Organised by Madras Photo Bloggers, it was aimed at teaching the participants some basic photography techniques.
“Bustling with activity, the dhobi khana offers wide opportunities for photographers to capture the real essence of washermen that not many know of. Blue water, narrow lanes, children running around and many other dimensions of the atmosphere are great to shoot too,” said Srivatsan Sankaran, the media company’s founder.
Chennai was one of the few cities that had multiple rivers — Cooum and Adyar proving to be lifelines for the people. Even before such venues were built, hundreds of washermen would wash, dry and fold clothes along the banks of these rivers.
“This activity went on for centuries but on December 8, 1902, George Moore (the then president of the Madras Corporation) inaugurated the dhobi khana in Chetpet,” said Krishnakumar, a Chennai-based history buff.
Spread over 20 acres, it enables 1,000 people to wash and iron clothes under one roof. It is the oldest and biggest dhobi khana in and around the city and one of the biggest in Asia. The washermen stay with their families within the premises, but over the years, despite renovation, its residents aren’t satisfied.
“Though we have a metro water line exclusively for the khana , the supply is scarce. It isn’t very safe either because miscreants use the ironing halls to drink,” said one of the women working there.