Tuesday, 17 January 2017

The Cupola and Gov. Gen. Cornwallis' statue - Ft. St.George, Chennai

The Cornwallis Cupola, ft.St.George, Chennai. Blogarama

The city of Madras (Chennai), Capital of Tamil Nadu state is one of a few oldest settlements in India established in 1639 CE by the 
East India company to expand their trading activities. To store and  safeguard their merchandise, the British company built a fort near the seafront on 23 April 1640 CE, that happened to be the St. George's Day. Obviously, they named it as Fort St. George. 

This one of the earliest monuments has a number of historical, heritage structures within its precincts; one being the oldest catholic church where both Robert Clive, who began his career here and Elihu Yale, then the Governor of Madras Presidency and benefactor of Yale University, USA got married. Steeped in history, there are a few old structures that need wide publicity; the Cornwallis Cupola, a small structure inside the fort is a good example that is out of public gaze and limelight. 
Bentinck's Building The Hindu
The Greek-styled hexagonal cupola with Ionic pillared rotunda is a pavilion built in memory of  Gov. Gen.Cornwallis after his victory over Tipu Sultan of Mysore. In this respect, this cupola and Gov. Gen. Cornwallis have a close link with Tipu Sultan and the third Anglo-Mysore war, Being a powerful ruler of Mysore kingdom, Tipu never allowed himself to be cowed down by the British and hampered the EIC's expansion farther down south of southern India. Tipu had a formidable army and his ally was the French army. 
 Bentinck's Building in 1807, 'Madras High Court' and the bldg. in 2005 thehindu.com/m

Cornwallis Marble Statue at Fort Museum, Chennai.chennaispider.com
Cornwallis served as the  Governor-General of India twice, the first exciting tenure being from 1786 to 1793. during this period, he 
achieved something great which other senior officers had failed to achieve. Third Anglo-Mysore War between Tipu and the English company's army led by Cornwallis lasted for two years between 1790 CE and 1792 CE. Tipu Sultan's invasion into Travancore state in 1789 CE, an ally of the English,  resulted in this war which went in favor of the British. In 1792 Tipu was defeated by Cornwallis and his army. Tipu made a treaty with Cornwallis termed as "Treaty of Srirangapatnam". As per the agreement, Tipu had to pay  an indemnity Rs. 6 crores (later reduced to 3 crores), besides one-half of his territory to the allies of British.  Tipu had to hand over his two sons as hostages till the reparation was paid. Cornwallis spared Tipu and his intention was to defeat Tipu and not to kill him. Subsequently in 1799 Tipu was killed by the British army led by Wellesley at Srirangapatna, near Mysore.
Tipu handingover his sons to Cornwallis Ft St. George: Inscriptions on the statue TripAdvisor

Cornwallis monument at Ft.St.George, chennai Flick

Cornwallis statue: The victory over Tipu being a major one, the English residents wanted to have a public memorial for Cornwallis. To honor Cornwallis' achievements, the Council at Madras appointed sculptor Thomas Banks of London's Royal Academy to chisel the life-size marble statue of Cornwallis. 
 

The 14.5 feet marble statue was carved in Britain by Thomas Banks and was shipped to India. It was erected under this Ionic Rotunda at Fort Square, Fort St.George, Chennai and was unveiled on 15 May 1800.  This vintage picture shows the erection of the statue of Cornwallis under this ‘Ionic Rotunda’ and at the base one can seethe depiction of the surrender of Tipu Sultan's two boys to Cornwallis in 1792. The marble portrait statue of Cornwallis for Madras, it is reported,  was the first publicly erected monument exported to India. In 1805,  Cornwallis arrived at Madras on his way to Calcutta to assume the Governor-Generalship for the second time. Received by Gov. Governor Lord William Bentinck on May 6 with full military honors, here Cornwallis made a speech before the residents of Madras, presumably, in front of the statue of himself.  

 In 1805 CE, Cornwallis died at Calcutta and was buried there. In his honor a  Cenotaph was erected in Teynampet area under which the company official had a plan to shift the statue of Cornwallis. This did not happen for an unknown reason. Later the Cenotaph was sifted to North Beach beach. Cornwallis statue was removed from the cupola (at Ft.St. George) in 1825, then shifted to Connemara library in 1928.
 Now this ‘Ionic Rotunda.’ without the statue still stands as a monument at Fort's parade  Square (near Fort Museum) in Fort St.George, Chennai.
Chennai Cornwallis Statue Cupola.staticflickr.com
The eye-catching cupola once stood opposite the historical Bentinck's Building, a heritage structure that was pulled down between 1991-92 to rebuild it to accommodate more state government employees. But the building never came up. The structure with cupola was left intact. Anyway, the empty cupola was the largest one built to house Cornwallis' statue. The 14.5-foot tall marble statue moved over to a spot away from the fort initially at the junction of Mount road and Cenotaph road. Since then, the statue of Cornwallis had been shunted from place to place as if he was a vagabond. The statue that was in the cupola once, later permanently placed in the  Fort  Museum in 1950 after India's independence.
Ref:
http://madrasmusings.com/Vol%2019%20No%2019/otherstories.html

http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/mp/2003/01/22/stories/2003012200270300.htm

 https://sriramv.wordpress.com/2015/06/29/know-fort-st-george-5-the-cornwallis-cupola