Heritage Series: Fort St. George, Chennai
Fort St George was constructed in 1639 in Chennai at the coast of Bay of Bengal. East India Company of Britain built it to establish spice trade.The fort has relics of its founders and leaders. It’s a great military marvel. The fort has Tamil Nadu Governments administrative office.Only certain areas are open to public.
The fort has the tallest flag pole of India. Indian national flag is hoisted here at 150 feet. The pole is now made of metal was originally made entirely of teak wood. Apart from the museum, the southern division of the Archaeological Survey of India is located here. The place is famous for its exotic collection of books in the library.
Following are some of the buildings inside the fort.
St. Mary’s Church is the oldest Anglican 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 church is popularly known as the ‘Westminster Abbey of the East’.
The Fort Museum exhibits many items of the period of English and later British rule. This building was completed in 1795 and first housed 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 Clive and Cornwallis make fascinating reading. 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 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 cannons 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. The pedestal of the statue is carved with a scene depicting Tipu Sultan’s emissary handing over Tipu’s two sons as hostage in lieu of a ransom he was unable to pay to the British. It takes its name from Richard Wellesley, Governor General of India, and brother of the Duke of Wellington.