Madras/Chennai historian Muthiah dies at 89

Updated on : Apr 20,2019   7:58 pm

Chennai, April 20 (IANS) The chronicler of Chennai history, cartographer and journalist S. Muthiah, 89, died here on Saturday owing to age-related ailments.

The founder of Madras Musings, the free fortnightly that helped many a journalist learn the basics of journalism here, Muthiah also authored and co-authored histories of well-known corporate houses.

He also taught journalism at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan here.

Muthiah was also known as "Mr. Madras" for his love for Chennai that was earlier known as Madras and for his books on the city's history.

He is survived by two daughters Ranjani and Parvathi. Muthiah's wife Valliammai, a practicing company secretary, died some years back.

Born in Ramanathapuram district in the Madras Presidency during the British rule, Muthiah had moved to Sri Lanka early in his life and had his initial schooling there.

Completing his matriculation in India, he went to the USA for higher education and came back to Colombo to start his career as a journalist with the Times of Ceylon.

When the Sri Lankan government turned down his application for citizenship, Muthiah came to Chennai and joint TTK Maps -- a leading publisher of maps -- that was part of the TTK group.

On his retirement, he decided to take up writing and also founded Madras Musings, the pioneer of free tabloid focusing on the preservation of the city's heritage buildings.

When the fortnightly started facing financial crunch, several well-known corporates decided to lend financial support as it was apolitical and the city's heritage as its focus.

Muthiah's sustained campaign through Madras Musings and otherwise to preserve the Director General of Police (DGP) building on the Marina was instrumental in its preservation instead of razing it down to raise a new building.

In 1999, he co-founded Chennai Heritage and was one of the key persons behind the annual Madras Day celebrations.