By Ushoshi Ghose
There’s this one trip we always plan with our friends that turn out to become like that once planned Goa trip. This too was about to become the same due to the scorching sun in the month of June in Chennai. That is when Sadras came into discovery.
Sadras is a fortress town located 70km south of Chennai in Tamil Nadu. Almost unknown to public, Sadras is the anglicized form of the ancient town of Saduranga Pattinam. The Sadras Fort sits about 100 metres away from the silvery shores of Kalpakkam and 11 km from Mahabalipuram making it convenient for a day’s visit.
An ideal plan would start with leaving Chennai early in the morning and reaching the fort by around 10. The fort would take about an hour to see and take photos inside. The best part of this is that there is no entry fee per se. Following this, one could head to Kalpakkam for lunch and take a dip in the sea in the evening before heading back to Chennai. If one plans to visit on a pleasant day which has the sky lingering with clouds, one could visit the beach right opposite the fort.
While one enters the fort, they can’t fail to notice the rusting cannons that sit on stony bastions, through the bell tower and into the fort. The towering walls are largely intact, (restored by the Archaeological Survey of India), even if the insides are crumbling. The sandy floor is coal black, where the weeds that permeate the space have recently been burnt.
This 400-year-old fort was a flourishing Dutch trading settlement in the 1600s. The Dutch East India Company decided to build a fort here because it was already an established port that traded in muslin and spices. The place was then called Sadiravasagan Pattinam, which later changed to Saduranga Pattinam, shortened as Sadirai. This came to be referred to as Sadras.
As one enters, they would find a Dutch cemetery to their right that looks right out of a postcard, with double tombs (of two brothers), a tomb of a child, all marked with interesting inscriptions. The tombs date between 1620 and 1769. Next to the cemetery is a secret passage, where, according to him, the Dutch stored their goods and an underground tunnel that used to serve as an escape route to the sea. A part of this passage, built at ground level, has caved in. Apart from this, there are warehouses that are being restored, along with rooms with brick floors, barracks, and pieces of Dutch crockery, pipes and terracotta vessels that have been excavated by the ASI (Archaeological Survey of India). Old trees grow near the ruins, with a couple of stone benches nearby.
When the British set foot here, it caused a commercial conflict between the two powers, which soon became a war. The English captured the fort in 1796 and bombed it from sea, virtually razing it to the ground. The Dutch came back to the fort briefly in 1818 but were driven out again in 1854. This ended their rule along the coast.
Sadras can be well accessed by private and public transport. If using public transport, one can catch the green coloured buses that head towards Pondicherry from anywhere on ECR. The preferable on-board point would be the Kelambakkam-Kovalam junction as all buses stop there. One can head to this point by bus numbers 109, 119, 588 or 599. All green buses thereon would lead you to the destination. The drop point would be Kalpakkam from where one would have to take an auto to get to Sadras. The trip from the junction would last for about an hour.
This is a very budget friendly trip as it wouldn’t cost a person more than 500 INR on an average.
So if you are in Chennai and you are looking out for a place to visit outside the city which isn’t crowded at all, Sadras would be your to-go destination.