D. H. Rao: The man who creates a stamp for Madras

Madras Week is about people of the city volunteering to celebrate this city. In ways they can and on themes that they are familiar with. Started in 2004 with a few events, this event has grown with over 100 events this Madras Week, which is tapering off.

One man from this area who has taken a keen interest in the celebrations is D. Hemachandra Rao.

This resident of Virugambakkam has made some unique, signal contribution to the city besides hosting events as part of a group.

This year, Rao helped to release a Special Postal Cover on a city theme. The theme; Transport in Madras.

The cover features a image of a load carrying boat going down the Buckingham Canal near the General Hospital Bridge and close to Central Station, somewhere in the 60s of Madras.

On the flip side, it had smaller images of various forms of transport in the city – a tram, PTC bus, steam loco, boats and Matro rail that we hope to see in motion later this year.

Rao has also created five postal stamps for this occasion – this year Madras celebrated 375 years of its foundation.

Each My Stamp, as it is called carries some of the transport images.

The special postal cancellation features a cattamaran, possibly the earliest form of transport in this region.

All this has been his initiative, with support from a loosely strung Chennai Heritage Lovers Forum. And it has taken them at least 5 months of work. Thankfully, the Postal Department of the region were hugely supportive of Rao’s venture and that took the load off his back. It also helped to get decent funding from Nalli Kuppuswamy Chetti.

Forum colleagues like Winston Henry have also lent a hand.

The cover and stamps were released on Madras Day – August 22 – at Clive Hall – at Fort St George. Rao had a torrid day but this week, as he relaxes at his house in Ilango Nagar Annexe he is getting calls from Assam and Gujarat, from Goa and Kanyakumari for the special covers.

“These are great souvenirs whose value will be really high in the future. That’s why only collectors know the value now and grab them,” says Rao.

This year, Rao also presented an exhibition on the Buckingham Canal; ideated by the British during the famine years, started in the city, developed to the north covering present Andhra Pradesh, linking all east flowing rivers and then developing it southwards ending in the Marakkanam Lake you see as you travel down the ECR to Pondy.

Rao had traveled along and in the canal for most parts, taking pictures of what is left for the original – the many locks and jetties.

” In Pulicat, fishermen offered me a seat in a boat and showed me some locks,” says Rao, while in Basin Bridge he had to walk through slush and shit to do his job.

Rao, a professional civil engineer and a veteran numismatist and collector no spends much time at the Tamil Nadu Archives in Egmore, researching. ” The state officials have been nice to me after they realised the work I am doing!”, he quips.

Rao is often invited by schools to host his collections. He says he obliges only if they are serious and spend time and money on the show.His address – No.8, Illango Nagar Annexe, Virugambakkam, Chennai 92.







The Madras Special Postal Covers can be bought from Rao. Each cover costs Rs.50 and carries with it the special postage stamp too. A set of five covers are on sale and that costs Rs.250.

Rao has also produced picture postcards on the Transport theme. A set of five costs Rs.100 and are also on sale now.

Rao also has some of the previous Madras covers that he brought out – one on bridges, another on light houses.




This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014 and is filed under News, People. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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