History: The region around Chennai has served as an important administrative, military, and economic centre for many centuries.. The Portuguese first arrived in 1522 and built a port called São Tomé after the Christian apostle, St. Thomas, who is believed to have preached in the area between 52 and 70 AD. In 1612, the Dutch established themselves near Pulicat, north of Chennai. On 22 August 1639, which is referred to as Madras Day, the British East India Company bought a small strip of land on the Coromandel Coast. They got a license to build a fort and a castle in the contracted region. The ruler Damarla Chennappa Nayakudu, the Nayaka of Vandavasi, granted the British permission to build a factory and warehouse for their trading enterprises. The region was then primarily a fishing village known as "Madraspatnam". A year later, the British built Fort St. George, the first major British settlement in India, which became the nucleus of the growing colonial city In 1746, Fort St. George and Madras were captured by the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of Mauritius, who plundered the town and its outlying villages. The British regained control in 1749 through the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle and strengthened the town's fortress wall to withstand further attacks from the French and Hyder Ali, the Sultan of Mysore. By the late 18th century, the British had conquered most of the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern–day states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka, establishing theMadras Presidency with Madras as the capital. Gradually, the city grew into a major naval base and became the central administrative center for the British in South India. With the advent of railways in India in the 19th century, the thriving urban centre was connected to other important cities such as Bombay and Calcutta, promoting increased communication and trade with the hinterland. Sir Arthur Lawley was Governor of Madras from 1906 to 1911 and promoted modern agriculture, industry, railways, education, the arts and more democratic governance. The Governor lived in Government House, Fort St George, a palatial residence with numerous servants, and had an official Daimler car at his disposal. In the First World War as Red Cross Commissioner in Mesopotamia, he looked after the welfare of Indian soldiers. Madras was the only Indian city to be attacked by the Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden on 22 September 1914, as it raided shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean, causing disruption to shipping. After India gained its independence in 1947, the city became the capital of Madras State, which was renamed as Tamil Nadu in 1969. The violent agitations of 1965 against the compulsory imposition of Hindi in the state marked a major shift in the political dynamics of the city and eventually it had a big impact on the whole state. On 26 December 2004, an Indian Ocean tsunami lashed the shores of Chennai, killing 206 people in Chennai and permanently altering the coastline. Geography: Chennai, sometimes referred to as the "Gateway to South India," is located on the south–eastern coast of India in the north–eastern part of Tamil Nadu on a flat coastal plain known as the Eastern Coastal Plains. Its average elevation is around 6.7 metres (22 ft), and its highest point is 60 m (200 ft). Two major rivers meander through Chennai, the Cooum River (or Koovam) through the centre and the Adyar River to the south. A third river, the Kortalaiyar, flows through the northern fringes of the city before draining into the Bay of Bengal, at Ennore. A protected estuary on the Adyar forms a natural habitat for several species of birds and animals.The Buckingham Canal, 4 km (2.5 mi) inland, runs parallel to the coast, linking the two rivers. The Otteri Nullah, an east–west stream, runs through north Chennai and meets the Buckingham Canal atBasin Bridge. Several lakes of varying size are...
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