more more photos of olden Madras from the year of 1638 with titles in English & Tami…. who ll help to me….? or tell me the Websites… Thank u….

  34. nivedida says:

    thank u sooo much for such beautiful pics of madras im much interested to know how the present city was looking in those days. :))))))))

  35. Aleksi Lausti says:

    I am also searching for more old photos but am not sure if photography was around quite as far back as the 17 century…anyhow if anyone has some links to vintage photos please post here 🙂

  36. Aleksi Lausti says:

    You’re welcome 🙂 A beautiful city Chennai…even today!

  37. Rupa Kalidoss says:

    I would love to purchase some of the prints of old madara..I am doing a wall full of pictures about our life..and it would not be complete without a picture of Marina beach and madras central station..could you please let me know if these prints are for sale..lovely pics BTW!!

  38. V.Shankar says:

    Please some snaps of Madras with Trams as local transport.In UR I travelled to old Madras.I still remember my grand Maya giving me Tram add a photo of Moore Market.Thanks. SA N

  39. devika says:

    nice to see

  40. devika says:

    happy to see old madras

  41. jyothi says:

    thank you for these great pictures!

  42. Raj says:

    Chennai daa

  43. wilson says:


  44. Aleksi Lausti says:

    We all do 🙂

  45. V V Raghavan says:

    One of the photos tiled ‘Mount Road’ ( third one) actually taken shows area North of the High Court & Law College (facing the camera rather!). It is part of Esplanade ( Netaji Subhas Chanda Bose Road). I have lived within a kilometer of this place (1948-1961). I am now 74.

    The title needs to be corrected . You can call it N.S.C Bose Road opp High Court ( old Esplanade). In local slang it is still ‘China Bazaar’ as it was in early 1900s!


    V V Raghavan

  46. Thank you sir. You are right, I corrected it.

  47. Arul Malar Neeyam says:

    Hi I’m looking for high resolution pictures of old madras to design a photo wall. Would you be able to share the high resolution images?
    Dr. Arul Malar Neeyam

  48. Anand says:

    Hi Aleksi Lausti,

    I have one photo of Mylapore Kabaliswar temple taken in 1903. I would like to sell it could you pls let me know where in chennai i can sell it.


  49. prakaash j says:

    The name Madras has a more emotional connect than chennai. Madras is a historical name too..Moreoever the city’s name was changed in order to have a tamil name..but recent research shows the name chennai is clearly not of tamil was named after a telugu ruler Dharmala Chennapa Nayakudu..whereas the name Madras originated from a fishing village north of St Fort George, Madrasapattinam..this name is even found in a inscription belonging to the Vijayanagar empire back in the 14th century..which clearly proves that the name Madrasapattinam was in use well before the entry of British…anyone can check this on any website..
    Its high time that the city should be renamed back to Madras and bring back the legacy..This can be done by uniting like minded people and give a suitable representation the the government. Your comments & action welcomed..

Leave a Reply