On 20 August 1639, Francis Day of the East India Company along with Damerla Venkatadri Nayak travelled to Chandragiri palace to meet King Peda Venkata Raya to obtain grant for a small strip of land in the Coromandel Coast to build a factory and warehouse for their trading activities. Two days later a strategic piece of land lying between the rivers Cooum and Egmore almost at the point of entry into the sea was granted to East India Company after a deed from the emperor. This day is widely regarded as the founding event of the formation of Madras city and is to this day celebrated as Madras Day.
However, five years later instead of a factory there stood a fortress known as Fort St. George. This was not just a fortress but also doubled as an administrative center and a naval base from where the British exercised influence over South India, most prominently the Kings of Arcot and Srirangapatna, as well as the French forces based at Pondicherry. This strategic importance of the place made it the only British East India Company occupied Indian port city to be bombed by the Germans during World War I, when the German vessel SMS Emden shelled an oil depot during their raids of shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.
It was from this fortress that the East India Company started its expansion through merging numerous native villages and European settlements around it. However there was another strategic aspect to the geography of this place. It was surrounded by the native temples of Tirumala, Thiruvanmiyur, Thiruvotriyur, Thiruvallikeni (Triplicane), Thirumayilai (Mylapore) which existed for more than thousands of years and from where the bankrupt East India Company sought to finance its operations and that of the British Empire. For details read our report – Robbing God: The Smuggling Syndicate of Tirumala Tirupati Temples.
It was from this Fort St. George that the blueprint of subjugation of India through Divide and Rule was put into motion, and misguided Indians unaware of the history of their ancestors are celebrating this plunder as #MadrasDay.