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Old 15th August 2017, 21:42   #1
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Default Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

There is always a gush of adrenaline towards a weekend. That’s the cue to hit the road. Somehow that adrenaline rush is contained by commitments, at least for me. The independence day weekend was no different. But I badly wanted to get out this weekend to some place close by. 3 places were in the list and 3 royal enfields were in the plan. There was one criteria for selecting these places - “Close to Chennai”. The trip should end in a day or half max. These were the 3 places shortlisted.

Vedanthangal
Kailasakone Falls
Sadras Dutch Fort


Vedanthangal (a bird sanctuary) was out of the list, since one of the friends felt there is no use in visiting the place during off season. The person who struck this off the list did not join the trip.

Kailasakone falls - Out of the list, due to non stop rains on that route.

Sadras Dutch Fort. Like it happens every time, the unplanned became part of the plan. Came across this place when I was scanning the Chennai - Pondicherry route map. Googled and got interested. This is a 17th century fort built by the dutch, located near Kalpakkam just 4 kilometers off East Cost Road.

Finally when we started, it was only one royal enfield with two people. It was cloudy and thunderstorms were expected in the morning. When the sun started to shine in the afternoon, my friend and myself started from home. We planned to take the Old Mahabalipuram route first and then decided not to, since we knew that route very well already, plus it is a straight road. We chose the route through Mambakkam. Plan was to take the Vandalur-Kelambakkam road from Mambakkam and then on to Old Mahabalipuram Road, East Coast Road to reach the destination. These are all village roads close to the suburbs of Chennai. Fast developing as the real estate guys call this area.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-re1.jpg

Old Mahabalipuram Road was mostly deserted due to the long weekend and it was a good drive. Time was around 3.30 PM and we had to stop for lunch on the way. The first stop was in Vengappakkam on East Coast Road. Picked two chicken briyani’s on the roadside shop for 90 rupees each and started towards the 400 year old fort.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-shop.jpg

The inner roads were superb, thanks to the Kalpakkam Nuclear Power Plant and its Township. Shortly after 3.5 kilometers, this fort appeared.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-entrance.jpg


The moment we entered through the gate guarded by old canyons, huge open space with remains of small buildings welcomed us. The feeling of being alone in a fort that is centuries old, all by yourself is great.

We were greeted by four stone benches under a huge tamarind tree apt for a lunch. We emptied the chicken biryani parcels there, wrapped up the waste to ensure we don’t litter the place and then started exploring the remains of the fort.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-bench.jpg

There was grass, grass, grass everywhere. Even on the terrace of the fort. We climbed up and saw the granary, with a fenced opening on the terrace of the fort.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4419.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4415.jpg

Then we started strolling towards different parts of the remaining fort. There was this dias like thing, with proper steps twirling around. May be somebody used this to give a speech or something. Its always a great feel to imagine these things and stand there, where centuries ago somebody did the same thing. I did the same when I visited the famous Brihadeeswarar Temple at Tanjore. Legend says, Raja Raja Chozha used a side entrance and never used the main entrance of this great temple. I found that side entrance and stood there imagining how a king would have entered through that a thousand years ago.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4432.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4436.jpg

There were remains of some square shaped structures covered in grass, may be rooms which got demolished by the attack of east india company or careless administration after that.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4429.jpg


There were two huge buildings towards the end of the fort. The one on the left had four big halls with an open space in the middle. Looked like a kitchen. The one on the left was a single huge hall with steps that lead to the top for an ocean view. Surprisingly the fort was not ocean facing and it had a ocean view only. These halls have cement flooring. Cement and paint seem to be the way to preserve these old places. But it takes off the ethnic feel from these structures. I have seen this being done in couple other ancient places too.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4439.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4441.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4442.jpg

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The traditional symbols you can find in all heritage sites across India.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4445.jpg

Then we came back the the main entrance to have a look at the cemetery. I dont know if any other fort has a cemetery within the compound. There were at least 10 tombs with engravings and inscriptions (Dutch, I believe). Beautiful engravings, centuries old. Took some photographs and ensured no litter was left behind.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4465.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4466.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4472.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4473.jpg

Couple more photographs of the fort.

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4446.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4464.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4483.jpg

Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam-img_4470.jpg

The entire trip of 120kms up and down took 4 hours including the 1.5 hours spent at the location. We were not able to escape the rain and got caught in the last 10 kilometers. Reached home drenched in rain.

Place worth visiting for a half day trip from Chennai.
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Old 16th August 2017, 15:00   #2
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

Thanks, very interesting place. I wasnt aware of it. I would have loved to visit it. I'm always a little bit ambivilent about visiting old Dutch places. I do like history and you can't change it. At the same time some of the Dutch (in particular colonial) history isn't something to be particular proud of.

Jeroen

Quote:
There were at least 10 tombs with engravings and inscriptions (Dutch, I believe).
It's s a bit difficult to see, but I can make out a few words and yes, those are definitely Dutch.

Jeroen
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Old 16th August 2017, 22:14   #3
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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Thanks, very interesting place. I wasnt aware of it. I would have loved to visit it. I'm always a little bit ambivilent about visiting old Dutch places. I do like history and you can't change it. At the same time some of the Dutch (in particular colonial) history isn't something to be particular proud of.



Jeroen







It's s a bit difficult to see, but I can make out a few words and yes, those are definitely Dutch.



Jeroen

I am not well aware of the Dutch history in India. The place is very close to Chennai. On the inscriptions, they were not very clear. I had to blow the sand off on some of those to take capture them. Will you be able to translate any of those ? Thanks
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Old 16th August 2017, 23:56   #4
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Originally Posted by shansundar View Post
I am not well aware of the Dutch history in India. The place is very close to Chennai. On the inscriptions, they were not very clear. I had to blow the sand off on some of those to take capture them. Will you be able to translate any of those ? Thanks

Would you happen to have another image perhaps. The problem is I can see only a few words, or parts of words.

Thanks
Jeroen
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Old 17th August 2017, 11:31   #5
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This is the only other photo I have.Name:  ImageUploadedByTeamBHP1502949698.535806.jpg
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Old 17th August 2017, 12:34   #6
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

Still a bit difficult and it’s also old Dutch.

On one of the images I can make out the following:

Hier onderlegt en Rust Joannes de Gast, eerstgeborene zoon van

Which translates as:

Here lies and rest Joannes de Gast, first born son of

Jeroen
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Old 17th August 2017, 15:01   #7
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

Thanks Shansundar. Brings back memories of my childhood growing up in Kalpakkam. Sadras was Sadurangapattinam which the Dutch renamed probably to compete with Madras rules by the British. Eventually Brits invaded the fort.

So we had British occupying Madras Dutch in Sadras about 100 km away and the French another 100 km down south in Pondy. Interesting no?
Thanks
Madhav
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Old 17th August 2017, 21:20   #8
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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
Still a bit difficult and it's also old Dutch.

On one of the images I can make out the following:

Hier onderlegt en Rust Joannes de Gast, eerstgeborene zoon van

Which translates as:

Here lies and rest Joannes de Gast, first born son of

Jeroen

Thanks. Next time I go I will take clear pictures and post here. Will be interesting to know about someone who lived 400 yrs ago.

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Originally Posted by maddyoni10 View Post
Thanks Shansundar. Brings back memories of my childhood growing up in Kalpakkam. Sadras was Sadurangapattinam which the Dutch renamed probably to compete with Madras rules by the British. Eventually Brits invaded the fort.

So we had British occupying Madras Dutch in Sadras about 100 km away and the French another 100 km down south in Pondy. Interesting no?
Thanks
Madhav

You are most welcome Madhav. The war between English and Dutch was fought here it seems. Today 100km might be less. 400 years before it's a good distance I believe. Was this monument under ASI during your childhood too ?

Last edited by bblost : 17th August 2017 at 21:37.
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Old 18th August 2017, 00:19   #9
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

I missed a very important point. When we reached the fort, it was locked. Just before we decided to leave, we asked an old lady who was selling vegetables outside the fort about the timings. To our surprise, she said she has the keys. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has trusted the keys of this fort with an old vegetable vendor. Anyone who visits gets keys from her, checks out the fort and returns the keys to her.

Has anyone experienced this in any of the monuments ?

How did I miss to include this in the travelogue
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Old 18th August 2017, 11:22   #10
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

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Originally Posted by shansundar View Post
To our surprise, she said she has the keys. Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has trusted the keys of this fort with an old vegetable vendor. Anyone who visits gets keys from her, checks out the fort and returns the keys to her.
That was an interesting picnic. The inscriptions did direct me to Jereon and he promptly chipped in with his comments. Thank you sir.

Now that you mentioned the 'lock and key' story, the plot has thickened. Waiting for your next visit and some crystal clear photographs of the tombs.

PS: Did you, by chance, notice the orientation of the old lady's feet? No aspersions, just asking .
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Old 18th August 2017, 17:28   #11
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

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Originally Posted by shansundar View Post
The moment we entered through the gate guarded by old canyons, huge open space with remains of small buildings welcomed us. The feeling of being alone in a fort that is centuries old, all by yourself is great.
Thanks for sharing. Visiting such historical places makes the mind wonder and wander
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Originally Posted by maddyoni10 View Post
So we had British occupying Madras Dutch in Sadras about 100 km away and the French another 100 km down south in Pondy. Interesting no?
Over the centuries India has been invaded dozens and dozens of time always via the land routes in the north and west. All those invaders including the Greeks assimilated into the vastness of the country and merged into its kaleidoscope culture. The British were the only invaders to come via the sea route and the only ones never to assimilate and finally the only ones who left lock stock and barrel in 1947 and soon thereafter.
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Old 18th August 2017, 19:05   #12
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

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Originally Posted by shansundar View Post
Thanks.

You are most welcome Madhav. The war between English and Dutch was fought here it seems. Today 100km might be less. 400 years before it's a good distance I believe. Was this monument under ASI during your childhood too ?
No Shansundar It was in pretty bad condition back then. Villagers used it as a toilet of sorts. So going there wasn't pleasant. I am glad to see it is better under ASI maintenance
Thanks
Madhav
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Old 18th August 2017, 20:18   #13
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Mod note: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote [Quote +] instead. Thanks.

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That was an interesting picnic. The inscriptions did direct me to Jereon and he promptly chipped in with his comments. Thank you sir.
====
PS: Did you, by chance, notice the orientation of the old lady's feet? No aspersions, just asking .

Welcome Sir. The lady had feet I enquired with one of my colleagues who has visited this place earlier in 2008-09 time frame. He confirmed it was the same scenario then too. They got keys from a nearby shop. When I visit next time, I will definitely take clear photographs of all the tombs and we can use Jereon's help.

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Originally Posted by maddyoni10 View Post
No Shansundar It was in pretty bad condition back then. Villagers used it as a toilet of sorts. So going there wasn't pleasant. I am glad to see it is better under ASI maintenance

Thanks

Madhav

Pity ! From that level, I would say it is a huge improvement now, except for the grass. I am somehow not okay with these guys using cement or paint to protect structures. It takes out that old feel. I remember seeing the same at Gangai Konda Chozhapuram temple.

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Originally Posted by V.Narayan View Post
Thanks for sharing. Visiting such historical places makes the mind wonder and wander



Over the centuries India has been invaded dozens and dozens of time always via the land routes in the north and west. All those invaders including the Greeks assimilated into the vastness of the country and merged into its kaleidoscope culture. The British were the only invaders to come via the sea route and the only ones never to assimilate and finally the only ones who left lock stock and barrel in 1947 and soon thereafter.

That's interesting Narayan. Did the Portuguese and French came through land route ? I was under the assumption that any invader from Europe took the sea route.

Last edited by Jaggu : 18th August 2017 at 20:58. Reason: Back to back posts, please use Multi Quote [Quote +] instead. Thanks.
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Old 22nd August 2017, 19:29   #14
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

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Originally Posted by maddyoni10 View Post
Thanks Shansundar. Brings back memories of my childhood growing up in Kalpakkam. Sadras was Sadurangapattinam which the Dutch renamed probably to compete with Madras rules by the British. Eventually Brits invaded the fort.

So we had British occupying Madras Dutch in Sadras about 100 km away and the French another 100 km down south in Pondy. Interesting no?
Thanks
Madhav
And you have Tranquebar or Tharangambadi south of Pondy which was occupied by the Danish.
Dansborg Fort, Tranquebar, is in very good shape and definitely worth a visit.

I remember my visit to Sadras Fort from a few years back. The fort was in a dirtier condition than what you have seen. And the keys were with a very old gatekeeper who explained lots of things to us in Tamil - and we nodded along for an hour without understanding any word of the language.
He also showed us quite a few artifacts that ASI found in the fort. Not sure if these have been transferred elsewhere.
Will try to dig up some old photos and share.

Last edited by aryasanyal : 22nd August 2017 at 19:46.
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Old 27th August 2017, 01:26   #15
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Default Re: Ride to the 17th century Sadras Dutch Fort at Kalpakkam

And then you have Porto Novo - Parangipettai ( Portuguese trading post; not sure there is a fort) in between Pondy and Tranquebar - Tharangampadi to complete the European colonists trading posts. So in 300 kms you have British, French, Dutch , portuguese and Danish all habiting together to trade with India.
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