Shoreline striking elusive elegance
A classic landmark of Chennai with glittering waters in the heart of Besant Nagar and the shores of Bay of Bengal, the “Edward Elliot’s Beach” is a charming and sparkling stretch of sand prominent at the end of Marina.
The early morning phenomenon that leaves its visitors spellbound is the flap of pigeons’ bedlam in an astounding pattern off and on a dune. The saying – Birds of a feather flock together, is a proven sight at the shoreline, captivating the interest of almost every visitor until the sun peeps out of the sky.
The whirl of congregating flight of pigeons in front of the K.A.J Schmidt memorial makes the bandwidth of landscape an addiction to keep watching. The guarded grey piece of monumental structure is the resting place dedicated in honor of Karl Schmidt, a Dutch citizen for his gallantry act of laying life to save a drowning English woman, a brave incident with a fountainhead that occurred on December 30th, 1930.
The beach once upon a time being a part of Madharasapattinam (The fishing village), then gaining precedence of Madras, and now, popular in Chennai was frequently visited by the Britishers. Hence with the history in the colonial era, the beach is named after Edward Elliott who presided over the Madras governance as Chief Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, son of erstwhile Governor of Madras, Hugh Elliott.
From the time then to times now, it’s an alluring visual and a picturesque sight to gaze and experience sunrise and sunset. The Chennai populace recognizes this tranquil foreshore as Besant Nagar Beach or Bessie beach, extremely busy in the mornings and evenings.
A start of the day at the Bessie sands at dawn would show a world of wonders making it a happening place that leaves the heart clinging to the seashore forever. The short and sweet coastline is home to a lot of small businesses and people’s livelihood which is prevalent in the dusk.
However, the dark side of the yellow and blue ochre is the litters onto the land and ocean. Though beach clean-ups and installation of dustbins are rampant, civic negligence of waste disposal is on the rise day after day making crows and stray dogs quite visible trying to search for food from the garbage thrown. The line is a treasure chest for a foray of rag pickers who collect plastics to exchange for some money.
The sound of the waves swashing to the shore and swaying back generating wind currents of soothing land breeze (in the dusk) and calming sea breeze (in the dawn) would remind the travellers to conserve, preserve and protect what’s beautifully and artfully bestowed by nature at Chennai.
The paradox is Elliot’s beach has earned a reputation of being one of the cleanest and pleasant beaches in the city. The very look of it and a relaxing stroll in it makes the fact surreal and questionable!
With a high frequency of visitors, and being a tourist spot, the dramatic stretch of line requires attentiveness and consciousness to keep it clean and maintain the cleanliness. Being adjoint to Velankanni Church shrine and Ashtalakshmi Temple, the beach is also a place of God and Mother nature which is to be worshipped with respect.
The short and sweet coastline faces the city, with an upfront of Banyan enclave alongside the Theosophical Society, Adyar founded by British theosophist, socialist, and woman activist, Anne Besant in the late 19th century after whom the territory is named as “Besant Nagar”. Theosophy (the art professing mystical insights about God and the world) is naturally spoken by the beach belt scenery, a creation that echoes an admiring heart with unspoken and unheard revelations and reverberations.
Time and Tide wait for none. It’s a highly crucial juncture that the civic engagement in the maintenance of the Bessie Beach, linger for its longer life of elusive freshness, tranquillity, beauty, elegance, and splendour.