Posted by: Ramesha JS | August 17, 2008

Elphinstone Bridge …@ Chennai….


 I went to this place on August 15, 2008 for the photo shoot of Sun Rise, but there was no sight of sun today…any way a enjoyable place…away from crowd…pin drop silence… come let me take u all to this place…………………………………

 For Chennaitie’s on weekend the most hang out place is Elliots Beach alias Besant Nagar Beach. Being calm. Not much crowded (now its almost equal to Marina), cleanness, Being less polluted. Other than this Besant Nagar gets credit by having the most prestigious century old place Theosophical Society of India and Kalakshetra. How many know about another century old structure in ruins just a stone throw away at the end of Besant Nagar Beach? Yes there is a place called Olcot Kuppam a Fishermen colony at the end of Beach.

 Just pass on the slum road for 1 kilometer adjacent to Theosophical Society compound wall, listing to birds songs, sight many birds, people came for jogging, Fishermen haunting with nets in the polluted river and sea… at the dead end you will stand in front of Elphinstone Bridge…popularly called as ‘broken bridge’ across Adyar river, and this the place river meets sea.


Elphinstone Bridge

 – Situated across the Adyar River, the bridge was built to provide work during the catastrophic famine in South India in 1876-1878. As a result of a severe cyclone the observatory anemometer broke down and one of the pillars of the Elphinstone Bridge was blown off.

A survey of pollution in the Adyar River has suggested that it is 98% effluent. Despite the pollution the southern banks of the river, in the grounds of Theosophical society, have remnants of mangrove. This is the mouth of the river and the estuary is home to a wide range of mammal’s and reptiles. But while they still remain, even in diminished numbers, the wild life brigade hopes that an official commitment by authority, to declare what is left as a sanctuary, will be kept.

The conservationists also hope that bird watching can be given a fillip by re-developing the old Elphinstone Bridge of 1840. That bridge, now blocked at both ends by a jungle of hoarding supports and its main stretch overgrown with wild vegetation nourished by the public latrine it is used as, is what the optimists hope can be developed into a beautiful promenade with small parks at both ends, seating arrangements and facilities for bird watching. Dreaming is still free, isn’t it?

 For More photos please clickhere…Φ

Elphinstone Bridge


An extract from Hindu Article published in 2002.

ONCE IT was the southern boundary of Madras and it’s that marker till 1946, The Adyar River rises in the Chembarabakkam Tank and runs 20 kilometers before entering city limits. It then runs about five kilometers in the city before its estuary opens out to the sea. Once, this estuary stretched from close to what is now Foreshore Estate to the southern bank abutting the Theosophical Society’s gardens. In what was essentially a salty lagoon, there were several islands, at least four in a map of 1798, the largest of them called Quibble Island. When and how these islands merged with the north bank I’ve not discovered, but it certainly happened before the late 19th Century. It was some time shortly after that, that the Quibble Island Cemetery came into existence, today, in a nice display of ecumenism, shared by both Roman Catholics and Protestants of all denominations. The change from island to peninsula also created the backwaters that lie north of Quibble Island – as the area is still known. It is these backwaters that are called Adyar Creek, distinct from the Adyar River and its broad estuary with narrow mouth perpetually silted due to the sand bank created by the currents ever since the Harbor’s groynes were built.

The Adyar Estuary, with its remaining islands and mangrove stands on the southern bank, is an area that offers river, marsh, woods, backwaters, islets, sea and open ground which have at times hosted over 150 species of birds as well as small wildlife, including jackals, foxes, wild cats, snakes and other reptiles. Few places in a city anywhere offered better bird watching for the enthusiast. Over seventy migratory species from the far north of Asia used to turn up annually from August onwards and during the summer, it has been a nesting ground for at least 50 Indian breeding species.

No wonder, there was once a huge sign with a map on it, at the northern end of the bridges that crossed the river, proclaiming the Forest Department’s intention to have the area declared a sanctuary. For one reason or another, the sign suddenly disappeared one day, around six or seven years ago, and another sign at the Adyar Creek end was content to proclaim the area a Reserve Forest. Much public interest litigation has gone on for the last five years, over the status of the area and the development taking place in it, but it would seem the conservationists have lost the battle and it is only a matter of time before the fauna in the estuary will vanish forever and the flora stifled.

 How to reach…>This Broken Bridge across the Adyar River is once the lifeline of people travelling from Foreshore Estate to Besant Nagar.

From Foreshore estate u cannot enter this area. Travel till the Besant Nagar, at the end of the beach u can see the Fisher men colony called KUPPAM or OLCOT KUPPAM. Pass on the narrow muddy road further a Kilometer along the Theosophical Society compound wall, u will hit the dead end of the Adyar River. There bridge stands here as a mute spectator for the nature fury.

 Note: Don’t visit this place during the late evening. Place is not safe and it is deserted.  ©Ramesha JS

















  1. Dear sir/madam
    I am so happy with your basic information on Adyar River.It is really good to brainstorm one who has some thing to do with the water quality aspect of this river.

    Please is that possible to get more information about the water quality data and any thing done so far with this regards.

  2. saw your article on elphinstone bridge. got confused between the broken bridge and the old arch bridge.kindly clarify or provide the picture of this arch bridge
    8th feb 09

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