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A piece from Chennai’s History – Fort St. George

14 Aug

In February this year, I was in Chennai for a very short trip and my friend Sridhar showed me around. Per his suggestion, I decided to explore a small piece of Chennai’s history with a visit to Fort St. George. I was also assured by Sridhar that I will be amongst the very few distinguished people (even amongst the local residents) to have seen this Fort.

A quick recap of its history –  this fort was built-in the early 17th century by the East India Company to secure their spice trade lines against the possibility of an attack. In 1639 the Company bought a piece of coastal land and permission from a Vijaynagar chieftain named Damerla Chennappa Nayaka, and began the construction of the harbor and the fort. The fort was completed in 1644 on St. George’s Day and hence was christened Fort St George. It originally faced the sea and some fishing villages, but soon also became the hub of all local merchant activity. It also gave birth to a new settlement called George Town (also referred to as Black Town), which subsequently grew to include the surrounding villages and led to the formation of the city of Madras. Within the Fort too, a group of buildings – namely The Fort House, St. Mary’s Church, Fort residencies, Clive’s House, the Grand Arsenal, King’s Barracks and the Exchange House were built at different intervals of times for different purposes (per the needs of the Company).

Painting of Old Chennai

Painting of Old Chennai

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