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In Search of Lost Fort in Puducherry
The fort and the fortified walled town that had never been seen before on the Indian East coast was in Puducherry during the early phase of French rule. Francois Martin had planned the town Pondichery and strengthened its defences. He constructed a great star-shaped fort called Fort St. Louis named after Louis XIV, after the plan of Vauban for the Tournai fort, was viewed as far stronger and all the way more secure and hoped that no one can destroy it. On August 25, 1706, the fort was inaugurated and then in 1745, the whole town was encircled with a fortified wall and moat. Between 1761 and 1770 the whole French town, fort and the fortified walls were razed down by the British army. Now the remains of the unconquered fort and town walls are not found anywhere in modern Puducherry. Jean Deloche made a major study to trace the early French Puducherry using records and maps. In January 2018, a team of History students from Tagore Government Arts and Science College under the direction of the author unearthed a part of the architecture of the lost fort in the heart of modern Puducherry town. This paper brings out a comprehensive summary of the archaeological fieldwork in search of French fort and fortified wall which encircled early Puducherry.
Augsburg, Aye, Berenike, Coote, Fort Barlong, François Martin, Jean Deloche, Labernadie, Lally, Law De Lauriston, Megalithic, Podouke, Quseir Al-Qadim, Ryswick, Tournai, Vauban.
- On September 20, 2006, the Government of Union Territory of Pondicherry announced that the name of the territory and its capital town had been changed to Puducherry,in an attempt to reflect its indigenous, pre-colonial history, Danna Agmon, “An Uneasy Alliance: Traders, Missionaries and Tamil Intermediaries in Eighteen-Century French India” Ph.D., Thesis submitted in the University of Michigan. 2011. p. 1. However, this town had various names in the pre-Indian Union government. Tamil and Franco-Tamil-speaking people referred to this place as Pondy. The Portuguese, in their navigation records, mentionit as ‘Pudicheria’ or ‘Pudecheira’.(Livemeru H.V., A History of Portugal, Cambridge, 1947). The Dutch company first made a small settlement and called this place ‘Poelesera’ or Poelitsjeri (pronounced Pouliseri). French had only established factories at Surat on the Malabar Coast and in the mouth of the Ganges. French was the last one in the Coromandel Coast to establish its trade centre and in 1686; Francois Martin enlarged and founded a new town. People from various places settled in the newly created hamletcalledPuducherry and also ‘Putchery’. English pronounced it as Pondicherry. For a detailed study see Pierre Bourdat, Eighteenth Century Pondicherry, also in French,‘Pondichéry XVIIIéme. Pondicherry, 1995.p. 11-13.
- . An ancient industrial seaport city, now as an eroding mound locally named Arikamedu (in Tamil “Arika” means ‘eroding’ and “medu” means ‘mound’) located on the east bank of river Ariyankuppam just before the Bay of Bengal in the south of Puducherry was once eminent in the long-distance commerce between the Mediterranean world on one hand and the south Asian islands, Indian east coast and Sri Lanka on other hand during early Current era (for further study see BegleyV, FrancisP, IravathamMahadevan, RamanK.V, Sidebotham S.E, K. W Slane, and WillE.L, eds., ‘The Ancient Sea Port of Arikamedu: New Excavations and Researches 1989-1992’, Vol. 1, Pondicherry, 1996; see also, BegleyV, FrancisP, KarashimaN, RamanK.V, Sidebotham S., and WillE.L, eds., The Ancient Sea Port of Arikamedu: New Excavations and Researches 1989-1992, Vol. 2, Paris, 2004.
- Archaeological importance of Arikamedu in Puducherry was first noticed by Le Gentil, a French astronomer, when he tried to establish astronomic research center in French Puducherry (Le Gentil G, Voyages dans les mers de l’inde fait par ordre du Roi a l’occasion du passage de Venus sur le disque de Soleil le 6 juin 1761 et le 3 du même mois 1769, vol.2. Paris, 1779). G. Jouveau Dubreuil identifie as ‘Podoukê emporia’ of the classicalwriters (Jouveau Dubreuil G, ‘Les ruines romaines de Pondichéry, 40, 2. Paris, p. 448-50, 1941), see also the excavation report inWheeler R. E. M., Ghosh A., and Deva K., “Arikamedu: an Indo Roman Trading Station on the East Coast of India” in Ancient India, vol. 2, New Delhi, 1946.p. 17-125.
- Ravitchandirane P, “Megalithic Burials at Auroville near Pondicherry” in Tamil Nadu History Congress Proceedings, Karaikudi, 2017, p. 404-409.
- Ravitchandirane P, “Puducherry Before the Age of Indo-Roman (Pre-Periplus) Trade Phase” in International Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences, vol.4, issue 2. Erode, 2017. p. 78-85.
- Tomber, R, “From the Roman Red Sea to beyond the Empire: Egyptian ports and their trading Partners” in British Museum Studies in Ancient Egypt and Sudan 18. 2012. p.201-215. See also Ravitchandirane P, ‘Amphora in Pondicherry Museum from Arikamedu” in South Indian History Congress Proceedings, Salem, 2017. p. 793-796. Ravitchandirane P., Arikamedu contacts with Red sea Ports” in Pon-ka-ma-ya. Pondicherry, January 1993. p 9-10.
- Ravitchandirane P., “Kottaimedu: A Settlement in the Gingee valley contemporaneous with Arikamedu” in PILC Journal of Dravidic Studies, 5:1. January 1995. p 115-126.
- Ravitchandirane P, “Archaeological Finds From Puducherry Region” in Rajavelu S., Athiyaman N, and Selvakumar V., eds., “Amaravati” Chennai. 2017, pp.185-196.
- Revue de l’Histoire des Colonies Françaises, BibliothèqueNationale, 1913. p. 64.
- Pierre Bourdat, op. cit.,. p. 13.
- Fred Fengeir J., History of the Transquebar Mission, Transquebar, 1863
- The CompagnieFrançaise des IndesOrientales (French East India Company) was established by Jean-Baptiste Colbert, finance minister to King Louis XIV.
- Livemeru H.V., A History of Portugal, Cambridge, 1947, p.230.
- Robert Orms., History of Military Transaction of the British Nation in Indosrn, London, 1773, pp. 7 - 9
- Castonnet des Fosses, H,. : L’IndeFrançaise avant Dupleix,1887, p. 124
- Kaeppelin, Paul, La Compagnie des IndesOrientales, p.28.
- The Dutch plans give us a clear image of the urban structure of Pondicherry at the time of François Martin. Deloche, Jean. Origins of the Urban Development of Pondicherry according to Seventeenth Century Dutch Plans.Pondichéry: Institut française de Pondichéry, 2004.
- Marguerite. V. L’abernaudie, L’abernaudie: Le Vieux Pondichéry, 1673-1815. 1936, p. 39.
- Ibid.,p. 57.
- Sharma L.P., History of Modern India, New Delhi, 1992, pp.88-90.
- Prakash.,Foreign Trade and Commerce in Ancient India, New Delhi, 1976.
- Deloche, Jean. Op. cit., .see also Fig. in https://books.openedition.org/ifp/docannexe/image/5664/img-1.jpg
- G. RajeevanLal., Early French Settlement in Pondicherry., in International Journal of Creative Research Thought (IJCRT) vol. 6 (2), 2012. p. 990.
- Marguerite. V. Labernadie., op. cit., p. 126.
- Report of the administration of the Madras Presidency for the year 1921 - 22, Madras, 1923, p.34
- Marguerite. V. Labernadie, Labernadie: op. cit., p. 57.
- Pierre Bourdat, op. cit., p. 20-122.
- I thank the photographer and I regret that I could not find his name. I found this photo on the website of Puducherry photos. This photo is very helpful to us to locate the Bastion on the Southeast corner of the fort wall.
- The Saint Louis Fort excavation was with the support of the Pondicherry Museum, Government of Puducherry. I thank the Park authorities and my special thanks to Mr. Ganasen, The Commissioner of Puducherry, Mr. KaliyaPerumal, the superintendent of Art and Culture, the Government of Puducherry, History students Mr. Sabri, Mr. Vinayak Sai, Mr. Vijaya Balan, and Miss. Yowarani from Tagore Government Arts and Science College, and the Bharathi Park authorities. Without their role and extra effort in the excavation is not possible.
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