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Monday, August 22, 2011

Once Madras, Chennai turns 372!

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IANS / / Posted on Aug 22, 2011 at 05:43pm IST.

Chennai: It was on this day in 1639 that British administrator Francis Day along with his superior Andrew Cogan struck a deal with the Vijayanagar Empire to acquire a stretch of no man's land. That stretch of land went on to be become Madras, which is today known as Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu.

The British first built a fortified 'factory' on this land which was named on St George's birthday April 23, 1640 as Fort St George, which is now the seat of power in the state, according to historian S Muthiah's "Madras-Its past and its present".

In his book, S Muthiah says that before British, there was no Madras. And after Madras, half the area in the world map was marked with the English flag.

However, it is not that there were no towns and villages before the British built their fort on the Coromandel Coast.

There was thriving civilization along the coast, the proof of which is the existence of temples dating back to eighth century like the Padampakkanathar temple in Thiruvottiyur, Parthasarathy temple in Triplicane, Kapaleeswarar Temple in Mylapore, Marundeeswarar Temple in Thiruvanmiyur.

Outside the walls of Fort St George developed what is called George Town, from where the British carried out their trade.

Slowly, the East India Company began acquiring villages, and in the process the city grew.

For three years between 1746 and 1749, Fort St George fell into the possession of the French. It was restored to the British under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle.

After that, there was no looking back for the East India Company which laid the foundation of the British Empire in India.

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