January 7, 2018

The Banking Heritage Building of Madras

The Colonial Madras, especially the George Town locality, had a lot of splendid Indo Saracenic structures. Thanks to our heritage enthusiasm, not many of them survive today. I wonder how many of us are really interested to appreciate the heritage value of those few surviving structures. The building near GPO, where State Bank of India is functioning in Rajaji Salai, is one of those few structures that is lucky enough to survive.

This iconic building is a good example of Indo Saracenic architecture style. The famous Henry Irwin was the architect of this structure. Namperumal Chetti was the building contractor. The construction of this building was started in 1896 CE. The structure has some historic values related to the banking heritage of the city. It was the head office of the Bank of Madras. Now, it houses the State Bank of India. The brief history of the Bank of Madras becoming SBI is given in the next paragraph.

Although the Nagarathars used to provide banking services to the public and even to the royals, the first formal bank could be dated only in 1680's when the Madras Bank was formed. Almost after a century (in 1788 CE), the Carnatic bank was established. In 1795 CE, the Bank of Madras and in 1804 CE, the Asiatic Bank, were formed. All these banks were combined as a single unit as Bank of Madras in 1843 CE. In 1921 CE, it merged with the Bank of Bombay and Bank of Bengal to become the Imperial Bank of India. On 1st July 1955 CE, the bank was renamed as State Bank of India.

Thus, this historic building which had the Bank of Madras continues to house SBI. It has witnessed the transmission in the banking industry for the past 150 years.

Happy travelling.

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