Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Reminiscences from the Fort St.George Walk

It could have been better ... Attended four talks but missed many more that were scheduled as part of Madras Day 2010 -- couple of them by Pradeep, all the talks at RMRL. Except for one, couldn't take notes in the rest of the talks. So, if you notice errors / omissions / deficiencies / mistakes blame it on me but NOT the speakers.

Starting with the Fort where it all started ... A walk inside Fort St.George followed by a talk on the same subject. Walk was led by Vincent D'Souza and the talk was by Dr.Satyabama Badreenath because both were on the same day, in the morning of
Saturday Aug/21/2010. Well, I couldn't have asked for more, its all etched in my memory forever.

That's Vincent D'Souza (in the black tee and yellow cap)

On a pleasant Saturday morning, after much waiting at the gates (Courtesy: Chennai City Police) we stepped in to the Fort -- group was about 15 in size. Part of the group was an elderly citizen and few kids with their parents. Cornwallis cupola, Fort exchange building (now serving as museum), Fort house (one of the earliest houses in the campus), Army Parade ground, St.Mary's Church, Former Town Hall, Admiralty House, Madras Arsenal, Moat (could see trains in the Fort Railway station), King's Barracks were some of the landmarks covered in the walk; Vincent would tell us the significance about each of them while some of us listened, some took notes / snaps.

Some interesting notes:

Old street names have been retained and the names are put up in legible big letters -- some of the names are York street, Gloucester street, Middle street, Inner street, Charles & James street, Choultry street.

Tombstones inside St.Mary's Church are worth documenting. There is a tombstone for Sir Thomas Munro and so many more.


Former town hall is now Army recruiting zone and Hospital.

Next to the Fort House is the York street. Vincent prompted to bend and sit on our knees to see the arch that led straight to the blacktown of olden days.

Admiralty House built by an Armenian is named Clive's Corner -- as soon as you enter this compound, just raise your neck to see a round plaque which reads "Robert 1st Lord Clive lived in this building in the year 1753 truly great in arms and in council". A portion of this building is now occupied by the local ASI office.

King's Barracks, one of the largest in Asia, is now used for storing provisions (cartons after cartons after cartons) to meet the local army and navy requirements.

Behind the King's Barracks is the Queen's Barracks.

King's Barracks


Fort Museum is open from 8am to 5pm (these are the current timings) and is a must visit for anyone interested in heritage, history.

Thanks to Vincent's persistence, we made it to the Fort St.George and it was worth traveling from Nerkunram to Fort -- I joined the group at 7:10am delayed because of traffic diversion near Ripon Building, took detour via Basin Bridge.

Tidbits:

Part of the group were two foreign citizens.

Opposite the Fort museum is placed guns captured by the British from various campaigns.

Many old buildings inside the fort are in dilapidated condition. One hopes the powers-that-be shows interest in their restoration and put them back to sensible use.

Name plates installed on the base holding the guns can be hardly read.

Below you will see the picture of a plaque
(erected in 1968) that commemorate's the 250th anniversary of the naming of Yale College.

Plaque commemorating the 250th anniversary of Yale College


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