Demolition of Gokhale Hall

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Gokhale Hall a 90-year old building on Armenian Street and one of the landmarks in Chennai's Carnatic music circuit faces the prospect of at least a partial demolition. This is mainly due to the crying need for maintenance, during which retaining the weak old structure may be unfeasible. Predictably, there are concerns that a fine old architectural showpiece may be replaced with another of those concrete monstrosities that dot the cityscape.

It is owned by YMIA, a youth development trust founded by Annie Besant. The structure was built with Ms. Besant's financial backing and the main hall was named after Gokhale, the leading light of the Freedom struggle. Associated with many landmark events of the Freedom struggle, the hall has also been the venue of many of Ms. Besant's lectures.

Gokhale Hall has hosted Carnatic music too, right from the early forties, with all the leading musicians having performed there. Even though acoustics is not one of its major plus points, old timers recall with nostalgia, some of the thrilling performances of greats like Ariyakudi and Madurai Mani Iyer. The Indian Fine Arts Society used to hold its annual series here. Present day musicians too have performed at the Hall, though regular concerts have dwindled.

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