Location: Chennai, Tamil Nadu
Built In: 1644
Built By: East India Company
Dynasty: British Empire
On the coastal land called Chennirayarpattinam or Channapatnam, The East India Company constructed a fort close to the port. The construction of the fort was finished on 23rd April 1644, which is also St. George’s day, the patron saint of England. So, the fort was also named after St. George. Soon after the fort was established, a new settlement called George Town or Black Town was formed which eventually became the founding city of Madras. The fort was built after a grant was conferred by the then local chief of Chandragiri, Damarla Venkatappa Nayaka in 1636. Later, many buildings and monuments were constructed inside the fort complex to facilitate business and trade. Read the article below to know more about the architectural layout and the history of the fort.
Fort St. George Chennai
History Of The Fort
When the East India Company came to India in 1600, the established Surat as their licensed trading center and it became the initial bastion. But with the intention of increasing the trades and capturing the spice trade route the British wanted a port near the Malaccan Straits. After acquiring a coastal land in Tamil Nadu, the company built the fort to secure the established trade lines and other commercial activities.
Architecture/ Layout Of The Fort
After the Fort St. George was built, there were a numerous enemy attacks but this 6 meter high structure withstood all the assaults. The company also built a gun replacement that was designed by Bartholomew Robins in 1750. The walls were rebuilt as they were destroyed by the French army in 1749. The fort has Governor’s house or the “Castle” in the middle and a vast area lies between the castle and the outer fortification. The fort has three floors — the governor’s residence is on the top floor and the Council’s rooms are in the lower floors. The fort complex also houses a church, a museum, Wellesley House, Clive’s House and an arsenal. In 1678, St. Mary’s Church was designed and built by Edward Fowle. It is the oldest Anglican Church in India. The Clive’s House is also called Admiralty House which was once the residence of Robert Clive in 1753.
Major Battles or Events Associated With The Fort
In the 18th century, The French took over the fort and held it under their control from 1746 to 1749. But later, the fort was returned to Great Britain under the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, putting an end to the War of the Austrian Succession.
The Fort St. George is now the administrative headquarters of Government of Tamil Nadu. It houses the Legislature of Tamil Nadu, the secretariat and also headquarters of various government departments. A part of the fort complex has now been turned into the Central Institute of Classical Tamil.
Best Time to Visit
Chennai is known for the hot and sultry summers so it will be best to visit the state in the winters i.e. during the period between October and January. The fort is open from Saturday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. Make sure you visit it on a Sunday as the church is open on Sundays.
How To Reach
- Chennai Central is the nearest railway station which is well-connected to rest of the India.
- Chennai International airport has daily flights to all the major cities in the country.
- One you reach Chennai you can hire cabs, public buses or auto-rickshaws to reach the fort.
Around The Fort
If you are visiting Chennai then you can also visit Vivekananda House & Museum, Elliot’s Beach, Kapaleswar Temple and San Thom Cathedral. The Gudiyam Caves just 17 km from Poondi reservoir has some of the most beautiful prehistoric caves. Anna Zoological Park situated just outside Chennai is part of the Reserve Forests of Vandalur and is said to be one of the biggest in the south-east Asia.
Touted to be one of the most important bastions of the East India Company, the Fort St. George played an important role in the history of India. The East India Company built this fort to strengthen its trade links in the region. The fort is situated within a beautiful complex which is now the administrative headquarters of the state of Tamil Nadu.