The plaque, which commemorates the building of the Marmalong bridge in 1726 — the oldest across the Adyar River — by Armenian merchant Coja Petrus Uscan, had disappeared from sight a few years ago owing in part to neglect and to construction work along the Saidapet Bridge. But now, the Armenian consulate in the city, in collaboration with the highways department, has managed to restore the plaque in its original spot.
“In February, a group of 20 Armenians had visited the city and they went to see the plaque,” says Shivkumar Eashwaran, honorary consul general of Armenia in Chennai. “They were upset that the plaque was virtually underground. There was an outcry in Armenia and in India,” he said.
Eashwaran was directed to the highways department, which helped dig out the plaque and restore it to its former glory. Most of the plaque was underground and had to be dug out using a crane.
“It was restored last week. We are building a granite structure around it to protect it,” said N Shanthi of the highways department.
“There was a celebration in India and Armenia when we shared pictures of the restoration. The Armenian press has covered it as a matter of pride,” says Eashwaran. The plaque will be officially unveiled after the elections in May.
The Marmalong Bridge was built at Rs 1 lakh and dedicated to the city. Uscan had decided to settle in Madras after coming to the city in 1724 and paid not only to build the bridge but also for its upkeep.
The Marmalong bridge was replaced by the Marimalai Adigal Bridge. The plaque has inscriptions in inscription Persian, Armenian and Latin.
Three years ago, history enthusiasts in the city created a Facebook page “Retrieve the Uscan Stone” to draw attention to save the plaque.