best things to do in fort st george chennai

What to see in Chennai Fort St George

In our second, and last, trip to Chennai we’re using it as a base before we head to Bangalore.  First though, a visit to the Chennai Fort St George.

We’re staying close to the main Chennai Railway station, as we’re taking the train to Bangalore tomorrow. It’s an early train, and it just feels easier that way. Or that’s what we continue to tell ourselves when we get to the actual area. Our hotel is a little damp, has a bed worthy of those tiny Japanese ones.  Our room has no window and it has a door that doesn’t lock.

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Once that’s fixed we head off to the Fort.

Chennai Fort St George

Completed in 1653 by the British East India Company we can’t actually visit most of it, so we make do with what we can. And that’s the Fort Museum, housed in the old British Infantry Officers Mess Building.

Chennai Fort St George Museum

It’s a lovely building, with three floors of displays, which are apparently on the history of Chennai – or Madras. It’s hard to tell as there is virtually no signage. And we’re not allowed to take photos.

There are old military uniforms, lots of medals and a huge amount of porcelain. It’s cost us 100 INR as a foreign visitor (5 INR if you’re Indian) to get in.  I keep telling myself its not much money, even if it feels like I’m walking round a pseudo junk shop pretending to be an antique store.

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The painting gallery on the second floor houses huge paintings, which are incredibly badly lit with tiny signs.  It means that you need to be centimetres from the painting to see the sign.  To see the painting, you need to walk 10 metres away.

St Mary’s Church

Walking past the cricket ground, where of course, there is a game in progress, we find it unusual that there is just a single game and not muany.  We’re off to find St Mary’s Church, the oldest surviving Anglican church in India.

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The church was built in 1680 and continues to hold services, it and the attached graveyard are home to many colonials, military personnel and their families.  Many succombed mainly to tropical diseases, although a tiger was involved in at least one of the reasons for them being here.

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We find both the marriage record and a memorial for Elihu Yale, famous for giving his name to Yale University.  Yale was Governor of Fort St George between 1687 and 1692 and also the vestryman and treasurer of St Mary’s Church.

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The Reserve Bank of India

On the way back to the hotel, we pass the Reserve Bank of India building.  I attempt (successfully) to snap for my Social Media and Financial Services blogs before getting yelled at by a now wide awake security guard.  We move on quickly.

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The rest of the walk back to the hotel is uneventful, just Indian.  We dine in the hotel restaurant on spicy Prawn Chettinadu for our final meal in Tamil Nadu. We’ll be up at sparrow’s fart to take the double-decker train to Bangalore, where just writing that makes me grin, because we’ll be meeting friends.

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