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Fort St. George, Chennai

Fort St. George Overview

Fort St. George, on Rajaji Salai, completed by the British in 1640, is presently used as the offices of the Tamilnadu Secretariat and the Legislative Assembly. Today, it is the commercial heart of the city, throbbing with life from dawn to dusk, its streets packed with crowds of traders, buyers and their employees. Built by the East India Company the fort marks the beginning of Madras (Chennai) as a modern city. It was one of the first bastions of British Power in India. Fort St. George stands amid state offices facing the sea in the east of the city, just south of George Town. It looks more like a complex of well-maintained colonial mansions than a fort. Within its solid wall and sturdy gates is much that is historic. Clive's Corner, in the house where Rober Clive's lived commemorates the Empire-builder who first learnt his trade here. It houses the tallest towering Flagstaff in India. The black charnockite pillars of the building provide an insight into British military architecture of the 17th and 18th centuries. It once housed the British Regiment mess and later the lighthouse.

The church within

Within the fort premises is the oldest surviving British church in India, St. Mary's Church - the first Anglican Church built in 1678-80. St. Mary's Church is often described as the Westminster Abbey of the East and was the venue for the marriage of Lord Clive. Towards the North of the fort is the High Court compound, which was built, in Indo-Saracenic architectural style. Within this compound stand the Lighthouse erected in 1844, which was superseded by another one in 1971.


Museum

The fort has a museum, displaying many items from the British Raj and memorabilia of the East India Company. These relics are a reminder of a period of oppression and struggle. The banquet hall upstairs was built in 1802 and has paintings of Fort St. George’s governors and officials of the British regime. Other major attractions include the paintings of the Governor of this fort and other high officials of the British regime.


Present state

Today the fort houses the Tamilnadu Legislative Assembly and Council as well as the offices of the State's Secretariat. High court of the state is located in the same compound.


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