(Compiled from Office Records)

The Vysya community, usually blessed by Dhanabhagyalakshmi with great wealth is also noted for its charitable disposition. The two Calavala brothers have shown to the world at large that the Channel of Charity, if it is to be of lasting benefit to humanity, should be vidyadhan. They shed a beacon light to those who long to do acts of charity as well as to those doubting Thomases who are still hesitating.

The Calavala brothers were doing a profitable business under the name of King & Co., dealing in high class timber from Burma and costly spirits like Scotch Whiskey from Great Britain. There was no black market then and the two brothers were content with small profit earned by honest endeavour. Their wealth increase steadily and surely and brought a wider business. Their policy of honest, truthful and contented salesmanship increased their wealth largely and they came to be called Timber Kings’ and Merchant Princess. They were held in high esteem and great respect. Both the brothers were unassuming in manner, despite their huge wealth.

The elder of the two brothers was Cunnan Chetty garu who lived mostly in ‘KINGSTON” on the Poonamalle High Road in Kilpauk, where the present Trust Board has located the “Seetha Kingston House School”. He had a house “Calavala Gruham” in Govindappa Naicken Street, where the Management Office of the Trust Board is located. He spent his last days in this house and died there on 5th August 1920.

The younger brother C. Ramanujam Chetty lived in his bungalow, “KINGSFORD” in Mc. Nicholls Road in Chetput. There was a lot of visitors and each visitor was presented with a gift of a rupee coin. An old Telugu Brahmin, Venkatasubbiah was entrusted with the task of giving away these presents and the present of a Rupee to each visitor, was to meet the rickshaw fare.

Both the brothers donned their bright caste marks, the Thengalai Naman, after the usual bath. As the younger brother was a little fairer in complexion than the elder, the mark on his forehead, preserved it brightness all throughout the day. They had each a Thengalai Sri Vaishnavite Brahmin to cook and look after Puja. They would eat only after the daily Puja was done and neivedyam was offered to the family deity in the house.

The two brothers were of a religious bent of mind and had done several Ubhayams (festivals) in various temples. There is a big mansion - like Choultry in Sriperumbudur, intended for the members of the Vysya Community to stay there during festivals connected with Sri Ramanuja. This choultry had been planned and built by the Calavala brothers. The marble plaque fixed there contains the legend, “RAO BAHADUR CALAVALA CUNNAN CHETTY AND DIWAN BAHADUR CALAVALA RAMANUJAM CHETTY - Vysia Ramanuja Kootam, Sriperumbudur”. Thatthe Choultry was built in the life time of the brothers was confirmed by Mathusri Dosu Kannammal, the daughter of the late Ramanujam Chetty.

CALAVALA CUNNAN CHETTY had already started Charitable institutions of different kinds. His charities were many-sided. He had been managing a Middle School at Trivellore. Several night schools in Madras and one in Tiruninravur. Free supply of pure milk to the poor children was another notable form of charity. Many other benefactions were listed in his will.

While the elder brother was doing so much, the younger, perhaps out of modesty and respect for the elder was watching and biding his turn to emulate his borther. Just then, one Mr. Desikachari, Proprietor of Ally Brothers (a firm of carriage builders on Mount Road), and a close friend of Ramanujam Chetty was maintaining a Middle School in ‘Brixton House” in Purasawalkam High Road. It was struggling for existence for want of funds. So at the instance of Mr. Desikachari, Ramanujam Chetty consented to be the President of the School Committee, paying a monthly contribution of Rs.100/- as his donation. This continued till his death. The school was named C.R.C. MIDDLE SCHOOL which later on became a High School Afterwards it became the present SIR M.C.T. MUTHIAH CHETTIAR HIGH SCHOOL.

When the Perambur S.A. SECONDARY SCHOOL needed a beneficient patron, Mr. Bashyam Ayangar, an assistant of the School approached Mr.Ramanujam personally and requested him to take over the Management of the School. Mr.Ramanujam accepted the proposition. Then in September 1914,

S.A.V. SCHOOL became Ramanujam Chetty’s S.A.V. SECONDARY SCHOOL under the personal care and supervision of Calavala Ramanujam Chettiar. The school came to be located in a bungalow in Teads Garden with open space all round.

In 1917, New Year Honours List greeted Mr. Ramanujam with the title “RAO SAHIB”. He was appointed SHERIFF of Madras that year.

June 1919, threw the school in utter gloom. Our Proprietor who had just been awaded Dewan Bahadurship in the King’s Birthday Honours list, took ill. Inspite of the best medical attention, he could not survive. Under these circumstances, the elder brother to perpetuate the useful work of his younger brother accepted to be the Patron of the School. Soon Cunnan Chetty was given the title of Rao Bahadur. The British Government awarded such titles in recognition of yeoman services rendered. RAMANUJAM CHETTY was posthumously awarded the title of DIWAN BAHADUR.

                The change of Management took place in August 1919 and from then on the school came to be known as Rao Bahadur Calavala Cunnan Chetty’s High School. Cunnan Chettiar was the first correspondent after the take over.


Dharmamurthi Rao Bahadur Calavala Cunnan Chetty Garu, who has earned undying fame by establishing a number of charitable  institutions, was born in the Calavala family in the year 1869. His father, the late Mr. Chellam Chetty Garu was a prominent member of the business community of the time. He had been a senior partner in Messrs. King and Company. After having received his education in ‘Pachaiyappa’s College and the Christian College both of the City of Madras, Mr. Cunnan Chetty Garu took his father’s profession. As a result of his persevering efforts to expand his business on a large scale. Messrs. King and Company, today, has acquied unique popularity and prestige. All are aware that he has concentrated on merely amassing money, but that he has been spending it on a number of benefactions. There is no one who does not praise him.

Ordinarily, a rich man can help the poor by providing educational and medical facilities. Mr. Chetty Garu lavished his wealth magnanimously on these two items of charity, considering it as merely ephemeral, that which will not accompany us after death and which is no more than a trifle. He is spending more than Rs.50,000/- annually, on the charitable endowments instituted by him in the city of Madras and other places. Though notwellversed in Sanskrit, he established a Sanskrit College at Triplicane and has been spending Rs.450/-a month on it to popularise the study of ancient Sanskrit texts. From out of his benefactions are a primary School for girls at Chintadripet, a Girls’ School in Narayana Mudali Street and another school in Thambu Chetty Street. The Middle School at Trivellore and the School at Mambalam were established by him. Andalso giving financial aid to the school, at Needaamangalam. Numerous elementary schools were started by him for the poor in the City of Madras and other places.

It is remarkable that he has been endeavoring for the betterment of Public life by his active participation in a big way. He is a member of the South Indian Chamber of Commerce. He is the Director of the Indian Bank. He is the President of the Pappu Chetty Garu Charities. He is the Trustee of the Kanyaka Parameswari Devasthanam. He is the President of the Mylapore Sangeetha Sabha. He is one of the  partners in the Pencil Factory. He is the President of Vysya Sangam. He is the member of the governing body of the Hindu High School, Triplicane. He is the Patron of the Young Mens Education Society. He is the President of the Arya Yuvajana Sangam. He is a member of the Chennapuri Mahajana Sabha. He is the Director in Madras Anjuman. He is the Treasurer of the Pinjarapole. He is a member of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Besides, giving large monetary assistance to the Madras Social Service League, he has been one of its Vice-Presidents. He has established a Library for the benefit of the students of the City of Madras. He started Ayurvedic Hospital in Triplicane, Nellore and Nungambakkam and is running them. Deeply moved by the sight of the children dying for want of unadultered milk, he had made arrangements for the free distribution of milk. He has been feeding a large number of poor children. He has been helping that Ramakrishna Mutt at Mylapore by an annual grant of Rs.240/-. He has constructed a building at a cost of Rs.8,000/-specially for the Annadana Samajam, where thousands of poor people are fed daily. He has been giving school fees to the poor students. Besides, he has shown great great interest in the industrial development and deputed two students on scholarships to Bombay for training. Every Sunday, thousands of poor people are fed by him at Krishnappa Naicken Street. He has built a choultry at Egmore at a cost of Rs.72,000/- for the benefit of the passengers alighting at Egmore and struggling for want of accommodation. It is no wonder that the residents of Triplicane have honoured this philanthropically-minded greatman by conferring on him the title of Dharmamurthi.

He has also been participating in politics in a large way, No one will forget the brilliant lecture delivered by him as the Chairman of the Reception Committee of the Provincial Conference at Kanchipuram. He secured a place in the City Corporation Council.

Let us all have his blessings for the future endeavourer.