It was called as the ‘White Town’, this Fort St George is the name of the first English, then it was known as British, fortress in India founded in the year 1644 at Madras(now known as the Chennai). They say, this fortress was the driving force for the further trading and settlement activity which was originally an uninhabited land. This shows that the city grew, transformed and evolved around this fortress.
What has become to this fort? What is its present situation? Well, the fort currently houses the ‘Tamil Nadu Legislative Assemble’ and other official buildings. The fort is now maintained and administered by the Archaeological Survey of India as a ticketed monument.
The significant places to look are:
The Museum exhibits many items of the period of English and later British rule. This building was completed in 1795 and first housed as the office of the Madras Bank.
The hall upstairs was the Public Exchange Hall and served as a place for public meetings, lottery draws and occasional entertainment. These relics are reminders of British rule in India. The objects on display in the museum are the weapons, coins, medals, uniforms and other artifacts from England, Scotland, France and India dating back to the colonial period.
Original letters written by Robert Clive and Cornwallis make us fascinating to read again and again. One set of quaint period uniforms is displayed for viewing, as well. However, the piece de resistance is a large statue of Lord Cornwallis. The Fort Museum contains many relics of the Raj Era, including portraits of many of the Governors of Madras.
St.Mary’s Church is the oldest Anglican, the then religion of England, church in India. It was built between 1678 and 1680. The tombstones in its graveyard are the oldest English or British tombstones in India. This ancient prayer house solemnized the marriages of Robert Clive and Governor Elihu Yale, who later became the first benefactor of Yale University in the United States.
The flag staff at the fort is the 2nd highest in the country. Made of Teak, it is 150 feet high.
The first floor of the building includes the Banqueting Hall, which holds paintings of the Governor of the Fort and other high officials of the Regime. The canons of Tipu Sultan decorate the ramparts of the museum. The 14.5 ft statue stands at the entrance near a stairway in the museum. This statue was created by Charles Bank in England to be brought to India.
This fort is one of the 163 notified areas in the state of Tamil Nadu.