Tracing the Emden

We hear people referring someone in Tamil as, “Avan periya Emden!” But do you know who the Emden is? It is a German cruiser which attacked Madras on Sep. 22, 1914, during World War I. The cruiser attacked Chennai late in the night at 9.20 p.m. and moved away the shores quickly. V. Sriram, city historian explained all this and more at the heritage walk organised for the Madras Week on Aug. 31, 2014 at Madras Port.

About hundred people assembled at the Reserve Bank of India at around 6.30 a.m. and the walk ended at 9.30 a.m. The Royal Madras Yacht Club (RMYC) organised this event. The name ‘Royal’ was given because, the British usually went in the yachts. Only two cities in India have the term ‘Royal’ in their yacht club. One is Madras and the other is Mumbai. The RMYC is inside the Madras Port, which is a high-security area due to the presence of Navy and coast guard.

“The harbour was near Fort St. George and was later shifted to the current place.” There was no Marina beach till 1850,” Sriram said among many interesting facts. “Srinivasa Ramanujam and Anatharamakrishnan of Amalgamation group had worked for the Port Trust,” he continued his stories about the place. The walk was full of energy, fun and information.

V. Sriram is passionate about Chennai’s history and Carnatic Music. He has written several books and conducts heritage walks regularly in Chennai. He has conducted more than forty walks in the city and aims to complete a hundred. He blogs at

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