Bishop Heber Hall

Bishop Heber Hall

Bishop Heber Hall is one of the four halls of Madras Christian College, Tambaram, Chennai. All on campus residences for students are referred to as Halls (shortened from Gentlemen's Halls of Residence) and not hostels, as life in these halls is an experience of more than just lodging. Student leadership plays a vital role in Bishop Heber Hall and residents play an important role in the day to day functioning of the hall.The hall is divided into five blocks; A,B,C,D and E. Freshers are assigned rooms on the ground floor while seniors occupy rooms on the first floor. Cabinet members and other important personalities in the hall are given special rooms that are spread out through the different blocks on both floors. The E block is an annex to the main block and these rooms are reserved for students who are pursuing one year diploma courses.

The Early Days

The Lindsay Commission on Christian Higher Education in India suggested that Bishop Heber College in Tiruchirappalli be merged with the Madras Christian College. Accordingly, Bishop Heber College was closed in 1934 and merged with Madras Christian College and as a result, Bishop Heber Hall, a residential hall for students emerged at Madras Christian College, Tambaram. The building was designed by architect Henry Scattchi. The name "Heber" comes from Reginald Heber who was an old English Bishop and also served as the Bishop of Calcutta. He was also an excellent hymn writer and has written some of the best hymns, that are sung even today.
Between the three residences for men, Heber is the youngest. The others being St. Thomas Hall and Selaiyur Hall. The women are attached to Martin Hall.
Dr. Chandran Devenasan was the first warden of Bishop Heber Hall and he is credited with penning the now famous "Hall Song." Many well known personalities have passed through Heber and though they have moved out years ago, their attachment to Heber always remains. A true Heberian never leaves.

Hall Structure

The Hall is governed by a student body known as the Hall Cabinet, that is elected towards the end of each academic year by the residents. Elections are conducted for the following posts that make up the cabinet:

*ChairmanThough not referred to as a part of the cabinet, the Chairman controls the general body meetings. It is up to the Chairman to ensure that the meetings are conducted in an orderly and civilized manner. The chairman has the power to call for votes or a show of hands during a meeting, to pass or reject a certain budget, suggestion and even a punishment. However, a punishment cannot be enforced on the Chairman even with a show of hands and it can be carried out only if the Chairman accepts it.

*General SecretaryThe General Secretary is the one that carries the most number of responsibilities. It is his duty to budget the expenses for the residents during an academic year. He also has to make sure that things run smoothly in the hall on a daily basis. All other cabinet members fall under the General Secretary. His budget usually takes the longest to be passed during a session.

*Literary and Debating SecretaryThe L&D Secretary is responsible for conducting literary activities in the hall. He also has the role of creating a Literary team that would represent the hall in the inter hall events. He is also the chief editor for the hall magazine called "AZAD" that is released towards the end of the academic year. He also creates and releases the hall news letter, known as the "Pelican Brief" on a regular basis throughout the year. The inter block culturals knows as "Silver Tongue" is organized with his help.

*Entertainment SecretaryAll aspects of entertainment in the hall fall under him. He is responsible for screening movies during weekend and other holidays. The television and music system are under his control and it is up to him to keep the hall residents entertained by playing music on the hall system every evening. He also has the role of creating an Entertainment team that would represent the hall in the inter hall events like music, dance, fashion show etc.

*Library and Reading SecretaryHe is in charge of the hall library and all matters related to it. The secretary has to subscribe to various magazines and periodicals of different styles and language that would cater to residents of all ethnic groups. He is also responsible for buying new books for the library and keeping it up to date.

*Indoor Games SecretaryHe is required to make sure that all indoor games like table tennis, chess, carroms etc are always accessible to the residents. Inter Block competitions are also conducted for these events. The Heber-Martin Table Tennis Match and the hall gym are his biggest responsibilities.

*Outdoor Games SecretaryAll outdoor games that are available in the hall fall under his responsibilities. He has to make sure that the sports gear is in good condition and readily available. He also conducts the Heber-Martin Marathon every year. Preparing a sports team for the annual sports day is his biggest responsibility and challenge.

*Vegetarian Mess SecretaryHe is responsible for the overall hygene of the mess. He also closely watches and checks the vegetables and other essentials that are purchased and used in the kitchen.

*Non-Vegetarian Mess SecretaryHe also shares the responsibility for the hygene in the mess, apart from ensuring that all meat purchased is of good quality and is prepared well. Both the mess secretaries are equally responsible for maintaining a good menu and also the quality of the food. They also organize an annual Idly Eating competition.

Apart from the cabinet, there are other important posts that are occupied by residents. These include Block Captains, Medical officers, Sacristan and Bishop. The sacristan is in charge of the Chapel. He conducts daily evening worship and also arranges the chapel for the weekly service every Sunday morning. The Christmas Carol service is his biggest responsibility. The bishop is usually someone who is the elder most inducted member in the hall. He has to be an active member in the chapel and hall and should also have stayed in the hall for maximum semesters. In cases where there is more than one candidate, the Bishop is selected by the cabinet.


Any student who resides in Bishop Heber Hall is known as a Heberian, but only after he has been initiated. Otherwise he will continue to be referred to as a fresher. Initiation is a process where every fresher has to learn all the necessary facts and details about the hall. One is also expected to learn the hall song, preamble, motto etc. It would also help their cause if they are able to learn the names of other residents in the hall. The initiation oath is administered by the Bishop once a resident has cleared an intense round of grilling. Once through with this, he is officially a Heberian and is now eligible to use any of the hall facilities and take part in any hall activity. Initiations are conducted once a year under the watchful eye of the Warden, ARC (Anti Ragging Committee) and other college authorities.

Must-Know Facts About The Hall

The Five Specialities
* The Chapel
* The rose garden
* Natural pond
* Second largest library in tambaram
* Bridge connecting C and D blocks.


NISSI DOMINUS FRUSTRAWhich means "In Vain Without God"

This is in reference to Psalms 127, which reads, "If the Lord does not build the house, the builders labor but in vain."Bishop Heber Hall shares its moto with the city of Edinburgh and this shows the strong ties the institute had with early Scottish missionaries.

The Coat of Arms shows a cross, bible, rock and a pelican feeding its young with its own life blood. The cross symbolises religion, the bible stands for knowledge, the rock stands for foundation and the pelicans represent sacrifice.


"We the resident members, of Bishop Heber Hall, having solemnly resolved to uphold the democratic rights and healthy traditions of this hall, whereby every member of this hall shall enjoy equality of status, liberty of thought and expression, do thereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this constitution."

Hall Song

If you come to Tambaram Darling, Come to Heber Hall.
Heber is a paradise, Fish pond and all.
Uzhundhu vadai, Masala vadai, anything you want,
Mess bills as big as hills, Heber is a haunt.

"Way down in Tambaram, There's ol Heber Hall,
Is there another like it? No, not at all"

If you come to Tambaram darling, Travelling in the trains.
Get the Heber lads to meet you, they have got the brains.
If you want to marry my darling and to marry well.
Stick to a Heber lad and send the rest to hell.

Come along on sports day darling, see me run the mile.
High jumping, hurdling, in the Heber style.
Some of us are fat, some of us are thin.
But Heber is a sporting hall, Whether we lose or win.

We are all members of the Heber family.
Kachai moru, pachai moru eating happily.
The Tamilian, the Telegu, the Coorg, the Malayali.
We are the sons of Heber, home of the free.

The Heber Chapel

Of all the specialities of Heber, the Chapel is undoubtedly the most prominent. It is located between C and D blocks. Initially it was to be constructed at the site of the current mess hall, but this plan was changed at the last minute. The garden in front of the chapel is also home to the bell tower. In the early days, the bell tower was much lower than it is now and rumor has it that the original bell went missing and the current bell was purchased from Burma bazar for Rs 500. The height of the tower was also increased and the bell has not gone missing since.Evening worship is conducted every evening at 8:00pm and it is a time of singing and sharing. Guest speakers visit occasionally and share the word. Sunday service happens every week and the order of worship is a unique blend of Anglican and south Indian styles. Heber Chapel is among the very few places in India where the Nicean Creed is sung, rather than spoken or chanted. Special services are held during occasions like Good Friday, Easter and other local events. The grandest event of all happens to be the Christmas Carol Service. Practice for this starts months in advance, with the carefully selected choir meeting regularly to prepare for the big day. The chapel undergoes a facelift every year. The walls are painted and tiles are carefully polished each year by the residents themselves. The floor tiles were imported from Scotland and it maintains its original shine and shape even to this day. The altar was cut out from a single piece of rock that was transported from Tiruchirappalli. This is a constant reminder to all Heberians, of the roots of Bishop Heber Hall.The Chapel is a matter of pride to every Heberian and a matter of envy for the other halls and even the college.

Well known Heberians

* Walter Isaac Dawaram IPS - Former DGP, Tamilnadu
* T N Seshan, former Chief Election Commissioner, Govt of India
* Dr Raja Chelliah, Economist
* Yuvaraja - MD Infosys Chennai
* Vijaykumar IPS - ADGP-STF, Tamilnadu
* R. Velu - Minister of State for Railways
* David Davidar - Author and Publisher
* J Sam Daniel Stalin - Senior Television Journalist with NDTV
* A Pari, Businessman, Jaipur.
* Ravi Arvind Palat - Political Economist and Historical Sociologist, State University of New York at Binghamton. []
* K Kasim IPS -Inspecting Authority Ministry of Minorities , Govt of India
* R.J.B.FREDERICK - Former Joint Director of Municipal Administration

External links

* [ Madras Christian College]

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