The history of Chennai, began with Fort St George, popularly known as the White Town, the first English fortress to be ever built in India. Founded by the British East India Company in 1644, Fort St George is an iconic landmark in Chennai, resplendent with architectural excellence, and soared to the reign of British rule for over 3 centuries. Recognized as a heritage building, Fort St George is a great place to explore and to revisit the remnants of the British history.
A symbol of authority and historical significance for the British Raj in India, the 17th century English fortress is today the seat of legislative and administrative services for the Government of Tamil Nadu, and is maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India. The two main attractions at Fort St George would be the Museum and the Anglican Church of St. Mary, besides the house of Robert Clive, and the magnificent marble statue of Lord Cornwallis. These imperial treasures are open to the public, and date back to the first world war, and are often visited by artists to learn sketching and drawing, and photography, besides tourists.
For visitors, the Fort Museum is a historical storehouse of rare exhibits of the first British settlement dwellers along the Chennai coastline. A walk-through of the 10 dedicated galleries spread over 3 floors at the Fort Museum exhibits over 600 collections, mostly of swords, rifles, uniforms, paintings, manuscripts, coins, maps, furniture, tableware, medals, and many other items used by the British and European workers at the dock. Also visit the portrait gallery that showcases oil paintings, sketches, and restored portraits of George III and Queen Victoria dating back to the 18th century. There is an entire section devoted to fine silverware and porcelain crockery, and for numismatics, the coin gallery and the Indo-French gallery is a must-visit at the Fort Museum.
Equally worth visiting is the St. Mary Church at the Fort Complex, which is recorded to be the oldest Anglican church in India, and was formerly known as the Presidency Church, and dates back to 1680. Excellence in architecture, can be seen from the 208 pagodas or shrines, meticulously built on over the roof, and the interiors adorned with Burma Teak pillars, and the painting of the Lord’s Supper steals the limelight and so are the splendid glass-stained windows, dome-vault ceilings, and teak plaques with inscriptions.
Parking is available and charges are applicable for photography and video. Entry fee is Rs.15 for residents, and Rs.200 for foreign nationals and is free for children below 15 at the Fort Museum, and is open every day between 9:00am-5:00pm, and remains closed on Fridays. St. Mary Church is open for mass services every Sunday, and is open between 10:00am –5:00pm from Monday to Saturday for tourists/the public.
To book online tickets, visit the Fort St George website or call prior to arrange for tour guides. Weekdays are preferable to visit and transportation is easy, as Fort St George is well connected to the city. A trip worth taking, Fort St George will instill rich memories of a by-gone era, and will continue to spell-bound people with its impressive history for years to come.
Rajaji Salai, Chennai,
Tamil Nadu 600009
Phone: 044 2567 1127
Directions: Google Maps