Fort Saint George – The Turning Point In Indian History?
Fort Saint George is the name of one of the bastions of the British In India. Starting from this point, the British gradually established their supremacy in the entire India. It was built in the year 1639 at the coastal city of Chennai(formerly known as Madras) by the British East India Company. Today, it is a state secretariat.
The British Company started exploring India in 1600 for commercial purposes. The first trade started at Surat(Gujarat). It became their first bastion. Dealing in spice trade, the Britis
h felt an ardent need to have a port in close proximity to the Malaccan Straits. They bought a piece of the coastal land called Madraspattinam and there started the construction of a harbour and a fort. The successful construction of the fort reached its end on 23rd April 1639 which coincided with St. George's Day, a celebration in respect of the patron saint of Engaland, Saint George. Hence, the fort derived its name from the name of this saint. Trading activities flourished greatly in this fort.
Fort Saint George boasts of huge fortified walls which braved several assaults in the 18th century. Even today the fort retains its fortified walls. These walls were pierced with huge iron gates. The French were? able to exercise their control over it from the year 1746 to 1749. But finally they handed it over to the British under the Treaty of Axis-la-Chapelle which brought the war of Austrian Succession to an end.
The Museum of the fort displays several British and French antiques, relics of the Raj, and also the portraits of several Governors of that time. The fort also houses a church called St. Mary Church, the first English church in Chennai. Its foundation was laid by the then Governor of Madras in the 1678. Inside the church you can see the rare collection of tombstones, memorials, registers, paintings and Bibles. Another attraction within the fort is the Town Hall which is the tallest flagstaff. It was built by the then Governor Elihu Yale.