Home > Building, General Knowledge, History > 9/365 – St George Fort

9/365 – St George Fort

St George Fort

Name: Fort St George (or historically, White Town)
Founded in: 1639
Founded at: Coastal city of Madras, the modern city of Chennai
Reason: For Trading Activities
Specialty: First English fortress in India

The East India Company, which had entered India around 1600 for trading activities, had begun licensed trading at Surat, which was its initial bastion. However, to secure its trade lines and commercial interests in the  spice trade, it felt the necessity of a port closer to the Malaccan Straits, and succeeded in purchasing a piece of coastal land, originally called Chennirayarpattinam or Channapatnam, from a Vijayanagar chieftain named  Damerla Chennappa Nayaka based in Chandragiri, where the Company began the construction of a harbor and a fort.

The fort was completed on April 23, coinciding with St George’s Day, celebrated in honor of the patron saint of England. The fort, hence christened Fort St George, faced the sea and some fishing villages, and it soon  became the hub of merchant activity.

The Fort is a stronghold with six-meter high walls that withstood a number of assaults in the 18th century. It briefly passed into the possession of the French from 1746 to 1749, but was restored to Great Britain under  the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, which ended the War of the Austrian Succession.

In recent years
Fort St George complex housed the administrative buildings of the Government of Tamil Nadu till March 2010. The Legislature of Tamil Nadu and the secretariat was situated in the fort. The fort itself was open to the public however only to a certain area. The main building or the secretariat was open only to government officials and the police. The cannons and the moat which  guarded this old building have been left untouched. In 2010 the legislature and the secretariat moved to a new location and the old assembly complex was converted into a library for the Central Institute of Classical  Tamil. Following the 2011 assembly elections and the return of Jayalalithaa as the Chief Minister of the State, the Tamil Nadu Assembly and the Secretariat have been restored to Fort St George.

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  1. Ravikumar
    September 8, 2011 at 10:17 am

    Quite interesting….but u could have elaborated more on when it become the administrative building etc.

    • September 9, 2011 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks… I am providing basic information, to make reader’s comfort…

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