Mount Stuart Eliphinstone Grand Duff, Governor of Madras (1881-1886) of British Colonial Government finds this exotic seafront amazingly beautiful and creates a promenade calling it – ‘Madras Marina’!.
Marina Beach as it’s been called even to this day is the world’s 2nd longest beach at Chennai (known earlier as Madras) – the first city of modern India! – a city founded and established 376 years ago! August 22nd is celebrated as ‘Madras Day’. Marina Beach is primarily the longest sandy beach 6 kms on the promenade stretch, further extends 13 kms along the coramandel eastern coastline of Bay of Bengal. This shoreline extends from Fort St.George all the way to Mahaballipuram. The promenade is the breathing-hub of every citizen of the city today, called Chennai! Be it the city marathon, beach volleyball tournaments or a simple social evening rendezvous point among friends & family! National days functions like Independence day are all held here! Each day 30,000 people visit this beach extending to 50,000 over the weekends! Pongal or Tamil new year’s day sees a record of 1,50,000 visitors celebrating on this major open space at Chennai – the Marina Beach! Ganesha festival immersion is another sight to be witnessed!
This beautiful seafront is mentioned by writers and poets in the 7th century in their epics! Citizens of Chennai proudly guard this promenade and oppose any construction activities along this line – be it elevated roads or buildings by it’s forum – ‘Save Chennai Beaches!’
This lung space of the city witnessed the wrath of the 2004 Tsunami! Sea bathing & Swimming are not allowed here, it’s dangerous because of under currents and turbulence and has witnesses at least 5 deaths each year inspite of being a guarded beach! The debris of trumpship S.S. Damatis sunk in the 1966 cyclone acts as a death trap too.
Marina loses 40 sq.mts each year due to erosion. The beach front increases each year! The beach front today is approximately 500 mts. today. The facade of the beach sees a lot of monuments & statues of national and political importance. The area afront the beach sees beautiful old buildings facing the sea! A beautiful functional light house built 40 mts. from the sea front serenades the beach, it’s one of India’s 13th light houses aesthetically adding value to the beach – a heritage property! One can elevator up 9 floors (46 mts. up) for an aerial view, 57 mts. up is the light source! This is the fourth light house location at Marina Beach which was moved around to help the sea faring folks. It helps sailing crafts 28 nautical miles away! Among the world’s places to see, Marina beach stands 52 on the world’s list!
Today Marina beach is governed by the Corporation of Chennai city and just is a mini commercial market place of middle class amusement! Hundreds of eatery & amusement stalls dot the place robbing of it’s pristine beauty! It’s become an amusement park catering to entertainment of urban middle class folks! Need a good beach here move down further south towards Mahaballipuram or Mamalapuram as its called to quieter seafront resorts and less sandier beaches. Marina beach is beautiful during sunrise! The world always looks good at sunrise & sunsets – bright lights and harsh lights in between robs it’s aesthetic beauty. Marina Beach, the second longest beach should be restored to it’s natural pristined beauty and glory. Man made amusement parks could be sectored and sectioned at a geographical area of lesser importance.
Jagdeesh Laxman Singh
aka Jugie Singh
Text & Photography