Fort St. George

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tain’s First Bastion in India, the nucleus from which an empire grew, was established in a banana grove owned by a farmer called Madrasan. The offcial grant for the land, however, was given by venkatadri Nayak, the deputy of the raja of Chandragiri. The first factory within the fortified enclosure was completed on St George’s Day, 23 April, 1640, and named Fort St George. This was the East India Company’s Principal settlement until 1774, when Calcutta, now Kolkata, was declared the seat of the government.

The Sloping ramparts, with battlements for gun emplacement that can still be seen today, were designed and constructed by Bartholomew Robins in 1750, after the original walls were destroyed by the French army in 1749. These ramparts form an irregular pentagon, further reinforced by a ring of earthen walls that slope down to a moat surrounding the entire complex. The draw bridges that once led to the Fort’s five main gates have now been replaced by roads.

The first building to be seen on entering the Fort through the sea Gate is the Neo Classical Secretariat, which is today the seat of the Government of Tamilnadu. Behind it lies the Legislative Council Chambers. With their handsome Classical Secretiat, which is today the seat of the Government of Tamilnadu. Behind it lies the Legislative Council Chambers. With their handsome Classical lines and facades embelished with gleaming black pillars, these impressive buildings, built between 1694 and 1732, are said to be among the oldest surviving British Constructions in India. The 45-m (148-ft) tall flagstaff was erected by Governor Elihu Yale in 1687 to hoist the Union Jack for first time in India.

Yale began his career as a clerk with the East India Company and later founded Yale University in the USA. Standing to the South of the Legislature building is St mary’s Church, the oldest Anglican Church in Asia. It was built between 1678 nad 1680 by Streynsham Master, then the Governor of Madras. Tombstones, memorials, registers and paintings, antique Bibles and Silver are displayed in the Church, which speak of its vibrant history. Both Elihu yale and Robert Clive were Married in this Church, and the three daughters of Job Charnock were baptized here before the family moved to Bengal. Arthur Wellesley, who later became the Duke of Wellington and triumphed at Waterloo, and Robert Clive, both lived in Fort St George. Their Residences, Wellesley House and Clive House, still stand, albeit in a somewhat dilapidated condition, across from the church.

To the north is the Parade ground, formerly Cornwallis Square, which was laid out in 1715. Magnificent parades and rallies were held here. To its east are ministerial offices, and barracks for regiments. Near the southeast corner of the parade ground is the Fort Museum, built in the 1780s. A treasure trove of Colonial memorabilia, the Museum is housed in what was built to be the Public Exchange. It has Paintings of British royalty, 18th -century weaponry, emblems and other relics from the British era. Among its prized possessions are a scale model of the Fort and a painting of king George III and Queen Charlotte. There are lithographs on the second and third floors that provide fascinating perpectives of old Madras and other parts of South India.

Near the Museum’s Southern end, and overlook in its cannon is the cornwallis Cupola, which originally stood in the Parade Ground. The Statue of the governor general, lord Cornwallis sculpted in 1800, shows him accepting the two young sons of Tipu Sultan as Hostages.

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