The Madras Light House (சென்னைக் கலங்கரை விளக்கம்) is a lighthouse facing the Bay of Bengal on the east coast of the Indian Subcontinent. It is a famous landmark on the Marina Beach in Chennai, India
. It was built by the East Coast Constructions and Industries in 1976 replacing the old lighthouse in the northern direction. The lighthouse was opened in January 1977. It also houses the meteorological department and is restricted to visitors. It is one of the few lighthouses in the World
and the only one in India with an elevator.
The present lighthouse is the fourth lighthouse of Chennai. Before the end of the 18th century, when Madras was an open sea shore, where goods were loaded and unloaded from boats, bonfire lit by fisherwomen was used to guide the menfolk to the shore. The arrangement of exhibiting light to assist British East India Company's vessels arriving at Madras and to enter the port during the 17th and 18th centuries is not known since no record is available.
The first conventional lighthouse started functioning in 1796 when the terrace of the officer's mess-cum-exchange building (the present day's Fort Museum at Fort St. George) was chosen as the site for the first warning beacon which used a large lantern to aid vessels approaching the port in preventing the risk of shoals of Covelong in the south and the hidden sand banks in the north. This lighthouse with the oil wick lamp functioned till 1841.
The Chennai Lighthouse District
The Chennai Lighthouse, along with 23 other lighthouses along the eastern, southern and western coast of the Indian peninsula, comes under the administration of the Chennai Lighthouse District. In accord with the Lighthouse Act of 1927 and the Lighthouse (Amendment) Act of 1985, the Chennai Lighthouse District comprises under its jurisdiction part of Kerala State which is south of latitude 9º00'N and state of Tamil Nadu, which is south of latitude 13º00'N and west of longitude 80º30'E and the union territory of Pondicherry.
The Towers :
The entrance channel tower (date unknown)
Located north of the port, the entrance channel tower is about 24 metres (79 ft) high with a focal plane of 26 metres (85 ft), flashing white, red and green lights, and the tower is visible only from a distance closer to the entrance channel. This tower was assigned an Admiralty number of F0938 and NGA number of 27074. This tower is still active.
The fourth tower (1977–present)The present lighthouse is a triangular cylindrical concrete one with lantern and double gallery and is 11 stories high. The tower is attached to a three-story circular harbour-control building. The total height of the tower is 46 metres (151 ft) with the light source standing at a height of 57 metres (187 ft) from the mean sea level. The source consists of 440V 50 Hz main supply (with standby Genset).
Chennai Lighthouse is one of the 13 lighthouses in India that are identified as heritage centres to portray maritime history of India.A lighthouse museum has been planned at a cost of INR 50 million.The union shipping ministry is planning to build museums, rooms, cafeteria, souvenir shop, viewers gallery, 4D cinema hall, gaming zone and aquarium at the Chennai lighthouse.
Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships has planned the remote control and automation of lighthouses in Cochin, Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata directorates at a cost of INR 304.5 million.As a first step towards automation of lighthouses, Radone, an equipment that can detect radar signals from ships and helps captains identify the location, has been installed on most lighthouses.
The automation of lighthouses in the Chennai Lighthouse District is estimated to cost about INR 50 million during the 11th Five-Year Plan.The 22 lighthouses in the Chennai Lighthouse district will be monitored and controlled from conveniently located positions termed as Remote Control Stations (RCSs). These RCSs will be ultimately linked to Master Control Station, proposed to be located at Chennai for effective control.
The lighthouse is located on Kamarajar Salai (Beach Road) opposite the office of the Director General of Tamil Nadu Police and All India Radio's Chennai station. The lighthouse marks the end of the promenade on the northern half of the Marina Beach. It is also the junction where Kamarajar Salai, Santhome High Road and Dr.Radhakrishnan Salai meet.