Friday, 30 March 2018

"Brett castle", Hosur (Tamil Nadu) built by Dist. Collector for his Scottish wife!!

Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, Midland Masonry
 Above image: Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire, England. The builder of the 'Hosur Brett castle' in  South India got the inspiration from this old castle made of red sandstone. Built over a long spell of time  from Norman through to Tudor times, according to architectural historian Anthony Emery it is  "the finest surviving example of a semi-royal palace of the later middle ages, significant for its scale, form and quality of workmanship".   The castle was the scene of  six-month-long Siege in 1266,  believed to be the longest siege in English history. Yet another historical fact is   this historical castle was a silent witness to the removal of Edward II from the English throne, and the Earl of Leicester's lavish reception of Elizabeth I in 1575. Founded in the 1120s around a powerful Norman great tower, the castle saw expansion and improvement during the reign of  King John at the beginning of the 13th century................

Brett,House (castle) Hosur, Tamil nadu  en.wikipedia org
Above image: Kenilworth Fort or Kenilworth Castle in Hosur, Krishnagiri district  of Tamil Nadu state is in ruins and its architecture is based on that of Kenilworth Castle in England, making it probably the only fort in India built to resemble an English castle. Mr. Brett, the collector of Salem between 1859 and 1862, built this at his wife's request to be their residence, hence it is also sometimes called Brett's Fort. It was purchased by the government in 1875...........

Hosur, a booming border town in Tamil Nadu close to Bangalore  is a fast developing industrial  hub. In the past, it was  strategically and historically occupied an important  place by virtue of its geographical location between British India and   their sworn- enemy Tipu’s Mysore kingdom.  Hosur came under the control of British company after they had defeated Tipu and conquered Hosur twice in 1768 and 1791. 
Hosur city. Maps of India
Front view Brett,House (castle) Hosur, Tamil Nadu  en.wikipedia org
Kenilworth Castle, also called "Brett’s Folly" is an interesting monument in Hosur, TN. This impressive building   with fine western design resembling  a Scottish Castle in an Indian setting may sound strange and appear  alien to its  peculiar surroundings. The Hosur fort was once a great fairly fortified place of defense and its southern part has a nicely built castle in British style using  the grand Kenilworth Castle as a model. It is believed to be one of the great historic monuments in Warwickshire, England. Presumably, it is the only example of a British castle built in India and  there is no structure  quite similar to this one.  It is a bad news that what was once a British building in a state of ruin and its colonial heritage value is ignored by the Indian government after India's freedom.

Hosur, in the colonial era was  the district headquarters of Salem District headed by a Collector Mr. Brett ICS (1855-56). While under the Madras Presidency  from 1830 to 1860, the Collector had to stay in this head office.  As to origin of a British-styled  castle  in a God-forsaken area like Hosur, abutting Mysore Princely state, it is said, that the Collector Brett took special efforts to have a nice castle like building constructed in order to accommodate his newly wedded Scottish wife of noble birth and who personally preferred a   residence as cosy, commodious and beautiful as the castles in Scotland.  Mr. Cornwallis of East India company took charge for ruling this part of the country and he  appointed Captain Kaspy as the collector for Hosur. Anyway, Brett got the plan prepared by one Hamilton, architect who was jailed by Tipu Sultan during the war with the British.  Brett  employed skilled workers to do the construction 
work without compromising either on its look or on its construction materials. The chosen site was on the south side of the fort near the moat and  the present day Kottai Mariyamman temple. The name ‘Kottai’refers to the fort.    Brett asked the Chunum (quicklime) makers to live near the site and preferred quality lime for his project. The near-by hamlet still called the Chunam Jeebi is near the Bangalore main Road. It is said the lime alone cost him Rs. 17.000.00, a huge amount in those days.  The work began in 1857 and completed in 1860-61under the supervision of the local revenue officer (Tesildar). The total cost of building the castle was prohibitive.

The paradox is the Scottish Collector could not live in his dream residence  specifically built for his loving wife as the Head District office was shifted to near-by Salem town. Mr. Cornwallis, upon hearing about the castle felt that Bret had misused the company’s money for constructing the fort for his wife's personal pleasures and asked him to leave the job. It was a great disappointment  for the couple and  his  wife,  died there after her short stay. Her grave is  in St John’s cemetery in Bangalore

 The Brett residence has a fine tower with a huge hall and  elegant windows with strained glass Till 1935 many British sub Collectors used to live here. At one stage it was notified that the building was not safe and the sub-collectors were provided accommodation in the near-by guest house. The present collector's bungalow was built in 1938.

Since the castle happened to be an old building, obviously you will expect some strange and weird stories behind its falling into disuse. One being the Collector  of Salem who stayed here in the past shot a large serpent (cobra) dead. Hindus venerate Cobra  because of its link with lord Shiva.  Since killing a Cobra is a sort of irreverence to the lord, people living near by expected something unusual. Further, the killed Cobra had a special marking on the hood and  had  lived there for a long time. Coinciding with the belief, the Collector  who shot the serpent dead  is said to have lost both his limbs. Soon in 1836 the building was sold for a paltry sum of Rs. 2050.00. The new owners dismantled the buildings and sold the expensive wood items, furniture, etc . So, what we left with  are remnants of the old castle. The new owners, during excavation work  tumbled upon 500 cannon balls, etc, including  vast vaults and closed underground chambers of the castle that need to be  explored. The subterranean chambers also remain sealed. The Archaeological Department, TN is yet to  prepare a detailed report on the ruins of the old castle in Hosur, a reminder of the British legacy. Up to 1980s this place was haunted by anti social and law- breaking people who caused severe damage to the building. The ASI, it is said, has a plan to protect whatever is left of the monument.

relationshipmatters.ph

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Since Collector Brett took so much pain  to have a suitable residence  here built for his Scottish lady, befitting her status and opulence, the Brett castle  may be considered  a classic symbol of eternal love roughly equal to the Taj of Agra, the latter being a mausoleum in memory of Mumtaz Mahal by her husband Mogul emperor Shah Jahan. This comparison is not acceptable.

Tit-Bits: 

01. This is the birth place of a famous politician in the 19th century  Sri C. Rajagopala Chari whose ancestral house is here . Rajaji, as he was called, was the first and only Indian Governor-General of India and the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu for two terms in the 1930s and 1950s

02.  At Ram Nagar there is a  Mosque built by Tippu.

03. Records point that during  Tipu Sultan’s rule, the Hill Top temple was renovated and maintained well .


http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060430/spectrum/main3.html