Marina Beach is situated along a 12 km shoreline in the city of Madras was the novel idea of Governor Mountstuart Elphinston Grant-Duff ( 1881-86) who though considered a administrator and a great admirer of natural beauty. It stretches, in all its glorious width, from the harbour to Elliot’s beach, beyond Adyar River along the Bay of Bengal which is part of the Indian Ocean.
அண்ணா சமாதி was built in 1970 at a place where the beach drive starts. In 1988, MGR சமாதி was constructed. This is another commemorative garden next to அண்ணா சமாதி. Between அண்ணா சமாதி and the lighthouse, there are innumerable number of post- independence statues of varying degrees of artistic competence.
Triumph of Labour and Homage to Gandhiji. Both these statues were created by the outstanding sculptor, Debi Prasad Roy Chowdhury who was appointed as the first Indian principal of the Madras School of Arts and crafts.
Later as a prelude to the இரண்டாம் உலகத் தமிழ் மாநாடு in 1968, eight newly erected statues of important historical figures from Tamil Culture were unveiled on the Marina Beach, Madras. The eight statues were of the following historical figures :
Constanzo Beschi , who is also known by his Tamil name of Vīramāmunivar (வீரமாமுனிவர்) or Constantine Joseph Beschi (8 November 1680 – 4 February 1747), was an Italian Jesuit priest and a missionary in South-India, and also a renowned poet in the Tamil language. His statue was unveiled by Mr.Arulappa
Avvaiyar (ஒளவையார்), who lived during the Sangam period, was the court poet of the rulers of the Tamil Dynasty. She travelled from one part of the village to another, sharing the gruel of the poor farmers and composing songs for their enjoyment. Her statue was unveiled by Mr. S. S. Vasan.
Bharathidasan (பாரதிதாசன்) (April 29, 1891 – April 1, 1964) was a twentieth century Tamil poet and a rationalist, whose literary works showcased socio-political issues. His writings served as a catalyst for the growth of the Dravidian movement in Tamil Nadu. In addition to poetry, his views found expression in other forms such as plays, film scripts, short stories and essays. His mentor was Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi (after whom he called himself “Bharathidasan”). His statue was unveiled by Prof. Mu. Varadharasanar.
George Uglow Pope was born on 24 April 1820 in Prince Edward Island in Nova Scotia. His family migrated to England when he was an infant. He left for South India in 1839 and arrived at Sawyerpuram near Tuticorin. This Pope turned into a scholar of Tamil, Sanskrit and Telugu. He started several schools and taught Latin, English, Hebrew, Mathematics and Philosophy. His popular translations include Tirukkural and Tiruvachagam. His statue was unveiled by Bishop Lessley Newbegin.
Thiruvalluvar (திருவள்ளுவர்) is a celebrated Tamil poet who wrote the Thirukkural, a work of ethics in Tamil literature. His statue was unveiled by Tamil scholar, Ki.Aa.Pe. Visvanatham.
Subramanya Bharathi (சுப்பிரமணிய பாரதி) (December 11, 1882 – September 11, 1921) was a Tamil poet from Tamil Nadu, India. He was a revolutionary freedom fighter and a social reformer. His statue was unveiled by Namakkal poet, V.Ramalinganar.
Kumarasami Kamaraj (காமராஜ்) better known as K. Kamaraj (15 July 1903 – 2 October 1975) was an Indian politician from Tamil Nadu, widely acknowledged as the “Kingmaker” in Indian politics during the 1960s. He was the chief minister of Tamil Nadu during 1954-1963 and a Member of Parliament during 1952-1954 and 1967-1975. He was known for his simplicity and integrity. His statue was unveiled by His Excellency, Sri. Mohanlal Sukadia- Governor of Tamilnadu on Oct 3rd, 1976.
Subhash Chandra Bose, born on January 23, 1897; presumed to have died on August 18, 1945 (although this is disputed), was popularly known as Netaji (which literally means “Respected Leader”). He was a legendary figure in the Indian Independence Movement. His statue was erected during the Centenary Celebrations and was unveiled by Honorary Chief Minister M.Karunanidhi on Dec 15th, 1997.
Kannagi (கண்ணகி), a woman from Madurai who is the central character of the Legendary South Indian epic Silapathikaram. Legend has it that Kannagi took revenge on the king of Madurai, for a mistaken death penalty imposed on her husband, Kovalan, by cursing the city with disaster.
The actual statue was unveiled during இரண்டாம் உலகத் தமிழ் மாநாடு. This was demolished by the Tamil Nadu Government on Dec 10, 2001, as part of the modernization drive of the beach, which led to huge protests and demonstrations by the opposition DMK party. When the DMK later came into power, it was installed in the same place by the DMK party Chief M. Karunanidhi on June 3rd, 2006.
The old saracenic buildings dotting the other side of the Marina are remainders of the Bristish Raj!