The vibrant history of the city of
Chennai which was previously named as Madras, traces back to
368 years and Chennai was originally a tiny fishing village.
The region surrounding Chennai has served as a significant
administrative, military, and economic centre dating back to
the 1st century. It has been ruled by renowned South Indian
kingdoms like the Pallava, the Chola, the Pandya, and
On 22 August 1639, Francis Day of the British East India
Company acquired a small strip of land in the Coromandel
Coast from the Vijayanagara King, Peda Venkata Raya (a.k.a.
Venkata III) in Chandragiri. The region was under by the
Damerla Venkatapathy, Nayak of Vandavasi.The permission was
granted to build a factory and warehouse for their trading
activities. A year later, Fort St George was built, which
gradually became the nucleus around which the colonial city
grew. In 1746, Fort St George and Madras were captured by
the French under General La Bourdonnais, the Governor of
Mauritius, who ransacked the town and its outlying villages.
The treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle in 1749 ensured the
reacquiring of British regained control over the town and
consequently equipped the base to endure further attacks
from the French and Hyder Ali, the powerful Sultan of Mysore.
By the late 18th century, the British had occupied most of
the region around Tamil Nadu and the northern modern-day
states of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to establish the
Madras Presidency, whose capital was Madras and under the
British patronage only the city of Madras or contemporary
Chennai evolved as a major urban centre and naval base.
Chennai is the only Indian city to be attacked by the
Central Powers during World War I, when an oil depot was
shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden. After
independence in 1947, the city attained the status of the
capital of Madras State, which was renamed Tamil Nadu in