India MADRAS CHENNAI FORT SAINT GEORGE ~ 1858 Art Print

FORT GEORGE, MADRAS

Artist: Unknown ____________ Engraver: Unknown

Note: the title in the table above is printed below the engraving

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AN ANTIQUE STEEL ENGRAVING MADE IN THE 1850s !! ITEM IS OVER 140 YEARS OLD!

VERY OLD WORLD! INCREDIBLE DETAIL!

FROM THE ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION: The city of Madras (or Fort St. George), the capital of a presidency, and the chief emporium of commerce on the western shore of the Bay of Bengal, is situated in lat. 13° 5' N., long. 80° 21 E. In travelling distances, it is 1,030 miles S. from Calcutta, 758 S.E. from Bombay, and 1,275 S.E. from Delhi. The approach to Madras from the sea is peculiar: low, flat, sandy shores extend far to the north and south; and small barren hills, that form the boundary of the view inland, contribute to impress the spectator with a sense of sterility and loneliness that only wears off with a near proximity to the land, when the beach is seen, as it were, alive with the swarms of animate nature that cover it to the very verge of the sea. The public offices and buildings erected near the beach are handsome, with colonnades or verandahs to the upper storeys; supported on arched bases, and covered with the beautiful shell mortar (or chunam) of Madras- hard, smooth, and polished like marble. Within a few yards of the sea the fortifications of Fort St. George present an imposing appearance, and beyond them are seen minarets and pagodas, intermixed with luxuriant foliage. Within the fort a lighthouse rears its monitory crest ninety feet above the level of the sea, and is visible from the mast-head of a large ship, at a distance of twenty-six miles.

Madras has no harbour, and vessels of heavy burthen are obliged to moor in the roads -about two miles from the fort. A strong current runs along the coast, and a tremendous surf breaks on the shore, rendering it difficult to land even in the calmest weather. In crossing this surf the natives use boats of a peculiar construction, built of very thin planks laced together, and made as pliable as possible. The boats from the vessels often row to the outside of the surf, and wait for the masulah (or native boats) to take the passengers on shore. Fishermen, and others of the lower class employed on the water, frequently use a simple kind of conveyance for passing the surf, called a "catamaran," which they resort to when the sea is too rough for the masulah boats to venture out. These substitutes are formed of two or three logs of wood about ten feet long, lashed together, with a piece of wood between them to serve as a helm. Sitting astride this unique barque, two men, armed with paddles, launch themselves upon the surf to fish, or to convey messages to and from the ships in the roads, when no other means of communication is available. The Madras boatmen are expert swimmers; and when, as is frequently the case, they are washed from the catamaran by the force of the surging waves, they make no difficulty in regaining their perilous seats, and proceeding on their mission.

The most striking object from the sea is Fort St. G-eorge, which, as it now stands, embraces the remains of the original fortress (erected in 1640), and long since converted into storehouses and public offices. The present building is strong and handsome, extensive, and well defended; its face towards the sea being deemed impregnable, as the heavy surf would effectually prevent the landing of an enemy. Within the walls are the post-office, magazines, storehouses, barracks, hospitals, and other necessary requirements. The governor's residence is a spacious building of some pretension to architectural beauty; and on the esplanade in front of it, is a marble statue of the Marquis Cornwallis. Southward from the site of the Old Fort is a large and commodious church, in which has been erected a splendid memorial of Bishop Heber-sculptured by Chantrey, and representing the estimable prelate in the solemn act of confirming...

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