While the rest of the city tries to do something “different” to commemorate their love for Madras, here’s a little something that no one has seen anything like.


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Every picture has established how this glorious city has changed over the years, and how few things haven’t changed at all. Raunaq Mangottil captures the old and the new and gives you a feeling of traveling time in a single image.

If this touched your heart in any way and rekindled old memories and stories, share it with everyone you know. Cheers, and Happy Madras Day!

All new images shot and edited by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

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Higginbothams, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Started by an English librarian named Abel Joshua Higginbotham, Higginbotham’s, arguably India’s oldest bookstore opened its doors around 1844. By the middle of the 20th century, Higginbothams expanded to almost all of the railway stations. Higginbothams remained the largest bookstore until the 1990’s.

Now: A visit to Higginbotham’s is like stepping into a whole other world, going back in time, with the arterial Mount Road / Anna Salai outside constantly buzzing with traffic and the Metro Rail construction. What’s amazing is how they managed to maintain the building so well, even if it’s lost most of its customers to its competition.

Old image: thealternative.in

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Famous Casino Theater, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: It was a time when Mount Road was a cart track leading from Fort St.George to St.Thomas Town, as well as functioning as a haven for film buffs. Casino was one of the first few theaters of Madras, and screened only English films for a long time. It was a sophisticated work of art than just a movie theater. In the old image you can see “The Virginian” playing at the theater.

Now: After several attempts to revive it, Casino is now unfortunately a terribly-managed lost landmark. However, thanks to Street Art Chennai, the theater now sports a striking portrait of Madhubala, and a bit of its old-world charm.

Old image courtesy: The Hindu

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madra

First Line Beach Road, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: There was no Burma Bazaar back in the day, yet, First Line Beach Road was one of the main commercial centers of Madras. And right opposite the line of buildings, the road would open up to the Beach Station and then harbor. Imagine walking on those roads with absolutely no traffic!

Now: Traffic speeds by between the iconic SBI Buildings and Burma Bazaar, the haven for smuggled goods.

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Spencer Plaza Signal, Mount Road, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Even in the 60’s, apart from Ambassadors, bullock carts frequented Mount Road. There’s no median, and you can see the Kashmir Art Palace, the Old Curiosity Shop and Agurchand Mansion leading to the LIC Building.

Now: Do we really need to talk about the frustrating one-ways?

Old image: The Hindu ( http://bit.ly/1JlrYhn )

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

The Hindu Office, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Commuters stop by to check ongoing Test Match scores on the manually-operated scoreboard on the balcony of The Hindu office.

Now: You can hardly stop for more than a minute outside the Hindu office today, thanks to the wonderful, constantly moving traffic. The traffic is such that it even warranted a subway to cross the road to the side that hosts the defunct Secretariat.

Old image: The Hindu

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Higginbothams, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Another shot of India’s then-largest bookstore as vintage cars park comfortably, and its occupants to grab their favourite literary classics. The building next to Higginbothams is Poompuhar, the popular textile shop.

Now: If you park outside Higginbotham’s today, you’re probably gonna be pulled over by the cops for obstruction of traffic, thanks to the Metro Rail work going on the right opposite.

Old image: housing.com

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Chennai Central Station

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Old ambassador taxis plying in and out while the rest of the commuters preferring to take a cycle. Before its expansion in the 80’s, Madras Central station was a relatively calmer, charming alighting point.

Now: A symbolic landmark of the city, Chennai Central looks as majestic as it ever was, but terribly buzzing with thousands of people who visit it every day. And unfortunately, the Central signal has become a nightmare for those who’ve visited it(pretty much every Chennaiite)

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Egmore Railway Station

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: History says that “Madras Egmore” was previously a fort called the Egmore Redoubt, a place used to store ammunition for the British.

Now: Even with CCTV cameras and round-the-clock security, Egmore Station still retains its old-world charm and calm(relatively) in the otherwise buzzing Egmore area.

Old image: Wikipedia

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras

Ripon Building, Chennai

Source: www.facebook.com

Then: Constructed in a Neoclassical style, the all-white Madras Corporation building was one of the finest structures in Madras, with its own pond that you can see.

Now: Off-limits to passers-by, it is now impossible to even stop and stare at the Ripon Building which is now shielded by the Metro Construction blue sheets. Which makes this one of the toughest shots to catch!

Old image: http://www.chennaibest.com/discoverchennai/sightseeing/history/img/oldripon.jpg

New image: Shot by © Raunaq Mangottil | I am Madras