Chellammal Women’s College is named after Chellammal, also known as Mylai Chellammal.Born in1867 in Pattipalayam (nowPattipulam) near Thiruporur, she hailed from an ordinary peasant family. Her marriage to Mylai Vadamalai Gramani brought her wealth and comfort .Vadamalai Gramani himself was coerced into forsaking a saintly life at Thirukazhukundram and after his marriage to Chellammal became a successful businessman on account of his hard work. The couple was not blessed with any issue. Vadamalai Gramani passed away on July31, 1911 Inspired by her husband’s model life and principles, Mylai Chellammal decided to donate his hard earned wealth and property wisely and usefully. In November 1913, four wills were made to this effect by her. In her will she donated a part of their earnings to a number of temples-mainly the two temples at Thirukazhudundram, the temple at Thiruporur and Thiruvotrieeswarar Temple at Chennai and Velathamman Temple at Mylapore. After donating a fair share of their earnings to relatives, the greater part of the donation was made to the Pachaiyappa’s Trust which was them doing yeomen service in the field of education. The donation was to ensure essential food, clothing, fees, books and hostel facilities for the socially backward students of Pachaiyappas’s High school and College.
It is worthwhile recalling that the period from 1907 to 1917, when Chellammal was growing into a socially conscious individual was a period of intellectual and social ferment in the country itself. Triplicane where she lived, was also inextricably connected with the names of Subramania Bharathi and later Krishnaswami Iyer which made even ordinary people conscious of the need for empowerment of Indians and hence their liberation. In 1913, in the wake of the I World War, when people were fleeing the city in large numbers, fearing problems, Chellammal made her will. In such a social milieu, it is commendable that Chellammal, though uneducated herself possessed a vision of contributing her mite for an educationally liberated and empowered society. She made her mark along with other philanthropists of her time by her donation for educational empowerment of women. From her property at Pallavaram Mitta, Adayar Zamin Village, comprising also of the Guindy Estate, an attempt was made to start a Women’s institution on 5 Cauwnis of land There was a hostel already at this place catering to students from the outskirts who came to study in Pachaiyappa’s College, Chennai. With the hostel building as the base, the College for women was started on July 22nd1971. Other than the college, the Chellammal and Vadamalai Gramani Samadhi near BSNL Quarters, Chellammal Thottam, Lloyd’s colony, Chennai stands as a testament to the fact that humble individuals can also initiate a change for making a difference in society, however small.