Man who owned a Train, 99 homes and a famous place in Chennai

Man who owned a Train, 99 homes and a famous place in Chennai

We all have heard that an individual owns car, bus, private planes and even ships. But have you heard of a man who use to own a train? Yes, a Tamilian owned a Train in Chennai.

He is none other than Diwan Bahadur Bearded “Namberumaal Chettiar”. He is also the man behind the history of Chetpet in Chennai and has played major role in building most of the famous red stone buildings in Chennai. Victoria Public Hall, High Court in Paris Corner, Government College of Architecture & Sculpture in Egmore, Government Museum, Kannimara library are some of his creations to name a few.


Mr.Namberumaal was one of the famous building contractor¬†in 18th century. His house is named as “White House” which is still there in Chetpet behind Dr.Mehta Hospital. White House has 3 floors and 30 rooms which is currently turned as Museum and open for public view. To add more fascination, this house has full of vintage collections from China, Japan, Italy, England and many other countries. He owned 99 houses in Chennai which is the highest for anyone till date and for some reason he never acquired his 100th house.

The land from Egmore’s Pantheon road to Harrington road once belonged to this legendary man. Hence this area is named as “Chettiar Pettai” which over the time has become “Chetpet”. He is one of the early B.A. graduates from Chennai University. He has held many significant posts including Indian Director at Imperial Bank (later as Grindlays and now part of Standard Chartered Bank). Was nominated to Rajya Sabha from Chennai constituency. First Indian to own an imported foreign car (French Duggan) which is now owned by Vijay Mallaya¬†who has preserved this car as one of his greatest vintage collection.

Namberumaal had donated most of his fortune for the development of Sanskrit language, development of temples, Poor people education and medicine. Many schools in Chennai along with Chetpet’s Seva Sadhanam group, bearded Nacharamma hospital still runs under his trust organizations. It is impeccable to say that he was one of the legend who was behind the growth of Chennai.

He had bought a train for his personal use which ran between different cities. The train was parked in Chennai Central Railway station when he was not using it. It is his name that Chetpet has today and amazing to see this philanthrophist’s contribution to this place.

Hope you all liked this post. Good to go back and know our history!

Share via comments if you know any such historical facts…

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