Friday, August 22, 2014

History behind “The Madras Day”


India’s first modern city – Chennai celebrating it’s 375th birth day today, August 22.

Chennai day used to be so much of fun, when I was in Chennai., it used to be a week long celebration everywhere, start from the local buses to colleges, and corporates.

What I wonder is, all these celebrations are hugely voluntary, No government or authority recommends or regulates it. Just that different people would do different things, but focused on the history, culture and traditions of the city, with full of fun and peace. I used to enjoy the entire week!

But today, when I go through the history behind the Madras day, I really don’t know whether to celebrate it or not. It’s the day when the British East India Company acquired a small piece of land in Chennai (the first in India) and laid foundation for their 100+ years of slavery ruling.

See here, am scribbling the history behind the Chennai day, as heard from multiple people and articles.  After reading the history , you decide whether you’ll celebrate the Chennai day or not !

Those days, most part of northern Tamilnadu was being ruled by the Vijayanagara Dynasty , by their chiefs known as “Nayaks”. That was the time, when the British had just arrived-in India to set up its trade and other commercial activitiesJ.

On 22 August, 1639, the British East India Company signed the deed with the then chief - Damarla Venkatadri Nayaka , to a three-mile long piece of land in the fishing village of Madrasapatnam.

It’s believed that they started the construction of St.George Fort on the same day – which is why still you see a lot of celebration at St.George Fort on the Chennai day!

The deed signed by Venkatadri Nayaka was effective only till 1645, but soon the new king, Sri Rangarayulu, renewed the deed and empowered the Eastern India Company to expand its business with a lot more additional land, which is believed to be the present form of Chennai.

Unexpectedly in 1646, Golkonda Empires forces conquered the complete Madras area and bulgulared and massacred a huge population, including the British communities. Followed by plague and other deadly deceases, the madras town was almost destroyed.

In 1687, after the fall of Golkonda, the area came under the control of the Mughals, who again granted the rights to Eastern India Company to develop and expand the City, which made the British to take more control over the city.

The city was subsequently attacked by the French, Dutch and Hyder Ali. But the British was brilliant to let the French and Hyder Ali Sultan to fight and they regained the control of Madras.

In the 18 century, they constructed the Chennai harbour , which led the city to become an important center for the trade between India and Europe. Chennai City grown-up so fast and became popular all over the world; In-fact, Chennai was the only Indian City bombarded by the Germany during the World War – I.

We all know rest of the story in late 18th Century and till 1974.

Now tell me, will you celebrate the day, when we laid the first stone to loose our independence? Or do you feel that it’s because of the British only Chennai (Infrastructure) has developed this much, otherwise would have got collapsed by consecutive attacks ,diseases and natural disasters?

I am not biased, fair to hear from both the sides of response. Please share your thoughts.

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6 Comments to "History behind “The Madras Day”"

Pon Ganesh said...

Those who interested may see one of my old posts, with some interesting age old photos of Chennai city. Check out the link
http://me-pgk.blogspot.in/2008/05/age-old-madras.html

Charan said...

Good compilation of the historic events friend. Some additional input from my side..... Let us analyse the name which is 1400 years old. The original name is madarasa pattinam, sounding similar to visaka pattinam, masooli patinam. naga pattinam a sea shore port. Why is is called madarasa pattinam.

Madarasa is the name for a education center, university across asia. Muslims from west and east visited kanchi to learn. the port of arrival is this land. So aply named a university port aka madarasa pattinam.

T.V. Antony Raj said...

Did you or the fellow viewers ever wonder why the magnificent city of Madras was unnecessarily renamed due to politics and chauvinism.

There should be a revolution to protest and restore the glory of Madras city.

Saurabh Chawla said...

Interesting read !

Muthiah S said...

Yes, Chennai is the oldest city of India. History says Kolkata is 50 years younger than Madras and Bombay is about 35 years younger.

Sudarshan Banerjee said...

Good article ! It makes me to relook at thoughts on British rule. There is a little truth that their contribution in India's infrastructure development is unarguable, though they did it for their benefits still using our human and natural resources.