June 16, 2012

Tour the forts around Madras

Every summer hol, I am coaxed to take a group of holiday makers on a tour.  A summer of 40 degrees plus is certainly not the best time of the year to go on picnic tours.

But then the outdoors always beckon you when it is holiday time for young people.

This May my offer was a tour of the neighbourhood forts. And though history is not everybody’s favourite subject, my theme seemed to delight the group.

There are a string of forts one can explore from a  base in our city if you set aside a weekend for this tour.

Start in the north, with a tour of Pulicat or Palaverkkadu to explore the remnants of Dutch history, with traces of Portuguese presence here.

A cemetery, churches, old houses and a huge waterbody by the sea are must-see places in Pulicat.

Fort St. George in north Madras is Stop No. 2. To me this is a fascinating place waiting to be explored many times over and is best done on a Sunday. This was the seat of the East India Co. and the fort of the British.

San Thome is Stop No. 3. In the 16th century, it was the hub of the trading Portuguese and the foreigners built their own little fort looking out on to the sea. Nothing remains since the British flattened the place to end all headaches of challengers. But if you sneak on the sea side of the Leith Castle area you may be lucky to see fragile remnants of what must have been the walls of a fort.

The campus of Taj Vivanta Fisherman’s Cove in Covelong, off the ECR preserves a slice of a wall of what was once a little fort.

Further south, Stop No.4 has to be Sadras, a fort-hold of the Dutch and another trading post. Located on the seaside, it lies in the village at the end of a road that branches off from the ECR in the Kalpakkam Atomic Power Plant region. Chambers, tombstones, tablets and the ramparts must be explored here.

And if you still have the energy, then your final stop can be Fort Alambarai, some 40 minutes from the Kalpakkam point on the ECR. Muck, tourist waste and massive fortified walls greet you. The fort, built in the 17th century and in the Mughal era was gifted to the French for services rendered by it to the local Nawab but was demolished by the British after they defeated the French.

It offers spectacular views of the sea that washes into a lagoon and the local kuppam.

There are lots of places to explore in our city and on its fringe. Basic info and how-to-do guides and rough-guide tips on the Web is required for the wanna-be city traveller.

Tamil Nadu Tourism has a fun job to undertake!


quizzerix said...

I did Sadras and Alamparai some weeks back... The former is OK but Alamparai was better..

Leela Soma said...

What a fascinating idea, a trip of all the forts in Madras. I doubt I would venture forth in 40 degree Madras Summer! The Santhome and Leith Castle intrigues me as Leith is a part of Edinburgh, so maybe some research online would give me more info.As always your blog is so informative Vincent, Thanks.