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Fort St. George
The first bastion of British power in India now houses the Tamilnadu Legislative assembly and council and offices of the State's secretariat. The fort was first completed in 1654 but owes its present shape to the remodelling work that was undertaken in 1749. The 6m high walls of the fort have withstood several fierce sieges. The fort was attacked by Daud Khan, general of Emperor Aurangzeb, in 1701, by the Marathas in 1741 and by Hyder Ali on several occasions in the late 18th century. In 1746, the British lost possession of their fort for two year period when they surrendered the keys to the victorious French admiral, La Bourdonnais. The keys were restored only in 1749, under the treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle. Fort St. George's towering flagstaff is, even today, the tallest in India. Glimpses of early Chennai are preserved in Clive Corner, Wellesley House, Fort Museum and St. Mary's church.

RIPON BUILDING

West of Central Station is Ripon Building, the dazzling white headquarters of the Corporation of Chennai. One of the few public buildings in Chennai that time has not managed to ravage.

Named after Lord Ripon, the Father of local self-government, the foundation for the magnificent building was laid by Sir Gilbert John Elliot Murray Kynyn Mound Bart and Carl of Minto, then Viceroy and Governor General of India on December 12, 1909.

The Municipal Corporation of Madras, after functioning from several other places, settled at Ripon building in 1913, with P.L.Moore as the President of the Municipal Corporation at the time of the inauguration.

With a floor area of 9,628 square metres, this classic structure, built at a cost of only Rs.7.30 lakhs, is a combination of three types of architectural styles - Gothic, Ionic and Corinthian. Four engineers at various points of time, were involved in the construction of this beautiful building - C.L.T.Griffith (1909), J.E.Hensman (1910-1911), E.P.Richard (1912) and James R.Coats (1913).

To support the gargantuan structure, the walls have been constructed with stock bricks, set in lime mortar and plastered with lime mortar. The roofs are supported with Teak wood Joists. On the ground floor, the Cuddapah stone flooring has now been re-laid with marble flooring. The flooring on the first and second floors is of the pressed terracotta variety. The overall depth of foundation including footing is 5.34 metres. The ceiling height on the ground floor is 5.64 metres.

The highlight of its construction is that all joinery works for the building were made with the best teak wood. The West Minister Quarter Chiming Clock, installed by Oakes and Co. in 1913, about 20.58 metres from terrace level, is one of the main attractions in the building. The clock is provided with a mechanical key system, which is wound every day. There are a total of 4 bells, which were cast by Gillet and Johnston in 1913.

It is perhaps ironic, but the recent addition of a Golden Jubilee memorial (for Indian independence) has only managed to mar the once unobstructed view of this great landmark.

VALLUVAR KOTTAM

Opened in 1976 in memory of the poet-saint Thiruvalluvar, Valluvar Kottam is a massive auditorium, constructed on reclaimed land from an unused lake filled with the city's garbage and debris. The auditorium can seat up to 4000 people.

All 1330 verses of the poet's epic - the Thirukkural, are inscribed on the granite pillars that surround the auditorium. The auditorium itself is not supported by any pillars!

There is a 101-feet high temple chariot structure with a life-size image of the poet in it. The base of the chariot shows in bas-relief the 133 chapters of the Thirukkural.

Over 3000 blocks of stone were used to create this memorial to Tamil culture.

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