SENATE HOUSE, CHENNAI

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Location : Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Constructed Under The Supervision Of : Robert Fellowes Chisholm
Present Condition : Dilapidated


One of Chennai's most impressive architectural marvels, Senate House, at the Madras University campus on the Marina, was constructed under the supervision of Robert Fellowes Chisholm, one of the greatest architects of the 19th century.

This building, whose foundation stone was laid in 1869, was occupied in 1873. The entire structure is a harmonious blend of Indo-Saracenic style, with Byzantine architectural features.

The Building
The Senate House has a central hall on the ground floor, 130 feet long, 58 feet broad and 54 feet high, with the corridors supported by six massive stone pillars on either side. The stone arches between the pillars, with the four towers rising high at the corners of the building, surmounted by exquisitely shaped domes (painted in different colours) gives the building a grandeur that is difficult to match.

The Way In
The main entrance at the north, leads to the convocation hall, while a corresponding entrance, in the South, leads to the rooms on the southern wing. Besides these, there are two entrances on the eastern wing of the convocation hall and two corresponding entrances on the west. Elegantly constructed porticos adorn the frontage of all these entrances. A parapet surrounds each of these porticos, at the corner of which appears a decorated dome of a miniature size.

Initially, the Senate House housed some of the University departments and the offices of the Vice-Chancellor and Registrar. In some of the smaller halls the meetings of the Senate, Academic Council and the Faculties were held. But after the construction of the new departmental library building and later on the centenary building, the use of Senate House was limited to the holding of the convocation and examinations, besides being used as classrooms for teaching foreign languages. However, since 1965, convocations have been held only at the massive centenary auditorium, built in 1960.

Present Condition
The ravages of time and the extremes in climatic conditions have left the Senate House dilapidated; with cracks on the walls and ceilings, broken drainage pipes, damaged flooring and broken windowpanes. Sporadic attempts to renovate were made by way of red oxide painting of the original red brick stones, cementing against original lime mortar plastering and plain glass replacements for stained glass windows.

But, realizing that in restoration, one has to be faithful to the original character of the building, the University authorities have taken concerted efforts to study systematically and obtain technical advice for the renovation. The University has also appealed to alumni, lovers of art, philanthropists, the public and private organisations interested in the preservation of this heritage monument, for funding the renovation of the Senate House.

HOW TO GET THERE

Air: Chennai has an airport with both domestic and international terminals. Regular flights connect Chennai with the major cities within the country and also with countries like USA, Singapore, U.K etc.
Rail: Chennai is well connected by rail with the important towns and cities within and beyond the state.
Road: State transport buses and private buses connect Chennai with the major towns and cities within the country. For local transportation local trains, city buses, auto rickshaws and taxis are available.

WHERE TO STAY

Being the capital city of the state, Chennai is well equipped with various kinds of accommodation options, varying from economic class to luxurious ones.



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