Which State’s capital was earlier called Madras?

Chennai, formerly Madras, city, capital of Tamil Nadu state, southern India, on the Coromandel Coast of the Bay of Bengal. At the time of its formation in 1950, it included the whole of present-day Tamil Nadu (except Kanyakumari district), Coastal Andhra, Rayalaseema, the Malabar region of North and central Kerala, and Bellary, South Canara. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema were separated to form Andhra State in 1953, while South Canara and Bellary districts were merged with Mysore State, and Malabar District with the State of Travancore-Cochin to form Kerala in 1956. Post State Reorganization in 1956, the remaining Madras State was renamed to Tamil Nadu, meaning “Tamil country” on January 14, 1969.

After Indian Independence, the Madras Presidency became the Madras Province on 15 August 1947. On 26 January 1950, it was formed as Madras State by the Government of India. As a result of the 1956 States Reorganisation Act, the state’s boundaries were re-organized following linguistic lines. The state was finally renamed Tamil Nadu on 14 January 1969 by C.N.Annadurai, Chief Minister.

Over the years, it became a matter of linguistic pride to reclaim the names of cities in the vernacular rather than hang on to the names previous colonial administrators left cities with. These were looked at as an unwanted legacy of colonial rule.

The new name Chennai was derived from the name Chennaipattanam, a town near Fort St. George which the British built in 1639. There are two theories about the name Chennaipattanam. According to the first, the name Chennaipattanam was taken from the name of the Telegu king Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu Nayaka, from whose father they acquired the town in 1639. The second theory is that Chennai is named after the Chenna Kesava Perumal Temple, since the word Chennai means face in Tamil, the temple is considered to be the face of the city.


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