St. George Fort is located on the banks of Bay of Bengal. It was built by the British East India Company in 1640 AD. The fort is believed to be the first establishment of the British in India. It is a military architecture marvel, which was erected as a trading post and later evolved to be the origin of modern Indian Army. Situated in the coastal state of Tamil Nadu, this ancient monument is worth watching on your trip to Chennai. St. George Fort holds great historical importance and is looked after by the Archaeological Survey of India.
It is interesting to note that many historical personalities like Thomas Pitt, Elihu Yale, Robert Clive and Lord Cornwallis either lived in or frequently visited the Fort during the British period. The fort was thus a home away from home for many British officials of the East India Company. To keep the outsiders away, a moat was built around the fort and the British christened the area inside the moat as “the White Town”.
Towards the end of the 17th century, the East India Company was established by the British. Their main aim behind this was trade and economic activities. After this, the company was looking for a permanent trading station. Their dream was realized when they acquired the land on which the fort stands today. The company built the fort on this land and expanded their activities. It served as a home away from home for the officials of the East India Company. This helped in the development of the city of Madras.
St. George Fort has a number of other worth watching monuments within its boundaries. St. Mary’s Church, situated in the fort, is one of the oldest surviving churches built by the British in India. This beautiful building has stood the test of time and still holds the splendor of the yore. The glass windows, wall frescos, teak plaques still shine with their all time glory. Another fascinating structure here is the 150 ft tall Flagstaff, made entirely of teakwood. Though the original flagstaff is no more to be seen, its remains are still visible.
One of the most striking buildings here is the Fort St. George Museum. It houses the relics of the British personnel, who inhabited this fort. The construction of the building was completed ion 1795 and served as the Madras Bank. The long hallway upstairs once served the venue for public meetings as well as for entertainment. A light house was also built on top of the building in 1976. After Independence, the Archaeological Survey of India declared the fort as a protected monument.
The fort museum showcases a host of artifacts such as coins, medals, paintings, letters, etc, belonging to the colonial period. There is a 14.5 ft tall statue of Lord Cornwallis in front of the museum, which is an art masterpiece. It was brought to India from Britain through ship. It is carved with a scene depicting Tipu Sultan, his two sons and the East India Company officials. The importance of the fort cannot be undermined till date, as it still serves as an important base for the Indian Army.
The Clive House, also known as the “Admirality House” is the place where Robert Clive stayed with his wife in 1753 and later. The Clive House is a brick and mortar structure and is about 300 years old. The Clive House has wooden floors, beautifully carved wooden staircases and high ceilings. The centerpiece of the Clive House is a huge hall situated on the first floor with Corinthian columns. This was a banquet hall, meant for parties and celebrations.
At present, Fort St. George serves as the administrative headquarters for the Tamil Nadu state Legislative Assembly and also houses a garrison for troops in transit to various locations in South India.
Visiting Hours : 10.00am to 5.0opm (Fridays closed)