Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Tourism      Monuments      Forts      Tamil Nadu     Chennai    

Fort St.George

Place : Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Best Season : Throughout the year  
Timings : Open from Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm.
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The first settlement of the East India Company in Southern India, Fort St.George is located just south of George Town. It is the first British fort build by the British East India Company. Now the Fort serves as the administrative headquarters for the legislative assembly of Tamil Nadu state.

The structure of the fort is a fine example of 17th century British military architecture. The fort complex is pentagon in shape with 6 meter high walls. The country's tallest flagstaff is here, thought to be over 300 years old. The 24 black Charnockite pillars are those reclaimed by the British in 1762 of the original 32 which once formed the colonnade of the present Secretariat building.

Flanked by the St George's Ravelin on the north and the Wallajah Ravelin on the south, it was designed by Bartholomew Robbins. There are five main gates, each with a rounded masonry entry. The military, administrative and religious functions of the Fort have been retained through the centuries, and the buildings within the Fort are still mostly in use. The first building to be seen on entering the Fort is the Legislative Assembly. It is a Neo-classical building with 20 polished black granite Doric columns that grace its front. The side porticos constructed in 1732, that runs from the Sea Gate to the Parade Ground within the Fort demolished in 1910. 

North of the Legislative Assembly stands the Fort Museum which contains some fascinating items. The museum contains some fascinating items belonging to the early days of the British East India company and the colonial period. It was established on January 1948, with a collection of objects of the British era received from the then Madras Presidency Government, the Madras Government Museum, St. Mary's Church and disbanded army units and others. Over the years many objects were acquired by various means and there are now 3661 registered antiquities in the collection. The Hall of Arms contains artillery, regimental flags, weapons and armour associated with various British campaigns. The first floor housing the Portrait gallery and the gallery is overlooked by a wooden balcony at one end. The adjacent room contains items used by Clive, Wellesley, Cornwallis and Bentinck. The Prints section, on the second floor displays early views of Madras. 

Entrance Fee: For Indians: Rs. 5/-, Others: US $ 2 or Rs. 100/-, (Children up to 15 years free) .
Open from Saturday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm.

Contact: Shri P.S. Sriraman,
Assistant Superintending Archaeologist,
Fort Museum, 
Archaeological Survey of India,
Fort St. George, Chennai-600 009, Tamil Nadu
Ph: 044-25671127; 25670854

A short walk leads to the St. Mary's Church, the most interesting building at St.George Fort. It was consecrated in 1680 and is the oldest Protestant Church in the East. Situated near the southeast corner of the Parade Ground, it was built by Streynsham Master, the Governor of Madras/ The church contains several antiquities, not the least being the oldest British tombstones in India and memories of weddings in which Robert Clive and Elihu Yale, benefactor of America's Yale University, Arthur Wellesley who became Wellington and Warren Hastings were present for weddings held here. Job Charnock's three daughters were baptised in the Church.

The building with its three arched aisles has a bomb-proof roof. A Neo Classical Tower was added in front of the west door in 1701. Curving staircases set behind the tower and the nave. The Italian oil painting of the last supper and a Bible printed in 1660 are the main attractions of this church. Gravestones removed in 1763 from an earlier cemetery are set into the roadways that surrounds the Church. Opposite the Church is the Pay accounts office. It was formerly Robert Clive's house commemorates the Empire-builder who first learnt his trade here. It is open to the public. Immediately west of St.Mary's Church is the office of the Archaeological Survey of India. Previously it was Admiralty House. It is Neo - Classical building with a double height columned portico. It was here Robert Clive and his newly wedded wife live in 1753. 

Other buildings of importance in the Fort are the Old Government House, the Banqueting Hall (now called Rajaji Hall) built by Goldingham for the Governor's official entertainment during the Clive period. The foundations of Indian Army and Civil Service, the land survey by Colin Mackenize, botanical and zoological surveys were all laid at Fort. St.George. The fort is now maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India.  After a visit to this Fort, the tourists have a choice of routes through the Chennai.