Fort St. George, Chennai is the first structure that the British built in Chennai/Madras in 1644 CE, and the city eventually evolved around it. Even though Mylapore, Triplicane, etc. were present for thousands of years, they were separate villages.
I went to a heritage walk around Fort St. George, Chennai, led by Mr. Vincent D’Souza, one of the convener of Madras Day events. In this post, I will present some photos and info gathered from our walk.
Fort St. George was a large fort that contained a mini town inside it (formerly called as George Town or White Town), and a 6-meter high wall/moat was built all around it. Now, this fort is partially occupied by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly/IAS officers buildings and the Army. The above photo shows the army parade ground and canteen building. Most of the buildings in this complex are more than 100 years old.
This photo shows the St. Mary’s Church, which is the oldest Anglician Church in India, built around 1680AD. It seems Robert Clive and Elihu Yale (Yale University) were married here and they still have those documents that solemnized the marriage! Some of the earliest tombstones of British citizens in India can also be found here.
This luxurious villa is where Robert Clive (and many more Englishmen after him) once lived. It seems, there are more than 40 rooms in this “house”. When we went, a small photo exhibition showing old/rare photos and drawings connected with this fort was hosted. Here’s one more photo of the old staircase that I took from inside:
This is another old building – Arthur Wesley’s Building. It is now almost in ruins, but it is an important heritage building that needs to be conserved, at least in its current form. The ASI board notifying the status of this building is in the front.
I guess this is one of the fort walls, inside the fort. It seems, the High Court complex adjacent to this fort initially contained the settlement of Indians (and Armenians) but since enemies of the British were able to hide in the Temple and other structures there and attack the fort, the entire area around the Fort was cleared and people were resettled to pockets beyond the NSC Bose road, the North Madras of today.
The first photo above shows the Madras Arsenal (1772 – 1931 AD) that contained, as the name says, light firearms and stocks of other weapons. The second photo shows another building, near the first one. Both the buildings were constructed sometime in the middle of 18th Century and the fact that they are still standing is a tribute to their engineers.
I guess this is one of the exits that leads to the Mount Road. Look at the way the Tunnel has been constructed from under the Fort wall!
This is another old building that is almost in ruins. There are many such heritage buildings inside the Fort complex that are in dire need of maintenance and restoration. Although the ASI is doing their best, Government and Army should also take up some responsibility to maintain these Heritage structures.
The Fort Museum inside the Fort complex contains a lot of items belonging to the British Era and is open to the Public. You should visit this museum if you want to get a good idea about the history of British occupation in South India.